---------------------------> Joel R. Anderson
13 George Drive
Old Saybrook CT 06475-2636
20 January 2010
Michael Pace, 1st Selectman
Town of Old Saybrook
302 Main St
Old Saybrook CT 06475
Dear Selectman Pace:
Re questions on the integrity of the 11Aug09 vote in Old
Saybrook establishing a Wastewater Management District (WWMD).
Who is qualified to vote on an issue is an important public
question. This question was raised in several Letters to the
Editor in local papers prior to the vote on 11Aug09 that
It was the general perception among opponents of the WWMD
that if the vote were confined to property owners within the
proposed WWMD, and Trustees of properties within the WWMD,
that the WWMD would been defeated by a wide margin. Therefore,
who, precisely, was eligible to vote was of great interest and
importance. Who was eligible to vote was important not just to
opponents but also to the executive branch, proponents of the
WWMD for sewer avoidance (for reasons I fail to understand).
The public concern at the time was answered by elected
officials (according to news reports) along these lines
(paraphrasing), "We have secured a legal opinion saying that
voters outside the proposed Wastewater Management District
(WWMD) are qualified voters, and that properties held in
Trust inside the proposed WWMD have no vote. The vote will
proceed in accord with the legal opinion received."
It's not my intention to put words in your mouth
with the above paraphrasing: I will publish any
correction to my misperception that you supply.
With the integrity of the vote in question, it's best not to
be vague. The legal opinion should have addressed 1) why
voters outside the WWMD had an interest in the outcome of
the vote, and 2) why Trustees of properties within the
proposed WWMD had no interest in the outcome of the vote. I
have my own opinion (Appendix #1) which, coming as it does
from someone not a lawyer, you and any sensible person
should ignore. I supply it solely to illuminate the non-lawyerly
thinking that prompted this letter so you may
better reply should you see fit.
I would like to receive copies of 1) the legal opinion on
who was eligible to vote, and 2) any written memos or
correspondence that illuninate why the Town was requesting
the opinion, between the Town and its lawyer(s), and
correspondence within the executive branch, and 3) after the
opinion was secured, any written correspondence to or from
anyone concerning the opinion.
With the Water Pollution Control Authority about to let
contracts to turn over dirt, your prompt publication to the
Town website of my requested documents (treating it as a
Freedom of Information request), would clarify the issue of
the legitimacy of vote establishing the WWMD and all else
proceeding from it.
If the vote to establish the WWMD was not legitimate, the
WWMD is void, the rotten fruit of a poisoned tree.
Very truly yours,
Joel R. Anderson
Hon. Richard Blumenthal, Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
55 Elm St
Hartford CT 06106
NB: This letter is posted to my website,
Appendix #1: Sourcing a voting crowd to approve the WWMD.
I, Joel Anderson, am not a lawyer. If you take any of what I
have written below as legal advice you are a fool. This
Appendix is only to inform the Old Saybrook executive to how
I arrived at writing my letter requesting the legal opinion
regarding who was eligible to vote for or against the
establishment of the Wastewater Managment District.
Prior to the vote establishing the WWMD (and approving a bond
issue at the same time to pay for it), Letters to the Editor
raised two issues about the upcoming vote: 1. Why were voters
outside the proposed WWMD permitted to vote on an issue that
didn't affect them personally, and 2. Why were Trustees of
properties within the proposed WWMD not permitted to vote the
interest of the properties held in trust?
Both these issue were dispelled by a legal ruling (which I
haven't seen). I am not a lawyer, so consider the following
assumptions as to why the vote was allowed to proceeed in
the light of that. If you're getting legal advice from me
you are a fool. (That isn't legal advice!)
The legal opinion MAY have been based on these 3 premises:
1. Because voters outside the proposed WWMD were being asked
to PAY to remedy 'pollution' within the proposed WWMD, as
evidenced by the bond issued to be voted on simultaneous
therewith, they MUST be allowed to vote because it affected
2. Because voters outside the proposed WWMD COULD at some
future date be themselves subject to a WWMD, they MUST be
allowed to vote on establishing the WWMD law of the Town.
3. Trustees were not allowed to vote because they weren't
voters, nor did they own the property, they were merely
What can a NON-LAWYER say about any of the 3 (above)?
#3 (above). What would the legal opinion say were ALL the
properties in the WWMD in the hands of custodian Trustees?
Can voters outside the WWMD deprive properties inside the
WWMD of their Ordinance 75 rights without so much as a
#2 (above). Because voter outside the proposed WWMD 'COULD' be
subject to the WWMD at some future time is not sufficient
reason to give them a vote on whether or not to establish a
WWMD. Lots of things 'COULD' happen in the future. We can't
be going around permitting people to vote on theoretical
events of which there are no end. Voters outside the WWMD
were being permitted to make law that ONLY applied to other
people, not to themselves. That this could be even
marginally legal boggles the mind. It would be like
establishing a restrictive Historical District without the
consent of the properties within the proposed District.
#1 (above). Voters outside the proposed WWMD could vote to
establish it because they were being asked to PAY.
A fundamental of the many representations and presentations
made by OSWPCA, and the political leadership of Old Saybrook to
anyone who cared to listen, was that a WWMD WAS CHEAPER THAN
SEWERS, and because we Old Saybrook residents would have to PAY
for sewers it was better to pay less than to pay more. In other
words, an event that hadn't occured, a vote to put in a sewer
plant, was allowed to dictate eligibility to vote in the
present: eligibility was a back-formation from a non-event.
What's wrong with this picture?
Under eminent domain, polluters causing an injury to the public
health can be made to PAY. If there's an adverse public health
issue within the boundaries of the proposed WWMD, then those
who are causing the adverse public health issue can be made to
PAY. So why are voters outside the boundary of the WWMD being
asked to PAY? Their property (their pocketbooks) are being
robbed to PAY for an adverse health event they had no hand in
causing, and under eminent domain aren't required to PAY to fix.
Eminent domain, and who can be made to PAY, caused a Catch 22
for the political leadership in the run-up to the vote.
Without voters outside the proposed WWMD being able to vote it
was a virtually certainty that the WWMD would not be
established. A political decision was taken that the legal
ruling WOULD enable voters outside the proposed WWMD to vote,
on the basis that voters outside the proposed WWMD would have
to PAY. Even though under eminent domain they didn't have to
PAY. That they MIGHT have to pay for a sewer plant would mean
that they WILL have to pay? Who knows where money will come
from in the future? This is an exhibition of magical thinking,
an early crossing of a non-existent (future) bridge.
Eminent domain (who PAYs) and future participation
(theoretical) in a WWMD so conflated, the vote went ahead
to its inevitable outcome.