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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Himes to Head Centrist Dem Group

By Ana Radelat

Washington – Rep. Jim Himes was elected today to head the centrist New Democrat Coalition in the next Congress.

Himes had been one of four vice chairmen of the coalition.

“I would like to thank my fellow New Dems for the trust they have placed in me to lead this coalition and fight for them and the American people next Congress,” Himes said. “The future will bring unimagined opportunities, innovation and change. But, as the presidential election showed, change often leaves too many Americans behind. I’m thrilled to have the chance to lead the most forward-looking group of members in the Congress, all of whom are dedicated to defending and supporting those who get left behind.”

Created in 1997, the New Democrat Coalition say’s it’s a “moderate” and “pro-growth” group with about 50 members.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Key Lawmaker: Need to Talk About Raising Revenues

By Keith M. Phaneuf

As analysts outlined a grim picture today that could include further cuts to state social services and reversing recent enhancements in local aid and transportation, one key lawmaker insisted officials must discuss raising revenue in 2017.

Though it is premature to target specific measures — such as tax increases, fee hikes or tolls — Rep. Toni E. Walker, D-New Haven, said trying to offset surging debt costs in the next state budget solely with cuts “is going to be devastating” to Connecticut.

“I believe there are things out there that we need to look at, that we have turned up our nose to” over the past year, she said. “We have to look now, and we have to look at who is suffering in this state.”

Walker, a New Haven Democrat who co-chairs the Appropriations Committee, made her comments after a three-hour briefing on budget trends by executive and legislative branch analysts.

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Monday, November 28, 2016

CNN Anchor: Media Relied Too Much on Polls Image
CNN “New Day” co-anchor Alysn Camerota, also a Westport mother of three, was guest speaker today at the Y’s Women meeting at Temple Israel. And she brought along her mom, Elaine. She told an overflow audience the nation’s news media erred in relying so heavily on polls in the 2016 election. People were annoyed at being asked who they were voting for and often “didn’t tell the truth,” she said. Camerota added she never said Donald Trump could not win. “I moderated several panels of Trump supporters and saw how committed they were, and I could see the enthusiasm for Trump,” she said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for

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Friday, November 18, 2016

State Agencies Offer More Painful Budget Cuts

By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Arielle Levin Becker

Some DMV offices could close. Housing subsidies for those with AIDS could be cut. And hundreds more state jobs could be eliminated by privatizing services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Residents could have to pay more for a state police background check on a potential employee or babysitter, and nursing homes found to present an imminent danger could be fined $10,000 instead of the current $5,000.

The fire department at Southbury Training School, which serves people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, is proposed for elimination to save $1.6 million.

These are just some of the options for making cuts and generating revenue that state agencies have offered Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget office as it prepares a 2017-18 budget proposal to put before legislators.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Democratic Letter to Marpe: Reaffirm Westport’s ‘Openness and Tolerance’

(Editor’s Note: Following is a letter sent tonight by members of the Westport Democratic Town Committee to First Selectman Jim Marpe.)

Dear First Selectman Marpe,

Last Tuesday, over 10,000 Westporters went to the polls to vote for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, as president of the United States. The town’s preference was clear, with nearly 70 percent of votes cast for the Democratic nominee. Those voters, along with countless young people not yet old enough to cast a vote, woke up Wednesday morning (if they even slept at all) in shock and disbelief at the election of Donald J. Trump.

Since Election Day, the Westport Democratic Town Committee has heard from many people in our community who are struggling to reconcile themselves to this result and what it means for our nation. Tuesday night, a week after Election Day, we had a record turnout at our monthly meeting. People who had never attended a DTC meeting before came to express their fear, their anger, and their worry about the future. They spoke of sleepless nights, of difficult conversations with their children, and of feeling like foreigners in their own country.

In the past week, incidents of racial intimidation and hate speech have sharply risen all around the nation. Sadly, our town has not been immune. Staples High School Principal James D’Amico informed parents last Thursday of racially offensive memes circulating online among Staples students. Mr. D’Amico also noted that some students were so upset by the election result they requested counseling. Other post-election incidents of political or racial intimidation have been reported as well.

