Reactions to the Court Decision About theWard System
July 26, 2014
In the last court session before state Supreme Court Judge Margaret Garvey, the two sides appeared for the purpose of finally reviewing those petitions collected by Preserve Ramapo that were thrown out by Christian Sampson, the Ramapo Town Clerk. It had taken two years to get to this point due to the series of legal objections thrown up by the Town of Ramapo and its attorneys.
Now, finally the Judge would pass on Ramapo’s attempt to invalidate hundreds of signatures. On one side of the table sat Mike Parietti and Bob Romanowski, alone and without attorneys. On the other side of the table the Town had brought in the Ramapo Town Clerk (Christian G. Sampson), and four attorneys: Janice Gittelman and Michael Specht of the Ramapo Town Attorneys Office; Gary Lipton, a Nanuet attorney, who brought a legal assistant with him; and Guy Parisi, the Law Committee Chairman of the Westchester Republican Committee.
By the end of the session, Judge Garvey had moved significantly in the direction that led her to her final determination concerning the number of valid petition signatures.
Of the 1,367 valid signatures needed to get each item on the ballot for voters to decide, the petition to put a Ward System in place in Ramapo had 1,698 valid signatures and the petition to increase the number of board members on the Ramapo Town Board had 1,712. Those numbers are more than 20% above what was needed for the Ward System and more than 25% than what was needed to increase the board by two members. Judge Garvey did eliminate a number of signatures, but the finally count was well beyond the minimum needed.
The final decision of the court was very clear: Let the people vote on these two issues. The judge ordered the Town of Ramapo to arrange for an special election not sooner than 60 days from yesterday, and not later than 75.
Reactions from Parietti, Romanowski, and Preserve Ramapo
We are gratified that our efforts in regards to the Ward System Petitions were vindicated today by Judge Garvey and the State Supreme Court.
We knew that our petitions were valid from the day we turned them in. The only reason the town disqualified the petitions was because Christopher St. Lawrence is personally opposed to a ward system in Ramapo because he knows it might mean that the town council would actually question his actions and vote against his pet projects. St. Lawrence used the full weight of the towns resources, legal, financial and otherwise in an attempt to deny the people of Ramapo their right to vote on this important question.
I am very happy with what happened. The court confirmed what I already knew. The Ramapo Town Clerk Chris Sampson had invalidated legitimate signatures from voters in Ramapo. A frequent response from Sampson when asked by Judge Garvey why he invalidated a particular signature was, “I don’t recall.”
Jul 25 at 8:23 PM
Supervisor St. Lawrence will do everything possible to prevent the
creation of a ward system. They know that a ward system would give
two-thirds of Ramapo (which now has no control of its incompetent
and corrupt board) a voice in the operation of our town. If we had
six single member election districts we would have six people
representing every part of Ramapo on the town board. Let us not
forget that the NYS Comptroller rated Ramapo the most financially
stressed town in NYS!