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CTA Petition Validated; Town Meeting Set For June 26

Group wants $64M Morgan School funding reduced to $5M: “This is only the first step in reversing this outcome.”

An attorney for the town has validated a petition submitted by the Clinton Taxpayers Association that proposes reducing the funding for the new Morgan School from $64 million to $5 million, and selectmen have scheduled a town meeting for 7 p.m., June 26.

The requisite number of signatures - 100 - were verified by the town clerk, according to CTA spokesman Kirk Carr. Carr said the group collected more than 450 signatures in all.

“The Clinton Taxpayers Association never doubted the viability of this petition under the Town Charter and State Statutes,” said Pam Fritz, president of the CTA, in a press release issued Thursday.

“We are very grateful to the hundreds of people who signed our petitions, to the scores of people who have contributed to our legal and campaign war chest and to David Denvir, our attorney, who has so capably guided us through this delicate process” she added.

. But the group rewrote it, Carr said, and went back out to get signatures.

In April, 2,058 voters , while 2,018 voted against.

In a June 11 letter to First Selectman Willie Fritz (provided to Patch by the CTA), attorney Michael J. Wells wrote, "the petition as worded is valid … it does not place the town or its official in violation of Connecticut General Statutes. … It does not violate provisions of the Charter in regards to town meetings.  The Board of Selectmen should schedule a town meeting to consider this resolution.”

The difference, Wells wrote, was that the new petition seeks to reduce the expenditure to $5 million, leaving "an ammount sufficient in place to cover expenditures made to date."

“Taxation without representation is still wrong,” Len Fried, Chair of the CTA Morgan Task Force, said in the press release. “Timing the vote on this resolution with one fourth of the taxpayers not present and following years of needlessly complicating absentee ballot procedures, whether intended or not, disenfranchised people who are going to pay much of the bill.”

In the press release, Carr said "the CTA must now collect 300 valid eligible voter signatures to adjourn the town meeting on this resolution to a referendum." The group plans to "mount a communications campaign to educate voters that the cost of a new school is a tax time-bomb and an economic poison pill for the town.  While Clinton has the highest mill rate on the shoreline, the second highest annual cost per pupil and declining enrollment, adding $3 million in annual fixed costs to service the debt for a new school is inconceivable.”

According to the release, the Clinton Taxpayers Association mounted a successful petition campaign in 1991 to reverse a new school referendum.  “This can and has been done before,” Pam Fritz said in the release, “and the CTA has the traction to do it again, now.”

