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Thursday, November 9, 2006

Aldermen press to probe signature debacle

NEWTON

Three aldermen said they will press ahead to investigate an under-count of signatures that could have thwarted a referendum vote over the plan for a new Newton North High School.

Paul Coletti, alderman at large from Ward 5, said it was only “fair” to conduct the probe on behalf of Peter Karg, the former city election chief who the mayor asked to resign after the debacle.

“Mr. Karg deserves the opportunity to speak to the board of aldermen,” Coletti said.

In a telephone interview last week, Karg, 52, said he was deeply distressed at his treatment by Mayor David B. Cohen, a longtime friend.

“I am very, very hurt,” Karg said. “His actions are unconscionable.”

The probe will go forward only after a vote of a majority of members of two aldermanic committees, Programs and Services and Post Audit and Oversight, tentatively planned for Dec. 6, according to Marcia Johnson, alderman at large from Ward 2.

Karg was asked to resign by Nov. 20 or be fired. He released a statement last week saying he had been “pressured” to tabulate the results of a petition campaign in three days instead of the allowed ten. While not naming Cohen, Karg said in the telephone interview that the pressure “was from the highest levels of city government.”

Jeremy Solomon, spokesman for Cohen, declined to comment on Karg’s allegation.

-- Connie Paige

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