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."