Next to the Attorney General's Office one of the most incompetent and unreliable levels of government in New Hampshire is our court system.
Yesterday I was watching John Babiarz put together his State Supreme Court appeal of a Superior Court decision regarding the sloppy election this past March in his hometown of Grafton.(Did you notice Grafton has “graft” in it?)
A short refresher.
During a machine count at the Grafton Annual meeting some school ballots were counted in the town machines and showed about 39 more votes being counted than there were voters on the checklist. This caused great concern amongst all involved and in a moment of weakness or stupidity some election official called the AG's office. Enter (waddle) Assistant AG Orville “Bud” Fitch.
For some reason Fitch ordered the seizure of all the ballots and a full recount ensued which when proper machines and techniques were used consistent results appeared. But the hand counts involved in the recount were less than consistent so as you would expect they were used instead of the machine counts to determine a planning board seat and Warrant Article #22.
Resident, taxpayer, and all around citizen John Babiarz filed a Superior Court case to stop the process and follow the logical path of using the consistent vote tallies and following the law regarding boards of recounts.
He lost. Surprise!
The town attorney claimed that Mr. Babiarz had no “standing” to bring the case based on RSA 677:4, a zoning and planning statute. The Town's case law:
Nautilus v. Exeter, which says in the first sentence of the issues heard: Only “persons aggrieved” have standing to appeal planning and zoning board decisions to superior court. RSA 677:4, :15
Superior (to what I have no idea) Court Justice Burling, wife of our esteemed State Senator Peter Burling, agreed that this was a legitimate argument, as you would expect, and rejected the argument in John Babiarz's case that RSA 669:35 should apply. It reads:
669:35 Appeal from Recount. – Any person aggrieved by a ruling of the board of recount with respect to any ballot may, within 5 days thereafter, appeal to the superior court for the county in which such town is located; and such court shall have jurisdiction in equity to hear and determine the question presented.
Source. 1979, 410:1, eff. July 1, 1979.
So here we are in the State Supreme Court arguing over plain English and the totally transparent intent of the legislature just because we live in a state in which courts like to play politician and render decisions that make them feel warm and fuzzy.
This judicial activism or blind stupidity only encourages town attorney's to to invent even more flatulent arguments in an effort to deny taxpayers their place in the political process. And it is another reason we may no longer deserve to have the first in the nation primary. We have become just too corrupt.
I should note that after John and I finished lunch his fortune cookie said, “expect good things to come in the mail.”
We will see.