Tuesday, February 24, 2004
The “model” used by the firm hired to carry out Westport’s controversial 2003 property assessment has been made available at the office of the town assessor.
“It’s there and anyone can get a copy,” said First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell today.
Residents had been pressing Farrell for access to the valuation schedule since a Feb. 3 meeting by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM).
At that meeting, John Ryan, head of J. F. Ryan Associates, the firm which carried out the assessment, told questioners that the model was the key to residents’ property values.
It had been expected but became official today neither Westport’s Martha Stewart nor her co-defendant in their stock fraud trial, broker Peter Bacanovic, will testify in their own defense.
Stewart’s attorney, Robert Morvillo, made the decision about Stewart after it became apparent that Bacanovic would not testify.
With the trial winding down, Morvillo said he intends only to call a couple more witnesses, including, if the judge permits, a memory expert who would testify why Stewart was unable to remember some details of her ImClone stock sale.
Courtroom observers said final prosecution and defense arguments in the trial could begin later in the week or the judge might put them off until next Monday and Tuesday.
New Westport Police Department recruits David Librandi, 36, (2nd l) and Albert L. Nowinski III, 27, are sworn in today by First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell as Chief Alfred Fiore looks on. Nowinski, a Norwalk resident, has worked as a Federal Express courier and an EMT in Stamford. Librandi, who lives in Stamford, has worked at a family-owned service station there. Fiore said with their addition, his force has increased in number to 69 with one vacancy yet to be filled. WestportNow.com photo
Westport and other area air travelers will soon have a new airport choice for commercial jet service—for the first time since 1996, commercial jet service is returning to Tweed-New Haven Airport.
Delta Air Lines announced today that beginning May 27, one of its Delta Connection carriers, Comair, will fly three daily round-trip jet flights between Tweed and Delta’s Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport hub.
Delta Connection will be the first new airline to serve New Haven since United, United Express and Continental Express all pulled out in 1996.
“This is a huge milestone for the city and the region,” Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority Chairman Lawrence DeNardis said.
The South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) announced today it will host public meetings to receive input for the regions long-range transportation plan covering the 2004-2030 time period.
The meetings will be held March 2 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and again from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the agency offices, 888 Washington Boulevard Җ 3rd Floor in Stamford.
Information about South Western Region Long Range Transportation Plan is available at SWRPA֒s Web site at: www.swrpa.org.
The stock fraud trial of Westport’s Martha Stewart heard testimony today from her business manager that the sale of ImClone shares was small potatoes compared to other matters Stewart had on her plate.
Heidi DeLuca, who worked in the Westport office of Stewart’s media company, said she oversaw millions of dollars in Stewart’s personal and corporate accounts and played down the sale of almost 4,000 shares of ImClone and its much smaller value.
The intent by the defense was to show that because of the relatively smaller amount involved in ImClone, it was not unusual for Stewart not to be able to recall with clarity every detail about the sale.
Meanwhile, it was not clear as testimony in the trial resumed today whether Judge Miriam Cedarbaum would throw out the most serious charge against Stewart—securities fraud—which accuses her of deceiving investors in her media conglomerate.
10 a.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Arts Advisory Committee
2 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Police swearing-in ceremony
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Zoning Board of Appeals
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201- RTM Environment Committee
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Architectural Review Board
The Staples Wreckers beat the New Canaan Rams 65-59 in overtime tonight at New Canaan as sophomore Brian Levine scored 19 points and senior John Baumann had 17.
Matt Cook also had 17 and Joe Forbes had 10 points in the win. It was the first time all year Staples had four players in double figures.
Staples improves to 15-4 overall and 12-4 in the FCIAC.
The JV won by 22 (16-3) (13-3) and the Freshmen won by 9 (9-9 and 7-8). The final game of the regular season is Wednesday at Brien McMahon in Norwalk.
The FCIAC tournament begins on Saturday at Fairfield High School.
Depending on the results of the final day of games, Staples could be seeded anywhere from third to seventh.
The business manager for Westport’s Martha Stewart testified today that her broker thought ImClone Systems Inc. was “a dog’’ and wanted her to sell the stock six weeks before she unloaded her shares.
The testimony supports Stewart’s claim that she did not unload her ImClone stock because of “a secret tip’’ company founder Sam Waksal was dumping his shares, as prosecutors contend.
The government says Stewart and Peter Bacanovic, her Merrill Lynch & Co. broker, conspired to hide the reason she sold a day before ImClone announced that regulators had rejected the company’s new cancer drug.
Heidi DeLuca, a business manager for both Stewart and her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., offered jurors an explanation for her boss’s stock sale that is consistent with defense claims of a prior agreement to sell when ImClone dipped below $60.
Monday, February 23, 2004
A survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corp. found Westport ranked 22nd in the nation last year in the sale of luxury homes valued at $1 million or more.
An announcement said Westport sales in the category for the company totaled $172.3 million.
The only other Connecticut community in the top 75 was Greenwich at No. 31 with $153.18 million.
In 2003, Coldwell Banker affiliates sold 13,816 luxury homes priced over $1 million, up 24 percent from 2002, the company said.
Los Angeles led the list with $629 million in luxury sales, followed by San Francisco, Malibu, Newport Beach, Pacific Palisades, and Santa Monica.
California towns and cities accounted for 18 of the 25 top luxury home markets on the list. Only Boca Raton, Fla., Boston, and Chicago among non-California locations bested Westport.
Full text of the news release is available here.
Submissions from five Westporters are among more than 5,000 designs entered in the World Trade Center memorial competition from around the world that now can be viewed in an online exhibit.
The winning design, reflecting pools that mark the twin towers’ footprints, was chosen last month from the 5,201 plans submitted from 63 countries and 49 states—the largest design competition in history, rebuilding officials said.
Designs from the five Westport residents were among 113 submitted from Connecticut.
Members of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the agency overseeing rebuilding at the 16-acre site, unveiled the virtual exhibit last week.
If you are an experienced educator and want to work in the administrative area of the Westport public schools system, this may be your time.
As town bodies debate a new education budget that calls for a more than 7 percent increase, the school system has put out the help wanted sign for at least five senior administrative positions, four of which could pay more than $100,000 per year.
“Each position has opened as a result of either a retirement, acceptance of a position in another school district, or reorganization plan as approved by the Board of Education in the past,” Schools Supt. Elliott Landon told WestportNow.
An advertisement appearing in select newspapers this weekend sought an assistant principal at Staples High School with a salary range of $105,251-$112,880; a special education department chair with a salary range of $98,156- $105,249; and a social studies department chair with a salary range of $98,156-$105,249.
The federal judge in the stock fraud trial of Westport’s Martha Stewart said today she will reserve decision on an application by the defense to dismiss part of the charges against her.
U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum had appeared particularly interested in the possibility of throwing out the securities fraud count against
It accuses her of deceiving investors in her media conglomerate,
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.
“I reserve decision on all the motions to dismiss,” Cedarbaum told the court after hearing arguments from lawyers for Stewart, broker Peter Bacanovic and prosecutors.
She said she needed more time to consider the motions and asked attorneys to provide some past court decisions that might help her make her ruling.
11:30 a.m. - YMCA—Probate Judge Kevin O’Grady addresses Y’s Women
2 p.m. - Kings Highway School Cafeteria - Food Service Advisory Committee
8 p.m. - Staples High School Library—Board of Education, discussion School Start Time Committee
Sunday, February 22, 2004
A quiet Sunday at the Westport Arts Center gallery today gave Bill Kommel of Manhattan some time to spend with his granddaughter, Sevie, 3, of Westport. The center’s current exhibits “Wolf Kahn: a Celebration of Color” and “Landscapes in Black and White” run through March 19. Emily Laux Roche for WestportNow.com
Today’s New York Times features a story about letters that Gerald W. Duquette sent home to his wife, Lillian, in Westport during World War II. Duquette got his buddy, Samuel L. Boylston, to do some art work on the envelopes depicting a solder’s life in the South Pacific and now they have ended up in the Library of Congress as part of its Veterans History Project Library of Congress photo
WestportNow Consumer Correspondent
Sorry to say, I am not a food critic. So when WestportNow readers occasionally write asking me to critique restaurants or food items, Im at a loss. Tasting is just not my thing. (I always welcome comments from readers, however.)
