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Saturday, May 10, 2003

WestportNow Hears That members of

WestportNow Hears
That members of the Wakeman family are asking the town to designate the Wakeman Farm at 134 Cross Highway a local historic landmark. Isaac Wakeman died May 7, 2000, at the age of 88 after having sold the land to the town 30 years earlier. He retained lifetime use and his wife Pearl continues to live thereŅ

That this years Memorial Day parade on May 26 will take on added significance for a number of Westport police officers and firefighters. It will be the last such event for some of them as they retire at the end of the month before a new police and fire pension plan kicks in later this year҅

That many of the local political figures attending Fridays summit on the economic development of Bridgeport gave high marks to Westport First Selectman Diane Goss Farrell for organizing the event. Many of them, Democrats and Republicans alike, wondered aloud what higher office the Westport Democrat may be setting her sights on҅

That among the absences noted by a number of attendees at the Friday summit were Congressman Christopher Shays, a Bridgeport resident who sent his regrets that the House was still in session, and Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp, who said he had an unavoidable conflict that kept him away.

That friends of Paul Bray Jr. were upset that The Hour of Norwalk took little note of the longtime Westporter’s tragic death last Monday in a New Jersey plane crash other than a brief wire service story. The newspaper finally ran a detailed obituary in Friday’s edition under the headline “Family still grieving over loss of Paul Bray, 75.”

Friday, May 09, 2003

Westporter Leon Hirsch Funds Birds

Westporter Leon Hirsch Funds Birds Eye View
ThereҒs a new birds eye view at the Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center in Milford thanks to Westporter Leon Hirsch.

The New Haven Register reported the center has installed a camera that peeks into an osprey nest on an elevated platform perched high above Charles E. Wheeler Salt Marsh.

A monitor to view the video feed of the breeding and nesting rituals of the birds also is set up in the center, next to a large window overlooking the marsh, said Milan Bull, senior director of science and conservation for Connecticut Audubon.

The video feed is also available at www.ctaudubon.org.

The camera and monitor, which cost $4,000, came to the center courtesy of Hirsch, former chairman of U.S. Surgical Corp., a Tyco Corp. subsidiary that makes medical devices. Hirsch is now a partner in JHK Investments, a Westport-based investment group made up of former U.S. Surgical executives, the Register said.

Blumenthal Calls for Suburbs to

Blumenthal Calls for Suburbs to Support Urban Areas, Pledges Support
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal told a meeting on Bridgeports economic development today that the survival of Bridgeport and other Connecticut cities depends on gaining support from their suburban neighbors.

ғRegional solutions must be sought for all of Connecticut, said Blumenthal, often mentioned as a leading Democratic Party candidate for governor. ԓWe must make the suburbs aware of the role needed to support our urban areas.

Blumenthal, a resident of Greenwich, said the problems faced by Bridgeport residents were akin to those suffering from the effects of recent tornadoes in the Midwest.

ԓSometimes the people of Bridgeport feel they have been hit by a political and economic tornado, he said.

Blumenthal, who congratulated Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell for organizing the summit, recalled that soon after he became attorney general 12 years ago, one of his first jobs was to prevent Bridgeport from going into bankruptcy.

ԓI pledge to you that we will join in those taking a regional approach (to the cities problems),Ҕ he said. Join us in this powerful and historic alliance.Ӕ

Developer: “The Secret of Bridgeport

Developer: “The Secret of Bridgeport is the Secret of Keeping the First Wife - it’s Cheaper
Property developer Robert Scinto told a forum on BridgeportԒs economic development today that he didnt think much of efforts to attract new residents to the stateҒs largest city.

Talk of bringing people into Bridgeport is puppy talk,Ӕ said Scinto, chairman of R. D. Scinto, Inc., of Shelton, Conn. ItӒs not going to happenWe need to find people in Bridgeport who are doing well and can do better.Ŕ

Then, in a line that drew the biggest laugh at todays meeting organized by Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell, he added: “The secret of Bridgeport is the secret of keeping the first wife - it’s cheaper.Ҕ

Later, Farrell referred to Scintos remark, telling delegates as she thanked them before breaking up into small discussion groups: ғI plan to go home to my husband and remind him of the advantages of a first wife.

