Sensible Wilton gets its day in court

The Sensible Wilton suit against the Wilton Board of Selectmen is being heard in Superior Court in Stamford on Monday, July 20. Judge Kenneth Povodator has been hearing the town’s motion to dismiss the case.
Testimony this morning revolved around whether Sensible Wilton has standing to bring a lawsuit against the Board of Selectmen. Among those on the witness stand has been Sensible Wilton president Alex Ruskewich.
The town claims Sensible Wilton is nothing more than a referendum committee formed solely to repeal the approval of a $50-million bond resolution that passed by a narrow vote in September 2014.
Sensible Wilton claims it is a political committee with greater purpose, namely, opposing excessive spending on the part of the town.
Sensible Wilton filed suit against the Wilton Board of Selectmen June 1 to compel the selectmen to call a special town meeting to vote on whether to repeal the $50-million bonding authorization for temporary mandamus.
A writ of mandamus is a means by which the court may direct someone to act in a way in which they are legally obligated.
In response, the town filed a motion to dismiss the suit. Judge Povodator ruled the motion to dismiss must be taken up before the request for the writ of mandamus.
After a recess, Sensible Wilton's treasurer Curtis Noel took the stand this afternoon and said Sensible Wilton is "a loose association" of similar-minded people and it does indeed have two members, Ruskewich and himself.
Under questioning by Sensible Wilton's attorney Simon Reiff, he said he felt there is "no limit to taxpayer money the town is willing to spend to stop this litigation."
He testified Sensible Wilton holds monthly meetings for supporters who help catalog information on town actions and conduct other related research.
The town of Wilton’s attorney, Monte Frank of Cohen and Wolf, argued Sensible Wilton is “purely” a referendum committee and by law must terminate itself since more than 90 days have passed since the September vote. He asked the judge to not let the lawsuit move forward on the basis Sensible Wilton does not have standing because it does not have members and is not a membership organization.
Reiff argued Sensible Wilton has third-party standing. Its constituents would rather not come forward because of fear of discrimination from the public and retaliation from the Board of Selectmen, he said. The indications Frank cited — membership fees, dues, etc. — Reiff argued, do not constitute what a member is.
After a full day of arguments and testimony, the judge concluded the hearing. There was no indication how quickly he will issue his ruling.