WestportNow welcomes letters from readers on matters pertaining to Westport and Westporters. Those of 300 words or less are given preference. Letters are edited for grammar, clarity, and accuracy. Publication shall be at the sole discretion of WestportNow. Third-party or anonymous letters, those signed with a pseudonym, or letters appearing in other publications are not published.
A postal address, e-mail address if available, and day and evening telephone numbers are required for verificiation purposes, although this information is not published. Letters may be submitted by e-mail to , via fax at (203) 286-2099, or by mail to 150 North Ave., Westport, CT 06880.
Monday, March 02, 2015
SBAC Testing and Your Parental Rights
To the Editor:
As you are aware, SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) testing will begin in the Westport Public Schools later this month. This letter is not to debate the appropriateness of this testing or to influence your personal decision, but to inform you of your rights as parents.
Despite Connecticut superintendents having been warned to stop harassing parents who seek to fulfill their constitutionally guaranteed right to protect their children, last week an email was sent to Westport School District parents from our superintendent stating the following:
“CONNECTICUT GENERAL STATUTES (Section 10-14n) REQUIRE EVERY STUDENT TO PARTICIPATE IN STATE STANDARDIZED TESTS.
THERE IS NO PROCESS FOR OPTING OUT OF THE TESTING.”
This email was both forceful and misleading. To be clear: There is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting his or her children out of these tests. The former Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, on March 14, 2014 stated in a videotaped hearing in Hartford that there is no consequence to students if they opt-out of SBAC testing.
While the school district will tell us that there is no “formal” opt-put process, there is one, but it is not publicized. Parents can opt-out, should they desire, by sending an email to their school’s principal and our superintendent.
With the controversy around the Common Core Standards and SABC testing, the number of opt out requests in CT is three to four times higher this year. In some CT districts, the PTA and the Board of Education members are speaking out and encouraging parents to opt out of state testing. It is a complicated issue, which may eventually tie SBAC participation to federal and state funding for schools as suggested by the Department of Education.
Regardless of your opinion, know that this is your personal decision; not that of our state or our school district. In the end, as a parent, do your research and decide for yourself what is best for your child and their future.
Charlene J. Zeiberg
Friday, February 27, 2015
Give Where You Live with Fairfield County Giving Day
To the Editor:
March 5 is Fairfield County’s second-annual online Giving Day, and I’m writing to encourage my neighbors and friends to participate. The goal is to raise $1 million in 24 hours through online donations for approximately 400 local nonprofit organizations.
Presented by Fairfield County Community Foundation with Bank of America as the lead sponsor, Giving Day encourages us all to “give where you live.” Last year, more than 9,000 people donated over $750,000 to 267 nonprofits serving Fairfield County – in 24 hours! This year, we can do even better.
Whether you give $10, $100 or even $1,000, you’ll be helping to support the work of organizations making a real difference in the community – and helping them compete for cash prizes and matching funds. Giving is fast and easy through the secure website http://www.fcgives.org, and anyone age 18 or older may donate between 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on March 5.
Our local nonprofits feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, give books to children, train the unemployed for new jobs, protect our environment, and more. But they need our support to continue strengthening the communities we call home.
Whatever your favorite cause, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Fairfield County Giving Day 2015!
Mortgage Loan Specialist, Bank of America,
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Coalition for Westport Supports New Baron’s South Plan
To The Editor:
The Coalition for Westport strongly supports the new plan for senior housing on the Baron’s South property.
The plan is still at an early stage, but it’s vital that it go forward, especially because it provides for 60 percent affordability in its residential units and advances the Town’s points to prevent more 8-30g projects.
Because the new proposal provides more open space than the original did, we strongly urge the Planning & Zoning Commission to delay its plan to make the entire property open space until our Town boards have had an opportunity to consider the new proposal.
Denise Torve, Chairperson,
Coalition for Westport
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
‘Fabulous Job’ on Snow Cleanup
To the Editor:
I would like to congratulate the Town of Westport and everyone involved in the snow cleanup.
By yesterday afternoon the roads were completely clear!!! I could even drive down side roads with no problem.
They did a fabulous job and should know that we appreciate all their efforts, especially considering the conditions under which they were working.
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Thanks From Probate Judge
To the Editor:
Dear Fellow Westporter,
Thank you so much for coming out in such high numbers to give me your vote of confidence as your Probate Judge. I so appreciate it.
Please stop by on a Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall in Westport, Room 100, to learn a little about an area of law that we cover in our court. I love to teach, and it gives me a good excuse to meet you.
I am extremely grateful and humbled by your support. I will do my best to earn the trust you have placed in me.
Thank you again.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Proud Member of Compo ‘Flash Mob’
To the Editor:
In the Westport News recent article announcing the review of proposals for Compo Beach, they reported that committee member, Skip Lane, referred to the vocal, outspoken Westporters who do not agree with some of the proposals as “the same flash mob” who sometimes disrupted the committee workshops.