Bridgeport Mayor Urges Suburbanites to

Bridgeport Mayor Urges Suburbanites to Visit City
Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi, on the job only five weeks following the conviction of his predecessor on federal corruption charges, called on his suburban neighbors today to spread the word that times have changed for the better in his city.

Tell friends about your positive experience here,Ӕ Fabrizi told attendees at forum on Bridgeports economic development at Housatonic Community College. ғIf you can get the word out, thats half the battle.Ҕ

Addressing the meeting organzied by Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell, he said suburban support for the city was essential to its economic recovery.

Come visit our zoo, baseball games, and restaurants,Ӕ the mayor said. He invited everyone to attend Rediscover Bridgeport DayӔ on Saturday, May 17, and said details of the celebration could be found on a new Web site, www.rediscoverbridgeport.com.

At the end of the session, Fabrizi pledged in remarks to one discussion group of attendees to take steps to end corruption with a series of initiatives to be announced next week.

And he had a special message to those attending the meeting from the west of here Ӗ the so-called Gold Coast, a reference to wealthy Fairfield County towns such as Westport, Darien and Greenwich: ԓDont forget IҒm looking for buyers for a couple of Persian rugs and an SUV.

Fabrizi was referring to two expensive carpets and a Ford Excursion purchased by his predecessor, Joseph P. Ganim, that the city is now trying to auction off.

Bridgeport Economic Summit Attendees Praise

Bridgeport Economic Summit Attendees Praise Farrell, Call for End to Corruption
Attendees at todays summit meeting of regional political, business and non-profit organization leaders to discuss BridgeportҒs economic development repeatedly praised Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell for calling the meeting.

About 150 persons attended the three-hour event, the Bridgeport as a Regional Asset Forum,Ӕ at the Housatonic Community College just off I-95 in the citys downtown area.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Bridgeport Mayor John Fabrizi were among those citing Farrell for her vision in organizing the meeting.

Farrell, who leads a Fairfield County coalition opposing casinos in Bridgeport, said her goal was promoting Bridgeport as a regional center as well as increasing cooperation between the city and its suburban neighbors.

The Westport official, along with many other speakers, said it was essential that Bridgeport do everything it can to shed its image of corruption.

“Bridgeport’s future must include an active commitment to open and transparent government that radiates from the top down,” she told the meeting.

At the same time, she said it was necessary for suburbs to come to the assistance of Bridgeport and other cities. “It’s in our enlightened self-interest,” Farrell said. “We on the outside of cities must provide support. We must make cities more self-sustaining.”

She praised efforts Bridgeport is making to change its image. “Good things are happening in Bridgeport,” Farrell said. “The problem sometimes is to break through the negative noise.”

The Westport Democrat promised to compile a list of ideas and suggestions made by conference participants in breakout discussion groups and forward them to Bridgeport’s mayor as well as all those at the meeting.

Among other Westporters attending the event were State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard, Representative Town Meeting members Gerald Bodell, Lois Schine, and Gordon Joseloff, and Louis Gagliano, a retired business executive who does volunteer work in Bridgeport.

States Plan to Cut Back

States Plan to Cut Back Park Services Spares Sherwood Island
The stateҒs plan to strip many state parks and recreation areas of site amenities and services due to budgetary cutbacks spares Westports Sherwood Island State Park.

Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Deputy Commissioner David K. Leff said the cost-saving plan announced this week allows continued funding for Sherwood Island and Madison’s Hammonasset State Park, according to a report in the Norwich Bulletin.

He said these primary recreational areas will be the department’s main focus as far as personnel and funding are concerned.

The DEPҒs reduced spending plan allows some parks to revert back to “natural conditions” and limits access to others by restricting vehicle traffic. It also eliminates lifeguard stations at some parks, the newspaper said.

Fifty properties, many local recreation areas, will no longer have site amenities such as picnic tables, toilets and drinking water, according to a department statement.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Forty percent of Westport Households

Forty percent of Westport Households Earn $200,000 Annually
Sifting through the 2000 census data, the lobbying group for Connecticut cities and towns has come up with the statistic that more than 40 percent of the homes in Westport earn more than $200,000 per year.

