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Monday, May 26, 2003

Sloan Wilson, Author of Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” Dies


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“Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” movie poster. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Sloan Wilson, the Norwalk-born author of the 1955 bestseller “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,” which was set in Westport and later became a hit film starring Gregory Peck and was partially filmed in Westport, died Sunday after a long illness. He had turned 83 on May 8.

He died in Colonial Beach, Va., and had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, according to The Free-Lance Star in Fredericksburg, Va.

Wilson wrote “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” while working at Time-Life Inc. and was based on his experience with corporate culture at the publishing firm.

The novel portrays young executive Tom Rath’s struggles with his conscience as he tries to get ahead and provide for his social-climbing wife.

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05/26/03 08:06 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport Police Marine Unit Responds

Westport Police Marine Unit Responds to Report of Plane Down Off Bridgeport
A Westport Police marine unit responded to a distress call today by the pilot of a twin-engine private plane that went down in the waters of Long Island Sound off Bridgeport.

The AP quoted a Coast Guard spokesman as saying the plane crashed in foggy conditions but the pilot survived and was able to summon help by cell phone.

The pilot, Itai Shoshani, 41, of White Plains, N.Y., set off a flare and was picked up wearing his lifejacket by a passing tugboat. He was taken to Port Jefferson, Long Island, where he was transferred to a hospital.

His injuries were not believed life-threatening.

Authorities said the plane sank in about 80 feet of water.

The Westport boat was among vessels responding to the call for help, but did not play a role in the rescue.

The pilot ran out of fuel and went down in Long Island Sound at 2:27 p.m., about seven miles off the coast near Bridgeport, said Coast Guard Operations Duty Officer John Olsen.

Weather in the area at the time was rainy with gusty winds.

The Westport unit reported shortly before 4 p.m. that it had completed its work and that Stratford Police were handling the incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it lost contact with the Cessna 414 after the pilot declared low fuel. The plane was en route from Orlando, Fla., to Westchester County Airport in White Plains. He was advised to try for Sikorsky Airport in Stratford but could not make it.

Update: Shoshani left a Port Jefferson hospital Tuesday after treatment for exposure and hypothermia. A recording of his dramatic cell phone call to the Coast Guard is available on the Hartford Courant Web site.

It Rains on Westport’s Memorial

It Rains on Westport’s Memorial Day Parade, Ceremony Held Indoors
For only the third time in recent memory, Westport’s annual Memorial Day parade was canceled today due to bad weather.


Almost 400 persons jammed the Town Hall auditorium and the adjoining hallway instead for ceremonies to mark the day.

First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell led the town’s tribute to those who have died in service of their country and paid particular homage to veterans of the Korean War.

Among those receiving special honor at the event was John Martin Bieling Jr., better known as “Junior” and operator of a hot dog stand on Riverside Avenue.

Bieling earned the Silver Star and other awards for his heroic deeds during the Korean conflict. He was this year’s parade grand marshal.

The ceremony was broadcast live on the town’s government cable access channel.

Paul Newman Spends Memorial Day Racing at Lime Rock

Paul Newman may be nearing 80, but the famed Westporter still indulges in sports car racing and was at it again this holiday weekend at Connecticuts Lime Rock Park, according to todayҒs Hartford Courant.

Even at 78, Newman still finds speed and competing on the edge to be the ultimate exhilaration and at the same time the utmost respite from the world,Ӕ the newspaper said.

“Explain why I still do this?Ғ Newman said. I just love it, so why not keep doing it? It’s the greatest form of relaxation for me.ђ”

Update: Newman finished fifth in the Memorial Day Trans-Am event and was able to overcome mid-race problems. He went off track after briefly misjudging turn one on lap 13. He still managed to be one of six cars on the lead lap out of a field of 17 when the race finished.

“It was cool,” said Newman, who won a Trans-Am race at Lime Rock in 1986. “I thought we could finish in the top two.”

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05/26/03 07:31 AM Comments () • Permalink

NY Times: State Budget Woes

NY Times: State Budget Woes Impact Westport and Other Wealthy Towns Only Slightly
Todays New York Times takes a look at how ConnecticutҒs budget crunch impacts Westport and other towns in the gilded enclaves of Fairfield County.Ӕ Its finding not much.

In a story headlined ֓Times Only a Little Tough in Fairfield County, the newspaper said the stateԒs cities are holding their breath as they wait nervously to find out how much the states severe budget crunch will cost them.

ғBut here inside the gilded enclaves of Fairfield County, mayors and first selectmen are putting the finishing touches on spending plans that are only mildly different from years past, the newspaper said.

ԓThey never got much help from the state because of their affluent citizenry and super-size grand lists of taxable property, so now they are experiencing less pain than other cities.

