UPDATE: The hearing to decide Mary-Jane Foster’s ballot appearance for mayor began Monday morning in Bridgeport Superior Court. In this corner for the plaintiffs, attorneys Alan Neigher and Michele Mount. In the corner for the defendant (Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala), Deputy City Attorney Art Laske.
Attorneys for both sides don’t expect a lengthy process in Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis’ courtroom, maybe a day or two for testimony, with a possible Democratic primary for mayor Sept. 13. Ayala is expected to be called to the stand by lawyers representing Foster and her slate of candidates rejected by Ayala as a result of a technicality over one too many candidates for Board of Education.
Foster’s campaign manager Jason Bartlett is also expected to testify. The OIB party Friday night at Bijou Theatre was a hoot. Both Bartlett and Laske attended the party. Jason meet Art; Art say hello to Jason. Soon enough they’ll meet in the courtroom. Foster’s lawyers are also expected to introduce a video discussion of campaign officials requesting petition papers from Ayala at the Registrar’s Office.
Foster’s lawyers will make their case why the judge should place her slate on the ballot. Ayala, according to the court complaint, abused her position, democracy and the law by denying Foster in a bizarre decision. Laske will argue that Ayala applied the law correctly. Maybe the outcome wasn’t popular but the law is the law is the law. We’ll see what Judge Bellis decides.
A bunch of folks at the OIB party asked me what the judge will do. I haven’t a clue. Could we see some surprises? Of course. Surprise! It’s Bridgeport.
I might have limited internet access the next couple of days. Meanwhile let’s have a spirited–but clean–debate why Foster should be, or should not be, placed on the ballot. Shoot, if there are no elections I’m out of business.
The law and the facts are on MJF’s side. Neigher and Mount will argue both. Santa Ayala is the biggest embarrassment to Bridgeport since John Fabrizi testified as a character witness for a sexual predator.
Not having Mary-Jane Foster on the ballot could be the worst thing that could happen to the Finch Campaign. Four years ago he defeated Chris Caruso by just a handful of votes. Declaring victory was not easy for Finch. This time around could be worse. There is a tidal wave of support for Mary-Jane Foster. If you think the protests around the world as well as here in the United States have been spectacles the like we have not seen before, wait and see. The outrage of the people has come to the point where they want Finch’s head on a silver platter.
What’s the news on the legal front?
Hardship builds character, eh? It also strengthens resolve. The Democratic Town Committee under the chairmanship of Mario Testa has stooped to a new low by maneuvering Santa Ayala to reject the Foster campaign’s petitions, petitions Ms. Ayala, the Democratic Registrar of Voters, knew to be flawed. She had the unmitigated chutzpa to ask for them to be returned so she could add another flaw. As a public servant it is Ms. Ayala’s job to uphold the integrity and fairness of the electoral process. She forgot it is the voters she is answerable to, not the chairman of a corrupt and morally bankrupt party apparatus.
Bill Finch, the incumbent, has shown himself to be a shameless operator, denying the people’s right to have a say in the management of the city’s school system. When the public complained Mr. Finch responded by saying many parents of Bridgeport’s school children couldn’t vote because they are illegal immigrants or criminals.
This from a man who has been misusing campaign funds since he first ran for public office in 2001. Excuse me Mr. Mayor, had to point out the obvious. Joe Ganim and Ernie Newton went to prison for similar crimes. You are not above the law. William Beccaro can issue all the nondenial denials he wants to but none of it changes one simple fact: You are not above the law or the wrath of the voters.
I hope there isn’t a “curfew” in OIB too. Everybody involved in the court case tomorrow morning better go and lay their heads on the pillow–“Bird Pillow” for some–and get ready for legal arguments. Lennie, what kind of shit is that–an 8 p.m. curfew in the heat of an election?
I guess I’ll be in violation and go with the schedule of putting back the “Foster” lawn signs while the rest of y’all lay yo’ heads on the pillow.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time analyzing the events that led to this lawsuit. A Democratic Registrar of Voters rejects a petition for inclusion on the primary ballot, rejects it on the grounds it is flawed. After spending more than a week verifying the signatures the petition is rejected. It is claimed the ROV’s attorney, personal friend and brother of a disgraced former mayor, noticed the flaws in the petition. It is later revealed the ROV in question knew the petition was flawed before it was issued, had in fact asked for it to be returned to the registrar’s office so another flaw could be added before it was circulated for signatures.
