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Keeley City Council Battle Before State Supreme Court Hinges On Four Questions Of Law

December 14th, 2017 · 29 Comments · City Politics, News and Events

Supremes

Supremes accept expedited appeal.

On Dec. 21, the Connecticut Supreme Court will hear appeal arguments centered on Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis’ order for a third Democratic primary in the City Council’s 133rd District based on absentee ballot abuses. The complaint was brought by former State Rep. Bob Keeley running with zoning commissioner Anne Pappas-Phillips against party-endorsed Michael DeFilippo and incumbent Jeanette Herron who ran first and second respectively. The two top vote producers go on to the general election. The city has appealed the decision joined by other defendants.

The judge ruled, in part, that the challengers were disadvantaged by the intrusion of Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa prevailing upon Police Chief AJ Perez to assign an officer to pick up absentee ballots. Police officer Paul Nikola testified before Bellis that he was dispatched by Perez to assist Testa with picking up absentee ballots for DeFilippo, a bartender at the chairman’s restaurant. The Supremes have accepted this case on an expedited basis so a resolution will likely come in early 2018.

The city has raised four questions of law that will be considered by the Supremes:

Does Connecticut General Statutes prohibit any person other than the elector from arranging for a designee to return an elector’s absentee ballot to the Town Clerk?

Did the trial court err in rejecting twelve absentee ballots that were stamped but not postmarked on the ground that they were not “mailed” pursuant to Connecticut General Statutes?

Did the trial court err in deciding that the administration of the supervised absentee balloting at Northbridge Health Care Center did not meet the minimum standards required by law?

Did the trial court err in applying the burden of proof, and in rejecting votes validly cast by electors, thereby undermining the trial court’s conclusion that there were substantial statutory violations that left the reliability of the election seriously in doubt?

From Connecticut General Statutes:

Sec. 9-140b. (Formerly Sec. 9-146). Return of absentee ballots. Possession of ballots and envelopes restricted. (a) An absentee ballot shall be cast at a primary, election or referendum only if: (1) It is mailed by (A) the ballot applicant, (B) a designee of a person who applies for an absentee ballot because of illness or physical disability, or (C) a member of the immediate family of an applicant who is a student, so that it is received by the clerk of the municipality in which the applicant is qualified to vote not later than the close of the polls; (2) it is returned by the applicant in person to the clerk by the day before a regular election, special election or primary or prior to the opening of the polls on the day of a referendum; (3) it is returned by a designee of an ill or physically disabled ballot applicant, in person, to said clerk not later than the close of the polls on the day of the election, primary or referendum; (4) it is returned by a member of the immediate family of the absentee voter, in person, to said clerk not later than the close of the polls on the day of the election, primary or referendum; (5) in the case of a presidential or overseas ballot, it is mailed or otherwise returned pursuant to the provisions of section 9-158g; or (6) it is returned with the proper identification as required by the Help America Vote Act, P.L. 107-252, as amended from time to time, if applicable, inserted in the outer envelope so such identification can be viewed without opening the inner envelope. A person returning an absentee ballot to the municipal clerk pursuant to subdivision (3) or (4) of this subsection shall present identification and, on the outer envelope of the absentee ballot, sign his name in the presence of the municipal clerk, and indicate his address, his relationship to the voter or his position, and the date and time of such return. As used in this section, “immediate family” means a dependent relative who resides in the individual’s household or any spouse, child or parent of the individual.

(b) As used in this section and section 9-150c, “designee” means (1) a person who is caring for the applicant because of the applicant’s illness or physical disability, including but not limited to, a licensed physician or a registered or practical nurse, (2) a member of the applicant’s family, who is designated by an absentee ballot applicant and who consents to such designation, or (3) if no such person consents or is available, then a police officer, registrar of voters, deputy registrar of voters or assistant registrar of voters in the municipality in which the applicant resides.

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29 Comments so far ↓

  • Joel Gonzalez

    “Court should exercise caution and restraint in deciding whether to order new election; two-part standard established for such decisions; plenary scope of review of trial court decision is appropriate, no special need for speed and finality for trial court decision under circumstances of this case; “rulings of the election official” defined, and “mistake in the count of the votes” interpreted and applied. 250 C. 241.”

    https://law.justia.com/codes/connecticut/2005/title9/sec9-328.html

  • Joel Gonzalez

    I was looking through the SEEC’s meetings/agendas and I can’t find any complaints from Bob Keeley or Ann Phillips. I checked here:

    http://www.ct.gov/seec/cwp/view.asp?a=3548&Q=588506

    “In any action brought pursuant to the provisions of this section, the complainant shall send a copy of the complaint by first-class mail, or deliver a copy of the complaint by hand, to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. If such complaint is made prior to such election or primary, such judge shall proceed expeditiously to render judgment on the complaint and shall cause notice of the hearing to be given to the Secretary of the State and the State Elections Enforcement Commission.”

