Wednesday, October 19, 2016
The presidential debate won center television status tonight at 323 Restaurant & Bar, 323 Main St., while the National League Championship series between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers was on a smaller set. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
The Westport Library in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Westport tonight hoted a presidential debate viewing session. Journalist Eric Burns, formerly of NBC News and Fox News, moderated a discussion about the event, as he did at the first presidential debate. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
By James Lomuscio
Moderator Julie Belaga began tonight’s legislative debate at Earthplace by commenting on the unseasonably warm October weather.
“Any candidate who doesn’t believe climate change is a reality?” asked Belaga, a longtime Westporter, former state representative and former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office in Boston.
“No hands?” she added. “You’re the ones who are going to make a difference.”
On the panel were: Democratic incumbent state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg and Republican challenger Catherine Walsh; Sen. Toni Boucher and Democratic challenger Carolanne Curry; Republican state Rep. Gail Lavielle, who is running unopposed; incumbent Republican Sen. Tony Hwang and Democratic opponent Philip Dwyer.
Westport’s Earthplace tonight hosted a debate on environmental issues with local legislative candidates. Julie Belaga of Westport (l), co-founder of the nonpartisan Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
UPDATE Westport’s Earthplace tonight will host an environmental debate among local candidates for the state legislature.
The 7 p.m. event will include state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, the Democrat incumbent in the 136th Assembly District and his Republican challenger, Cathy Walsh; state Rep. Gail Lavielle, the Republican incumbent running unopposed in the 143rd District, state Sen. Toni Boucher, the Republican incumbent in the 26th Senate District, and her Democratic challenger, Carolanne Curry, and Phil Dwyer, the Democrat challenger in the the 28th Senate District, and the incumbent in the district, Republican state Sen. Tony Hwang, who initially said he could not participate due to another commitment.
The debate, co-hosted by the Westport Green Task Force, will be moderated by Julie Belaga, who co-founded the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters in the late 1990s.
A Westport resident, Belaga has served in local and state elected and appointed positions, including as New England’s EPA regional director and on the board of the Export-Import Bank, where she led efforts to increase financing for U.S. firms that export products and services that benefit the global environment.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
In a sweeping assessment as his administration approaches its third anniversary, Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe said today the town remains “an attractive, vibrant community” but warned it must prepare for tough times ahead.
Addressing the weekly meeting of the Westport Rotary Club, Marpe, who turns 70 next Tuesday, said, “Westport looks great while the state implodes around us.”
“Sooner or later, we’ll come to the next recession,” he said. He noted that many Westport residents are tied to the financial industry and would be impacted by a worsening economic environment.
Marpe said Westport is faring much better than surrounding communities and its grand list is the envy of their elected officials. But he said that the town has yet to recover fully from the last recession. “We’re back to where we were five or six years ago,” he said.
Monday, October 17, 2016
By Ana Radelatwww.ctmirror.org
Washington – Democrats across the country are trying to tie their Republican opponents to Donald Trump and the race for the 4th District congressional seat is no different.
Rep. Jim Himes, 50, seeking a fourth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been challenged by John Shaban, a Republican who represents Easton, Redding and Weston in the state House.
For Shaban, the race is about Himes’ effectiveness and Shaban’s wish to bring more federal dollars to Connecticut and loosen federal reins on how the state can spend those dollars.
“Right now we are sending (taxpayer) money to D.C. and begging for some of it back from people who are not from Connecticut,” Shaban said.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
In a story first reported by WestportNow in May (see WestportNow May 31, 2016), CBS’s “Sunday Morning” today spotlighted Westporter David Ellis and his sale of amusing anti-Trump bumper stickers outside his Silver Brook Road home. The brief appearance was in a story by correspondent Martha Teichner on how campaign bumper stickers are part of a hallowed (if sometimes raucous) tradition. See video here. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo from CBSNews.com
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Westport Republicans today hosted a candidate meet and greet event at Dunville’s Restaurant in Westport. Pictured (l-r): Westport Republican Town Committee Chairman Tim Wetmore; candidate for U.S. Congress John Shaban; new Westport Board of Finance member Jim Westphal; candidate for state representative Cathy Walsh, and Westport Selectman Avi Kaner. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Friday, October 14, 2016
Town officials said today absentee ballot requests and registrations show high Westport voter interest in the Nov. 8 presidential election.