The one question no one from the Registrar of Voters or the Mayor’s office is able or willing to answer is: How does this benefit the people of the city of Bridgeport? There is no way to justify the ROV’s rejection of the Foster petition, no way the decision can be rationalized as being in the public’s best interest. It was a decision that wasn’t made in the ROV’s best interest as there could be criminal penalties. It wasn’t even made in the mayor’s best interest. He didn’t want the job to begin with and he hasn’t been expending a lot of effort to retain the position. The dirty work has been left to the DTC minions who lurk in every corner, every nook and cranny of the City Hall Annex. Mario Testa, chairman of the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee (a rather undemocratic organization), is afraid of losing control over City Hall. Mr. Testa is not concerned about what is best for the people of the city of Bridgeport. No, it’s all about power, control, politics as sport. A well-attended rally for democracy on the front steps of City Hall Annex surely must’ve given him pause.
The mayor has been having so much fun getting reimbursed for shopping trips to Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, TJ Maxx and the grocery store. he’s been blithely unconcerned about the day-to-day management of the city’s affairs. The mayor was so busy trying to take greater control over the administration and finances of the school system, he forgot to inform the voters they might have a say in the decision. When the voters complained about this deliberate disenfranchisement the mayor claimed “democracy doesn’t work” in this case, so many of Bridgeport’s parents are illegal immigrants or criminals and were effectively left out of the process because of it. The mayor was having so much fun taking trips to Denver Colorado and Washington DC, he forgot all about promising $600 worth of tax relief.
The mayor, in a feeble attempt to shore up flagging public support, took advantage of a natural disaster, going door-to-door in his shirtsleeves to warn people of the impending storm. It certainly looked like a photo op. Were it not an election year the mayor most likely would’ve stayed home, watching News 12 and leaving the management of the situation to his subordinates.
Mary-Jane Foster is seeking to overturn Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala’s decision to reject the petition noted in the first paragraph. The suit will be heard Monday morning at 9:30 in Judge Barbara Bellis’ courtroom. Ms. Foster is represented by the formidable legal team of Michele Mount and Alan Neigher, the latter a noted first-amendment attorney. The defendant will be represented by Deputy City Attorney Art Laske. Paul Ganim, Ms. Ayala’s friend, personal attorney, judge of probate and brother of disgraced former mayor Joseph P. Ganim, is also expected. After a day or two of motions, testimony, examination and cross examination, summations and rebuttals Judge Bellis is expected to issue her decision by Wednesday or Thursday. Ms. Ayala, responsible for last year’s ballot shortage that embarrassed the city on a national level, should resign from office, regardless of the judge’s opinion in the case.
Switch to decaf–you posted this at 1:09am! On and on all day & night! Give it a rest, the redundancy is overwhelming at this point.
I hope I am wrong; however I do not think this case will be decided on the merits but rather on the politics. If I am correct then those in power will keep it, while those who are trying to give the city some semblance of democracy will lose.
If the people who win are the corrupt people in power, this will be appealed. That will go beyond the primary date with the biggest losers being those of us who remember what democracy used to be like.
I think you are wrong. The case will be decided based on the law and the facts. Judges don’t like to be overruled by appellate courts, and Judge Bellis is no exception. And the plaintiff’s attorneys have presented the court with a well-argued brief. The city of Bridgeport is being represented by Arthur Laske, deputy City Attorney. Santa Ayala is also being represented by Paul Ganim, who may instruct his client to cite the 5th Amendment in response to certain questions.
You know, Chris Carson was right, a lot of people including myself thought he should have talked about something else; Chris Caruso was right, CORRUPTION.
That’s the battle. We didn’t choose it, it chose us. I can appreciate the pessimism expressed by others, but Mario Testa’s reach does not extend to superior court judges who are appointed, not elected.
Lennie: The MJF legal team’s brief has been mentioned here. Can you get a copy and put it up here? I am curious to see what the MJF camp’s arguments actually are.
Here is the PDF file:
The law is the law, the MJ camp screwed up. Now … the fact Santa didn’t point this out, that is what the court is deciding in my opinion.
The law is the law, to be sure. Denise Merrill provided the wrong statute to Santa Ayala for justification. The language of the statute does not include the word “primaries” anywhere in the text, referring only to general elections.
Furthermore, Santa Ayala is on the record saying she knew the petitions were flawed before she passed them to the Foster campaign. As a public servant she should’ve corrected the flaws before handing the petitions out. That she didn’t proves one of two things: She’s either woefully ignorant of the responsibilities of the job she was elected to do; or she committed a criminal act. Either way she was wrong.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES.
Hurricane Irene brings back Obama’s uncle:
Now here’s the rub.
Finch said he welcomes a primary, right?
It’s obvious they told Santa to find a loophole to decertify, then prove you welcome a primary and order to certify, no?
• Bill Finch is a liar. We know this to be true because he promised a $600 tax rebate he knew would never materialize.
