Thursday, July 31, 2003
Westport State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard Votes for Budget
Westports State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard was among legislators Wednesday night who voted to approve a two-year $27.5 billion budget after weeks of wrangling.
The budget plan passed on a mostly Democratic vote of 87-56 and was sent to the Senate, which was expected to take up the bill today.
Both Republicans and Democrats seemed to dislike the package - reached five weeks into the new fiscal year.
Debate lasted only 35 minutes and only five representatives spoke. Sixty-three Democrats and 24 Republicans voted for the bill.
Bernhard, a Republican, told WestportNow today: ғDespite some reservations about the tax proposals, I voted for the budget package because the people, businesses, and municipal agencies that depend upon state revenues need to have financial certainty going forward.”
The budget would cut the State Administered General Assistance cash program for the poor by $6 million. It would also reduce AIDS services by 9.5 percent and needle exchange programs by 5 percent.
The proposal would cut general aid to cities and towns by $30 million and reduce the maximum property tax credit against the income tax from $500 to $350. It also would eliminate the $100 property tax credit available to higher income taxpayers..
Setting a budget is the single most important function of the legislature and we were already four weeks overdue,” Bernhard said. “At least for the first year, the budget we passed is not only responsible but opens the door to the serious restructuring of state government.
“For my constituents, if we didn’t resolve the budget now, it would only have gotten worse and more expensive. Many of the taxing proposals, including a higher income tax, a higher sales tax, and a higher real estate conveyance tax, were successfully defeated.”
State Rep. Cathy C. Tymniak, a Republican whose district includes a small portion of Westport in the Green’s Farms area but mostly Fairfield, voted against the budget.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Race for Westports Representative Town Meeting Shaping Up
Seven of the 29 incumbents on WestportҒs Representative Town Meeting (RTM) eligible to file letters of intent to run again with the Town Clerks office did not do so by todayҒs deadline, according to Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss.
She said four of them had informed her officially of their intention not to run again in the November election for the 36-member non-partisan body. The others, along with non-incumbents, still have until Sept. 9 to file petitions with 25 signatures to get on the ballot.
Incumbents eligible to file the letters but who did not include: District 3: Charles W. Haberstroh, John W. Kiermaier, and Richard Lichter; District 5: Margaret J. Slez; District 6: Saul Haffner and Catherine MyGodney, and District 8: Irwin Donenfeld.
Strauss said she had been told officially by Haffner, Lichter, MyGodney, and Slez that they do not intend to run again.
Haberstroh has been nominated as a Republican candidate for the Board of Finance. Donenfeld, the RTMs senior member with 22 years service, has been sidelined recently by illness.
Six RTM members were ineligible to file the letters because of redistricting and a seventh has to petition because he changed residences, Strauss said.
Two of them Җ Gerald Bodell (currently District 4 but who now will be in District 1) and William F. Meyer (currently District 8 but who now will be in District 3)—have taken out petitions to run again, she said.
Other incumbents who must take out petitions to run again but have yet to do so include: District 1: Marla Cowden, Jorgen Jensen, and Theodore Youngling; District 3: Deborah Rath, and District 4: Thomas Feeley.
Ralph Hymans, District 5, and Steve Rubin, District 7, have also taken out petitions to run for other offices Hymans for the Board of Finance and Rubin for the Board of Education, Strauss said. There is no prohibition against them running for these offices and the RTM at the same time.
Strauss said eight newcomers have taken out petitions to run for the RTM, but so far only in District 7 does the combination of declared-by-letter incumbents (4) and those who have taken out petitions (1) exceed the number (4) of candidates to be elected.
Editor’s Note: The editor of WestportNow is moderator of the RTM and among those who have submitted letters of intent to run again. The above article is based on publicly available information only.
Ray Charles has canceled Thursdays appearance at WestportҒs Levitt Pavilion due to acute hip discomfort, his publicists announced late Monday. The Levitt replaced him with Roberta Flack and Westporter Michael Bolton.
The Westport appearance was among a number of concert dates canceled by the entertainer, who is being treated in Los Angeles, according to a spokesperson.
The 72-year-old singer, who already missed three appearances last week, plans to resume his full slate of late summer and fall dates starting Aug. 22 at Harrah’s Casino in Escondido, Calif., the spokesperson said.
Levitt Pavilion Executive Director Freda Welsh announced the commitments from Flack and Bolton at about 3 p.m.
“It was touch and go but they stepped forward to save the day.” she told WestportNow. It is the first joint appearance by the entertainers, she said.
Welsh said those holding tickets for Thursday will be able to use them for the replacement concert or return them for a full refund.
