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CTA Order Against Selectmen Denied by Judge

A judge denied the Clinton Taxpayers Association (CTA's) order of mandamus against the Board of Selectmen, citing a similar action against the town of Windham, CT where town leaders had the discretion to act, or not.

 

An application for a writ of mandamus by the Clinton Taxpayers Association (CTA) against the town and specifically their five-member Board of Selectmen has been denied by a judge in Superior Court in Middletown.

Judge Julia Aurigemma on Feb. 13 denied Pamela Fritz vs. Board of Selectmen of the Town of Clinton.

A mandamus, in the simplest of terms, is an order from a superior court to a subordinate court or public authority (such as a Board of Selectmen) telling them to either proceed with a specific act or stop doing a specific act. 

Pamela Fritz, president of the CTA, said the writ or temporary injunction was denied, but that the lawsuit is still in place.

Part of the lawsuit has asked that the courts order the selectmen to act on a petition to call a Special Town Meeting and reduce the appropriation of the new Morgan School from $64.75 million to $5 million.

"This is not about the school but the due process," she said. "The Board of Selectmen denied its citizens their rights under the charter because they would not vote on it according to state statutes and the town charter."

First Selectman Willie Fritz said the CTA has also filed a temporary injunction on the project.

For the injunction, said the first selectman, you must show the courts that there is irreparable harm.

"Her (Pamela Fritz's) "irreparable harm" was her taxes were going up," said the First Selectman.

Judge Aurigemma denied the application for order, stating "Based on Windham Taxpayers Association vs. Board of Selectmen Town of Windham," the Clinton Selectmen had the discretion to decided whether to call a town meeting. As the purpose of the petition was, in essence, to attempt to undo the referendum, the Board did not abuse that discretion in refusing to put the petition on the agenda or to call a town meeting."

First Selectman Fritz said he and the town's attorney, John Bennet, went to court in November of 2012.  Pamela Fritz and the CTA attorney, David Denvir, were there. Selectman Carol Walter testified on the CTA's behalf. No other Board of Selectmen members testified on the side of the CTA.

The judge had 120 days to render her decision.

Pamela Fritz said the CTA, which she calls a "very strong organization" will weigh what comes next.

"This was one judge's decision," she said. "There are other opportunities open to us that we are exploring. The CTA will continue to uphold the rights of taxpayers."

For the town, the new Morgan School project is proceeding on schedule.

"It's been business as usual and has since the first court case," said First Selectman Fritz. "I hope the CTA doesn't appeal the court's decision. I know there are smart folks who are members of the CTA. I hope they will channel their energies in a positive direction."

Clinton Parent February 15, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Jay, What if it went the other way and you won by a small margin? Would you call for a re-vote still due to the close decision? Be honest!
Jay February 15, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Clinton Parent - if the building vote had been no then the building committee would have 1. changed nothing and resubmitted it for a revote - which the selectmen would have approved. 2. Removed X dollars and resubmitted for a revote - which the selectmen would have approved - 3. If it failed a second time. the building commitee would have removed X amount and resubmitted it for a revote a third time. That is exactly what has happened with Every building committee plan that has occurred on the shoreline and Connecticut - and let us now cut out the "honest" snide remarks.
Clinton Parent February 15, 2013 at 04:49 PM
Nice way not to answer the question Jay! Just pointing out your whole post above is BS..that's all.
Art Kuever February 15, 2013 at 04:59 PM
It is really time that we all moved on. Again, there is nothing new to say on this subject. There will not be a re-vote, it is a done deal. We can all sit here and say that there would have been re-votes if the building lost, maybe, maybe not. I could sit here and say that the CTA would not have been behind a "bring to new" solution either but I do not know that for certain. I could also say that CTA would not be behind anything rather than a bandaid approach to the existing building, but I don't know that either. No one knows how the building committee or the town would have acted if the building did not get the support that it did because the new building was approved so we cannot begin to speculate on the next course of action because it was not needed. It is time to move on and make this the best building that it can be.
Alan Anderson February 15, 2013 at 11:30 PM
If the CTA really cared about saving taxpayers money they would not be wasting our public resources on frivlous lawsuit(s) that have no chance of changing the outcome.

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