Thursday night was another example of Hartford's "Theater of the Bizarre".
The complaint filed by Mayoral candidate Edwin Vargas against the acceptance by Pedro Segarra of the Republican endorsement was at issue. The complaint and previous posting can be read here.
The complaint seems to hinge on whether Segarra violated the Hartford Democratic Town Committee's own bylaws when he cut the deal with the Republicans and accepted the cross endorsement.
The argument by Vargas's attorney, Robert Ludgin, seemed pretty clear cut, the bylaws say it can't be done.
The defense by the attorney for the HDTC, Thom Page, as well as Mayor Segarra's attorney, John Kennelly, were somewhat interesting. Although they seemed to agree that the rule was part of the by-laws, they were essentially rendered irrelevant because they really don't follow their by-laws. I'm paraphrasing there, but that was pretty much the argument.
Page also made the point that the bylaws were "old" and hadn't been updated since the 1970's. He also stated that every year someone talks about updating the by-laws but for one reason or another it never gets done. (I think that could be blamed on leadership, or more accurately the lack of leadership on the part of the HDTC)
An interesting moment occurred after Page made his comment that the bylaws were old so they weren't really followed. Vargas's attorney replied that we have a lot of "old" laws that are followed every day, one of them is a couple hundred years old and we call it "The Constitution".
It will be interesting how the panel will rule, most likely it will be business as usual and the whole matter will be swept away. But the repercussions from that decision should be wide ranging. Essentially if the panel validates Segarra's actions, any Town Committee has no need to have bylaws or even follow them since they mean nothing.
I think the big question though on the minds of many in the room is why Segarra is fighting so hard to keep this nomination. The reality is the endorsement will probably deliver a couple hundred Republican votes to Segarra at the maximum. The other side of the coin is that if Segarra was really in touch with community sentiment, the actions might actually be costing him votes from upset voters.
In the spirit of leadership and party unity why wouldn't Segarra and Holloway step up and say the endorsement just isn't worth it and they reject it? Is there more to this than we know and what could possibly be in play that the Mayor won't reject it? Segarra is most likely a "shoe-in" for the election and it is not like the margin of victory is going to be that close. Besides, if they can find him on the Republican line, they can definitely find him on the Democratic line.
I seriously doubt that there are many Republicans that will be confused, or even tricked, into believing that Segarra is actually a Republican because he appears on the "R" line.
The decision should be issued within three days.
Interestingly absent from the hearing was HDTC Chair Jean Holloway as well as Vice Chair Lou Watkins. Surrogate Chair Marc DiBella was in attendance with his clipboard, taking notes.
Here is Attorney Kennelly's brief outlining his defense for Segarra.
KENNELLY SEGARRA BRIEF0001