Costco chickens: my absolute favorite. WestportNow. com photo
But when Southport resident Dave Fishman wrote recently to say that he and his wife often pick up roasted whole chickens for dinner on the way home from their jobs in Westport, he posed a challenge that was right up my alley.
Rotisserie chickens have been a longtime favorite of mine, although none will ever stack up to those incredible hot roast chickens I grew up on from Williams Barbecue on Broadway and 86th Street.
Today’s relatively mild temperatures in the 40s ֖ brought Westporters out to Burying Hill Beach and other outdoor venues for some relaxing activities. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE). Emily Laux Roche for WestportNow.com
Saturday, February 21, 2004
Westport, Weston and Wilton have prepared a joint emergency plan in case of a bioterrorism or smallpox attack.
The three towns were designated by the state Department of Health as a single smallpox planning area and have jointly developed the plan which is required to be submitted to the state by March 1, according to Judy Nelson, director of the Westport Weston Health District.
The Westport Board of Selectmen will consider approval of a memorandum of understanding regarding the plan at its Feb. 25 meeting.
According to Nelson, the three towns have established a smallpox planning team and identified specific clinic sites as well as trained staff to man the sites in case of a smallpox outbreak or bioterrorism attack.
The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) has announced a student writing competition to honor the late Mary Moers Wenig, a Westporter who was a nationally known expert on taxation, trusts and estates.
The late Mary Moers Wenig. Quinnipiac University photo
Wenig, a professor of law at Quinnipiac University and a member of Westport’s Representative Town Meeting, died Jan. 18, 2003, after a long illness.
The competition was created by ACTECs Legal Education Committee, which consists of law school professors who teach in the area of trusts and estates and practitioners who teach as adjuncts in the trusts and estates field.
Wenig, a longtime member of ACTECҒs Legal Education Committee, was a law school professor for more than 30 years.
The Mary Moers Wenig Student Writing Competition was created to encourage and reward scholarly works in the area of trusts and estate, according to an announcement.
Details of the competition are available at the ACTEC Web site.
8 p.m. Pequot Library, Southport - Westport Arts Center presents the Fred Hersch Trio jazz music concert
Friday, February 20, 2004
The government rested its case against Westport’s Martha Stewart and her stockbroker today after a critical prosecution witness Westport real estate agent Mariana Pasternak—wavered slightly about testimony that had damaged Stewart.
Prosecutors called 21 witnesses over 14 days in the case. But whether the jury will hear from Stewart, or even deliberate on one of the charges against her, will remain a mystery until at least next week.
U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum said she would rule Monday on a motion by Stewart attorney Robert Morvillo to dismiss some or all the charges against his client—although she indicated that throwing out all the charges was unlikely.
Morvillo was particularly concerned about the charge of securities fraud, which the judge termed “the most problematic” in the indictment against Stewart.
Julie Uman, a Westporter whose husband, Jonathan, 33, died in the Sept. 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack, has made a $2,500 donation to the Westport Fire Department in his memory.
Westporter Jonathan Uman died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack. Contributed photo
“When my husband, Jonathan, was murdered in the WTC attack, I immediately set up a foundation in his name to honor him and contribute to organizations that he would have been interested in helping,” Uman wrote in a letter to Fire Chief Denis McCarthy.
Julie Uman said many people in the community had reached out to her and her children Alexander, 5, and Anna, 3, since the attack and a desire to give back has stayed with her ever since.
“Well, two years later, I find myself unable to continue his foundation as I am raising our two young children on my own,” Uman said. “I wanted to share some of the foundation with your organization.”
