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Nemeth Apologizes to Opponent in Princeton Council Race for Mischaracterizing Her Position on Public Education

Butler
Butler
Nemeth
Nemeth

Princeton Council candidate Sue Nemeth has issued a written apology to fellow Democrat Jo Butler for mischaracterizing Butler’s position on public education. The apology was issued at the request of the executive board of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization.

Nemeth told Butler in the written statement that she was confused about Butler’s position on public education.

Previously Nemeth claimed to former state Assembly candidate Marie Corfield that Butler did not support the budget for the public schools and had the budget “in her cross hairs.” Nemeth’s claim has also been spread through the rumor mill to public schools supporters. Butler has never voiced opposition to the school budget.

Nemeth has not responded to a request from Planet Princeton for comment regarding the issue. The request was made more than 48 hours before the story was published.

“I certainly appreciate Sue Nemeth’s acknowledgment of wrong doing,” Butler said of Nemeth’s apology. “Her misleading statements were damaging to me. I’m glad she has set the record straight. I’m in the education field as a professional. I’m a product of the public education system. Everyone in Princeton supports the public schools. It’s the reason people move here. It’s important to me and my husband to live in a community that values education.”

The issue stems from a January meeting. At a Princeton Community Democratic Organization meeting to plan programs for the organization’s monthly meetings, Mary Clurman asked about the school budget. Butler suggested that the school budget might be a good topic for an educational forum. “I saw it as another opportunity for the school board to educate the community about the budget and the challenges the school district faces,” Butler said.

After the meeting, Nemeth sent Corfield the following message via Facebook:

“Hi Marie: Not sure if it registered anywhere outside of Princeton, but I’m running for council and am hoping I can impose on you to write a letter to the editor supporting me and Bernie Miller. I’ve reached out to a number of public school supporters because our opponent has the public school budget in her cross hairs. She actually asked PCDO to convene a meeting to challenge the school budget. I and another member of the Executive Committee immediately thwarted the effort, but she’s not likely to let it go. The letter need not be more specific than you support us for Princeton Council, but it wouldn’t hurt if you acknowledged our strong support of public education. Happy to discuss specifics. Yours, Sue.”

Executive committee members who attended the meeting all say Butler never suggested that the group hold a meeting to “challenge” the school budget.

“We were having a general discussion. She then mischaracterized my position, and she alone was the only person who was confused,” Butler said. “It was also violation of collegiality.”

Butler said the falsehood is being used against her as a quiet campaign tactic.

“It’s completely reprehensible, and it is confusing to the voters,” Butler said. “Also, the Princeton Council has no impact or control over the school budget. One has to ask whether they want to support a candidate who would deliberately confuse the public.”

Planet Princeton was alerted to the issue and the apology by a member of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization’s executive board who was angered about the issue and the fact that Nemeth’s apology has not been sent to the executive committee or the membership of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization.

 

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • Donny Brook

    I think Animal Farm is more relevant in this case. Some pigs see themselves as more equal than the others. Please Prince ton, reject the entreaties of the self-entitled elite who care more about their elected position on the elevated dais of Township Hall’s elaborate stage of condescension (and increasing their paychecks while they are at it) and turn to candidates who are humbled by the act of public service and honored to be in a position to advance the great historical legacy of Princeton community – both the served and the servers in our society deserve equal rights and equal representation.

  • SFB

    ‘The Lord Of The Flies’ is a great book.

  • Mary Clurman

    It should be noted that no “nastiness” has come from Jo’s campaign workers, only reactions to the debate. Regrettably, we have no control over public comment.

    Jo never in any way suggested attacking – or even scrutinizing – the schools, so

    it’s not something she has to “stand by.” It was I who independently pursued discussion about the school’s percentage of our taxes, I wanted to understand the issue so I pursued it. Jo never did.

    While the relevant items in the minutes have been publicized, there has been no
    effort of the board at large to either publish or suppress them, but Sue’s
    supporters at the meeting repeatedly expressed the wish that no further comment
    be made.

