Tuesday, March 28, 2017
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
While partisan politics has bogged down many state legislative debates, Democratic and Republican leaders announced today they can agree on how to better support and plan the growth of Connecticut’s bioscience industry.
Top leaders in the Senate and on the Commerce Committee highlighted three bills that develop a strategy to elevate Connecticut to a national leader in biomedical research.
“Connecticut is locked in a global competition to create good-paying jobs and support high-growth industries,” Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, said. “… Connecticut possesses all of the ingredients to capitalize on the exponential growth that is set to occur in precision medicine and biomedical research.”
“We have an incredible workforce in our state and Connecticut should always be looking at new ways to support those workers and to grow new job opportunities,” said Senate Republican President Pro Tem Len Fasano of North Haven.
The board of directors of The Connecticut News Project, publisher of The Connecticut Mirror and its sister websites TrendCT and CT Viewpoints, announced today that it has named Bruce Putterman as its chief executive officer and publisher.
The Connecticut Mirror is a nonprofit online news publication covering state and federal government, public policy, and politics. WestportNow is a partner of The Connecticut Mirror.
“Connecticut residents can depend on the CT Mirror to keep them informed, making government and policymaking more transparent,” Ulysses B. Hammond CNP’s board president said.
“To be accountable to our mission and audience, this means CNP needs to be agile and cutting edge. Our board was very impressed by Bruce’s leadership skills, record of innovation, business experience, collaborative style, and knowledge of Connecticut. His combination of skills is just what we need to advance our mission.”
Monday, March 27, 2017
By Ana Radelatwww.ctmirror.org
Washington — Attorney General Jeff Sessions today threatened to strip Justice Department law enforcement grants from states and cities that do not cooperate completely with federal immigration authorities, which could put millions of dollars received by Connecticut and several of its cities at risk.
The state, and cities including Hartford and New Haven, do not comply with all federal “detainers” — requests to keep jailed immigrants detained for 48 hours after their scheduled release so federal immigration officials can pick them up for deportation. Connecticut law enforcement also has been told by Gov. Dannel Malloy they don’t have to ask those apprehended or detained about their immigration status.
Sessions said these “sanctuaries” for immigrants could also see a “clawback’” of policing money that already has been distributed by the Justice Department. The Office of Justice Programs gives out more than $4 billion in grants every year, including tens of millions of dollars to the state of Connecticut and its cities and towns.
“I urge our nation’s states and cities to consider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens by refusing to enforce our immigration laws, and to rethink these policies,” Sessions said at a White House news conference. “Such policies make their cities and states less safe, and put them at risk of losing valuable federal dollars.”
Sunday, March 26, 2017
(Editor’s note: The following letter is from six Board of Finance members. Member John Hartwell decided not to participate)
Dear Westport Resident:
Westport has worked hard to prudently manage its finances and tax base. All branches of our town government, many elected officials and volunteers, have worked collaboratively, on behalf of all residents, to ensure we have a high quality of life at a cost all residents and businesses can afford. Sadly, maintaining this balance will be more difficult in the future.
Today we are faced with grim economic news from the State of Connecticut. This is not a one-off problem and it will continue for years to come. Because of our state government’s inability to manage its budget and to control spending resulting in a projected deficit of over $1.5 billion next year alone, Westport finds itself in a difficult position.
Instead of tackling a state government that has grown too large and too expensive for the residents of Connecticut, the state is largely trying to solve its budget problems by shifting costs to towns.
First, the state is decreasing or totally eliminating payments it has made to Westport for either education or other services which equals $3 million-$4 million in 2018 alone. We assume this revenue from the state, which directly supplemented our operating budgets, is permanently gone.
Saturday, March 25, 2017
Anthropologie employees were working late tonight to get the new store ready for its official opening on Friday, March 31. The company said 150 full and part-time workers were employed to get the new Bedford Square in shape for opening day. The store, owned by Urban Outfitters, is the anchor tenant in the building that formerly was home to the Westport Weston YMCA. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Thursday, March 23, 2017
By Mark Pazniokaswww.ctmirror.org
The Connecticut unemployment rate rose from 4.5 percent in January to 4.7 percent in February as the state posted a net loss of 1,600 jobs, nearly all in the private sector, the state Department of Labor reported today. The U.S. unemployment rate also was 4.7 percent.