The Times quoted Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell as saying: “The wealthier suburban communities are less reliant on state funds.Ԕ

It added, Her town got only 1 percent of its budget from the state in good times, so the $107,000 or so she expects to lose next year is the least of her worries.Ӕ

ӒObviously, every loss is lamentable, she said. ґBut the money is not significant enough to throw us into a budgetary tailspin.Ҕ

Footnote: NY Times Corrects Elaine

Footnote: NY Times Corrects Elaine Steinbeck Obituary (With a Little Help from Us)
Among the corrections in todays New York Times is one concerning its April 29 obituary of Elaine Anderson Steinbeck, a former stage manager and widow of author John Steinbeck.

As WestportNow noted in its April 29 story about Ms. Steinbeck, who once worked at the Westport Country Playhouse, the Times misspelled the surname of the founder of the Playhouse, Lawrence Langner, and also incorrectly listed her as stage manager of ғOklahoma!

The latter error was confirmed to WestportNow by Westport author Max Wilk who wrote a history of the musical for which he had done an extensive interview with Ms. Steinbeck.

WestportNow called the errors to the attention of Times editors, resulting in the following correction:

ԓAn obituary on April 29 about Elaine Anderson Steinbeck, a former stage manager and the widow of John Steinbeck, misspelled the surname of a co-founder of the Theater Guild, where she found work after first coming to New York, and misstated her job with the original Broadway production of “Oklahoma!” The co-founder was Lawrence Langner, not Langer. Ms. Steinbeck was a replacement assistant stage manager, not stage manager.

Sunday, May 25, 2003

AP: Easton Stands Apart as

AP: Easton Stands Apart as it Resists Commercialism
The Associated Press takes a look a Westports neighbor Easton.

Excerpt: ғThe past is always present in Easton, a town of 7,200 in Fairfield County. It’s a rare refuge from commercialism in a prosperous and highly developed region that is home to many large corporations and severe traffic congestion.

Sunday Spotlight: 50th Anniversary of

Sunday Spotlight: 50th Anniversary of Westports Gov. Lodge Okaying I-95
TodayҒs The Advocate of Stamford notes that this week marks the 50th anniversary of Westports Gov. John Davis Lodge signing authorization for construction of a new Connecticut highway from the New York border to Rhode Island.

It’s now widely called I-95, but formally it’s The Gov. John Davis Lodge Turnpike.

Lodge’s signature on the bill literally changed the landscape of the state, displacing thousands in the name of progress and eventually costing Lodge his political career.

“He paid the ultimate political price because the highway went right through Republican Fairfield County,” Westporter Michael Rea told the newspaper.

“He was alienating many of his own supporters, but he would always say, ‘I am the governor of Connecticut, not of Fairfield County,Ҕ said Rea, a member of Westports Representative Town Meeting.

Rea and his wife Carla knew the Lodges well.

Although his name is rarely used in association with the turnpike, it will always be his legacy—a fact that Carla Rea says he would be proud of.

“He wanted it to be named after him more than anything else,” Carla Rea told The Advocate.

“He wanted to see it while he was alive, but he died knowing that it would be named for him,” said the Westport Realtor who was close friends with Lodge and his wife, Francesca.

Lodge died on Oct. 29, 1985, at the age of 82 in New York City while still living in Westport. The highway was renamed in his honor on Oct. 1, 1986.

Carla Rea said Lodge had a “great sense for the future” and knew that the state could not go on without the turnpike. However, he also knew his support of the highway would exact a heavy political price.

Lobbying in Hartford: The Legislator

Lobbying in Hartford: The Legislator Who Held a Microphone to His Ear
Theres no specific mention of Westport, but todayҒs Hartford Courant zeroes in the world of lobbying legislators in Hartford and Westport֒s representatives are targets like everyone else.

As the state legislature moves toward completing its session, the pressure on lobbyists to win a victory for their clients increases. Kevin Rennie of South Windsor, a lawyer and former Republican state lawmaker, details what its all about.

Among Rennie’s recollections: in days past, ғthe post-dinner sessions provided great entertainment value.

ԓSome lawmakers - not many but enough to be noticed - would return from dinner lubricated and feeling expansive,” he writes.

The legend grew of the western Connecticut legislator who returned from dinner drunk and determined to speak on a transportation bill.

ӓSadly, he kept raising the microphone to his ear instead of his mouth. Dinner breaks are rare now. Dinner is brought in by the party caucuses. Those cable cameras are taking the vaudeville out of politics.

Friday, May 23, 2003

Now its NewmanҒs Time on National TV

The week began with Westporter Martha Stewart gaining renewed national television exposure with NBCs made-for-TV movie about her. Now the week ends with WestportҒs other mega-celebrity, Paul Newman, doing the same.

Newman appears Saturday in a television adaptation of the Westport Country Playhouses Broadway version of ғOur Town. It airs at 8 p.m. on cableԒs Showtime channel (and in the fall on PBS).

Newman, in his first Broadway role in 38 years, stars as the omniscient Stage Manager, and approaches this TV recording of it differently, subtly and superbly,Ӕ writes todays New York Daily News.