“The traffic in my office is unusually heavy,” said Town Clerk Patricia Strauss, who is in charge of absentee ballot distribution. “People are very excited and very emotional.”
She said in the five days since absentee ballots became available on Monday, her office has distributed 1,382 ballots with 320 returned so far by the end of business today.
Absentee ballot requests have come from a wide-ranging geography, including Singapore, Hong Kong, United Kingdom (“many,” she said), Sweden France, Denmark, Canada the Netherlands, Israel and Portugal.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
By Mark Pazniokaswww.ctmirror.org
Arthur H. House, who has had an up-and-down relationship with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, stepped down today as chairman of the three-member Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to become the first cybersecurity chief for the state of Connecticut.
House, 74, who has held senior posts in Congress, intelligence agencies and the private sector, authored a cybersecurity plan in April for the state’s utilities, warning that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had concluded that “the technology deployed in shutting down parts of the power grid in the Ukraine in December 2015 confirmed that cyber attacks could disable American utilities.”
House said he will be a part of a U.S. delegation next month to the Ukraine to study the attack, the first confirmed instance of hackers shutting down a power grid. Power was restored in a matter of hours, House said, only because workers were able to take physical control of switching equipment.
Months later, the computerized control centers in the Ukraine still were not fully operational. Such an attack might be more difficult to overcome in the U.S., which does not have the same degree of manual backup controls, according to an examination of the incident by Wired.
Friday, October 07, 2016
Beginning today, absentee ballots will be available at the Westport Town Clerk’s Office for the Nov. 8 presidential election, town officials announced.
According to Town Clerk Patricia Strauss, applications will be available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Town Hall is closed Monday, Columbus Day.
The application form is also available online by downloading the form here.
Registered voters can qualify for absentee ballots if: they are: in the armed forces; have an illness or physical disability; have religious beliefs that forbid secular activity on the day of the election; are working as an election official at polling places; or will be out of town during the hours of voting. For further information, call (203) 341-1110.
Thursday, October 06, 2016
The Westport Democratic Town Committee (DTC) tonight hosted a fall fundraiser, “Bring on the Blue” at the Sugar and Olives Restaurant in Norwalk. The event honored U.S. Sens. Richard Bluementhal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Reps. Jim Himes and Elizabeth Esty for their efforts on behalf of gun control and Democratic causes. Pictured are (l-r) Melissa Kane, DTC chair, Himes, Blumenthal, and state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, all seeking re-election in November. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, whose Connecticut 5th Congressional District is an area she called “Trump Country,” tonight praised fellow Democrats Sen. Chris Murphy (c) and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, whose 4th Congressional District includes Westport, for their gun control efforts. Esty, whose district includes Newtown, faces Republican challenger Clay Cope, first selectman of Sherman. They appeared at a Westport Democratic Town Committee fundraiser at the Sugar and Olives Restaurant in Norwalk. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Wednesday, October 05, 2016
Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg of the 136th Assembly District and Republican challenger Catherine Walsh faced off today in a forum at the Westport Library hosted by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.
Steinberg, 60, who is seeking his fourth two-year term to represent the district that includes most of Westport, and Walsh, 61, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), both portrayed themselves as having the experience to help the state out of its fiscal woes.
Retired senior U.S. District Judge Alan Nevas of Westport, who held the 136th seat for six years in the 1970s, served as moderator and posed questions to the candidates before a noontime McManus Room audience of about 50 persons.
Steinberg, a former member of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), touted his first-time endorsement by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) and efforts on behalf of the moderate caucus among legislative Democrats to make the state more business friendly.
Monday, October 03, 2016
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo today raised concerns — for the second consecutive month — about the stability of the current state budget, though he stopped short of reporting a deficit.
