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Friday, January 19, 2007

Fired election chief says he's suing Newton for $500,000

NEWTON

The fired chief of the Newton Election Commission put the city on on notice today that he intends to sue for $500,000.

Peter Karg is bringing the claim against the city; its spokesman, Jeremy Solomon; and Edward Mitnick, who investigated the botched petition count that led to Karg’s dismissal.

Karg declined today to comment on his claim, dated Jan. 13, except to say: “Things are progressing.”

Solomon said this afternoon that neither he nor other city officials would have any comment on the claim, which is a legally required prelude to a lawsuit.

Mitnick’s investigation criticized Karg’s supervision of workers counting signatures on the petition drive that forced this Tuesday's referendum on the site plan for a new Newton North High School.

Initially, Karg's office announced that petitioners had failed to collect enough signatures, only to reverse itself several days later.

Karg's claim alleges that Mitnick’s report was “a calculated falsehood,” and that Solomon participated in a “public smear campaign” against Karg.

Karg is also asking for a positive letter of recommendation; a change in his personnel records from “terminated” to “retired”; a public apology; and an agreement to “cease and desist” from “further defaming” his “personal or professional reputations.”

Aldermen have put on hold an investigation into the petition glitch, pending resolution of Karg’s claim, according to Marcia Johnson, alderman-at-large from Ward 2 and head of aldermanic Programs and Services Committee.

-- Connie Paige

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