The Fight to Vote

03Jun15
Mayor Repellent

Mayor Repellent

The citizens of Stratford won a victory yesterday with Judge Bellis’ decision to order the Town Clerk to accept the voter’s petition. While it is indeed a victory reaffirming that the right to vote exists even in Stratford, it is a sad victory. Our mayor, Town attorney and seven members of the Town Council believed that they, and only they, had the authority to decide everything for themselves without the participation of the residents and voters of Stratford.

They were wrong.

What is sad and unfortunate for us is that they really believed they could get away with it. Particularly Mayor John Harkins and Town Attorney Tim Bishop (neither of whom had the guts to show up in court, by the way). Harkins went so far as to threaten Town Clerk Susan Pawluk with immediate termination if she accepted the 6,000+ signature petition. Tim Bishop actually believed that a single unrelated sentence in a single paragraph in the entire collection of Connecticut State Statutes would eliminate our First Amendment rights. They really thought no one would care or have the energy to defend our right to vote.

They were wrong.

The seven members on the Council who blithely went along with whatever Harkins wanted no matter what it cost the taxpayer or how negatively it would impact the Town in the future thought they could just vote quietly and be done with it. Some of them even signed the petition so they could claim both positions if they were ever questioned. They truly thought no one would notice how they voted.

They were wrong.

Now it is up to us to make sure that this effort does not go wasted. Surely this mayor and these councilmen will have something else planned that will thwart the will of the people. We must continue to pay attention, act and most importantly, vote. We must do this because

We are right.

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35 Responses to “The Fight to Vote”

  1. Well said. I just posted this elsewhere so I thought I would save time and regurgitate it: the Mayor has been given an opportunity to make his case to the voters in town. He should urge the Town Council to put this measure on the ballot in November and then he can campaign for it. I would think GNHWPCA could assist with some glitzy PR. Council candidates could campaign for, or against, the sale. If the Mayor’s cause is just, he will prevail. If not, it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

  2. 2 jezebel282

    If there were such a thing as the Jezebel Award for Citizenship it would go to Marianne Antezzo, Matthew Catalano, Lisa Donnelly, Tina Marie Manus, Philip Young and Benjamin Proto.

    Since there is no such thing, we can only offer them our deepest thanks and congratulations for a job well and truly done.

  3. 3 jezebel282

    Very honorable mentions go to Mark Dumas, Henry Bruce and Thomas Yemm for their organization, communication and expertise.

  4. 4 stfdprofessor1

    Looking at all of the for sale signs around town I’d say many are voting with their feet (including Jody Harkins)- http://m.ctpost.com/local/article/Stratford-mayor-s-home-to-be-listed-6302683.php

    I’m ready to be Mulligan’s campaign manager. Our slogan could be “DUMP JOHN HARKINS- his wife did…what are we waiting for?”

  5. 5 stratfordvillageidiot

    I concur on a ‘Citizenship Award’ for the Antezzo, Catalano, Donnelly, Manus, Young and Proto along with the honorable mentions to Dumas, Bruce and Yemm. Kudos to all of you.

    You provided a platform for the people of Stratford to be heard and the Judge listened. I think the framers would be proud of this small town victory.

    It’s time for John Harkins, his cronies and his $108,000 economic development budget line item to move on.

  6. 6 jezebel282

    OK. Celebration over. Get back to work.

    This battle being won, there is still a war to fight. You can be assured Harkins is in his office wondering how he will get even with us lowly citizens. Remember, he has seven guaranteed votes on the Council. We already know that these seven dwarfs will vote for anything Harkins wants.

    Instead of rescinding the exorbitant raises Harkins has given out to his at-will employees or reigning in the ridiculous amounts of overtime he allows in certain departments, he will probably layoff a few annoying union employees and call for a “special levy” or an increased mill rate. And he won’t forget the sewer fees either. He’ll definitely raise those. He may even be mad enough to eliminate a service or two. Like leaf/yard waste or large item collection.

    Of course, some expenses will remain untouched. Like the $108,000 salary for the Economic Development Director or the $175,000 yearly loss at Short Beach Golf Course.

  7. 7 stfdprofessor1

    “Like the $108,000 salary for the Economic Development Director”

    Probably the best example of his blatent disrespect for the collective intelligence of we Stratford taxpayers.

  8. 8 jezebel282

    Prof,

    We are sticking with Harkins belief that Stratford citizens do not have the right to vote as the best example.