In his latest monthly budget forecast, Lembo affirmed the conclusion of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration that the $19.7 billion budget adopted in June for 2016-17 is on pace to finish $200,000 in the black, just as it was written.
But Connecticut’s chief fiscal watchdog also expressed caution about both spending and revenue trends in the current budget.
Republican legislative leaders already have said they believe state finances are in deficit and that Malloy is masking this problem to help his fellow Democrats in the legislature’s majority survive this fall’s state elections.
Friday, September 30, 2016
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
Connecticut today officially closed its second consecutive fiscal year in deficit, shrinking its budget reserve to a low level as threats of another shortfall loom.
Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo certified a $170.4 million deficit for the 2015-16 fiscal year, a gap equal to 1.5 percent of General Fund spending. (Though the last fiscal year ended June 30, the comptroller cannot close the books until late September, since certain tax receipts received over the summer are applied to the prior budget.)
Lembo must again cover the deficit by drawing from the rainy day fund, which will be left with just $235.6 million. The new reserve is less than half of what Connecticut had before the consecutive annual deficits. More importantly it leaves Connecticut with a fiscal cushion equal to just 1.3 percent of annual operating costs.
The comptroller recommends a rainy day fund of 15 percent, given the large fluctuations in state income tax receipts Connecticut traditionally faces in very good and very poor economic times.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
At a reception tonight, Westporters Martha and Larry Aasen look at a dispay of some of Larry’s poliircal memorabilia, which has gone on display in the Riverwalk display cases on the ground level near the McManus Room. The collection is called “Remember to Vote November 8” and will remain on display through Nov. 8. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
By Mark Pazniokaswww.ctmirror.org
Connecticut legislators today took a one-day break from re-election campaigns to give bipartisan blessing to a $220 million incentive deal for Lockheed Martin that would keep its Sikorsky Aircraft subsidiary and production of its next generation of helicopters in a state desperate to keep its storied aerospace industry.
At a State Capitol inured to economic gloom, most legislators embraced the Sikorsky deal as a cause for celebration, a victory that promises to pump $69.2 billion into the economy over 14 years, while saving thousands of jobs at Sikorsky’s sprawling plant in Stratford and at more than 300 suppliers throughout the state.
“Competition in today’s worldwide economic climate is fierce, and Connecticut is showing that we remain a valued leader where businesses can maintain a competitive edge well into the future,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said after final passage.
Passage came on votes of 35-1 in the Senate and 136-6 in the House.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Westporter Melissa Joan Hart has joined Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign as the Connecticut chairperson, People Magazine reported today.
“I want to break away from this two-party system, and I think it’s important for people to know that there’s another candidate out there who really toes the line between Democrat and Republican,” said the actress, who is a registered Republican.
“I mean he’s Libertarian. But socially he’s liberal, but fiscally conservative.”
Johnson, 63, is the former governor of New Mexico – a position he held from 1995 to 2003. He previously ran for president in 2012.
Monday, September 26, 2016
By James Lomuscio
They didn’t know what to expect in the presidential debate that had been billed with all the hype of Pay Per View boxing and with 100 million viewers worldwide.
And when it was over many of the more than 100 who filled the Westport Library’s McManus Room tonight to see Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton square off at Hofstra University in the first of three debates -– the one touted as a make or break event -– felt the dial hadn’t moved much in either one’s favor.
“Both of them acted the way they have been acting over the past year,” said Westporter Bruce Paul. “I don’t think there was anything that would have changed anybody’s vote.”
Westporter Michael Calise, a Republican, gave a similar evaluation about the big screen broadcast co-sponsored by the library and the League of Women Voters of Westport.
There was a full house at the Westport Library tonight to watch the presidential debate and listen to a post-debate discussion led by journalist Eric Burns. The event was sponsored by the library and the League of Women Voters of Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The Westport Library and League of Women Voters of Westport tonight hosted a full house for a viewing of the presidential debate in the McManus Room. It was followed by a discussion led by journalist Eric Burns, who asked them why they had chosen to watch the debate here instead of at home. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Monday, September 19, 2016
By James Lomuscio
For longtime Westporter Larry Aasen, 93, a lifelong passion for political memorabilia and presidential campaign buttons began when he was 5.