    Finally, attendance of 15 at the May meeting was about typical – not everyone shows up
    at every meeting. However at the April meeting, Sue’s supporters did show up,
    and their concerns dominated the discussion. They had two representatives at
    the May meeting, who stood by Sue but questioned only the apology, not the
    allegations.

  • Joe Small

    So far Anne Waldron Neuman, Jenny Crumiller, and Mary Clurman have, using their own names, contradicted “Princeton resident’s” assertions. No identifiable individual has written in support of “Princeton resident.” “Princeton resident” claims the right to protect his/her family as an excuse to hide his/her identity. Hiding behind your mother’s skirt? Setting a good example for your family? Stand up and be counted, or be quiet.

    Early on in this campaign when I wrote a critical e-mail to Sue Nemeth she repeatedly refused to answer me directly but instead wrote several e-mails to my wife telling my wife to (a) make me stop and (b) threatening to report me to the authorities if I didn’t stop “Harassing” (i.e. criticizing) her. I suppose that threat wasn’t nasty Looks to me like “Princeton resident” and Sue Nemeth are working from the same play book. To use Sue Nemeth’s words I have you both (if indeed you are two people — the only way we will know is if “Princeton resident” comes out from his/her hiding place) in my “cross hairs.”

    And as for the nastiness in this campaign it started after Bernie Miller asked for and secured Jo Butler’s support in his run for Council President and then turned around with a gang trying to purge Jo Butler — the person who had granted him a favor he had asked for — from the Council. You tell me where the nastiness of this campaign began? To ask Jo Butler and her supporters to turn the other cheek to the nasty open and whispered campaign initiated against her by “the slate” and its supporters is unbelievable Chutzpah.

  • Mr. Pigden-Cadbury

    Princeton Resident, the “nastiness” is indeed shocking and disheartening for all. But common decency requires honesty. It does not require leniency toward liars. However much you want to shut everyone up by labeling their protestations “nasty,” you only bring more attention to the root problem. Everyone is taken down by this, but you and Sue are far more to blame than anyone else.

  • krystalknapp

    Joe, I understand your concerns about anon. Commenters but think readers can judge for themselves when someone won’t use their real name. I also do not feel the need to defend my reporting. My record as a community reporter and investigative journalist stand for themselves. If a politician does not want to comment on the record about a story concerning them, so be it. If they don’t want their supporters to send letters to the editor in support of their campaign because they hate my website or think posting letters in would be somehow legitimizing my website, there is nothing I can do about that either except to keep reporting, as I have done for the last 15 years as a journalist. I will consider the issue of using real names though if things get out of control.

  • Mr. Pigden-Cadbury

    Roland Barthes is spot-on in highlighting the strategy by Sue Nemeth (and Princeton Resident) to shift attention away from the lie at the center of her campaign, in which she has been caught red-handed. It likely comes from her professional damage-control playbook: Never admit wrongdoing. Don’t let your opponent frame the issue around your character; frame it by blaming your opponent.

    The latest out of this playbook is that Sue claims her apology for the lie was another lie because she was “blackmailed” by the same organization in which she served as Vice President. She attempts to blame the nastiness on Jo, but what is more nasty than an outright lie?

    Sue’s only hope now is that anonymous commenters continue to maliciously repeat the lie, claiming other invented sources as backup, in the hopes of confusing Princeton voters. I will admit that this may be effective. The average voter most likely will have a hard time fathoming such audacity.

  • Princeton resident

    The comments on here certainly underscore what I wrote about the PCDO Executive Board being dominated by Jo’s supporters.

    So at a PCDO Executive Board meeting attended by 15 people, including Jo and her campaign manager, the Board discussed the fact that Sue had shared what Jo had said about challenging the school budget with some of her supporters. The PCDO Board then took it upon itself to force an apology from Sue for sharing this information.

    Was Sue or her campaign manager in attendance at this meeting?

    Did the PCDO even indicate in advance that the issue would be discussed, so Sue and her supporters knew to be there?

    NO.

    How can the PCDO Executive Board conduct such a one-sided, political activity and not think it would have consequences for the way that the organization is perceived?

