Water Referendum Petition

November 28, 2008 - Thumbs Up!  As seen in the Norwich Evening Sun.

New York
Supreme Court Rules Against Action Brought By Mayor, Village of Earlville

Judge rules in favor of the petition to hold a vote on the multi-million dollar water project and against all complaints by the village.

Copyright 2008 All Rights Reserved

These words continue to echo:  "The people have spoken loudly," and it couldn't be much louder than coming from the Supreme Court.  The mayor and board members, who were elected on promises that they would take any water project to the people, were challenged and lost after breaking their promises.  Being held accountable for their promises (some would call them political lies), New York Supreme Court, Madison County, ruled in favor of the petition by looking at Village Law and Election Law.  The petition submitted by the 3 witnesses and defendants had 134 signatures.  The Village of Earlville clerk, Christian Vischi, testified under questioning from the Village attorney, Willam Getman, about the list of registered voters from both Madison and Chenango Earlville residents.  He verified that a minimum number of 106 signatures was required. 

These are the objections and the judge's decision:

A. Improperly witnessed - The 3 individuals were present in the court and verified.
B. No witness statement at bottom of each page - Statement is accepted at bottom of each of 3 sections of petition.
C. Text of petition not on top of each page - Text was on top of each of the 3 sections that compiled to make up the one petition.  Substantial compliance with requirements.
D. No addresses provided on witness statements - There was found no potential for deceit, deception, or trickery.
E. Pages not consecutively numbered - This was adequately explained by defendants.
F. 2 individuals did not provide address - These are allowed as included in "village election district."
G.  Names of 6 individuals not registered, should disqualify entire petition - Names must not be considered.  134 subtract 6 makes 128 qualified and does not disqualify other signatures and petition.

A summary:  The judge found the petition, though found with "technical defficiencies," was in substantial conformity with Village Law section 9. Based on that finding, the court is denying request for relief, except for striking the 6 names.  The final argument brought by the Village attorney regarding difficulty of submitting to voters due to scheduling of funding and loan rates:  Had the petition been promptly acted upon, then some of the arguments presented may not have been reached.   The court directed the Village officials to proceed with the referendum vote.

During the court hearing, the Village attorney mentioned a letter from the health department regarding the water.  This was the first time the letter was mentioned in public forum and was previously unknown by the general public.

At a public meeting Tuesday evening, after agenda business concerning a dump truck and fire engine, the mayor spoke about the court decidion.  She said several times that she was "disheartened" because of the judge's decision and the need to move forward with the people's referendum.  She said she spoke with Kathy Goodman and was told she could hold the funding but could not guarantee the interest rate, saying there is a potential the rate could go out.  She stated that there was a misconception and she thought it was not the intention of anyone on the board to keep the public from voting on this issue.   She said she expected every member of the board to go door to door and speak to every resident about the project.  She said the board members were not there for personal agendas.  She said that she and Trustee Hayes would go to residents together to promote this project.  She said to the other trustees that she would "drag the three of you screaming down the street if I have to" to get them to go door to door.  She also said that she "will drag every single soul that lives in this community that is a registered voter to the polls."  The board voted 4-0 to take the project to referendum, the mayor remaining silent.  The public hearing date was set for December 3 at 7:00 p.m.