• We also know him to be a crook–several well-researched articles in the Connecticut Post have detailed his laundering of unspent funds from his 2007 mayoral campaign.
• And we know him to be, if it needs to be said, a fraud. Mr. Finch is a man who wanted to be Secretary of State, wanted to increase the amount of participation in the electoral process, or so he claimed.
The Bridgeport Kid, you said Mr. Finch wanted to be Secretary of State. Hmmm, interesting, if you look back at the court records and Post articles from the late 1980s to the early 1990s concerning voting rights for blacks and Latinos in Bridgeport that was filed by the NAACP, the court found the ten voting districts needed to be changed to reflect the makeup of their residents. City Councilman Bill Finch helped in redrawing those ten district lines. Ralph Ford, Ed Gomes and Chris Caruso were all displaced from their voting district. So you can see he has the skills too …
And now he wants to deny the people’s right to due process when it suits his purposes.
He’s done some good, I’ll give him that. Whatever good Mr. Finch has accomplished over the course of his career as an elected official is completely negated by his incompetence. As mayor Mr. Finch has shown nothing but apathy for the people of the city of Bridgeport, only indifference to the people’s right to be included in decisions affecting all of us. This business about asking the state to take over the BOE? He and John Ramos presented it as an anguished decision made after only a few days. It was an act, a dog-and-pony show. Finch had been consulting with others for at least six months. When the public expressed outrage all he could say was “Democracy doesn’t work …” in this instance because so many of Bridgeport’s parents are illegal immigrants or convicted criminals.
Mary-Jane Foster is the strongest candidate to challenge the status quo, the strongest to come along in decades. Bill Finch represents the intransigence of the DTC under Mario Testa’s leadership. If Mr. Finch is so interested in expanding the democratic voting process, why is he going along with a program to deny Mary-Jane Foster her right to campaign for public office? Why is Mr. Finch going along with a program to deny the civil rights of the more than 3000 people who signed the primary petitions to put Ms. Foster’s name on the ballot?
In Solomonesque style, Judge Bellis will throw out the BOE candidates on Foster’s petition slate and approve the remainder.
I was at the court hearing for MJF’s case today. Court started at 10AM and was still going on at 5PM.
There was a lot of legal maneuvering for the first few hours and then a video of Jason Bartlett, MJF’s campaign manager and MJF and a few other going into the registrar’s office to pick up petitions. I don’t know why it was played as both sides stipulated to the video.
Jason Bartlett was the first witness and he was on the stand from about 12:30 until 4:15 with an hour for lunch. I thought Jason did well with the questions the city attorney asked even though I thought the same questions were being asked over and over. This is an old lawyers’ trick in trying to get the witness to change their answers. Jason did not fall for this trick, not once.
Santa went on the stand about 4:30PM and was starting to be questioned by our lawyer. That’s when the old cigarette habit hit and I went downstairs and was locked out because the building is locked at 5PM.
The courtroom was full and they used the jury box for the overflow of people. I assume court will resume Tuesday. When I find out I will post the date and time.
Thanks for the update, tc.
town committee, damn, just as I was about to say something good about you, you have to leave to have a damn cigarette.
Ron, I could not wait any longer. It’s like the old guy (me) with a prostate problem; you do what you have to do.
Tomorrow at noon. You didn’t miss anything.
*** EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED, ‘CAUSE TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT! ***
Bartlett screwed up major, he should have known the rules as a campaign manager. Gomes was alone on his petition and his manager was from Carolina.
Pray for a miracle.
Gomes isn’t a part of the lawsuit to overturn Ayala’s decision. He’s not a part of the primary ticket. You’re either ignorant or Bill Finch asked you to take Mary and Godiva’s place.
And you are taking the place of an a-hole, Kid. I’m stating the facts, Bartlett screwed up. I want MJ to win as bad as you, but I can see it for what it is. The petition clearly said three BOE spots and if she doesn’t win in court, the blame is squarely on the paid manager.
You’re not reading the statute. Denise Merrill fucked up. There’s also a strong case for violation of First Amendment rights here. First, Mary-Jane Foster’s right to seek elected office was denied by Santa Ayala on the flimsiest of technical grounds. Second, the 3100 registered voters who signed the petition are being denied their collective right to vote for the candidate of their choice. Thirdly, the statute cited by Ayala and provided by Ms. Merrill only applies to general elections. The word primary is nowhere to be found.
Ms. Ayala was obviously acting on orders. She’s not smart enough to comprehend the complexities of law as written in black and white. You continue to blame Mr. Bartlett. Why is this his fault? He had every reason to believe Santa Ayala, Democratic Registrar of Voters for many years, would provide fair and accurate forms to a petitioning candidate. She didn’t. Now she will have to testify in court. Don’t be surprised if Paul Ganim instructs her to invoke her right against self-incrimination as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That’s the only get-out-of-jail-free card she has left.
