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Wednesday, August 05, 2015



Friday, July 31, 2015

Hartwell Steps Down as Dem Town Committee Chair Image
John Hartwell (l), chair of the Westport Democratic Town Committee, announced tonight at a Democratic potluck dinner at the Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach that he has stepped down to concentrate on his race for the Board of Finance. Taking over is Keith Stein (r), vice chair.  Hartwell said while he has enjoyed serving as town chair, there was a need now to focus on Democrats regaining control of the finance board. The other Democratic nominee for the board is Sheri Gordon, currently serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals. Incumbent Democrat Janis Collins is not seeking reelection.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Nicholas Pisarro, Jr. for

Posted 09:11 PM
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Few Surprises with DTC Nominations

By James Lomuscio

Tonight’s Democratic Town Committee (DTC) nominating convention for November’s elections went as expected with the slate announced Monday getting unanimous endorsements. Image
Nominated Democratic candidates tonight include (l-r) Mark Mathias, Michael Gordon, both Board of Education; Paul Liebowitz, Planning and Zoning Commssion, Sheri Gordon and John Hartwell, Board of Finance. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Board of Education Chairman Michael Gordon and member Mark Mathias, both incumbents, received resounding support after Mathias and Gordon nominated each other.

“He’s fiscally savvy, but he puts the needs of students first,” Mathias said of Gordon, adding that the one of the challenges the board will face this year is hiring a new superintendent for the first time in 17 years.

When Gordon nominated Mathias, who has already served three four-year terms, he said that his colleague “sets the bar high for everyone on the board.”

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Posted 10:38 PM
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Monday, July 27, 2015

Dems List Candidates Prior to Tuesday’s Nominations

By James Lomuscio Image
John Hartwell: DTC head will seek finance seat. Contributed photo

John Hartwell, chairman of Westport’s Democratic Town Committee (DTC), tonight announced the slate of November’s candidates that the party plans to nominate for town boards and commissions Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Room 201 at Town Hall.

“There will be no surprises,” he said about the expected nominations following tonight’s announcement.

The party will put up Hartwell and Sheri Gordon, currently a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for the Board of Finance. Incumbent Janis Colllins is not seeking reelection.

“I think there are a lot of interesting and important things going on right now, including Downtown Steering Committee’s Downtown Master Plan and the transportation initiative to get more people to use public transportation,” Hartwell said about his decision to run.

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Posted 09:59 PM
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Petitions Available for RTM Candidates

Westport Town Clerk Patty Strauss announced today that residents interested in running for the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) can pick up a petition at the Town Clerk’s office, located in room 105 of Town Hall.

Petitioners must gather 25 signatures from residents in their district to qualify to place their name on the ballot Nov. 3.

The completed petitions must be returned to the Town Clerk by Sept. 8.

“My staff will review the full petition packet with the petitioner,” said Strauss. “A district map and a list of district voters will be supplied to aid each petitioner in gathering the required signatures.”

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Posted 04:29 PM
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Republicans Nominate November Slate Image
The Westport Republican Town Committee (RTC) tonight nominated its slate for the November municipal elections. Among those receiving a unanimous endorsement were Board of Finance candidates (l-r) Michael Rea, an incumbent, newcomer Iain Bruce, and Clarissa Moore, who currently serves on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM). John Pincavage and Tom Lasersohn are not seeking re-election. Other endorsements, all incumbents, include Paul Block for Board of Education; Al Gratrix, Chip Stephens, Cathy Walsh, and Jack Whittle, for the Planning and Zoning Commission; Bill Harris for Zoning Board of Appeals, and Garson Heller for Board of Assessment Appeals. Elizabeth Wong is not seeking re-election on the Board of Zoning Appeals. The RTC is also currently interviewing candidates for two additional Board of Zoning Appeals positions. The RTC nominated two placeholder candidates for the Board of Zoning Appeals while interviews are ongoing. Westport Democrats will select their candidates on Tuesday, July 28. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Posted 10:03 PM
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Tuesday, July 07, 2015

State’s $40.3 Billion Budget Tops Legislative Wrap Up

By James Lomuscio

The $40.3 billion state budget voted against by five area legislators—four Republicans and one Democrat—was a main topic discussed by them at today’s Westport Library “Legislative Wrap Up.” Image
Five area legislators took part in today’s legislative forum at the Westport Library. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Also hot topics were what was described as overbearing tax hikes and ways to stop Connecticut’s business bloodletting.

