A message from the Clinton Taxpayers Association:
Civil action has been filed in Middletown Superior Court by the Clinton Taxpayer Association against the five-member Clinton Board of Selectmen. The lawsuit charges the Board of Selectmen with unlawful conduct in failing to uphold the Clinton Town Charter.
At the heart of the matter is the right of local citizens to call a town meeting and referendum vote, through the signing of a valid petition, which is a right guaranteed by the Town Charter. When a proposed $64.7 million new school referendum passed by 40 votes in May, the CTA circulated a petition calling for a second referendum. At every Board of Selectman’s meeting since the CTA submitted its petition, First Selectman Willie Fritz continued to prevent the Board of Selectmen from following the Charter and voting on the petition, claiming there's nothing anyone can do to stop him.
“We're asking the Board of Selectmen to simply comply with provisions of the town charter and put the lawsuit on their agenda for discussion and a vote”, says CTA president Pam Fritz. “Avoiding their sworn responsibilities as Selectmen will not make this lawsuit go away. The issue now transcends a new Morgan School. The issue is now the unlawful conduct by the Board of Selectmen by refusing to put the question on their meeting agenda — and the obvious violation of the Town Charter in not calling for a legally petitioned Town Meeting and subsequent referendum. The CTA's Morgan Task Force found that the Morgan School Building Committee launched into a new high school building proposal without offering residents the opportunity to investigate and discuss another viable option — upgrading the current high school."
The CTA President also expressed concern about absentee ballots not being made available to residents during the first referendum, especially seasonal taxpayer residents who would also be impacted by a hike in taxes to pay for a new school. The CTA says that not all members of the Board of Selectmen have received copies to date of the lawsuit in which they are named, although papers were served at the selectmen’s office at Town Hall on July 10, 2012.
“Willie Fritz has run up an unauthorized bill of almost $4,000 with Attorneys Shipman & Goodwin to fight the taxpayers and he expects the taxpayers to pay it!” further commented Pam Fritz, “When Selectman Carol Walter, at the recent August 2nd Board of Selectmen’s meeting, specifically cited the sections of the Town Charter that the First Selectman had violated, his answer was, ‘So what are you going to do about it?’
"The CTA considers these actions by the First Selectman to be abusive," says CTA President Pam Fritz. "Didn't newly appointed Selectman Lynn Pinder, who is an attorney, take an oath to follow the town charter? How can Selectman Tom Vicino, who is running for State Senate, not respect the Clinton Town Charter? Selectman John Giannotti is also evading his responsibility by not demanding that this matter be put on the Board of Selectmen’s agenda.”
“Our citizen’s rights to petition are being denied by the First Selectman and other selectmen”, says Pamela Fritz. “The CTA is urging taxpayers to call or contact the First Selectman and members of the Board of Selectmen and demand that they uphold the rule of law in Clinton and follow our Town Charter."