She said she hoped the number of those returning tickets would be minimal, adding that they instead might simply consider making their purchase a donation to the Levitt.
Further information is posted on the Levitt Pavilion Web site.
Charles had been scheduled to appear Wednesday in Worcester, Mass. After Westport, 12 other concerts that had been scheduled across the country were now canceled, the spokesperson said.
Flack is known as a singer of soulful jazz and pop ballads. She became popular in the 1970s when she recorded a string of hits including “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” The latter was included on the soundtrack for Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film “Play Misty For Me.”
The title cut from Flack’s 1973 album “Killing Me Softly” became her biggest hit.
Bolton, who has said Ray Charles was one of his idols growing up and who has appeared in concert with Charles, has had a successful career both as a performer and songwriter.
He has sold more than 52 million albums and singles worldwide, won two Grammys, and been nominated four times for Best Pop Vocals, Male. He has also won six American Music Awards.
His hits have included When a Man Loves a Woman,Ӕ (SittinӒ on) The Dock of the Bay, ԓThats What Love is All About,Ҕ and How am I Supposed to Live Without You.Ӕ
Monday, July 28, 2003
Former Westport Town Attorney Andrew Fink and Wife Open Michigan B&B
Former Westport Town Attorney Andrew F. Fink has returned to his native Michigan and opened a bed and breakfast with his wife in the small town of Whitehall near Lake Michigan about 40 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.
Andy and Helen Fink had dreamed of owning a bed and breakfast for years before finding a place to hatch their business,Ӕ said a report in the White Lake Beacon, a weekly newspaper published in Whitehall.
The couple’s last name means Finch in German, which is why the Finks cleverly named their home A Finch Nest.Ԕ
Helen, a retired middle school special education teacher, and Andrew, an attorney, made their move from Westport, Connecticut to the White Lake area because they enjoyed the community. They say they enjoy the safe atmosphere and feel lucky to be here.Ԕ
Long active in Westport Republican Party politics, Fink, 62, served as town attorney under former First Selectman Joseph Arcudi from 1993 to 1997. He served on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) from 1979 to 1981 and was chair of the Recreation Commission from 1981 to 1985.
An unsuccessful candidate for a seat on the RTM in 2001, Fink and his wife lived in Westport for 25 years before returning to Michigan. He was also active in Rotary, the Sister Cities group and Westport soccer. Their children Karl and Barbara are Staples High School grads.
Fink was born in Ypsilanti, Mich., and is a son of the late Ypsilanti judge and lawyer Robert V. Fink who died last year at the age of 88. Both of Finks brothers Karl and Jim are attorneys. Karl served as a judge in MichiganҒs 14th District Court at the same time as his father.
Update (7/30/03): Fink messages from Whitehall that WestportNow readers are invited to visit his Web site, afinchnest.com.
Sunday, July 27, 2003
Saturday, July 26, 2003
Sunday’s New York Times Connecticut section spotlights the circulation war between The Advocate of Norwalk/Stamford and The Hour of Norwalk (See WestportNow June 20, 2003).
The story quotes one Hour staffer as saying his newspaper and the area it serves—Norwalk, Westport, Wilton, and Weston—is the only barrier to The Advocate’s domination of lower Fairfield County.
“We’re the only other player here, and the towns we cover are the chunk they’d really like to have,” said Thomas Connors.
Close readers of The Advocate’s Norwalk edition have seen a subtle but noticeable increase in stories dealing with Westport in recent weeks as the newspaper seeks to expand further north in the county.
The latest came this week with two stories about the effort by a Westport doctor to gain approval for a controversial method of harvesting oysters off Westport’s coast using cages suspended from the surface.
The Advocate did note the story’s nominal Norwalk angle—the doctor is employed at Norwalk Hospital.
Durham Monsma, the publisher of The Advocate, told WestportNow last month that the newspaper for now is concentrating on Norwalk. But Monsma said the possibility of also competing with The Hour for Westport readers was “intriguing.”
While the population of Norwalk dwarfs its surrounding suburban communities, the towns of Westport, Weston and Wilton with their high net worth individuals are highly prized by advertisers. And that certainly is an incentive for any newspaper publisher.
Friday, July 25, 2003
By Gordon Joseloff
It’s often difficult for local newspaper reporters, unless they have been around for a long time or their papers have good files, to put today’s events into historical perspective.
Even more reason, therefore, to credit Jennifer Connic of The Hour of Norwalk for her story today in the newspapers Westport edition headlined “Recall hot topic after 30 years.”
It’s unfortunately not available online but worth tracking down on a newsstand or the library.
The story refers to current talk among some Westport parents about attempting to recall members of the Board of Education because of unhappiness with their recent actions and votes on school starting times and other issues.
