Former SF Town Supervisor’s law suit dismissed

SENECA FALLS— A lawsuit filed by the former Town Supervisor against a group of citizens asking to hold a referendum on renovating the town hall has been dismissed.Peter Same, the former Seneca Falls Town Supervisor, had commenced a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court, objecting to a petition for referendum filed with the town. That petition sought to put to public vote the use of capital reserve fund money to pay for renovations to the former Seneca Falls Town Hall.However, on Tuesday (February 21, 2012) Acting Supreme Court Justice W. Patrick Falvey granted a motion to dismiss the case, agreeing with defense attorney Steven Getman that Same had waited too long to bring his case and had failed to properly serve all the necessary parties to the lawsuit.Arguing in court on behalf of the town residents who were sued for witnessing the signatures on the petition, Getman said that Same had to bring the case to court no later than February 1 under New York State. However, his court papers were dated February 3. The failure to comply with time requirements, Getman said, was a fatal defect.In addition, Getman argued, Same had not complied with legal requirements for naming and serving each necessary party to the case.Noting that the courts should hold attempts to disenfranchise voters to “strict scrutiny,” Getman asked the court to dismiss Same’s objections and allow the referendum to proceed.Same filed his challenge to the referendum petition on several grounds, including his claim that the board’s awarding of contracts occurred December 29 and many signatures were obtained prior to that date.At the time he filed the suit, Same named various town residents who had witnessed the signatures on the petition as defendants.Those named were Gerald Graziano, Anthony Constantino, Robert and William Wayne, Chad Sanderson, Stanley Praszkowicz, Dominick Paradise, Eileen Phillips, David Cafora and Katherine Robson. They hired Getman to represent them.However, Same did not name the town itself, or the County Board of Elections. In addition, Same did not serve two of the residents he named in the suit.Therefore, Getman argued, the court did not have jurisdiction and the case should be dismissed.Arguing for Same, attorney David Ettman urged to ignore the defects in service. He also suggested that the court could add the town as a respondent now, if deemed appropriate. Finally, he argued that Same’s objections were timely.However, Judge Falvey did not agree. In an oral decision from the bench, Falvey held that Same was required to present his challenge to the court no later than February 1, which was five days after the petition for referendum had been filed with the town clerk. By waiting until February 3, Falvey said, the case was untimely. Falvey also found that the failure to serve all the necessary parties alsomandated dismissal. Therefore, he ordered Same’s objectionsdismissed.With the dismissal of Same’s objection to a referendum, the town isexpected to schedule a vote on using the capital reserve funds for thebuilding project between March 27 and April 11.The building project was approved by the prior town board on December29, with the decision to take $2.4 million from the town’s capitalreserve fund to pay for renovation of the former town building at 10Fall Street.The building was heavily damaged by a 2004 arson fire, making itunusable. Town offices moved to leased space. The prior board tooksteps in 2011 to design interior offices and a new Greek Revivalexterior.The work had been put to bid and bid contracts awarded December 29.But the use of capital reserve fund money was subject to a permissivereferendum. The petition filing has stopped the work from progressinguntil the public vote is held.

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