I am a proud member of that “flash mob” and I resent being labelled this way. Mr. Lane should realize we are part of an active, intelligent, community minded group who turn out to let our views be known before definite lines are drawn which don’t necessarily represent the majority will of our Westport community.
We do not want our parking on the beach disturbed. We like our small town beach and its foibles and imperfections. Do we want bathrooms on South Beach - yes we do. Do we want a little shade pavilion, with seating for shade (and no other frills) yes we do. Do we want our committee members to listen to us and respond intelligently, even if they are not in accord with us, yes we do.
If Mr Lane does not like the heat, he should stay out of the kitchen. His inappropriate comments make this “flash mob” member wonder at his fitness to be on this important committee. I hope all interested and vocal “flash mobbers” and other Westporters will attend the Sept. 29 Town Hall meeting to express their views. I think this is called democracy in action, is it not?
Thursday, May 08, 2014
Coalition for Westport Outlines Compo Views
To the Editor:
The Coalition For Westport (CFW) has been following the debate over Compo Beach, and CFW members have attended the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee planning meetings held so far. Since the project is in the planning stage and the Committee is still actively seeking public comment, now is an excellent opportunity for all to submit opinions and suggestions.
The planning forecast calls for spending at least $6 million with improvements in three phases.
The first phase will cover improvements to the entrance way pavilion and drop off area, a new restroom pavilion at South Beach, a pedestrian walkway along the parking lot area of the beach, and redesign of the bathhouse and picnic pavilion. This will be followed by bathhouse and pavilion construction and finally shoreline stabilization, vehicle circulation, and parking enhancements.
There is much that residents can support. Even those who have urged abandonment of the plan begrudgingly list a number of improvements that could be made. The fact is that Compo Beach is one of our town’s jewels and is sorely in need of repair. Unlike many of our specialized facilities like golf, tennis and boating, Compo is enjoyed by vast numbers of residents of all ages not only in the summer, but all year round.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Royce Tribute An ‘Eloquent Elegy’
To the Editor:
When Linda Hall came from Westport to the City to write for New York Magazine, I wrote [she] “may be the smartest and most talented young woman to hit town since the young Joan Didion.”
And her eloquent elegy to David Royce (“Guest Opinion,” WestportNow, April 17, 2014) underscores my prescience.
Noel E. Parmentel Jr.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Police Captain Responds to FOI Story
To the Editor:
With regards to the story “Survey Grades Westport Police ‘F’ on FOI Compliance” (WestportNow, March 19, 2013), we have conducted an investigation as to what may have occurred. It appears that our emergency dispatchers were approached by someone during a busy time asking for an arrest log. Our dispatcher told them to wait until they could clear the emergency calls. The requester did not wait.
Our records system is computerized and an arrest log must be generated from our computer system. It is not a hard copy written log. Our records clerks were not approached and asked for this information. Had our clerks been approached they would have been able to obtain it for the requester. Our clerks and personnel receive FOIA training and we take our responsibility of complying with the law seriously.
As you pointed out in your story “The newspaper’s F grade to Westport came despite frequent distribution –- usually weekly but often several times a week—to local media of a complete list of all arrests, including motor vehicle infractions, with additional details provided in a synopsis of all criminal arrests.” We appreciate you pointing this out in your story. We make every effort to cooperate with the media and the public in providing information as required by FOIA. Our daily arrest log is available by e-mail to those who request it.
Capt. John A. Calka
Westport Police Department
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Applauds Save Westport Now Stance
To the Editor:
At last night’s Planning & Zoning Commission hearing, Save Westport Now embellished its long-standing standing reputation in the community by showing flexibility and by suggesting modifications to proposed Amendment No. 672.
The amendment, put forward by the P&Z Commission itself, is designed to help preserve Westport’s small-town character—a goal that SWN supports. But SWN also recognized that some of the proposed language needed to be refined in order to avoid some illogical and unfair results.
By suggesting specific modifications that would allow for commercial development, while still protecting the scale and character of our Downtown, SWN once again demonstrated its integrity and commitment to doing what is best for Westport.
SWN’s proposed refinements will enable the Commission to move forward with the amendment to the satisfaction of both the public’s interests and the needs of downtown owners and tenants. We should applaud SWN for its proactive role and input on this important issue.
Janet and Howard Rubel
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Promoting Fairfield County Giving Day March 7
To the Editor:
I’m writing to encourage my neighbors and friends to join in supporting the first-ever Fairfield County Giving Day on Friday, March 7. Whether you give $10, or $100 or even $1,000, you’ll be helping to support the work of local nonprofits making a real difference in the community – and helping them compete for prizes and matching funds.
