Watchdog to postpone suit against city

The Community Watchdog Project’s class-action suit will have to wait.

Although CWP President Dustin Gold told the News previously that the group and the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Law Reform Institute would file a multi-person class-action discriminatory suit against City Hall by Wednesday over the supposed unconstitutionality of the Elm City Resident Card, Gold told the News earlier this week the group will not file the suit until mid-October.

The suit is being delayed, Gold said, because the CWP wants to wait until after Hartford-New Britain Superior Court holds an appeal later this month on the Freedom of Information Commission’s decision that the city is not required to release the names of card-holders because doing so could constitute a public-safety risk.

The suit claims the Elm City Resident Card program is unconstitutional because it discriminates against American citizens, who must show proof of residency that illegal aliens do not need to show.

Gold and several lawyers knowledgeable on Connecticut FOI law told the News last month that the appeal would almost definitely fail. Gold conceded again this week that the appeal “will probably” fall through.

But he wants to wait until the hearing, he said — just in case the court reverses FOIC’s decision and orders the city to release card-holders’ names.

Gold said he is still in conversations with his FOI appellate lawyer, Patricia Cofrancesco, and IRLI General Counsel Michael Hethmon. Cofrancesco, he added, has expressed interest in working on the discrimination suit.

Cofrancesco could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon because she was in a meeting, a representative said. Hethmon did not respond to a request for comment left on his office voice mail Wednesday afternoon.

Gold first told the News about the discriminatory suit last month soon after submitting the group’s FOI appeal Aug. 29. He said at the time the suit would be signed by 2,300 Greater New Haven residents, 30 percent of whom live within the city limits.

He added this week that Hethmon is in the process of writing the lawsuit right now, but as of Tuesday, he did not know how much of it Hethmon had completed.

At the moment, it seems clear the FOI appeal will be dismissed, several lawyers interviewed said, because Cofrancesco missed the deadline for filing one by over two weeks. The FOI Commission cites in its brief a 1988 state rule often cited in state FOI rulings that mandates a 45-day deadlines — with no exceptions.

Gold told the News two weeks ago that if the FOI appeal fails, his group will “work full-force on the discrimination suit.”

City Hall Community Services Administrator Kica Matos, who has been the major City Hall supporter and advocate for the Elm City Resident Card, declined to comment for this article.

Meanwhile, Gold went to New York over the weekend to meet with and encourage local groups to create their own anti-illegal-immigrant initiatives in the tri-state area. Gold said the group currently has 1,200 people on its panlist.

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