Move To Counter Challenge By Carbone Appears To Favor Malloy
May 9, 2006
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford's delegation on Monday was cleared to participate in the state Democratic convention after a three-member panel released a decision concluding that the process used by the city's committee to select the group was proper.
Mayor Eddie A. Perez, a close ally of gubernatorial hopeful Dannel P. Malloy, said he was pleased with the ruling by a special panel appointed by the Democratic State Central Committee.
"I'm glad the state party has agreed that we followed the rules," Perez said. "We can move forward now - we move on to the convention."
The decision is good news for Malloy, as a majority of Hartford's delegates are expected to commit to him in his fight with New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. for the nomination. The city's delegation is the third-largest in the state.
"I think it's going to be a very close convention and every delegate counts," said Malloy campaign manager Chris Cooney. "We have been thrilled to have the overwhelming majority support from Hartford's delegation. A delegation the size of Hartford helps a great deal."
But Nick Carbone, one of the town committee members who had challenged the selection process, said the committee's panel missed the point and he is considering a court appeal. The ruling, he said, "avoided the main argument that we made about the legal size of the town committee and the call of the meeting."
The controversy - the latest in a series of showdowns between Perez and his nemesis, state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez - dates from March, when the town committee gathered to pick its 54 delegates to the convention. The group shut out several of Perez's political enemies, including Gonzalez and her husband, Ramon Arroyo.
Carbone and Arroyo filed a complaint with the State Central Committee asserting that the city's town committee election of delegates was improper.
The town committee, they alleged, had not filed its rules with the secretary of the state's office since 1983 and, in the years since, had increased in size from 44 to 77 members. Because the rules changing the size of the committee were never updated, Carbone and Arroyo claimed, the town committee was not properly constituted.
The complaint threatened to bar Hartford's delegates from the convention that will decide whether Malloy, the mayor of Stamford, or DeStefano, will be the Democratic candidate for governor.
Derek Slap, a DeStefano spokesman, said the dispute was largely an internal debate in Hartford and expressed confidence that DeStefano would carry the convention. "We have the support to win the convention," Slap said. He also said he was confident voters in Hartford would support DeStefano in a primary and in the November election.
Kevin N. Reynolds, the state committee's lawyer, said the Democrats had trouble finding three people without a conflict of interest to serve on the panel to hear the complaint because most of the central committee members have already committed to one side or the other.
"Since this affects the contest for endorsement, it was very hard to find people," he said.
In the end, the panel, consisting of Dot Mrowka from Colchester, Tom McDonough from Waterbury and Sharon Palmer from Waterford, decided that while state law does require town committees to file rules about their methods for selecting delegates, the law does not require filings of such details as the number of members on a town committee.
In Hartford, the method for selecting delegates has not changed since 1983, when the town committee's rules were last filed, the panel found. "It is irrelevant to [state law] whether a town committee has three officers or seven, a fundraising subcommittee or ad hoc subcommittee, eight district chairs or ten," the ruling states. The panel also rejected Carbone's claim that the notice for the meeting was insufficient.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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