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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."

CL&P Response Disappointing February 15, 2013 at 11:19 AM
The CTA does not speak for the taxpayers of Clinton. The residents of Clinton do not support their cause. The courts do not support their cause. This lack of support has been reflected in the voting booth and in the courtroom over and over again. TAKE THE HINT! Nobody is interested in your message!
Art Kuever February 15, 2013 at 12:55 PM
I believe that the CTA does speak for some of the taxpayers of Clinton, not all that voted against the new school building but for some. This decision should show the CTA what will most likely be the decision in future attempts through the court system so that will be a waste of time, money and energy. It is time for everyone to start looking at the building and make in the best building it can be with the funds that we have and move foward. The CTA can direct their energy to making this project come in on time and under budget thereby saving us money in the future.
Jim Braun February 15, 2013 at 01:40 PM
Shocking. I could have never seen this coming. LOL
Steve Bristol February 15, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Agree with them or not, it is up to the CTA itself to determine what is a positive direction..not the First Selectman. From all I hear and read, the CTA obviously feels that spending $65 million on Morgan Junior is a negative direction. Many voters obviously feel the same way. Beyond that, those outside the MBC have no real say in the project, certainly none of those who stand opposed. It has been the same for any project I have followed in this town. Basically, they get their money and they decide how to spend it. In fact, I have personally been told on another project "what difference does it make how we spend it...we got the money." There's but one way to change things in this town....The American Way--vote new people into office who are more in line with your ideas and principles...whatever party they affiliate themselves with. Until that occurs, we have to be satisfied with trying to hold those folks' feet to the fire as best we can. Steve
Jay February 15, 2013 at 02:49 PM
Let us get the story straight. The building project passed by only 40 votes - out of thousands. A vote margin this small is a disaster for an issue that is going to cost every household so much for so many years. It is convenient for some to claim victory but history has shown repeatedly when you do not have a significant majority on any issue of this magnitude statesmen - they are the ones history regards as having done well for their people - drop back and rethink the entire plan. The proposed revote is a positive and direct way to do that..
Clinton Parent February 15, 2013 at 04:01 PM
I feel for the CTA, no one wants to pay more taxes, but I think in the long run it will make Clinton a more desirable town to families looking to move to the shoreline and eventually raise home values. I'm more concerned with our test scores and the cost/student ratio and agree with CTA that a new school isn't necessarily an answer to those issues...but we still need a better high school. Putting a band aide on Morgan is not a long term solution and it will never be a "good time" to spend the money, let's just bite the bullet and get it over with. Lastly, why fight a losing battle? There was a vote and CTA lost, move on! I'm not happy with many votes but I'm not crying for a "do over" every time a vote doesn't go my way.
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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