A job sector with some sensitivity to the weather was the hardest hit: the leisure and hospitality industry shed 3,200 jobs. The trade, transportation and utilities sector lost 1,900 jobs, with retail cutbacks being the biggest factor, the DOL said.
Those losses were partially offset by gains of 3,100 jobs in education and health services, 1,200 in construction and 900 in professional and business services.
The jobs gain of 5,700 reported in January was revised upward to a gain of 6,500 jobs.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Gallery: DonutCrazy officially opened today in the eastbound station house at the Metro-North Westport station in Saugatuck. Taking part in a ribbon cutting were (l-r) Deputy Police Chief Sam Arciola; Jason Wojnarowski, owner; First Selectman Jim Marpe, and Mathew Mandell, executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. The store replaces Steam, which opened in January 2014 and closed one year ago. DonutCrazy currently operates in Shelton, Stratford, Bridgeport, and New Haven. It offers coffee, tea, espresso, cappuccino and latte, juice and an assortment of takeout foods in addition to its wide range of donuts. It is open 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays plus Saturdays and Sundays. WestportNow.com photos
Thursday, March 16, 2017
The Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce and Sach Walsh Insurance today sponsored a cyber security seminar run by the Travelers Institute, held at the Westport Inn. It was part a national series to help businesses understand the ongoing threat of cyber invasion. Keynote speaker Josh Goldfoot, principal deputy chief, Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (above), told the 150 attendees, “The public has to understand the terrible situation we are in. There are over 4,000 ransom ware attacks per day, up 300 percent from last year.” This attack is where a hacker gains access to a computer, encrypts it, and demands money to unlock it. He said the first solution is not to open unknown email attachments and ensure software is always up to date. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Monday, March 13, 2017
By James Lomuscio
First Selectman Jim Marpe said today he is closely monitoring but not joining Ridgefield’s threat to sue the state over Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s push to municipalities to pay 30 percent of teacher pensions.
Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi threatened legal action last week if Malloy moves ahead with his proposal. Other towns have reportedly gotten behind Ridgefield.
“I’m in touch with First Selectman Marconi and a number of other town chief executive officers in the area who are exploring this option, and I will monitor their activity,” Marpe said.
“There is some belief it’s not legally possible for a municipality to sue the state, so it would be interesting what the research finds,” he added.
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Anthropologie, 1365 Post Road East, closed today and employees packed up. The women’s casual fashion store, owned by Urban Outfitters, will reopen March 31 at its new location in the new downtown Bedford Square development. According to Anthropologie operations manager, Karen Secrist, the current store has about 50 employees and the new store will expand to 150 employees in addition to 50 part-time personnel during the opening period. The new location has 40,000 square feet, about four times the space at 1365 Post Road East. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
An employee at Westport’s RadioShack, 877 Post Road East, said today the store “definitely is not closing.” Speaking three days after RadioShack’s parent company filed for bankruptcy, he said he had been transferred from a Fairfield store, which is closing. RadioShack said in its bankruptcy filing it would close 200 stores and evaluate its options for the remaining 1,300. Sprint Corp. said it will turn “several hundred” of the remaining locations into Sprint-only stores, but declined to give a specific number. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Friday, March 10, 2017
Bistro Du Soleil will open at 615 Riverside Ave. in the next few weeks. The Mediterranean-influenced cuisine restaurant is near the old Saugatuck post office, now occupied by Westport Auction. Proprietor is Maria Munoz Del Castillo, co-owner of Norwalk-based Rincon Taqueria and a gourmet caterer who has been a participant in the Westport Farmers Market. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
Connecticut’s unemployment rate ticked upward from 4.4 percent to 4.5 percent in January, despite the gain of 5,700 jobs, the state Department of Labor reported today.
The number of unemployed in Connecticut rose by 3,000 in January as more people returned to the labor force seeking work. The unemployment rate calculation only considers those either employed or actively seeking employment.
The January rate still remains 1 percentage point lower than the jobless rate from January 2016.
Job growth see-sawed in Connecticut in 2016, running strong in the first quarter, declining sharply in the second, staying modest in the third and finishing the fourth quarter slightly down and “ending the year essentially flat,” said Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research. “January jobs were up sharply giving us a good start on the New Year.”