  9. 9 1cyclops

    Jezebel,
    You are “right-on” as usual. We all have to brace ourselves for the “Special Levy” because that will come first. In fact, that will be the beginning of the people’s initiative to amend the charter from mayor to town manager. After that, we’ll be in professional management mode once again.

  10. 10 stratfordvillageidiot

    When issues get too complicated voters tune out. The $108,000 line item is something they can easily grasp. Whoever throws their hat in for the next Mayoral race needs to remember this.

    The point is—with this latest setback in court Harkins is now in a fishbowl.

  11. 11 jezebel282

    It would not surprise me in the least, even with this latest well, bitchslap by the court and the $5+million hole that the council dug itself that these morons think they are doing great and everyone just loves them.

    They probably all think they will be re-elected. (Well, not Gavin Forrester. He wasn’t elected in the first place. )

  12. 12 stfdprofessor1

    “After that, we’ll be in professional management mode once again.”

    Praise the Lord, the management level after the departure of the town manager is below the level of rank amateur. although Mayor “John” makes Mayor Moron look like a nuclear physicist.

    As for Gavin, I wonder if he is bright enough to see that his aspirations for emporer…errrrr…mayor have been dashed on the rocks of arrogance.

  13. 13 jezebel282

    After a careful reading of Judge Bellis’ decision, we believe the Court has provided only two choices to the Council. Repeal their actions or schedule a referendum.

    The Stratford Star report that there are three options is, not surprisingly, wrong. But that’s what happens when you only listen to the mayor’s office instead of doing your job.

  14. 14 stfdprofessor1

    There is always “option 3” with these bozo’s. Option 3 is to use the Taxpayers money to fight the Taxpayers (enriching the town attorney et al along the way).

    I’d “bet the farm” on option 3 along with a mini tax to keep we “dim witted peasants” in line.

    Our best choice may be another petition drive to hold a referendum to restore the town charter to the last revision that contained a Town Manager.

    Perhaps a second referendum to hire a full time attorney or two on staff full time to handle ALL of the town’s legal matters.

    We could pay for these attorneys simply by cutting the excessive staff hired under the mayoral system (Mayor, CAO, chief of staff, assistant after assistant, strumpet to the mayor, and so on) and putting the registrars back to part time of course. Wouldn’t that save MILLIONS right off the bat?

  15. 15 jezebel282

    Prof,

    You are correct. The arrogance of Harkins knows no limit. He is using taxpayer’s money to fight the taxpayers.

  16. 16 stratfordvillageidiot

    I just read the article about Harkins and his spin on Stratford’s bleak future in the CT Post. I believe this man is clueless and has outlived his expiration date as Mayor.

    http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Harkins-Town-faces-a-bleak-future-if-treatment-6311573.php

  17. 17 stfdprofessor1

    “Everything that they’re doing destroys the town of Stratford,” Harkins said. “This will mean higher taxes and it’ll drive away economic development. They want layoffs and fewer town services.”

    Oh here he goes “the sky is falling, lay-offs, reduced services” BUT NOT A PEEP ABOUT REDUCING THE DOUBLE DIGIT RAISES HE AND THE CLOWNCIL GAVE TO HIS CRONIES IN TOWN HALL…like his girlfriend who got the biggest raise of all.

    DUMP HARKINS…his wife already did, what are we waiting for?

  18. 18 1cyclops

    The Mayor’s news article addressed to the town’s citizens, putting them “on notice” attests to his serious leadership flaws.

  19. 19 stfdprofessor1

    http://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/CaseDetail/PublicCaseDetail.aspx?DocketNo=FBTCV156049887S

    Here they go people…OPTION 3

    Motion for Judgement and a Motion for Stay

    Our tax dollars at work- fighting…well, us!

  20. 20 jezebel282

    Not much of a surprise here. Of course Pullman & Comley are one of the most expensive law firms in Connecticut. But what does Harkins care? It’s our money after all. The nerve of us wanting to vote!

    It should be interesting. Harkins ordered the suspension of counting the petition signatures before the motions were written. We don’t think it’s possible to insult a judge more effectively. It appeared to be a direct order of the Court. Harkins obviously has more authority than a mere judge.

  21. 21 stfdprofessor1

    Sounds like another monarch we had in that office…”I am the f#@k!ng mayor and I can do whatever I want!”

    I have a hunch these political careers will be ending in similar fashion.

  22. 22 jezebel282

    Notwithstanding Matt Catalano’s bravura performance (https://youtu.be/Jqh1X6orKQo) at the last council meeting, apparently members of this council refuse to accept any reality other than the one given to them by Harkins/Decilio. They actually believe that for whatever reason, they can totally ignore the voters and taxpayers of Stratford and that somehow, somewhere some court will agree with them. No matter how much it costs the taxpayer.