Regardless of whom you supported for president, now is a time when our town needs healing and leadership. We need our First Selectman to make a strong statement that Westport is a town that opens its arms to people of all backgrounds and identities, and where intimidation and bullying will never be tolerated. Now is the time to reassert our basic, shared values of civility, decency and compassion.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Westport Dems Discuss Trump Victory Image
There was a large crowd tonight at a Westport Democratic Town Committee meeting in the basement theater at Westport Town Hall They discussed their anger and frustration with the presidential election results. Many vented and wondered openly what will happen during a Trump presidency where a “known racist” can be made chief strategist. Next steps were discussed, including sending a message of civility and compassion as well organizing those emboldened by this to be vigilant and active moving forward. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

11/15/16 09:49 PM Comments (6) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Malloy: Next Budget Will Be Very Lean

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Despite debt costs that are surging at unprecedented rates, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today his proposal for the next state budget probably will not call for any major tax hikes. Image
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy discusses his upcoming state budget proposal with reporters. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Pazniokas for

With state finances currently on pace to run about $1.5 billion in deficit next fiscal year, Malloy’s plan is expected to recommend deep cuts to spending not fixed by contract.

The Democratic governor did not rule out small tax hikes, but also said he was considering tax incentives to spur business growth.

If you’re asking, ‘Am I leading with the expectation that we’re going to raise a lot of additional dollars, then the answer is ‘no,’” the governor said.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

DWW Forum to Focus on Polling

The Democratic Women of Westport (DWW) announced today it will host a forum on the 2016 presidential election, titled “Why Data Failed Us: A Closer Look at Polling,” on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Restaurant 323, 323 Main St. Image
James Delorey: Westport research analyst. Contributed photo

It will feature research analyst and Westport resident James Delorey.

“Though we had expected a different outcome on Election Day, and therefore different topics to be addressed at our forum, we are so fortunate to have James Delorey right here in Westport,” said Rebecca Martin, co-chair of the DWW.

Prior to his talk there will be an opportunity for casual conversation with DWW members and friends, an announcement said. Admission is free and it is open to the public.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Projected State Budget Deficit Swells

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The projected deficit in the next two-year state budget has swelled by more than $500 million because of declining revenue projections, state fiscal analysts reported today.

Coupled with recent cost hikes projected for Connecticut’s pension fund for teachers, red ink in the next two-year budget has grown by nearly $600 million in two weeks.

The Consensus Revenue Report, signed by the governor’s budget agency and by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, also lowered revenue expectations for the current budget by $46 million from the adopted budget, probably worsening deficit forecasts issued in the last few weeks.

Analysts said state government can expect about $208 million less General Fund revenue in the 2017-18 fiscal year than nonpartisan analysts projected this summer, and about $297 million less in 2018-19.

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11/10/16 07:00 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

CT Election Autopsy: Trump Expands Map

By Kyle Constable

Questions lingered before Tuesday’s election about whether the “Trump effect” or “Malloy effect” would carry more weight at the polls in the minds of Connecticut voters. Image

After a night of big gains in the state legislature, Republicans say the answer is clear: The unpopularity of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy outweighed any negative effects from President-elect Donald J. Trump at the top of the ticket.

State Republican Party Chairman J.R. Romano went as far as to say Trump was a net plus for Republican candidates. [See the town-by-town Trump – Clinton analysis graphics at end of story, including one showing Westport with marked improvement for Clinton in 2016 over Obama in 2012.]

Many towns across the state saw higher-than-expected turnout, a testament to a national mood that transcends socioeconomic boundaries – one that is deeply dissatisfied with the country’s direction and demands change from political leaders at all levels of government.

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11/10/16 05:27 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Trump Agenda Clashes With That of CT Lawmakers

By Ana Radelat

Washington – The day after Donald Trump’s stunning victory, Connecticut lawmakers said they would give the new president-elect a honeymoon period, but it may be short lived.

The plans Trump released during the campaign for his first 100 days in office are largely at odds with the all-Democratic Connecticut congressional delegation’s position and goals on a broad range of issues – from health care and immigration to food stamps and energy policy.

But since Connecticut’s lawmakers are in the minority in the Senate and House of Representatives, they can only play defense.

Right now, they are echoing the conciliatory remarks made by Hillary Clinton and President Obama, who said,  ”We have to remember that we’re actually all on one team.”

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11/09/16 08:51 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Democrats Dominate in Westport

See official 2016 results here

UPDATE Despite a Trump Republican victory nationally, Westport showed its Democratic leaning in Tuesday’s election with 69.09 percent of registered voters here voting for Hillary Clinton and 27.03 percent of its electors going for Donald J. Trump, according to official figures released by the Westport Town Clerk’s Office.

Westport’s turnout was 85.89 percent, compared to 83 percent in 2012 (Obama vs. Romney), 86.05 in 2008 (Obama vs McCain), and 87.49 percent in 2004 (Bush vs Kerry).

That national Democratic support for Clinton statewide was reflected in most of the town’s Democratic victories here.

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Post-Election Talk Image
The League of Women Voters of Westport today hosted a post-election brown bag lunch with Eileen Flug, moderator of the Westport Representative Town Meeting (RTM), the town’s 36-member, nonpartisan legislative body, and Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and also a RTM member. About three dozen persons attended the session at the Suzuki School of Music, 246 Post Road East. Topics covered included the RTM’s role in town government, senior housing issues, a planned Saugatuck study and other topics. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Roy Fuchs for

11/09/16 03:21 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Himes, Other Dems Re-Elected

By Ana Radelat

Connecticut’s members in the U.S. House of Representatives all won re-election today, most of them by a large margin.

Reps. John Larson, D-1st District; Joe Courtney, D-2nd District; Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District; and Jim Himes, D-4th District, coasted to re-election, their races called by The Associated Press early in the night.

But the between Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, and her challenger, Republican Clay Cope, the first selectman of the town of Sherman, wasn’t called until almost midnight.

With 44 percent of the vote counted, Esty was projected to be the winner at about 11:30 p.m. At that point the AP gave her 51.8 percent of the vote, and Cope 48.2 percent.

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GOP Ties Democrats in State Senate, Closes Gap in House

By Mark Pazniokas

Republicans made stunning gains in state legislative races today to force a likely 18-18 tie in the Senate and narrow the Democratic majority in House, overcoming a Democratic tide at the top of the ticket that carried Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal to victory in Connecticut.

By capturing three Democratic seats in the state Senate, the GOP transformed a 21-15 Democratic majority into a deadlock that means Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, the presiding officer of the Senate, will play an integral role in legislative business next year, when legislators face the certainty of another difficult budget debate.

Incomplete returns showed Republicans with a net gain of eight seats, leaving Democrats with a probable 79-72 majority in January. It is the biggest shift of power in the legislature since a Ronald Reagan landslide and the party-lever delivered a solidly Republican legislature.

The night was celebrated by a blue-state GOP as a vindication of a campaign message that two decades of domination by a Democratic legislature, the last six years with a Democratic governor, have left Connecticut in a state of chronic fiscal crisis, with more trouble over the horizon in the form of an unfunded pension liability.

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Blumenthal Coasts to Second Term

By Ana Radelat

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal handily won re-election tonight as his party struggled to gain enough seats in the U.S. Senate to wrest control from the GOP. Image
Sen. Richard Blumenthal addresses supporters tonight in Hartford. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jacqueline Rabe Thomas for

Blumenthal was projected as the winner minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m. in Connecticut. His challenger was Republican State Rep. Dan Carter.

Nick Balleto, the head of the Connecticut Democratic Party, hailed the victory, which was expected.

“Richard Blumenthal has spent his career fighting for women, middle-class families, and veterans,” Balleto said. “From the state legislature to the attorney general’s office to the United States Senate, he has never wavered in his commitment to taking on special interests and standing up for the core values of the Democratic Party.”

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Gallery: Westport Votes 2016 - 2

Scenes from Westport and Republican election night gatherings tonight. Helen Klisser During and Jarret Liotta for

11/08/16 10:16 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Video: Steinberg: ‘Incredibly Gratified’

State Democratic Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, whose 136th District covers most of Westport, said tonight he was “incredibly gratified” by his victory by about 15 percent over Republican challenger Catherine Walsh. video by Helen Klisser During

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Walsh Concedes to Steinberg

By Jarret Liotta

UPDATE The numbers didn’t add up for Cathy Walsh tonight, but Republicans attributed Democratic State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg’s win by an unofficial 15 percent in the 136th District to Hillary Clinton’s Connecticut coattails. Image
Catherine Walsh (r) confers with Jennifer Tooker, board of finance member, and Michael Calise, at Rizzuto’s Restaurant. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

“I think Cathy ran a great campaign,” said Tim Wetmore, GOP chairman. “I’m really proud of her. She brought the issues up about Hartford.”

“Congratulations to Jonathan,” Walsh said, noting the coattail effect.

“I hope Jonathan changes the way he does business,” she said, “because he’s not doing the best job he can for us.”