With all due respect, WINNING, as I do respect your perspective, this was an admitted mistake handled in a very underhanded way. That shows malicious intent in and of itself. If Santa would have called it as she saw it (and she claims to have known), on time, things would probably look a whole lot different to the public, legal and civic eyes. But the nature of the way things were brought to light put the whole process in question, and that is why the WHOLE process is in question. Neither side is without fault, and the fact still remains there are a whole lot of taxpaying residents who don’t get paid to look for loopholes but certainly pay FOR them, and the taxpayers want to see a primary. At the end of the day, that is what matters, and is the real issue, not the blame game.
I pointed that out in an earlier post, the judge has to figure out if Santa did what she did on purpose or was she ordered to.
I do know Bartlett was told it was 3 not 4 spaces, why 4 were submitted is the question.
By the way,
I know I’m an asshole. It’s a good gig, no heavy lifting and my nights and weekends are free.
“I do know Bartlett was told it was 3 not 4 spaces, why 4 were submitted is the question.”
If this is the case, it was not asserted in court. The earliest anybody in the courtroom claimed to know there was a restriction of 3 seats was August 18th.
The petitions originally had three names for the BOE. Santa Ayala asked they be returned so she could make changes. It was Santa Ayala who added the fourth name, not Jason Bartlett.
And you do it so well you should give yourself a raise. Exactly where did you get your law degree? You pontificate all day & into the wee hours of the morning. Clearly you are obsessed, get a job and a life, and get over yourself.
You are like a gray cloud hanging over the room. I’d pray if I were Finch and his supporters. If Mary-Jane Foster is not on the ballot she will still reign supreme and Finch will be humiliated.
Court adjourned a little after 6pm and will reconvene Tuesday at noon. The Registrar Santa Ayala now states she didn’t doubt the validity of the MJF petitions until ‘very late in the process’–TOTALLY opposite of what was stated in the CT Post article. When asked if she knew the status of the reconstitution of the Board of Education as the the petitions were submitted on August 10th, she said ‘no.’ She said she only knew what the general public knew. When she was asked whether one of her employees was an elected Board of Ed member, one of the six that voted to turn the Board over to the State, she said yes but said she didn’t talk with her about Board of Ed matters. So who is this employee of the Registrar who is also an elected member of the Board of Ed I ask? Well, she is the sister-in-law of the Democratic Town Committee 131st District leader. Talk about a small circle of friends with a Registrar who has a severe case of amnesia. Over and over she said ‘I don’t recall;’ ‘I don’t remember;’ or ‘I am not sure’ regarding phone calls or discussions where she was the participant. The questions were about what she did or said. All this from an elected official who we are supposed to trust! I truly hope this is a wake-up call for the Bridgeport voters. This city deserves better, much better.
I’m not surprised by Ms. Ayala’s short-term memory loss. Disappointed but not surprised. She might have a change of tune when confronted by statements she made to the media. She may plead the fifth at that time.
They need to put the CT Post reporter who Ayala made the statement to on the stand. She denied ever making any such statements when she was on the stand today.
Amazing she could remember she did not make those statements because she could remember very little else other than her name and address while on the stand today!!!
Perhaps Ms. Ayala is suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s.
It has been said that Santa Ayala, who is being represented by Paul Ganim, that it was Ganim who found the error with petitions. Well, I think it was former State Rep. Americo Santiago, a veteran of numerous city elections and also a former Assistant Secretary of State, now a Finch supporter, before he was a MJF supporter.
At the hearing Ayala is being represented by the City. She seems to remember she was the Registrar of Voters at one time.
I’m surprised she could remember her name …
Ron, if Americo was privy to any info (especially while actively working with the Mayor’s campaign), there should be other charges filed.
According to Dan Tepfer on Twitter today, Jason Bartlett said he thought there were nine vacancies on the BOE.
“Foster camp forgot to notify sec of state and election commission about hearing as required by law”
Thanks for posting the MJF legal team’s brief, Kid.
The first two counts really don’t allege anything factual. They simply claim Ms. Ayala interpreted the Charter and Statutes incorrectly. Judge Bellis needs no evidence for this and nothing anyone may have said today has anything to do with the first two counts.
As for the third count, this is completely weak and going nowhere. Bartlett and the rest have no one to blame but themselves.
So Judge Bellis merely has to decide whether Ms. Ayala interpreted the law correctly. And while the Secy of State office’s letter to Ms. Ayala does the usual politician waffle, it is clear it believes the interpretation made by Ms. Ayala is the correct one. Big trouble for the MJF folks.