    If Bob Keeley or his attorney failed to follow the legal procedure as stated above, could the case be over on a technicality? This is from the 2005 revised version but, I have the Blue Book revised in 2009.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      The transcript were forwarded to the State’s Attorney, the Department of Justice, the SEEC and other relevant agencies by Judge Bellis.

  • John Marshall Lee

    So, the City is hiring an outside attorney to provide expertise before the Supreme Court in defending the above questions? Three questions ask whether the Trial Judge made an error, don’t they?

    Absurdity compounded…..we had a primary…..a “missing” ballot showed up….court….interruption of testimony….backroom hush-hush…..we have a do-over with court ordered oversight…. and the subject of absent ballot handling again comes into question…

    We have Mr. Gonzalez charitably pursuing lifetime learning through reading and opining on Statutes (for the defense, presumably) and then there are the rest of us, paying taxes for the “work” that must be done, re-done, and here we go again! Would we get a better result if the Bellis courtroom was still open to hear completed questions and answers from ROV, DTC CHair, etc. as sworn testimony? Just the facts, ma’m, just the facts? Time will tell.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Hey dumb ass, If your friends at the library took the time to read the Statutes, they would have know that it’s prohibited to use state or municipality fund to support or defeat a referendum question–$14,422 dollars. You’re cherry picking issues as you go along and simply don’t want to see that your friends are doing what you guys accuse other of doing. You milk the system too, you had the balls to question my job and how much I make. Twice, during this election cycle, you took $500 for 14 hours of mostly standing around.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Your reference to $500 for 14 hours of work this election cycle, Joel? Is this another fact based sally into a land you don’t know? What are you trying to say, mumble, stumble or tell to the public, Joel? Joel I believe that you are paid, through work for the Department of Public Works for hours spent (hopefully not standing around, because you disdain that). What does “you took $500″ mean? Ready to ask forgiveness for a false story?
        You are angry about the Library system. Tough. Obviously the voting public, in contrast to the “standing around” public is in favor of the Library system. Have you heard a rumor, unconfirmed at this moment, that Mayor Ganim is holding up a number of Library assignments from approval though they are budgeted and may cause reduction in hours? How does that type of selective, punitive and vengeful action, if the rumor is accurate, look on campaign for governor advertising. Libraries are more popular than you think in this town. And now for your answer, Joel? Time will tell.

      • Frank Gyure

        Why is Joel Gonzalez doing Avi Harris’ work?????????

        • John Marshall Lee

          Frank,
          Is it because Joel is willing to say things that Av Harris will not? And Joel can be dismissed as a malcontent and ignored by the hierarchy. But if Joel has financial issues (and who does not from time to time) and receives help of any kind, even a kind word, perhaps his “voice” has been purchased? Only Joel can know for sure. And only Joel’s behavior and daily words can point to his mindset and loyalty.
          It is interesting to speculate on the silence from Steve Auerbach last month and a 24/7 edition of J.Gonzalez- supporter of the Ganim movement. Or is it my imagination? I have been commenting on fiscal matters for years now, but all of a sudden Joel enters the field of battle with an argumentum ad hominem about JML and money? Let’s get Joel to spit this one out? Time will tell.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Joel read “Democracy for Dummies.” Now he’s a self-important know-it-all of the subject.

  • Bob Walsh

    Be careful what you ask here because the answers may not be what you expected.

    • Joel Gonzalez

      I never enter into any research with any expected results. I checked the only place where any indication of SEEC complaints filed might appear. I say “might appear” because, it seems like SEEC are intentionally hiding two major complaints I filed over 3 years ago but, that’s another story. If you know something that’s a fact relating to this specific area of the subject, feel free to share or just ‘”shut the fuck up” as TBK would put i…………..t..