Donut Crazy opens Thursday, March 16 at the eastbound side of Metro-North’s Westport station in Saugatuck, according to its manager Michael Tayler (r). The store replaces Steam, which opened in January 2014 and closed one year ago. Donut Crazy, founded by Jason Wojnarowski, currently operates in Shelton, Stratford, Bridgeport, and New Haven. It offers coffee, tea, espresso, cappuccino and latte, juice and an assortment of takeout foods in addition to its wide range of donuts. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Wednesday, March 08, 2017
By Keith M. Phaneufwww.ctmirror.org
State officials today sparred for the second day in a row over whether to give communities more time to adopt their local budgets — a fight that left the extension issue in limbo following a 90-minute Senate debate.
Democratic leaders announced early in the afternoon they expected to adopt a bill in the Senate that would suspend municipal budget adoption deadlines set in local charter or ordinance until June 30.
The 36-member Senate is divided between Democrats and Republicans, but Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, a Democrat, can cast a 37th and tie breaking vote. In addition, Republican Sen. Tony Guglielmo of Stafford was absent from today’s Senate session.
But after a 90-minute debate, Democrats tabled their bill and accused Republican senators of waging a filibuster.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Bill Taibe (r) and partner Massimo Tullio today opened their new restaurant, Jesup Hall, in Westport’s Old Town Hall, 90 Post Road East. Taibe, who brought Le Farm, The Whelk, and Kawa Ni to Westport, said, “Jesup Hall is a mix of Westport’s history. It pays homage to Morris Jesup who had a strong hand in Westport and it’s the former Town Hall site.” He said the restaurant is similar to LeFarm, not just in the type of cuisine it serves, “but the lifestyle it emits.” Taibe added: “We’re going to take our time to let the menu evolve. Our customers will make it clear what they like.” He said the menu now ranges from burgers — with all meat coming from Fleisher’s Craft Butchery — to appetizers like foie gras roti and entries like slow roasted duck breast and grass fed beef rib steak.” Tullio describes the wine list as “new world wine with an old world feel — it’s fuller in body. We offer great wines from vineyards in Ontario, Canada and Washington state.” Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The Radio Shack store at 877 Post Road East was busy today as deep discounts attracted customers amid reports parent company General Wireless will file Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection -— the second in two years. A worker at the store could not confirm rumors of its closing. “I know the company filed for bankruptcy, but we don’t know if this store will close,” he said. “All sales are final. No returns will be accepted so it could well be that the store may close.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The future of retail, restaurants, and shopping for the area were the main topics of conversation today at a “Fairfield Real Estate Outlook” seminar sponsored by the law firm of Halloran & Sage and hosted by the Westport-Weston and Greater Norwalk Chambers of Commerce.
“Experiences are what people want,” real estate broker Julie Vanderblue of the Higgins Group told the meeting at the Inn at Longshore.
“If it’s just another mall, it won’t cut it. It needs to be exciting and if done right they will come, especially if walkable.” She was responding a question about downtowns, malls and the future of retail asked by the moderator of the session, attorney Eric Bernheim.
Joining Vanderblue at the dais for the two-hour event attended by about 110 business people were Andy Pforzheimer, co-founder of Barteca, owners of Norwalk’s Barcelona and Westport’s Bartaco, developer David Waldman, and John Hannigan, co-founder of Choyce Peterson, a commercial real estate brokerage firm.
Saturday, March 04, 2017
Petco opened today at 1850-70 Post Road East, the former location of Pet Supplies Plus, which closed last July after 20 years. As part of the first day’s festivities, Greenwich-based Adpopt-a-Dog and Westport’s TAILS were on hand with dogs and cats up for adoption. Westport Animal Control Officer Gina Gambino and Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, joined in with staff to celebrate the opening. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Friday, March 03, 2017
By Tom Condonwww.ctmirror.org
In one of his recent meetings with residents of Hartford’s suburbs, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin observed, as many have before, that if Connecticut were created today, it almost assuredly would not be with 169 cities and towns.
His point was that the state’s ancient and fractionalized political organization, combined with its heavy reliance on property taxes, stacks the deck against hard-pressed Hartford, which has high needs and less taxable property than some of its suburbs.
He asserted that the region’s fate is tied to the health of the core city, and asked for support at the Capitol and for more cooperative sharing of services or resources among towns, sometimes known as “regionalism.”
This notion has never been terribly popular in a state where a tradition of local authority can be traced back to its Puritan settlers. But while autonomous municipal government — home rule — is the norm and likely to remain so, regional cooperation has been inching ahead, especially in the past decade. Towns are sharing such services as building inspection, permitting, property revaluation, solid waste management and others.