    Like the PCDO Executive Board, this site also is favored by Jo supporters. Krystal, if your goal is to run a town blog that welcomes everyone, this should concern you.

    The anti-Sue sentiments on here do not reflect the feelings of Princeton as a whole. The PCDO membership vote drew hundreds of Princeton residents and confirmed that Sue has a lot of support as she won more votes than Jo. I think what the comments on here do reflect is the bias of the reporting on this site, when it comes to this election.

    And the nastiness of the comments probably drives away most of Sue’s supporters, and others who are still deciding how to vote and might want to participate.

    I am amazed by how consistently and amazingly personal and nasty those comments are.

    I cannot believe what all of you are willing to write publicly about another Princeton resident.

    This is just a city council election. I can’t imagine what you would be willing to say if the stakes were higher.

    As I wrote previously, if you want to prove that Jo did not suggest the PCDO should challenge the school budget, then please produce the actual PCDO minutes from the meeting at which this conversation occurred, not a rephrasing of those minutes by one of Jo’s supporters.

    I spoke with at least two people who were at that original PCDO meeting and they confirmed that Jo did in fact suggest that the PCDO should challenge the school budget.

    The nasty comments on here will not shut down the truth.

  • Roland Barthes

    There seems to be, among Ms. Nemeth’s supporters, a common unwillingness to accept reality; Ms. Resident, whose anonymity I respect, uses her letter to repeat the lie, not-so-subtly endeavoring to shift the thread from a discussion of Ms. Nemeth’s dubious conduct, to the lie about which Ms. Nemeth has had a peculiar one-apology, then two-apology, then no-apology, then I’m “sorry you’re a jerk” apology moment. That apology was worthy of the late Andy Kaufman. You didn’t know if his persona was real, or an act.

    M. Scott Peck wrote about this communications approach in “People of the Lie.” It’s a persistent reanimation of reality, but in a form acceptable to the ego of the individual. It’s the same reconfiguration of reality that permitted Ms. Nemeth to contact Ms. Corfield for support, after savaging her in a recent primary campaign.

    Who would do that? Who would think there were no consequences for behaving, as Ms. Nemeth did, in the campaign against Ms. Corfield? Especially as between any relationship between Misses Nemeth and Corfield, much less the observing public. I mean, really: Ask yourself: Is it normal that Ms. Nemeth should expect Ms. Corfield to help her, when Ms. Nemeth’s campaign attacks on Ms. Corfield’s integrity were so vicious?

    One pattern is crystal clear: Wherever Ms. Nemeth campaigns, unkind and unproductive things happen. Campaigns take on the patina of personality, over the importance discussion of process and issues. This has happened twice, so far: Marie Corfield is one. Jo Butler is two.

    Hey, Princeton: Ms. Nemeth is applying a Washington-like hostility to local politics. She tried that at the state level and failed miserably. If, per Warhol, we all get our 15 minutes of fame, Ms. Nemeth has surely exhausted hers. C’mon: enough already.

    This June 3rd, vote for Jo Butler.

  • Anne Waldron Neumann

    Though not a member of the PCDO Executive Board, Princeton Resident claims
    that, at its January meeting, Jo Butler said the PCDO should challenge the public school budget. Princeton Resident also claims that the meeting’s minutes reflect this.
    Not so. As a member of the PCDO Executive Board, I did attend the January
    meeting, and I can assure Princeton Resident that Jo Butler did not suggest challenging the school budget. I will try to confine my remarks to what the public minutes of the meeting show. Indeed, the information in the minutes of the Executive Board’s January meeting is exactly the opposite of what Princeton Resident claims. At the January meeting, a new member suggested that a PCDO monthly membership meeting might be devoted to a panel discussion of the school budget. The minutes summarize the subsequent discussion, including a factual comment by Jo Butler that the school budget is 50% of property taxes. The minutes then state: “Elected officials are extremely reluctant to ‘touch’ the School Board.”
    What does this mean? The consensus among the elected officials present, who would of course have included Jo, was that the school budget was not a good topic for a monthly PCDO general meeting because [1] elected officials have no jurisdiction over it, and [2] it is not a partisan political issue and therefore not appropriate for a
    Democratic club to discuss.
    Princeton Resident also claims that Sue “shared with a few of her supporters
    what Jo had said” at the meeting. Again, this statement is inaccurate. Sue didn’t share her misinformation with just a few of her supporters but with many of them.
    Finally, Princeton Resident goes on to describe what happened at the May
    Executive Board meeting, at which I was again present. At that meeting, Executive Board members discussed how to address Sue Nemeth’s misrepresentation of what had happened at the January meeting. After an hour’s discussion, a motion was passed asking Sue to apologize both to Jo and to the PCDO membership. If, in the
    President’s view, an adequate apology was not forthcoming, he himself was to inform the membership about Sue’s misstatement. Before the vote, Jo and her campaign treasurer recused themselves, and Jo left the room. The ensuing vote was 9 for the motion, 3 against, with two abstentions, including the PCDO President, who had undertaken to remain neutral during the campaign. That is not a close vote and not
    a small meeting. Moreover, the 3 members who voted no didn’t disagree that Sue had been inaccurate; they believed that an apology wouldn’t solve the problem.
    Judging from Princeton Resident’s posts, Sue’s apology hasn’t solved the problem.

  • Princeton resident

    I am not using my real name because I have no interest in exposing my family to the kind of personal nastiness that this election has brought out in our town. I am stunned by the things people have written in letters about those willing to step up and run for office and those who already are in office. It has made me sad about Princeton and about the level of animosity that seems to exist in our community.

    I have nothing against Jo personally and I would not write nasty things about her, as so many have written about Sue on this site. That accomplishes nothing except to make people feel bad and to discourage participation.

    I do think that Jo should stand by what she said about challenging the school budget. And if she no longer feels that way, just say that she changed her mind.

    If Jo wants to support the argument that she did not say it, than please produce the minutes from that PCDO meeting. They should indicate who said what, even if they don’t use that exact phrasing.

    I can’t wait until this election is over and we can hopefully start healing all the nastiness, although it might take a long time to do that.

  • Joe Small

    Krystal: — Don’t worry “Princeton resident” won’t reveal her/him self — he/she likes to take pot shots from behind the white sheet or under a rock. Come out, come out wherever you are — Whoever makes such bold assertions shouldn’t need to hide their identity if what they are saying is true. Is he/she hiding because the assertions are not true? –Or because he/she is just a nasty person? Mary Clurman’s post contradicts “Princeton residents'” assertions. WIll any identifiable person verify what “Princeton resident” has written? Will “Princeton resident” reveal her/him self? Print newspapers won’t take letters to the editor without knowing the identity of the writer, Planet Princeton and other web publications should adopt a similar policy.

  • Jenny Crumiller

    I want to add my own real name to those who seek to set the record straight regarding “Princeton Resident” in this comment thread. I was also present during the discussion on future PCDO programs where Mary Clurman brought up the idea for a forum on the schools. As part of the discussion, Jo Butler mentioned that the school budget is about 50% of our property taxes. She agreed with everyone else that we should not have the program. She did not say that the PCDO should challenge the school budget. Princeton Resident is now choosing to repeat Sue’s distortion and perpetuate the dishonest attack against Jo. There was an entire group of eye witnesses to the truth – a group which subsequently agreed that Sue mischaracterized Jo’s words and decided by vote to call for Sue to apologize.

    Further, without evidence, a story has been spread that Jo’s supporters organized PCDO members to vote against Sue in their reorganization election for the at-large executive board. This is simply false. There was no concerted effort, regardless of how surprised both sides were with an outcome in which Sue came in 13th out of 13.

  • Mary Clurman

    To; “Princeton Resident:”

    I can report firsthand on both of the PCDO Board meetings you address.

    The May meeting you refer to was not “sparsely” attended: 15 were there, quorum is 10.

    Jo had, in January, asked only whether a discussion of tax breakdown warranted a PCDO program.