“My dad came back from a convention with a pencil that had an eraser shaped like Al Smith’s head,” he recalled about the rubber countenance of the Democratic governor who lost the 1928 pesidential election to Republican Herbert Hoover in a landslide.
Young Aasen, who grew up in a log home with no running water and no electricity on a hardscrabble farm outside of Fargo, N.D., became mesmerized by the eraser head.
He also lost it, triggering nearly a century of interest in collecting tangible history choreographing presidential, senatorial and other high profile races.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
The League of Women Voters of Westport today hosted its annual fall brunch. Among candidates attending were (back row, l-r) Philip Dwyer, Democratuc candidate, state Senate District 28; Carolann Curry, Democratic candidate, state Senate District 26; state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, Democrat incumbent, Assembly District 136;; Cathy Walsh, Republican candidate, Assembly District 136; (bottom row) state Sen.Toni Boucher, Republican incumbent, state Senate District 26,; Sheila Ward, president, League of Women Voters of Westport, and state Rep. Gail Lavielle. Republican incumbent, state Assembly District 143, who is unopposed in the November election. State Sen. Tony Hwang, Republican incumbent, state Senate District 28, was not in attendance. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
By Mark Pazniokaswww.ctmirror.org
New Haven — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said today he agreed with the “core” of Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s finding last week that Connecticut’s distribution of education aid was so irrational as to be unconstitutional, but the ruling raises so many legal and practical complexities that he will defer a decision on an appeal to Attorney General George Jepsen.
The governor’s embrace of Moukawsher’s central finding should shock no one: As mayor of Stamford, Malloy was part of the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding that sued the state 11 years ago; and as governor, Malloy has tried and largely succeeded in funneling the majority of new education aid to the state’s 30 lowest-performing school districts.
“If we are talking about the portion of the decision that had things to do with actual funding or how we disperse the funds that we spend, I am largely in support of what the judge was saying,” Malloy said. “I think he made very valid points. You know why I think he’s making very valid points? Because I’ve been making the same points for the last five years.”
He refused to join Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, who urged Jepsen today to appeal Moukawsher’s conclusion that the state’s funding formula was unconstitutional and his order that the state devise a new funding formula and remedies for other shortcomings in 180 days.
Monday, September 12, 2016
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe told the Westport Woman’s Club today that the town’s challenges include keeping expenses in check while facing decreased state funding for such things as education and maintenance projects. In an update on the state of the town, the third-year selectman cited savings in bond refunding and energy as positives but said ongoing pension responsibilities will require finding “suitable arrangements.” What keeps him awake at night? Worrying “where will the next generation of volunteers come from.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
Just days after a landmark state court ruling found Connecticut’s education funding system to be “irrational and unconstitutional,” the chief lobbying group for cities and towns today issued a new research paper calling the municipal property tax system “unsustainable.”
The report from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities urges state legislators to take several steps, including expanding the variety of taxes communities can collect and committing to promised sharing of state sales tax receipts despite big projected deficit in the next state budget.
“It is increasingly clear that relying on the property tax to fund local government services in Connecticut is unsustainable,” the report states. “… Connecticut’s towns and cities rely on the property tax to fund the majority of local services. It is basically ‘the only game in town.’”
The property tax is the chief revenue source for most municipalities, with 71 percent, on average, coming from property taxpayers. The second-largest source of funding is state grants. Using those funds, cities and towns provide a wide array of services including elementary and secondary education; public safety; infrastructure maintenance; recreation, and social services.
Friday, September 09, 2016
Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg and Cathy Walsh, the Republican challenger for his 136th District seat in November, exchange high fives tonight at the Friends of Sherwood Island State Park Shorefest dinner at the park. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Eileen Flug (l), moderator of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), tonight presents flowers to Velma Heller, deputy moderator, as the legislative body celebrated Heller’s birthday. Heller had a 30-year career in teaching and administration in the Westport school system and has been an assistant professor of education at Sacred Heart University since 2005. She is serving her seventh term on the RTM representing District 9. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com