Tim June 19, 2012 at 01:19 PM
Every time I read a recent update about Morgan, I'm a little bit more disappointed that my wife and I just moved here, and chose Clinton as the place to raise our family. I find it very disturbing that such a large faction of the town has a 'war chest' to do, what, exactly? Are they defending or attacking? Or both? Who or what do they see as their opposition? The future? Progress? I'm not going to comment on whether or not a new school should be built, I have in the past, and that decision has been made by the taxpayers. It really makes me feel uneasy to think that the CTA feels they have the power to overturn a referendum. I don't like feeling like my vote doesn't count for anything, because a group wasn't happy with the outcome and now they can challenge the result and possibly overturn it. If that happens, I hope that a Clinton Voters Association will form and work to oust the administration that allows the signatures of 300 to erase the votes of over 4000. This wasn't something that was done under the cover of darkness. Exhaustive research was done, information was disseminated, and (even though the government needed to be reminded how to handle absentee ballots) absentee ballots were made available to taxpayers that reside elsewhere. There was a vote, and a clear majority was found.Taxation without representation doesn't apply here. If you didn't care enough to vote on the referendum, you forfeit your right to representation for that decision. That's Civics 101.
Mary Jo Phelps June 19, 2012 at 01:38 PM
Martin Shapiro - What act by the administration? That bonding package was a town vote, luckily not subject to petition. A big part of that package, the artificial turf field at Indian River, was a smart investment. The rest of it was mostly infrastructure maintenance. I went to the town meeting and voted, any other citizen could have done the same.
Martin Shapiro June 19, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Mary Jo Phelps, That bonding package was sent as a single line vote for a variety of projects by the BOF. This was purposely done (perhaps with orders from the BOS?) in order to lump them together so two certain items would pass. If not lumped together than neither had a chance to be approved. Those items were the turf field and the requested $$$ to continue planning the new school. Each item on this vote should have been separate instead of an "all or nothing" choice. The process for setting referenda are manipulated and skewed to support what the administration wants. Politics at its worst. Abuse of the taxpayer at its best. Go figur'! Mary JO! Thank you Tom Riccio - Marty
Katha Pollitt June 19, 2012 at 02:35 PM
I have a house on Shore Road in which I live much of the year, but in the winter I am away. I didn't vote on the school issue because I didn't think I knew enough. I certainly knew about it, though, and had I wanted to, I could easily have cast an absentee ballot. There was information about how to do this all over -- on Patch, and in e mails from the Clinton Beach Association. It is not rocket science! You would have to be pretty disconnected from the town not to have known this vote was coming up and would be narrowly decided. So if summer people didn't vote, perhaps it was because the issue was not important to them. I sympathize with the fears of retirees and others that taxes will rise. But the CTA's attempt to overturn a democratic vote and the insulting, dismissive language used by some CTA people here are moving me into the pro-school camp.
Dee M. Tully June 19, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Does anyone assume that this town meeting is held at the Town Hall? Well, it is being held at the Morgan auditorium at 7:00. There will only be 1500 ballots....First come, First serve.
Ed Annino June 19, 2012 at 07:51 PM
You are right on Tim. I have written to Willie Fritz asking that he & the BOS have the common sense to put a stop to this ridiculousness. My wife was raised in Clinton. We have resided here for over 30 years. Although we opted to educate our five children in Catholic schools we still support the New Morgan. I, as you, feel like I've been slapped in the face for my vote in April.
Ed Annino June 19, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Thanks.
Ed Annino June 19, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Does anyone know what the heck 1500 ballots means and first come first serve? How does this make sense when > 4000 dedicated Clinton residents voted in April. Can someone explain this process to me? PLEASE... Is Clinton starting to look like a village of idiots?
Fay Abrahamsson (Editor) June 19, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Hi - to clarify things, there are 6,000 ballots (one yes or no question) being printed. This information just in from the town clerk.
Jon Siciliano June 19, 2012 at 08:36 PM
More than 4000 people voted over 14 hours at town hall, and they are expecting 6000 people to vote at a town meeting at Morgan in a few hours time? Logistically speaking, how will that even be possible? How will all those people be checked in and verified? Parking, etc.?
Jim Braun June 19, 2012 at 08:56 PM
If CTA Kirk gets his 300 person petition in time, it becomes a referendum is my understanding.
Dee M. Tully June 19, 2012 at 09:04 PM
I apologize. I got this information from an email that is going around from some (whom I thought were) trusted people. I really should have validated it before I announced. My bad.
Dee M. Tully June 19, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I apologize. I got this information from an email that is going around from some (whom I thought were) trusted people. I really should have validated it before I announced. My bad.
Kirk Carr June 19, 2012 at 11:25 PM
The room is restricted to 726 by the Fire Marshall. So a referendum is the only practical solution. Over 400 signatures were submitted to the Town Clerk yesterday. Subject to 300 being validated, this will be decided at referendum. Thanks to all the volunteers who collected signatures, to all of the voters who signed and to the Town Clerk for her effort to validate these signatures. If 6,000 ballots are really being printed for the town meeting, that seems like an unnecessary expense.
Here We Go Again June 19, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Mr. Carr, It ALREADY was decided at referendum. The first time. Can you speak for the CTA here on this forum and let us know exactly when our votes will count. Since the voting public doesn't seem to know when they'll count and when they won't - will you just let us know? How many times would the vote have to be "YES" before you will let it stand? Or do we keep voting until there are more "NO" votes. What is the end game for the CTA? From the buzz I'm hearing I'm beginning to think they'll be even MORE YES votes if it were to go to referendum again. Wouldn't that be something?
Paul June 20, 2012 at 12:41 AM
Mr. Carr, The only thing that the CTA petetion should be voted on at referendum as opposed to a town meeting. However, I think the CTA underestimates the people of this town. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, one of the things that makes us all American is the right to vote. What the CTA has done is activate a very large group of people in this town who were previously dormant on this issue because they have thwarted the one right that all American's hold sacred. The right to vote. If a second referendum is held and the current appropriation stands, will the CTA stop? Will they respect the fact that there are people in town who don't hold the same opinion as them? I respect the fact that CTA members don't wan't their taxes raised, will respect my opinion that I feel a new highschool is the right direction for this town to move into the future?
Art Kuever June 20, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Where is the rush? The building has been leaking since at least 1983, the waste water issue has been around since then as well. So, when an opportunity arises to solve one of the two 30 year old issues, it is now a rush to spend money. If things have been done when they should have this attempt to reverse the democratic vote would not be happening.
Ed Annino June 20, 2012 at 12:46 AM
I agree. I fully believe if this ridiculousness does go to another vote there will be more YES votes than no votes. Good question...Then what? Round and round we go and where we stop, does anyone know?
Ed Annino June 20, 2012 at 12:53 AM
ACTIVATE is a good work but I believe the more appropriated word is IRRITATE. That's what the CTA has done to the good residents of Clinton. The right to vote is sacred in this country. I will say it again. I consider what the CTA is doing a slap in the face to me & the other folks who came out to vote in April. Hopefully the BOS will put an end to this tomorrow at their 9 am meeting. Rally at 8...Town Hall.
Here We Go Again June 20, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Paul, From what I'm hearing I think you are spot on! I'm hearing every day around town that people are so upset about votes not counting - they'll vote this time even if they didn't vote in April or they voted NO in April but will vote YES if required to vote again. This is one of probably the most poorly played political moves ever to be witnessed... and the CTA just keeps stepping deeper into the doo-doo.
Art Kuever June 20, 2012 at 12:55 AM
The unnecessary expense is the attempt to overturn a legal and what should be a binding referendum via a loop hole. To quote a supporter of the CTA " we lost, so we want another chance".
ClintonRes June 20, 2012 at 01:37 AM
VOTES STAND Without it, we have No Voice. Mr. Carr: With respect, Please Stop giving us 'Practical Ways' to spend yet More Money on a Re-Vote, a Do Over because you don't agree. What is this stupid game in that some people can discount all other Votes? What country are we living in - Big Brother (Knows Best) Country?
Here We Go Again June 20, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Rally - what a great idea. It would be ideal timing since school's out and all the teachers, students (or what the CTA calls princess and princesses and sonny and bunny) and their parents can attend. Let the voice of the people be heard......again!
Mary Jo Phelps June 20, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Paul - Just to make it clear - if people disagree with what the CTA is doing, this time they will need to vote NO, meaning, No, I don't wish to overturn a referendum that was already voted on.
Steve Bristol June 20, 2012 at 03:09 AM
If you actually read the comment, the rush wasn't to do SOMETHING, it was to ignore any possibility of renovation. Never mind wanting a new vote, I wish CT had a RECALL provision.
Mark June 20, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Only a handfull of people are actually commenting on this article. Seems that people are forgetting that there is almost an even split between the people that want the new school building and those that don't. Rather harsh comments directed at half of Clinton's population. The petition and new referendum are just part of the democratic process. I'll vote a hundred times if necessary.
Glenn Coffin June 20, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Fortunately Mark, you won't have to.
Tim June 20, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Vote a hundred times if necessary? What a ridiculous notion. You vote once, and unless there was something illegal about the initial vote to invalidate it, you don't re-vote. This isn't like playing kickball, you don't get a do-over until you feel like you agree with the outcome. Was it a close vote? Yes. Was there a clear majority? Yes. The petition and proposed new referendum are not part of the democratic process, that is what the first and only referendum was. The CTA's petition and associated nonsense is part of the sour grapes/time wasting process. The harsh comments aren't directed at the people who voted against the new school. That issue has been debated, voted on, and closed. The harsh comments are directed at the CTA, because of their efforts to negate the democratic process of the referendum vote.
Mark June 20, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Congress votes services and laws in and out all the time. If the petition and new referundum were not part of the democratic process, I'm sure it wouldn't have been accepted by the town attorney. The CTA is not a lone wolf out to get us, but represent the concerns of many Clintonians. If the property owners in Clinton truely feel that a new building is important to our future, we will know after the proposed referundum. Respectfully, Mark
Austin Coco June 21, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Mark, the Town Attorney was on vacation when this was passed through his office by a fill-in.

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