Another favorable ruling for the EIC
Yesterday, the Court agreed with the EIC that we are a necessary party to the lawsuit between incorporation opponent Don Siegel, on one side, and Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, on the other. Siegel’s suit argues that Feiner properly rejected the EIC’s incorporation petition, but should have done so for an additional reason.
This odd and seemingly collusive lawsuit had Siegel, who runs the anti-incorporation website, and Feiner, who has publicly expressed opposition to incorporation, on opposite sides of a case where both desired the same outcome (rejection of the petition). Naturally, Siegel’s suit raised some eyebrows, but, fortunately, the judge’s order effectively blocks their side-door legal strategy.
The strategy goes back to the same June day the EIC filed its Article 78 lawsuit challenging Supervisor Paul Feiner's rejection of the incorporation petition. On that day, Paul Feiner’s former campaign manager, Don Siegel, filed a separate Article 78 against Feiner (see here: http://bit.ly/2ulCzFA).
Siegel raised objections to the petition during the hearing process in April, which were duly considered by Supervisor Feiner. But his Article 78 petition against Supervisor Feiner claims that, although Feiner properly denied the petition, he should have denied it for an additional reason: that the petition pages were not fastened together properly.
Siegel didn’t make the EIC aware of this second suit, nor did the Town do so in its response to Siegel.
Why did Siegel do such a thing, and why did the Town purposely not add the EIC as a necessary party when they were purporting to name other necessary parties? Because like a fixed sporting event, one of the players can benefit by losing.
Both Siegel and Feiner are opposed to incorporation. Siegel’s Article 78 originally went to a different state court judge than the one hearing the EIC’s Article 78 challenging the same decision.
Had Feiner played only token defense against Siegel’s Article 78, the judge in that case could have found in favor of Siegel and affirmed Feiner’s rejection of the petition without the EIC’s even knowing about that case. The EIC wouldn’t have had the opportunity to contest Siegel’s new reason for rejection.
Fortunately, we did learn of the Siegel suit and made a motion to intervene as a “necessary party” based on the obvious fact that the EIC—a party to the original case—wanted a different outcome from Siegel and Feiner. Our motion alerted the court of the nexus between the two Article 78’s, so both cases will now be considered by the same judge.
Town Attorney Tim Lewis and Siegel’s attorney Tom Troetti even argued that the EIC shouldn’t be a party to the Siegel lawsuit. But today, the judge disagreed with Lewis and Troetti and granted our motion to intervene (see here: http://bit.ly/2gPGI2T). That decision effectively ends any further attempts by some of the original objectors to go in front of a different judge with a separate objection, which apparently was their backup plan should Feiner lose the Article 78 brought by the EIC.
Coincidentally, Don Siegel's attorney, Tom Troetti, is the same lawyer the Town has been using for years (see here: http://bit.ly/2sBHbpm). The Town hired Troetti again for $25,000 for a case that had been dormant since 2012 (see here: http://bit.ly/2swdNW6) not 24 hours after Troetti served Feiner with the Siegel lawsuit.
This manipulative lawsuit is the latest attempt by the Town to undermine Edgemont's right to vote. Last spring, the Town hired private investigators with taxpayer dollars, and this summer, the Town secretly tried to request a home rule law to diminish our rights to vote on incorporating.
Having now ruled that Siegel should have named the EIC, the court said it’s now up to Troetti and Siegel—assuming they still want to continue the case—to serve the EIC with the order issued today. If they do, we will respond with a motion to dismiss.
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