Adds LouisvilleҒs Courier-Journal: If you’re the kind of person who thinks life is rushing by, then stop and watch Paul Newman as the Stage Manager in a new production of Thornton Wilder’s ӑOur Town҅ If you have Showtime, dont miss it.Ҕ

One more, Akrons Beacon Journal: ғDirected by James Naughton, this Our Townђ retains the feel of the stage play while making concessions to the visual needs of television. And it is very, very good.

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05/23/03 09:54 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Senate Approves Naming Post Road Bridge After Steinkraus Cohen

Copyright 2003 by WestportNow.com



Despite an effort by Westport’s state Senator Judith G. Freedman to block its passage, the state Senate today approved a bill naming the Post Road Bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport after Ruth Steinkraus Cohen.

On a voice vote, the Senate rejected Freedman’s amendment to remove the provision from an overall transportation bill and then unanimously voted for the bill as part of the chamber’s “consent calendar.”

The House of Representatives approved it a week ago. It now goes to the governor for signature.

Freedman, a Republican, said the bill, introduced by fellow Westport Republican state Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard, had not had a fair hearing in Westport.

People were not aware that a naming process was underway, she said, and there were other names that could have been considered.

“The naming of this particular bridge has created a little bit of dissension within the town of Westport at this time,” she said.

ғAnd being a firm believer of open and free government, one of the problems has been that there are people in the town who felt that they had been eliminated from the process of hoping and helping to come forth with a name for this particular bridge.”

She noted that Bernhard’s legislation did not say which bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport “has been designated to be named in honor of this particular person.”

Freedman added, however, that she “wanted the record to note that I have great admiration for the person that has been chosen to have this particular bridge named (after her).” But she never uttered Steinkraus Cohens name.

Freedman said the problem with the bill was that “free and open government prior to it coming on our calendar did not operate in Westport the way I think my constituents felt it ought to.

“And that is there should have been a process in place where they knew it was an opportunity to put forward names.”

She said she did not even know that Bernhard was submitting the bill and holding a public hearing in Hartford.

“Once I did learn about it, it was too late—the bill had already been incorporated,” she said.

Freedman said, “Personally I think we should remove it. We should let it go back to the Town of Westport. Let them have a fair and open discussion.

“I suspect that when it goes through the process all over again, well probably end up with the same name and we will also end up with a particular bridge being designated to receive that name.”

The senator said she and other Senate colleagues had been hearing from some Westporters that “there are a lot of names that were not considered. And that is just not fair. And this is a fairness process issue.”

Sen. Biagio “Billy” Ciotto (D-Wethersfield), co-chair of the Transportation Committee, spoke against the removal amendment, saying Bernhard had properly introduced the legislation.

He presented information “that (the) Representative Town Meeting in the town voted 26-5 to name this bridge in honor of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen,” Ciotto said.

He said the process had been fair and it was not as if someone was “trying to use sleight of hand to name a bridge without the town not knowing it.”

Freedman then responded: “I have no qualms with the process that took place here in Hartford.

“The problem has been the process that took place in the town of Westport. And I believe that those people that learned of this long after the fact feel totally disenfranchised by what happened Ӗ not at this level, but at the local level.

“And it is for that reason that I am asking that this be withdrawn from the bill so that it could go back to the drawing board in Westport.”

Steinkraus Cohen, who died last year, was a longtime Westporter and friend and supporter of the United Nations.

Some of those opposed to naming the bridge after her were unhappy with the U.N. Security Council’s stance on efforts to disarm Iraq.

The split between two of the town’s state legislators on the issue was unusual as they both are Republicans and the action was endorsed not only by the town’s non-partisan RTM but also the Democrat-led Board of Selectmen.

Update: Asked later whether he felt his bill needed clarification as to which bridge was involved in the legislation, Bernhard replied, “It is clearly the Post Road Saugatuck River Bridge.”

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05/22/03 09:21 PM Comments () • Permalink

Bridgeport Columnist to Suburbs: How About a Regional Tax?

A Bridgeport newspaper columnist says if suburban communities really want to help Bridgeport, why not support a regional property tax.

Writing in the weekly Bridgeport News, columnist Brad Durrell said the recent summit on Bridgeports economic development led by Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell was nothing new.

ғThese types of meetings seem to take place every once in awhile, and although the cast of characters changes due to the will of the voters, self-imposed retirements and (this is a new one) corruption trials, the results don’t, he said.

ԓMost people who live in suburban towns genuinely want to help the city, but they remain leery of many possible ways of really doing so. As is human instinct, they are watching out for number one.

Durrell said the problem in Bridgeport has much less to do with political corruption than with the high cost of government and a non-expanding tax base.

ԓPersonally, I would not object to paying an additional regional property tax if the funds were spent and monitored by an all-volunteer regional entity, he said.

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05/22/03 09:05 PM Comments () • Permalink

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