Judge Bellis: Where’s Merrill’s Office?

Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis today placed legal parties on notice that the Connecticut Secretary of the State’s Office could be called in to sort out issues involving the September 27 mayoral primary between Mayor Bill Finch and opponent Mary-Jane Foster. Lawyers for Foster and the city were in court Tuesday morning to argue the selection of moderators overseeing the primary. The Foster camp claims Democratic Registrar of Voters Santa Ayala has not cooperated in the selection of election observers. The city, as the defendant in the case that has placed Foster on the ballot, disputes Foster’s contention.

Foster’s legal team told the judge they would welcome guidance from Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, the state’s chief elections officer. Legal arguments in this case will continue on Friday and the SOTS office may be contacted to weigh in on issues regarding the statutes involved. Judge Bellis issued the following order today:

Judicial Notice (JDNO) was sent regarding this order.

The following order is entered in the above matter:


Pursuant to statute, notice is hereby given to the Secretary of State and State Elections Enforcement Commission of the hearing in this matter scheduled for Friday, September 16, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. Courtroom 6A. Please also be advised that the court has informed counsel in the case that the court will consider at that time whether the Secretary of State should be added as a party pursuant to C.G.S.§52-101 and PB§9-18.

As Judge Bellis ponders the potential role of SOTS in this case Av Harris, spokesperson for SOTS, shared this with OIB: “Our office has new legal authority to enter any polling place on any election day to monitor for compliance with state and federal election laws, and we are prepared to use that authority. We even have the authority to remove a moderator from the polling place for material neglect of duty, material misconduct, or material incompetence in the discharge of their duties on Election Day. We believe it would be most effective if any visits to polling places on Election Day are unannounced.”



  1. Denise Merrill has demonstrated she is singularly inept and incapable of performing the duties she was elected to perform. It appears The Honorable Judge Barbara Bellis will order the SOTS to monitor the electoral process on September 13th if the Defendant ROV Santa Ayala does not call them.

  2. Does SOTS need a crystal ball? If this Bridgeport election is as screwed up as November 2010, CT will face serious national scrutiny and serve as a catalyst for more restrictive balloting procedures the tea party is aching to push through. For her own sake, and the sake of voters all over the country, SOTS needs to step up now and do her job.

  3. A retweet from the nit-twit Finch taking credit for expansion of library hours. He was against the library referendum and now is trying to take credit for its expansion of hours.

    Finch Tweets using city personnel and city assets while Bridgeport Burns!

    Starting Oct 15 the #Bridgeport Public #Library will provide 7 days of service a week for the first time since 1989. http://bit.ly/nlqeik

    1. The Library story is important. Posted earlier today:
      Glad you raise this subject. Bill Finch did increase the tax rate a bit and then turned around and pinned the entire 1 mil increase on the Library.
      Finch did not much like the voters’ approval of the funding for the Library. That was a signal defeat for him and his operatives. The Library had received flat funding for several years before the referendum, so you are right, their budget at about $4 Million was less than their current $6 Million funding. But it is easier for Bill to gloss the details and scapegoat the entire increase on THE LIBRARY.
      Follow the story forward though and it stays interesting. In 2010 at budget time, the Library Board did not show up at the B & A meeting. They had budgeted to fund increased staffing levels as well as for the cost of creating two new/renovated facilities in the East End and East Side in fashion similar to the updated Black Rock Library.
      Fast forward to a Friday night B&A meeting in “budget time” 2011 where Scott Hughes, Library Exec, and a half dozen of his Board appeared. We learned Sue Brannelly, a member of B&A, had been identified as “liaison” to the Library Board, but her attendance or visits with the Board had been spotty at best. Tom Errichetti, of the Library Board, impressed me in identifying very specific financial planning that had salaries, benefits for new people and principal and interest allocated to cover bonding costs for two new Libraries, the B&A was interested in minutiae almost to the level of paper clips.
      One of the Council co-chairs informed the Library Board “planning funds” in the range of $150-250,000 must be requested from the City before bonding for projects could proceed, though the Library Board seemed to feel that they had already crossed the “planning phase” by their own efforts. As a member of BOB-2011 (Budget Oversight Bridgeport-2011) I was personally impressed by the financial preparation and acumen of this group more than any other that appeared before B&A this year. Nine months into the fiscal year 2010-11 the Library group reported the difficulty of securing staff approvals (five sign-offs required before hiring) from the City of which the B & A group professed ignorance but pledged assistance.

      As an observer of the City money process, it was disappointing to see how inattention, incompetence, or, possibly, motives of revenge could work to undermine the mandate of the electorate and the desires of the Board to provide new library facilities and more open hours across the City. Voters provided Library funding, the Library Board is responding to community wishes with policy and planning that allow the staff to increase hours of service, adapt to technology and open attractive branches in two other parts of the City.

      Nothing had come to my attention since April, until the announcement about enhanced hours. Heck, it’s only five months since then and: Surprise, it’s Bridgeport

    1. Fluckarella // Sep 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm
      To your posting

      I know you can appreciate Scott won something for the people of Bridgeport when he decided to take on the Mayor a short while back … and when the voters of Bridgeport made their choice to support Scott’s question on the ballot, the Mayor again reverted to the pathology of lies he identifies with so easily. He views this as a fight and he must be a winner. How much credibility does the Mayor have today? Because his campaign mode button has been set by Adam, you will find the Mayor praising the Library … and now taking credit. The Mayor insults our collective intelligence if he thinks we believe what he believes as the unbelievable words come out of his mouth.
      This must end … we can choose September 27th to begin the change.


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