    To say that Sue was “blackmailed” into apology is to throw a smokescreen over the facts: Sue not only took comments out of context, she re-wrote them. The vote for
    apology was an unplanned consensus that Sue had actively misrepresented the
    discussion. She had damaged Jo not only politically but personally in her job
    as a consultant to schools. Should the matter be dropped because the damage had
    already been done? The board thought not.

    Similarly at the PCDO reorganization meeting. When Sue alone out of 13 candidates did not win one of 12 seats, we
    were all surprised. Individually we had not voted for Sue, but there had been no plan.

    Note also that there was no one who defended
    what Sue did. They voted against the resolution because they didn’t believe it
    would solve the problem, not because anyone disagreed on the facts of what had
    transpired.

    Finally, you say that the board “is dominated by Jo Butler supporters.” In fact, the PCDO board is dominated by thinking progressive voters who believe that right is right and
    do the work to see that it gets done. No wonder it supported Jo Butler.

  • Joe Small

    Who is “Princeton resident” and why won’t he/she identify him/herself? Penny Boudinot and Sandra J Bierman are not hiding. Posting without revealing your identity is no better than putting on a white sheet. If you have the courage to speak out, reveal your identity. People who hide can’t take actions on their own. The authenticity and truth of “this story” can only be tested if it’s “author’s” identity is revealed. It has already been demonstrated that Jo Butler’s opponents distort facts, now at least one of them is demonstrating as much courage as the Council candidates who are afraid to run independently on their own individual records.

  • Princeton resident

    OK. Here’s the rest of this story. Let’s see how long it stays up.

    Sue Nemeth was blackmailed by the PCDO into this fake apology.

    In a sparsely attended meeting at which Jo was present, the PCDO executive board, which is dominated by Jo Butler supporters, voted to force Sue to apologize.

    What was it that Sue supposedly did wrong?

    She shared with a few of her supporters what Jo had said at a prior executive board meeting – that the PCDO should challenge the public school budget.

    Sue had every right to make this information public.

    I obtained confirmation that Jo actually suggested the public school budget should be challenged from others who attended the PCDO executive board meeting at which this took place, and that information was even in the minutes of that meeting.

    It is shameful that the PCDO is allowing itself to be used as a tool in this campaign.

    It is also shameful that some of Jo’s supporters are resorting to tactics such as this article to try and advance her candidacy.

    We saw these kinds of backroom tactics last year, in the council election. They debase the political process and need to stop.

    I don’t want to read any more one-sided stories about this election in Planet Princeton or in the Packet.

    Krystal, if you want to cover the race, than please do so fairly or not at all. You are Jo’s friend, but you greatly undermine the credibility of this very useful blog by using it to advance her candidacy.

  • krystalknapp

    I have not deleted any comments in response to this story. I have not deleted any comments about an official or anyone else unless they violate the Planet Princeton comment policy. I’d be happy to discuss this with you if you contact me.

  • Princeton resident

    Unbelievable! Krystal is deleting comments by anyone not supportive of Jo Butler. Absolutely shameful behavior, Krystal.

  • Penny Boudinot

    Why did Bernie Miller agree to run with Sue Nemeth as a slate? He said, at the recent League of Women Voters debate, that Sue asked him to run with her. Does Bernie do everything people ask him to? I hope not, at least not as a Council member.

    By the way, does everyone planning to vote in the Democratic primary on June 3 know that you don’t need to vote for either member of the slate? You can vote for just one candidate. If you plan to vote for Jo Butler, you could help her even more by voting only for her.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    This is why I am not sure if there is dumbness or sneakiness, because, one needs to have some to just go for it and write that letter. Does she have a political consultant? For she needs one, desperately. The sad thing is that if she wins is because of the slate, is definitely because of Bernie. Why did Bernie associate with her?

  • Penny Boudinot

    One thing that astounds me in this sordid story is Sue Nemeth’s poor judgment in asking for an endorsement from Marie Corfield, whom she savaged in the 2012 Democratic primary for state Assembly.

  • Sandra J. Bierman

    It would be only fair that this could be published EVERYWHERE, to show the real Sue Nemeth. Is she dumb, that couldn’t understand and got confused when nobody else was? Or is she simply a dishonest human being?

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