      • John Marshall Lee

        Joel,
        It is a new day. What light does it cast on your research and report mission, any of it? You made dishonest statements about City funds and me and it is time to own up to your errors. You called me out:
        “Hey dumb ass, ……. You milk the system too, you had the balls to question my job and how much I make. Twice, during this election cycle, you took $500 for 14 hours of mostly standing around.”
        Don’t think I ever questioned what you make but learned from you that you are employed by Public Works and not Police Department though you may serve in a police facility. Only trying to find whom you report to in the municipal hierarchy.
        So put up “the facts”, tell OIB readers that you made a mistake in accusing me of receiving pay from anyone for my volunteer hours on any topic, or slink away. Where’s your self-respect man? Time will tell.

  • Bob Walsh

    Bring it on. This is Bridgeport’s little secret. Time to open the door and let the sun shine in!!!

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    As long as this is an active court case it ill not be going away any time soon.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Kid you’re right, but the hearing scheduled for the primary issue will be expedited and heard next week. There’s a possibility a decision cold be made that day.

  • Maria Pereira

    We all owe Max Medina gratitude for his thoroughness and smarts in documenting so many irregularities.

    I never thought of the mailroom, but now the AB pickups need to be watched like a hawk.

  • Lisa Parziale

    Little by little all of Testo’s angle’s are being revealed and made public. If there’s anyone dumb or desperate enough to seek his help they deserve what they get themselves into. This is sport and fill-in for a man with no life, don’t let him take anybody else down because he requires the need of feeling more than an older man, alone with his restaurants. OMG I know how mean this sounds, but I’m an older, experience woman who doesn’t give a damn about what Testo thinks.

  • Bob Halstead

    Again, one who decides to take on the machine has an uphill battle. This is not a “lame excuse”, but here is beaucoup Bridgeport tax payer money being used to defend corruption and fraud while we have the honest plaintiff going into his own pockets to try to make reforms to the system.
    I know the feeling. Still too many influential ostensibly respectable people in these environs think that this is just OK.

    • Lisa Parziale

      Bob so what??? If it takes a few uphill battles to change the status quo, we do it. Half the City Council was replaced because some were willing to fight the battle, I don’t know how these new candidates work out in the end, but we know we tried and won. Don’t get discouraged and give up, that attitude keeps the City tied to corruption and altered election results. The second round starts in a month, every district should take a good look at the members serving and evaluate their worth and dedication to the responsibilities these seats carry. Some will, some won’t, but if some get off their butts and leave their comfy homes to venture out into the elements, we come a little closer to eliminating the predators.

  • Rich Augustynowicz

    Exactly right Bob. Just like Defilippo/Willinger’s scheme of changing the liquor rules to benefit one person and damn everyone else. Creatively they dropped it with OPED so that going forward with the scheme the taxpayers front most of their costs while the people fighting their underhanded attempt have to reach into their pockets. If OPED was “above reproach” this thing would be rightfully dead. Instead, we not only have to fight their scheme but we now also have to fight ILLEGAL proposals by OPED in addition to Defilippo/Willingers initial failed attempts. If OPED prevails then the appeal in Superior Court will cost the taxpayers even more money. All for one person affiliated with the corrupt group responsible for how many negative/corrupt issues associated with them!!!!!

  • Rich Augustynowicz

    Actually, a better term I should use would be Judge Bellis’ words to describe this “group”—“dishonest and corrupt”. !!!

  • Bob Halstead

    Lisa
    I’m answering the “so what”? Question
    My statement about the obvious travesty of taxpayer money spent to support corruption and dishonesty for elected officials and politicians is “what” because no one in any media outlook or social media has mentioned it.
    How do you stand, Lisa, on the liquor store issue?

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    The way it looks now the city’s challenge to Judge Bellis’s order will not pass muster. There is documentation of criminal activities.

  • Rich Augustynowicz

    Kid- really?! That’s just to good to be true and I hope you’re right.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Read the Post’s coverage, Rich. It started to unravel when Don Clemons, on advice of counsel, invoked his First Amendment right against self incrimination. Max Medina’s report and testimony was pretty damning. He is an officer of the court with an impeccable reputation. He has no reason to commit perjury. Officer Nikola is a decorated law enforcement professional with thirty years of service behind him. He has no reason to commit perjury. He was in fact puzzled by Chief Perez’s order to collect absentee ballots at the direction of Mario Testa and Michael DeFilippo. The CT. Supreme Court takes an extremely dim view of crooked political activities like stuffing ballot boxes, gerrymndering voting districts, etc.

      Ernie Newton is a prime example of good triumphing over the Evil Empire. He was not the endorsed candidate and he won a seat on the City Council, without any special effects by zindustrial Light & Magic.

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