Connic looks back at a 30-year-old controversy involving bringing inner city Bridgeport youngsters to Westport as part of what was called Project Concern.
Angry parents tried to recall board chair Joan Schine only to have a Bridgeport Superior Court judge rule that school board members were not subject to recall provisions in the Westport town charter because the board was really a state agency.
The story quotes Schine on the subject as well a former school board chair Leonard Rovins. He was chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission at the time and his group was considering a program to allow Bridgeport children to use Compo Beach.
“People went nuts,” Rovins told The Hour. “There were people saying their little girls would get raped on the beach.”
It’s with some irony that memories of Project Concern are raised the same week that a new Westport group aimed at promoting diversity had its first public event (See WestportNow July 22, 2003).
Westport can always learn from its past, even if the lessons and memories are painful.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Coffee and the Church: Competing With Westport Starbucks
Todays Sarasota Herald Tribune spotlights WestportҒs Christ and Holy Trinity Church and its divine intervention with Starbucks.
Excerpt: When the Rev. Maryetta Anschutz arrived at Christ and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Westport, Conn., three years ago, she noticed a disturbing trend at coffee hour.
ӓPeople were sneaking off to Starbucks down the street,Ғ she recalled. Some would even return with their decaf mocha latte shamelessly in hand. I was the first to call them on it,ђ she added. I’m the church coffee cop. ё”
The 28-year-old Anschutz knows exactly what’s wrong with her church’s coffee.
“ԒIt’s sludge! she says.Ҕ
Anschutz found the perfect solution, the newspaper reported. She got Starbucks to donate pots of regular and decaf each Sunday, and sold coffee to parishioners at $3 a cup. The proceeds went to the high school outreach group she’s taking to build homes in Jamaica this summer.
It reported in two months, she raised more than $2,000 from coffee hour alone.
Several hundred people, including many Westporters, turned out an Army Corps of Engineers hearing in Milford Wednesday night to voice opposition to a Westport doctors application to harvest oysters off of Westport and Milford using suspended cages.State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell were among those opposing the plan by Dr. John Garofalo and his Mariculture Unlimited LLC. It calls for raising Eastern oysters over 522 acres of Long Island Sound off the Milford and Westport coastlines using cages suspended 10 feet below the surface. Blumenthal said the shellfish industry was important to ConnecticutҒs economy but that the proposed oyster farm locations were not the right places. As the saying goes, location, location, location, but I believe there is a better alternative,Ӕ he said. The state official pledged to work with the applicant, state environmental experts, and towns bordering Long Island Sound to find that alternative. Farrell said she had met with many of the interested parties in the controversy and also said she would work to find a solution. I ask you to consider denying this without prejudice,Ӕ she said. Westports Conservation Department director, Alicia Mozian, said it is not that she and Westport do not support aquaculture. ғIt is the wave of the future, she said. But she added that the Corps and state lawmakers must come up with a master plan for Long Island Sound first. ԓYou need to look at the larger picture and do it now, not later, Mozian said. Garofalo opened the hearing with a brief presentation in support of his application. He said the system was not risky and had been successfully done elsewhere. Concerns about safety and interference with sailing in the areas were exaggerated, he said. Ending his slide show with a picture of his daughter water skiing, Garofalo said he had great respect for the waters of Long Island Sound as a 20-year resident of Connecticut. More than 80 people signed up to speak at the hearing, including a parade of speakers from WestportԒs yacht clubs. They pointed to the widespread use of the proposed oyster farm area by sailboats and recreational boaters for more than 100 years and said there was no reasonable alternate location for their activities. Lee Weiner of the Minuteman Yacht Club said he questioned the seriousness of GarofaloҒs application because the number of buoys and lines involved seemed to be constantly changing. John Gillespie of the Keep Westports Waterways Open group said Mariculture UnlimitedҒs application was smack in the middle of WestportӒs Main Street for boating. He said he had great concerns about the health impact of a high mortality rate of oysters that would result from the operation. ԓThe state needs to develop a long-range plan to accommodate all interests, Gillespie said. If the application were granted, said Martin Levin of the Milford Yacht Club, ԓthis is an accident waiting to happen. One of the few speakers to support the oyster plan was a Milford aquaculture consultant, Edwin Rhodes. He said he had spoken to 10 people involved in similar suspended cable ventures and none had reported any problems with recreational boaters. ԓWhen damage does occur, he said, ԓit is usually to the shellfish operation and not to boats. Robert Byrne, acting deputy district engineer for the Corps, said the agency would continue to accept public comment on the application until Aug. 2. There was no indication when it might issue a final ruling. Representatives of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, which will also have input into the decision, also attended the hearing. It lasted almost three and a half hours. Westport Town Attorney Ira Bloom, who was also present but did not speak, told WestportNow the town was prepared to initiate legal action if the application were approved.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Former Planning and Zoning Member Robert MacLachlan Dies at 85
Robert H. MacLachlan, an outspoken former member of Westports Planning and Zoning Commission, has died. He turned 85 on Saturday.