Westport schools carpenters Peter Caligiure (l.) and Bobby Buebendorf erect murals by artist Ralph Boyer at Bedford Middle School today after they were moved from Staples High School. The 1930s paintings were part of the Works Progress Administration art project that gave work to unemployed artists and writers. They were discovered in the sub-basement of the Green’s Farms Elementary School in the mid-1960s by Burt Chernow, an art teacher at the school. Chernow was one of the founders of the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection Committee. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE). WestportNow.com photo
It was moving day today for several 1930s murals painted by artist Ralph Boyer as part of the Works Progress Administration art project. The paintings were transferred from Staples High School, currently undergoing renovation, to the nearby Bedford Middle School. Mollie Donovan, a member of the Westport Schools Permanent Art Collection Committee, supervised the move. Emily Laux Roche for WestportNow.com
The $74 million Staples High School renovation and expansion project provides a changing skyline at the North Avenue facility. Today’s slightly warmer temperatures made things a little more comfortable for construction workers. Emily Laux Roche for WestportNow.com
The Westporter vs Westporter testimony in the Martha Stewart trial today got murky.
Under defense cross-examination, Westport real estate agent Mariana Pasternak acknowledged she was somewhat unsure about her recollections of remarks by her longtime friend Martha Stewart concerning Stewart’s controversial ImClone stock sale.
Responding to defense attorney Robert Morvillo, Pasternak said she was not sure whether a statement she attributed during testimony Thursday to Stewart about ImClone Systems CEO Sam Waksal was a statement, a “string of words,” or something she recollected in her own mind.
“It is fair to say I do not know if that statement was made by Martha or if that was just a thought in my mind,” she said.
She also said she previously told prosecutors that she was not sure about that recollection.
Editor’s Note: In response to public concern about the 2003 property assessment, First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell today made available to news media the following commentary:
By Diane Goss Farrell
Westport First Selectwoman
In mid-January, Westport property owners received notices indicating changes to their property’s valuation. This is a state-mandated process required every four years in order to provide for a reasonable and fair system of taxation.
Farrell: “Reval is not an easy process.” WestportNow.com photo
It is a “mass appraisal,” which means that values are determined by a combination of visual review and statistical analysis using sales comparisons.
The notices sent to property owners were preliminary, recognizing that as a mass appraisal, potential inconsistencies will exist, requiring revision by John Ryan Associates, the contractor hired by the town.
The Ryan firm conducted Westport’s revaluation four years ago.
A public hearing hosted by the Representative Town Meeting, as well as residents’ contact with the Assessor, First Selectwoman and Ryan representatives, identified neighborhoods in town, including Compo Beach and the Colony Road/Pumpkin Hill areas as inconsistent with what property owners believe to be a fair valuation.
Moreover, swings in value (too high or too low) have been raised by residents who are concerned about the veracity of the property listing overall.
9:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Commission for Senior Services
Thursday, February 19, 2004
It was Westporter vs Westporter at Martha Stewart’s stock fraud trial today.
Stewart’s close friend and fellow Westporter Mariana Pasternak testified that just days after selling her ImClone Systems stock, Stewart said she knew that ImClone CEO Sam Waksal had been trying to dump his shares in the company.
The revelation by Pasternak, a friend of Stewart for more than 20 years, was perhaps the most damaging testimony yet against Stewart, who claims she sold the stock for an entirely different reason.
One reporter said Pasternak seemed relaxed, answering questions in her clipped accent and smiling frequently. Another said Stewart “glared” at Pasternak as she wound up her testimony.
A third wrote that “Stewart kept her eyes glued on Pasternak.”
Pasternak said Stewart told her about the Waksal sale on Dec. 30, 2001, just three days after Stewart sold her 3,928 shares of ImClone. The pair were on a terrace at a Mexican resort where they were vacationing.
“I remember Martha saying Sam was walking funny at the Christmas party, that he was selling or trying to sell his stock, that his daughter was selling or trying to sell her stock,’’ Pasternak testified.