Gallery: A look inside Bedford Square’s Anthropologie and Amis Trattoria, which will open March 31. The current Anthropologie at 1365 Post Road East will close March 11, according to Lauren Minor, Anthropologie general manager. Anthropologie and Amis Trattoria are owned by Urban Outfitters. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Wednesday, March 01, 2017
By James Lomuscio
Westport Board of Finance Chairman Brian Stern said tonight that a “modest” tax increase is likely despite the fiscally responsible proposed town and school budgets.
“I do think we will have a modest tax increase in the fall,” he said after hearing details of the budgets tonight.
The reason? Stern only had to point to Hartford, and harsh words flowed.
“Hartford should quit asking us to fill the gap for their own ineptitude,” Stern said about Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plan for towns to pay one-third of teacher pensions.
Having won a $750,000 one-time upfront payment, the Westport Board of Finance tonight gave its approval to a land swap with developer David Waldman on Elm Street.
Selectman Avi Kaner outlined the deal to the board, calling it a “triple win” for the town.
In addition to the one-time payment, the town will receive approximately $38,000 in annual taxes and gain nine parking spaces, he said.
More importantly, Kaner said, the town will benefit by the beautification of Elm Street as part of its overall downtown renewal.
Ray Dalio, the Greenwich billionaire founder of Westport-based Bridgewater Associates, is stepping down as interim co-chief executive officer by April, according to a post on his LinkedIn.
Ray Dalio: changes effective April 15. Forbes.com photo
Dalio, 67, will remain the hedge fund’s co-chief investment officer.
David McCormick will move into the co-CEO role with Eileen Murray, replacing Dalio and Jon Rubinstein, who will be leaving the firm, according to the post.
“I’m excited about this change and expect to remain a professional investor at Bridgewater until I die or until those running Bridgewater don’t want me anymore,” Dalio said in the post.
Friday, February 24, 2017
Westport’s Vespa Restaurant, 2A Post Road West in the National Hall Building, has not been open for business since mid-February, and there is no sign on the door. Its voicemail message says reservations are still being accepted, but calls to the number and building owner Greenfield Partners were not returned. The 120-seat Italian casual dining restaurant opened two years ago in the long vacant ground floor space. After the building converted to a 15-room luxury hotel in 1993, there were several restaurants on the ground floor, but they gave way to office space in 2005 before Vespa opened. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
After months of work, furniture retailer Design Within Reach opened its doors today at Westport’s 154 Post Road East. Area Manager Kristine Langevin (l) conferred in one area of the 9,000-square foot space on two floors with Rob Goughary, Westport proprietor. An opening party is planned for Thursday, April 13. The space, occupied since the 1930s by the U.S. Post Office, most recently housed the Post 154 Restaurant, which opened in August 2013 and closed in January 2016. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Scenes from the new Design Within Reach store, which opened today at 154 Post Road East in the former longtime home of the U.S. Post Office. One of the store officials said as recently as Saturday someone entered the store with arms full of mail, asking what happened to the post office. The store includes a large patio area, which will open in the warm weather to display patio furniture. Design Within Reach, which formerly had a store on Elm Street, replaced the Post 154 Restaurant, which closed in January 2016. WestportNow.com photos
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
In a Westport talk, Gary Tiger of Brookfield-based Southridge Technology today warned about cybersecurity threats to laptops and desktops. He told the weekly meeting of the Westport Rotary Club that 90 percent of passwords can be broken into in seven seconds. He urged attendees to create 8-to-10 character passwords that include at least one capital letter, numbers and at least one symbol. “Such complex passwords can take 20 years, rather than seven seconds, to decipher,” he said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Monday, February 20, 2017
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced that he has submitted a legislative proposal to the Connecticut General Assembly that will update an antiquated state law that currently forces the owners of certain retail stores to sell their products at artificial prices set by liquor wholesalers, resulting in unnecessarily high prices for consumers.
Connecticut is the only state in the country that has a law mandating that the retailers of alcoholic beverages sell their products at a minimum price above wholesale cost determined by the wholesaler industry, Malloy said in an announcement.
This means that – unlike everywhere else in the nation – these retailers cannot set the prices of the products that they put on the shelves in their own stores. he said.
As a result of this law, which the state adopted in 1981, the artificially determined prices typically end up being higher than the prices that these products sell for in nearly every other state in the country, forcing Connecticut residents to either pay more money or travel to a bordering state where the identical products are sold at a lower price.