Co-sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce (WWCC) and the Hartford-based Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), the forum featured Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28), Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26), Rep. Jonathan Steinberg (D-136), Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143), and Rep. John Shaban (R-135).

“None of you voted for it, but the budget passed,” said WWCC Executive Director and President Matthew Mandell, who emceed the event. “What happened?”

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Posted 03:18 PM
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Idaho Group Uses WN Photo to Sell $95M Tax Hike Image
This image posted by an Idaho political group is a cropped version of a photo posted on WestportNow on July 11, 2013. Contributed photo

A 2013 WestportNow photo of a road sign saying “bridge out” was used by an Idaho political group in a Tweet to sell a $95 million tax increase, according to an Idaho watchdog group.

In a story on, the website showed how a 2013 photo of signs warning that the Bayberry Lane Extension bridge was closed for repairs was cropped by the Better Idaho group to show only a sign that said “bridge out.”

“Derek Farr, Better Idaho’s editor, declined to discuss the deceptive graphic,” the website said.

It said Idaho lawmakers hiked taxes on drivers and workers July 1, boosting the gas tax 7 cents a gallon, plus adding $21 a year to car registration costs.

Posted 01:58 PM
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Dora Stuttman, 90, Westport Democratic Stalwart Image
UPDATE (adds arrangements) Dora Stuttman (c), an influential figure in the Westport Democratic Town Committee for decades, died July 6. She was 90. Westport Democrats honored her last October with establishment of the Dora Stuttman Campaign Leadership Award in recognition of her formidable organizational abilities, which led to many party victories. She is pictured with Martha Aasen (l), who was also honored for her party service, and former First Selectman Diane Farrell, whose political campaigns were led by Suttman. Funeral services will be held on Thursday, July 9 at 11 a.m. at Abraham L. Green & Son, 55 Beach Road, Fairfield, with interment to follow at Willowbrook Cemetery, 395 N. Main St., Westport. (See obituary here) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

Posted 09:39 AM
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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Newlyweds Walking in the Moonlight Image
Former state Senate minority leader John McKinney of Fairfield and his new bride, Kristen Fox of Westport, take a moonlight walk along Soundview Drive tonight at Compo Beach. The two were married Saturday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for

Posted 09:47 PM
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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Malloy Signs, Then Promotes, Newly Tweaked Budget

By Mark Pazniokas and Keith M. Phaneuf

The rocky path to a fiscal plan for the next two years ended Tuesday with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signing the budget adopted June 3 in the closing minutes of the 2015 session — and tax rollbacks passed earlier Tuesday in special session to quell an outcry from business interests. Image
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signs the budget bills in Hartford today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

“Massachusetts doesn’t have a budget. Maine doesn’t have a budget. Illinois doesn’t have a budget. New Hampshire doesn’t have a budget,” Malloy said after signing the documents at a ceremony attended by the legislature’s top leaders and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. “We got a budget.”

The budget includes tax increases that violate a pledge the Democratic governor made during last fall’s close re-election campaign, and its passage exposes Democratic legislators in swing districts to attacks as they seek re-election in 2016, a campaign that the GOP already is waging.

Malloy did not directly answer a question about how he can reconcile the budget he signed with his campaign pledge. Instead, he said the GOP offered no practical alternative.

