Dems want appeal of special election decision dismissed
Published 12:06 pm, Thursday, April 20, 2017
FAIRFIELD — Now debate over an appeal have further muddied the waters on a Board of Selectmen special election set for June 6.
The plaintiffs in the court case over the Board of Selectmen election say the appeal of the ruling that ordered the election go forward should be dismissed.
The attorneys for the five Democrats, Joel Green and William Burke, filed a motion April 17 with the Appellate Court that claims the appeal of Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis’ decision to hold an election, was not made within the 20 days required by state statute.
“In this case 26 days elapsed between the issuance of the judgment on March 10, 2017, and the filing of this appeal in the Appellate Court by the defendants on April 5, 2017,” the motion states.
Meanwhile, Attorney James Baldwin, who represents the town, the Board of Selectmen, and Selectmen Chris Tymniak and Ed Bateson, came to Wednesday’s selectmen meeting and said there was an emergency situation with the case. Baldwin said under the law, there is an automatic 20-day stay of Bellis’ order but town employees, specifically the town clerk and registrars of voters, were proceeding with election preparations.
“Notwithstanding the fact, there is a stay in place,” Baldwin said, “It has come to my attention it’s not being recognized by the town clerk and registrars office.” He said he also understands that next week is a critical date for hiring people to work at the election, and ordering ballots.
Baldwin said, in his opinion, the special election is not going to be held.
The selectmen didn’t take any action on Baldwin’s statement since it was added to the agenda at the meeting itself. First Selectman Mike Tetreau said it would be better if there was advance notice. Tetreau did take the opportunity, however, to question Baldwin as to when the Board of Selectmen voted to authorize the appeal.
“I advised the Board of Selectmen of the road map likely to occur,” Baldwin said, referring to a special meeting held by Bateson and Tymniak that Tetreau contends was illegal. Because the meeting was illegal, according to Tetreau, Baldwin was not authorized to represent the town or the board until his representation was agreed to in the first court hearing. Since that court hearing, there have been no special meetings noticed to discuss strategy, and the minutes of the Bateson and Tymniak meeting show only the appointment of Baldwin.
Baldwin, a former Republican Town Committee chairman, said he told Bateson and Tymniak it was highly likely the issue would end up at the state Supreme Court “and I was authorized to do everything necessary,” including any appeals.
Baldwin originally asked Bellis to refer the matter to the state Supreme Court for expedited review. The request was denied, and Baldwin filed an application for certification directly to the state Supreme Court. That request was denied by the chief justice.
While the Supreme Court application was still pending, Baldwin filed with the Appellate Court on April 5, the 20th day after Bellis filed a post-judgment order. Six days later, on April 11, he filed a preliminary state of issues. The first issue relates to the writ of mandamus issued from the bench by Bellis, ordering the special election be held.