According to the newsletter of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, one of every two households earns $200,000 per year in seven percent of Connecticut communities, but in others, less than one in 100 households earns that much.

The newsletter said Westport ranked fourth in municipalities in the state having the highest percentage of households earning more than $200,000 annually.

Those ahead of Westport: New Canaan 49.19 percent; Darien 48.02 percent, and Weston 43.37 percent.

In Westport, 40.44 percent of all homes, or 2,898 households, earned more than $200,000 annually.

Behind Westport in the top 10: Wilton, Greenwich, Easton, Ridgefield, Redding, Avon and Woodbridge.

Compo Beach Fireworks Fund-Raiser Underway

Compo Beach Fireworks Fund-Raiser Underway
This years Westport Police Athletic League (PAL) invitation to its biggest annual fund-raising event is going out to thousands of Westport homes with some good news Җ the Independence Day fireworks display will be back at Compo Beach.

The fireworks, which had been held last year at the state-owned Sherwood Island State Park, will be held Thursday, July 3 at 9 p.m. with a rain date of Monday, July 7. Car passes are $25 and will be $30 after June 6. Public sale of the passes will begin next week.

PAL was forced to relocate the display to Sherwood Island last year after being unable to secure a barge for launching of the fireworks. This year the group has hired a unit of the well-known Grucci fireworks family which arranged for a barge.

Bernhard Rejects Budget Plan as

Bernhard Rejects Budget Plan as Too Heavy on Tax Hikes
Westports State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard says he opposes a new budget plan offered by the Democratic majority in the legislature as too heavy on tax increases.

The plan, according to the Republican legislator, would increase income taxes, sales taxes and business taxes on top of the stateҒs already heavy tax burden.

In a news release, Bernhard said the plan would boost spending above Gov. John Rowland’s proposed budget by $353 million over two years, and require additional tax increases of about $1.7 billion.

Bernhard also predicted that the budget also would exceed the states constitutional spending cap that was approved overwhelmingly by voters in 1992.

“My response to this budget plan can be summed up in four words: Too many tax hikes,” said Bernhard.

“No one disputes that we need to meet the needs of the people we serve,” Bernhard said, “but doing it right requires balance.

ғHow can we justify voting for a budget that promises to restore state aid to cities and towns, but does so by raising taxes by an average of $1,000 per family? I can’t support that.

Town Clerks Office Releases Budget Referendum Text

The Town Clerks office has released the text of a petition being circulated by former Representative Town Meeting member Michael Gilbertie who is seeking a $5 million cut in the townҒs $128.6 million budget for the next fiscal year.

The petition asks signers to endorse the following language for a referendum to be held if 1,592 signatures of registered voters are obtained in the next two weeks:

Shall an appropriation approved by the Representative Town Meeting in the sum of $128,626,779 to meet operating expenditures in the Town of Westport annual budget for fiscal year 2003-2004 be decreased by $5,000,000 to the sum of $123,626,779?Ӕ

If the required number of signatures is obtained, the Board of Selectmen, under the town charter, must call a special election as soon thereafter as practicable.Ӕ

The charter further requires that the Board of Finance extend by five days after the referendum vote the date for determining the town tax for the year following the appropriation.

The charter requires that any referendum must be decided by a vote of at least 20 percent of registered voters, which is 3,184.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Westports State Rep. Ken Bernhard

Westports State Rep. Ken Bernhard Votes for Smoking Ban
WestportҒs State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard was among House of Representatives members who voted today for a smoking ban in Connecticuts bars and restaurants.

After almost four hours of debate, the House voted to ban smoking by a 103-43 vote. The state Senate passed the same bill last week.

Gov. John G. Rowland said he is not happy with the legislation, but said he would sign it into law.

Once Rowland signs the bill, the ban on smoking in restaurants will begin on Oct. 1. The ban on smoking in bars takes place on April 1, 2004. Private clubs, such as Elks clubs, are exempt.

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