Click here for more of story

Posted 03:12 PM
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Himes Opposes U.S. ‘Locking Down’ Mideast Chaos

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes said today he does not back an increased U.S. military presence in Iraq and “will not support the role of the United States locking down chaos in the Middle East.” Image
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes addresses today’s Westport Rotary Club meeting. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Addressing the weekly meeting of the Westport Rotary Club, Himes said the United States must be very skeptical about creep in U.S. military commitment in the region.

He said the 1,200-year-old history of Middle East conflicts make defining long-term U.S. strategy in the area difficult.

While the United States has achieved victories in removing Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi from power and killing Taliban leaders, he added: “We’re not very good at the next day.”

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Posted 02:40 PM
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Legislature Votes to Roll Back a Share of CT Business Tax Hikes

By Keith M. Phaneuf

UPDATE The General Assembly sent a revised biennial budget to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy early today, rolling back $178 million of the $1.5 billion worth of tax hikes built into the original plan.

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives narrowly passed the changes 78-65 shortly after 1 a.m. after a nearly three-hour debate.

They included a series of last-minute adjustments that canceled planned tax hikes on data processing and web development services and delayed for one year a controversial shift to unitary reporting within the corporation tax.

To pay for these changes, lawmakers ordered several spending cuts. But their chief move was to scale back payments into a sales tax revenue-sharing program with municipalities – placing even more pressure on state finances two years from now, when a major deficit already looms.

Click here for more of story

Posted 01:24 AM
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Monday, June 29, 2015

Legislative Wrap Up Set for July 7

Area legislators will discuss the recently finished 2015 Connecticut General Assembly session at a “Legislative Wrap Up” set for Tuesday, July 7, at 10:30 a.m. in the Westport Library’s McManus Room.

Sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce (WWCC) in association with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), the event which runs to noon, will feature state Sen. Toni Boucher, Sen. Tony Hwang, Rep. Gail Lavielle and Rep. Jonathan Steinberg.

“This is a great opportunity to hear directly from your state representatives,” said Matthew Mandell, WWCC executive director. “It will be an informal discussion, so attendees will be able to participate.”

Mandell stressed the relevance of the forum to the business community, noting that state legislators considered many bills “impacting business and company bottom lines in this year’s session in Hartford, including the budget.”

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Posted 01:24 PM
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Friday, June 26, 2015

Op-Ed: Steinberg Explains ‘No’ Budget Vote

By Jonathan Steinberg

I voted against the budget, just as I did four years ago, dissenting from Governor Malloy and the majority of my fellow Democrats. Image
Jonathan Steinberg:  against “gimmicks and fudges.” Contributed photo

I don’t like voting against budgets, but I will continue to place sound fiscal policy ahead of partisanship and will press for sensible reforms. We need to proactively manage our budgets, not just paper them over each year through the use of gimmicks and fudges.

The initial budget proposed by the governor indiscriminately cut critical social and health programs, leaving the state’s most vulnerable with nowhere to turn. 

Both Democrats and Republicans resolved to restore some of the most draconian cuts, but the resulting budget was only balanced by new taxes and increases on existing ones.

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Posted 09:51 AM
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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Professor: Dems Could Take U.S. Senate in 2016

A Sacred Heart University political science professor told the Westport Rotary Club today it is possible that Democrats will retake control of the U.S. Senate in the 2016 elections. Image
Gary Rose, a political science professor at Fairfield’s Sacred Heart University, addressing the Westport Rotary Club today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

“The 2016 Senate races are taking place in blue states where (President) Obama won,” said Gary Rose, chair of the Department of Government Politics and Global Studies at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, who has studied the U.S. political system for four decades. “And control of the Senate very possibly could swing back to the Democrats.”

The political landscape has changed with U.S. Supreme Court rulings that political money is equivalent to speech and is protected by the U.S. Constitution, he told the club’s weekly meeting in Branson Hall at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. This has led to an influx of funds, often from sources that don’t have to identify themselves.

“It’s an almost absurd situation,” Rose said, adding that the unidentifiable funds have become known as “dark money.”

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Posted 04:53 PM
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