    In case you have forgotten who these people are, allow us to remind you once again:

    Gavin Forrester (R)
    Joseph Kubic (R)
    Peter Massey, (R)
    Brian Dempsey, (R)
    Ken Poisson (R)
    James J. Connor, Jr. (R)
    Jason W. Santi (D)

    Sure are a lot of “R’s” aren’t there?

    What we are experiencing is unique. We our being told by our municipal government that we, as citizens, have no right whatsoever to participate in our government. Forget the rules that we voted for, forget the agreement and sworn statements to abide by them. And, oh by the way, forget that whole democracy thing that we are supposed to live by in this country. None of that applies if a mayor and seven councilmen feel that it is their God given right to determine our futures for us. It must be God-given because the voters certainly did not give them that right.

    And in case you have forgotten already, their names are:

    John Harkins (R)
    Gavin Forrester (R)
    Joseph Kubic (R)
    Peter Massey, (R)
    Brian Dempsey, (R)
    Ken Poisson (R)
    James J. Connor, Jr. (R)
    Jason W. Santi (D)

  23. 23 jezebel282

    Update:

    To no one’s surprise, Harkins is making a last ditch appeal to the CT Supreme Court to see if he can find anyone to agree that citizens do not have a right to vote.
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/37267/town-files-to-supreme-court-for-expedited-wpca-appeal/

    Harkins is making incredibly bad choices for himself and the citizens of Stratford. And let’s make no mistake. These are choices that Harkins has made all by himself. Not a single choice has been forced by events or catastrophes. He has chosen to give up his family, he has chosen to use tax money to reward (extremely) personal relations, he has used tax dollars to solidify political support and, as we know, tried to sell off Town assets to cover this debt. He is making it worse by using tax dollars to fight taxpayers.

    (The last time we checked, Pullman & Comley, the law firm that is fighting Stratford citizens, charges $1,500 hour. They get more for appeals. Maybe Harkins got a deal?)

    Here is a mayor that along with the only seven souls in Stratford that think selling the WPCA is a good idea is telling citizens that they have no right to petition for a referendum and vote on the matter. Even though the Charter we voted on clearly says that is our right.

    But Pullman & Comley will argue that there is a sentence in the CT General Statute that says referendums are not permitted after you have joined a regional water pollution control authority and have agreed to bond debt. The question here is whether or not Stratford had become an “official” member with the mumbled votes of seven weak and stupid councilmen. Or, as our charter clearly states, the voters have the last say.

    We wonder if Pullman & Comley will include the violation of CGA “Sec. 7-267. Use of funds. All benefit assessments and charges for connection with or use of the sewerage system, whether pledged for payment of bonds or notes or otherwise, shall be kept separate from other funds of the municipality and shall be used for the sewerage system, including the payment of debt incurred for the sewerage system and interest thereon, and for no other purpose.” http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap103.htm#Sec7-267.htm

    Harkins and his RTC Council have been violating this one since he took office.

    Are some statutes worth enforcing and some not?

  24. 24 jezebel282

    Update:

    Harkins denied request for expedited appeal.

    Citizens 4
    Harkins 0

  25. 25 jezebel282

    Update:

    “The wheels of justice turn slowly. While we believe the town’s interpretation of state law to be correct, we have decided to withdraw our appeal of the Superior Court decision,” Harkins said.
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/37730/stratford-will-end-appeal-of-wpca-court-rulings/

    Slowly? Is Harkins off his meds again? It seems the wheels turned pretty damned fast to us. in less than 30 days, Harkins lost four separate times in court. Every Court.

    The Court moves pretty quickly when it comes to the denial of the basic Constitutional rights of 32,000+ registered voters. The Court has said four times that Tim Bishop’s opinion is incorrect.

    “I believe the proposal to regionalize approved by the WPCA will win at referendum on its merits.”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    And while we are on this subject, it seems Trumbull is looking for someone with a sewer plant.
    “The most plausible solution is Trumbull connecting to neighboring Stratford, or a combination of Stratford and Fairfield,“Herbst said. http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Trumbull-Bridgeport-reach-tentative-sewer-pact-6354600.php

    I guess that would be interesting to a Stratford mayor only if he were interested in actually regionalizing instead of cashing a quick check.

  26. 26 jezebel282

    Of course it’ gets kind of worse when we find out that Tim Bishop and the attorney for GNHWPCA were at one time members of the same firm, wait for it…Pullman and Comley.