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Steinberg Easily Defeats GOP Opponent Image
Incumbent Democrat state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg receives congratulations tonight at Westport Democratic headquarters from his Republican opponent, Catherine Walsh, chair of the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission, in the 136th District race. Unofficial returns showed Steinberg winning his fourth term by a 15 percent margin. At right is Tim Wetmore, Republican Town Committee chairman. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

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Where to Find Connecticut Vote Count

For the first time this year, Connecticut vote counts are going electonically to the secretary of the state’s office in Hartford. Here is where to follow the town-by-town vote counts:

Presidential results

U.S. Senate results

U.S. House results

State Senate results

State House results

11/08/16 07:54 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Last Minute Absentee Ballots Image
Westport Town Clerk Patricia Strauss (l) and Ruth Cavayero, deputy town clerk, carry the latest—and probably last—batch of 124 absentee ballots, received around 6:30 p.m. today .This brings the total, Strauss said, to a whopping 2,596, adding these to the 2,472 received between 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

11/08/16 07:23 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

‘Bully For You’ Image
Installation was underway today for “MORE Than Words/#iammore,” the Westport Arts Center juried show featuring selected works by the community, which opens Friday with a 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. reception. The works were created in support of the theme of the Arts Center’s previous exhibition “MORE Than Words” about bullying. Pictured are WAC staff member Noah Steinman and Tom Berntsen installing Westport artist Tammy Winser’s “Trump: Bully For You,” an acrylic painting on board. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Xenia Gross for

11/08/16 05:45 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Westport Filmmaker in National Election Day Documentary Image
Westport filmmaker Doug Tirola (c) chats with Stephen Carpentieri, an owner of Westport’s Dunville’s, outside Coleytown Middle School as Tirola followed Carpentieri today as part of a national Election Day documentary. The film is by Jeff Deutchman who produced a similar documentary, “11/4/08,” that had footage from around the world on the day Barack Obama was elected president. Tirola, who featured Carpentieri in his 2013 award-winning documentary “Hey, Bartender,”  is among 20 filmmakers selected to participate in the film, “11/8/16,” scheduled for release early next year. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

11/08/16 04:57 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Update: High Voter Turnout

UPDATE The presidential race has generated high voter enthusiasm in Westport with 10,844 people casting ballots by 4 p.m. and more than 2,000 absentee ballots yet to be included, according to the latest figures from the Registrar of Voters Office. Image
Volunteers were busy at Westport Town Hall veryifying absentee ballots. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

“It’s the strongest that I have seen,” said Kevin White, Republican Registrar of Voters. He said he expected a 90 percent turnout before polls close at 8 p.m.

Even a small fire outside the Greens Farms Elementary School barely disrupted voting, according to Marla Cowden, Democratic Registrar of Voters. Those waiting in line were told to leave, but not for long.

“We did not miss a beat because the Fire Department and a police officer were there, and the people were back inside within 15 minutes,” Cowden said about the incident that occurred at about 9:15 a.m.

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11/08/16 04:28 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Himes Greets Westport Election Workers Image
Democraric incumbent U.S. Rep. Jim Himes stopped by Westport Democratic headquarters, 1761 Post Road East, today to greet election workes and make get-out-the-vote calls to New Hampshire. Pictured (l-r) Tina Kumar of West Hartford, Melissa Kane, Westport Democratic Town Committee chair, Himes, Elllen Lautenberg of Westport, and Sheri Gordon of Westport, a member of the board of finance. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for

11/08/16 02:40 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

GOP Push to Get Out the Vote Image
At Westport Republican Party headquarters, Karen Hess, Republican Town Committee vice chair, and Tom Lasersohn were busy today making phone calls to get out the vote. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

11/08/16 02:35 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Gallery: Westport Votes 2016 -1

Scenes from today’s Westport voting.  Jarret Liotta, and Helen Klisser During for and contributed photos

11/08/16 10:57 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Brisk Early Turnout

By Jarret Liotta

Voters are finally putting a cap today on what everyone will remember as a contentious political season, and Westport appears to be doing its part. Image
Republican challenger Catherine Walsh and incumbent Democrat state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg were out early today at Coleytown Middle School. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for

As of 9 a.m., 4,007 residents had shown up at the polls, according to the Registrar of Voters. This represents just over 25 percent of the 15,820 who could possibly vote at the polls today.

Combined with 2,261 absentee ballots, this puts the total number of voters in town at 18,081.

“I’m just glad this day is here,” said state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-136. “Frankly, I’m eager to get back to policy over politics.”

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11/08/16 09:30 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Compo Election Day Swim Tradition Image
Three swimmers were in Compo Beach waters early today in an Election Day tradition since 2004. They swam to the left buoy to show their preference to Hillary Clinton, right for Donald Trump, and in the middle for “other.” The results Clinton 2, 1 “other.” Participants included Andy Ludel and Ric Nadel of Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Barry Guiduli for

11/08/16 09:25 AM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

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