Giving is fast and easy through the secure website http://www.fcgives.org, and you may donate anytime between 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on March 7.
Our local nonprofits feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, strengthen our schools and arts and cultural programs, protect our environment, train the unemployed for new jobs, and more. But they need our support to continue strengthening the community we call home.
Whatever your favorite cause, I hope you’ll join in helping Fairfield Giving Day – presented by Fairfield County Community Foundation in cooperation with Bank of America – reach the goal of raising $1 million to benefit hundreds of local nonprofit organizations in only 24 hours!
Mortgage Loan Specialist, Bank of America
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Thanks From Police Officers on Toy Drive
To the Editor:
The members of the Westport Police Union and Westport Police Benevolent Association would like to extend our sincere gratitude for the generous contributions we received during our 2013 Holiday Toy Drive.
The toy drive which is held annually, sponsored and run by the members of the Westport Police Union and Benevolent Association, has historically been tremendously successful. This year, during the last weekend of our two weekend drive, we had a significant snowstorm which made donating difficult.
While we remained hopeful that the storm would not completely hamper the toy drive, we were definitely concerned that we would fall short in our donations this year. What we saw that weekend cannot be described as anything short of amazing. To say that we saw the true spirit of the season is an understatement.
We received as many donations that weekend, if not more, than in previous years without a storm! The roads were treacherous and the temperature was chilling, yet, our loyal donors made it a point, even a mission for some, to get to us and make sure their toys were donated.
Monday, December 23, 2013
Likes Dan Woog
To the Editor:
I am writing to publically thank Dan Woog for all that he does for the Westport community. He is the thread that ties this Westport community together. Through his brilliant writings, he weaves connections by sharing your community stories of history, politics, new and old businesses, stories from the elders in this community, as well as the energy, good deeds and passion of it’s young people. He is the vessel in which you all are able to share the life of your vibrant community. He is a gift.
I am lucky enough to live in Newtown and I know just how important these threads are to the health of a community and to individuals. Last year at this time, my 87 year old father, a retired school principal, asked to pay his respects at the children’s memorials in Sandy Hook. With great difficulty he struggled to walk to the memorials. One of your Westport policeman ,who was supporting our town by his service, came to assist my father. Without speaking, this officer supported my father as he walked to the many tree memorials for the children. As he returned to the car, my Father was overcome by grief. This Wesport policeman just held my father and the two wept together. In that moment my two worlds converged for I am a teacher in Westport. At that point I have never felt more connected with community.
This is Dan’s gift to you all. He builds connections within your community and creates that common thread of support. Whether he writes about Westport’s compassionate individuals or the more obscure unknown events , his message is always the same. He loves this town and celebrates all of the uniqueness within its boundaries.
So please when you see Dan, please thank him for his many talents and gifts. Most of all thank him caring enough about your town that he takes the threads of this community, and binds them together with love.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
United Healthcare Cuts ‘Toxic’
To the Editor:
The Fairfield County and Hartford County Medical Societies are to be congratulated for bringing this critical issue to the public’s attention.
I have been in general practice in Bethel since 1975. As I said at the Town Hall meeting on Nov. 9 (“Doctors protest United Healthcare cuts,” WestportNow, Nov. 9. 2013) ever since the early 1990s when large insurers began to intrude in the healthcare system, medicine has become dominated by their marketplace strategies as much or more than by medical science.
Rules regulating the ordering of CAT scans and blood tests and referrals to specialists and the steady decrease in the services and drugs that insurers will pay have slowly but surely diminished the ability of doctors to treat patients in a humane and compassionate way.
This sad state of affairs continues unabated and insurers emboldened by their freedom from the discipline they so rightly deserve unabashedly keep pushing the envelope As a result, the physician workforce is demoralized and many express burnout because of the excessive administrative and clerical drudgery that insurers force upon them.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Thank You from New Probate Judge
To the Editor:
Thank you to the voters of Westport and Weston for putting your trust in me and electing me your new Probate Judge. I am scheduled to be sworn in this Wednesday morning at Westport Town Hall at 8:30 a.m. You are more than welcome to be there.
I have already attended four hours of judicial instruction; there are at least another 40 to come. My first matter on the calendar is a hearing for an involuntary commitment to a mental hospital- one of the most serious decisions any judge has to make. I am looking to my faith and my community for guidance and wisdom to do this job well.
On Tuesday nights from 7:30- 9:30 p.m., I will be at Probate Court to answer your general questions about estate planning and probate procedure. Please do not ask me questions or tell me facts about a particular case- I am not allowed to discuss anything involving a specific matter unless it is in front of all interested parties. Night hours will begin on Dec. 10 at Westport Town Hall.
Of course, I will be also be at Court during the day with the rest of the staff, so please stop by and say hello.
Thank you again for the great honor you have given me. I will do my best not to let you down.
Lisa K. Wexler