  27. 27 jezebel282

    And while we’re on the subject of voting, apparently Rich Fredette doesn’t live close enough to Gavin Forrester to be in the 7th District. Rich is just a couple of hundred feet short. Which means Fredette will run for Council in the 2nd ( assuming he’s not in jail in November) District while Gavin runs in the 7th. Wouldn’t we be lucky? Both Gavin and Rich on the Council!

    http://www.jud2.ct.gov/crdockets/CaseDetail.aspx?source=Pending&Key=0f92934d-66a1-4156-9d61-8189d1320700

  28. 28 stfdprofessor1

    Looks like the town withdrew its appeal to the appellate court: http://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/DocumentInquiry/DocumentInquiry.aspx?DocumentNo=9150115

    Wonder if they came to their senses…Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh

  29. 29 jezebel282

    Prof,

    Not when they add $500,000 to the WPCA budget to cover the expense.

  30. 30 hornrims

    Never made sense that the town with the state of the art WPCA wasn’t the one calling the shots and regionalizing with local towns.

    And, judging from the court docket info on Fredette, is he a serious candidate for the RTC? Respecting and representing the (republican) constituents never looked so ham-handed. And they call the DTC dysfunctional…..

  31. 31 jezebel282

    Amazingly, this mayor thinks that there are voters (a majority no less) that are more than willing to vote away their assets and money in November.

    This should be an interesting discussion, given Harkins membership in ALEC and it’s offshoot ACCE. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/us/alec-a-tax-exempt-group-mixes-legislators-and-lobbyists.html?_r=0

    In fact, this right wing, conservative, Republican lobbying group (http://www.alec.org/) is having its second annual meeting in a couple of weeks. We would not be surprised at all if Stratford taxpayers are funding another trip by Harkins and his Economic Development Director to the ALEC/ACCE annual meeting. This time, on the beaches of San Diego.

    “ACCE uses language strategically to make its agenda sound more appealing. As The Guardian has reported, the agenda for ACCE’s first meeting “revealingly listed ACCE’s very first workshop under the simple title: ‘Privatization’ — though in the final version the wording had been sanitized into: ‘Effective Tools for Promoting Limited Government’. “Privatization,” after all, would have made it clear that ACCE’s agenda is to transfer public assets and taxpayer dollars into private hands. But the rhetoric of “limited government” implies that ACCE is just advocating efficiency.” http://www.prwatch.org/node/12738

    Sound familiar? It does to us.

    You can be sure Harkins, after having suffered expensive (to us) defeats in different courts, will have his hand out for some of that Koch Brother’s lobbying money to fund his campaign to convince voters that he is just doing what’s best for Stratford.

    We hope that if Harkins does go to San Diego that he brings plenty of copies of his resume with him. We would love to see him hired by a lobbying firm…and out of Stratford.

  32. Isn’t he resigning soon? That’s the word on the “streets.”

  33. 33 jezebel282

    Perhaps if he does well during the interviews in San Diego…

  34. 34 jezebel282

    On the other hand, maybe selling the WPCA for the least amount possible was a test before the final interview.

    That didn’t go so well, did it?

  35. 35 jezebel282

    Update:

    Town Council sets Election Day for WPCA referendum
    Voters will decide if sewer plant should be sold to New Haven authority

    By Melvin Mason on July 13, 2015
    http://www.stratfordstar.com/38163/town-council-sets-election-day-for-wpca-referendum/

    “Bishop said he wants to make sure the questions are clear and understandable for the public.”

    This is the last thing Bishop wants. We fully expect Bishop to attempt to make the referendum question as ambiguous and unclear as possible. Remember, Bishop claimed that citizens had no right to vote in the first place.

    “The vote came after council members rejected resolutions to reconsider the sale of the sewer plant to the Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority and to reconsider the ordinance that makes Stratford a member of the GNHWPCA.”

    Having the referendum on Election Day is convenient. It saves us the trouble of recall elections. Now we can vote for whoever is running against

    Gavin Forrester (R)
    Joseph Kubic (R)
    Peter Massey, (R)
    Brian Dempsey, (R)
    Ken Poisson (R)
    James J. Connor, Jr. (R)
    Jason W. Santi (R)

    while we also vote against this horrible sale. Let’s make no mistake. These weak and stupid councilmen could have voted last night to repeal the idiotic resolutions and ordinances they passed in the first place and saved everyone the trouble of voting against it. But they still think it will pass because that’s what Harkins/Decilio tells them to think.


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