His wife, Emily, said he passed away Tuesday at home after a long battle with cancer. ғHe was sick for two years, she said. ԓIt was a blessing for him to go. He was surrounded by his family.”
A retired Mobil Oil executive, MacLachlan was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and was a graduate of the University of Glasgow School of Law and studied at the University of London School of Oriental Languages.
During World War II, he served in the Royal Artillery in both the European Theater and Burma, retiring as a major. In 1946, King George decorated him for valor.
He was a Westport resident since 1969 and served as a Democratic member of the commission for 14 years. He was also a member of the Save Westport Now party.
Known for his meticulous research on issues and lengthy handwritten memos, MacLachlan was very vocal about the P&Zs right not only to pass zoning regulations but to enforce them. This often put him at odds with the town attorneyҒs office.
“He took a keen interest in enforcement issues and stuck with it,” said Kathy Barnard, director of Planning and Zoning. “He did not let go until they were resolved.”
She said MacLachlan picked up on loopholes and things not clearly stated in the zoning regulations. “They now read much better largely through his efforts,” Barnard said.
Eleanor Lowenstein, chair of the P&Z Commission, said MacLachlan was very thorough in his research and persistent in getting issues addressed that he felt were important.
“Bob spent a lot of time fulfilling his role as a commissioner, whether researching, serving on subcommittees, or participarting in the public hearings,” she said. “He was always concerned about what was best for Westport.”
Lowenstein added, “As a new chair of the commission, he was very helpful to me.”
Survivors include his wife; three children, Robert G. MacLachlan of Cincinnati, Ohio; Mary Ann MacLachlan Mallonee, of San Carlos, Calif.; Emily M. Balch of La Grange, Ill., and six grandchildren.
Mary Ann is a 1973 Staples grad and Emily graduated in 1978.
A funeral mass will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at St. Luke Roman Catholic Church, 49 North Turkey Hill Road, Westport.
The family would appreciate contributions to the Mid-Fairfield Hospice, 180 School Road, P.O. Box 489, Wilton, CT 06897.
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
NY Times Cites Westport Moms and Kids on Sleepover Camps with Weekend Breaks
Sending kids away for sleepover summer camp has always been traumatic for parents and kids. But an increasing number of the camps are alleviating the stress by allowing kids home for weekends.
Its a notion that appeals to a number of Westport families cited in todayҒs New York Times.
Years ago, Westport has its own bowling alley on Post Road East. But that was before the developers took over. So many Westporters have made Fairfields Circle Lanes their bowling destination choice. But now thatҒs going, too.
Todays Connecticut Post reported that after 44 years, the owner of Circle Lanes and property received an offer from a developer ғthat was just tremendous.
The newspaper, which cited no purchase price, said the Kings Highway bowling alley was likely to become an office building. It wil close Aug. 3.
Monday, July 21, 2003
Sunday, July 20, 2003
Saturday, July 19, 2003
Friday, July 18, 2003
Community PicnicӔ Set for Monday in Winslow Park; Special Event at Playhouse
If you dont have plans for Monday evening, July 21, head to Westport’s Winslow Park for a “community picnic” and then a special event at the adjacent Westport Country Playhouse.
This is the fifth annual picnic organized by park enthusiasts as a way to show off one of the townҒs premiere open spaces. It is located at the intersection of Post Road East and Compo Road North.
Organizers, who include Winnie Balboni, Kitty Graves, Hope Hageman, and Lisa Shufro, advise attendees to bring a dish to share around as well as something to sit on, to eat with, and to drink.
Also on Monday, Westporters are invited to a special event following the performance of The Old Settler,Ӕ the latest offering at the Westport Country Playhouse.
A new group called TEAM Westport will a host a special talk backӔ session with director Tazewell Thompson and cast of the play by the late John Henry Redwood.
The Old Settler,Ӕ starring Brenda Thomas and Tina Fabrique, is the story of two middle-aged sisters living together in an apartment in 1940s Harlem. They are reminded of the importance of family following the visit of a handsome Southern gentleman.
Redwood, whose other notable work, No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs,Ӕ has also been widely produced in recent years, died last month in Philadelphia at the age of 60.
TEAM is an acronym for Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism.