Sign of discord: Registrars at odds over sign for office
Even separate offices can't quell the tension between the town's Republican and Democrat registrars of voters.
Last October, Republican Registrar Roger Autuori, 61, was charged with breach of peace after police said he slapped his Democrat counterpart, Matthew Waggner, 33, in a dispute over preparing voting machine scanners for the local election.
When the case reached state Superior Court in January, Autuori was granted accelerated rehabilitation, a special probation program. In court, Waggner said Autuori was a bully, while Autuori told police Waggner "was acting like a baby all day long" and denied striking Waggner.
Now, the two are apparently at loggerheads over a sign outside the registrar's office on the first floor of Old Town Hall that says Autuori's office has been moved to the second floor.
According to reports, Autuori has been gluing the sign to the wall, and Waggner has been removing it. Autuori called police Tuesday afternoon to report that the sign was missing and told them he believed Waggner was responsible.
Waggner has called the Department of Public Works garage to report that Autuori has been gluing the sign to the wall, damaging the walls of the historic building.
Asked for comment, Waggner said, "I have put in a work order with the Department of Public Works to repaint the large glue stain on the wall, and a memo is apparently forthcoming as to the appropriateness of damaging town property in this manner." Waggner also is a candidate for this year's Democratic nomination to run for the seat in the state House of Representatives' 133rd District.
For his part, Autuori said "it's childish" on Waggner's part, adding that the Human Resources Department had suggested the sign be posted when he was moved upstairs.
"Every once in a while I'd walk by and notice it was missing and get another one made up. ... It seems to be his whole purpose for coming in now," Autuori said.
"I don't know what his problem is."
Since the incident last year, Autuori has been working in a second-floor office. Because the registrars are elected officials, the town cannot remove them from office -- that can only be done by voters. The political parties nominate only one candidate on the ballot for their respective registrar positions, so whoever is nominated is guaranteed election.
A part-time secretary has been provided for Autuori, although the budget for the registrars does not include funding for that job. There is funding for one full-time secretary, who works out of the first-floor office, but is on leave.
According to First Selectman Michael Tetreau, there are two people providing secretarial assistance, one to Waggner and the other to Autuori, with their pay coming out of the department's seasonal payroll account. Tetreau said the registrars have control over how their budget is spent. One secretary began work last Nov. 3 after Autuori was moved to the second floor, and the other began in mid-January of this year. Both secretaries began working for the department before the full-time secretary went on leave, the first selectman said.
"We are trying to work with both registrars to improve the working relationship, and working environment, in the registrar's office," Tetreau said. He said he has reached out to the chairmen of both political parties for assistance.
Waggner and Autuori each is paid an annual salary of $33,192.