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Friday, June 20, 2003

Old-Fashioned Newspaper Circulation War on Westport’s Doorstep

An old-fashioned daily newspaper circulation war on Westport’s doorstep has been simmering for some time, but now it is heating up. What effect it will have on news coverage of Westport is unclear.

The latest salvo was fired today by the editor of The Advocate, based in Stamford. In an editorial page column, Joseph F. Pisani called last week’s letter to readers by Chet Valiante, publisher of The Hour, based in Norwalk, “a sad display of whining and demagoguery.”

“Chet Valiante tried to rally popular support by portraying us as interlopers and himself and his cronies as the hometown boys,” Pisani said. “The simple truth, however, is that The Advocate has been in Norwalk much longer than he and his editor.”

In his letter, Valiante said The Advocate’s push into Norwalk had the sole objective of enriching the corporate coffers.” He said The Hour had deep roots in Norwalk, adding: “Only The Hour is this community’s voice. Dont be fooled.”

For media buffs, the battle between The Hour, which had its start in Westport in 1871, and The Advocate, founded in 1829, is especially fascinating because it pits a little guy against a big guy.

Owned by a local charitable trust, The Hour is one of seven independent daily newspapers in Connecticut and the only one in Fairfield County. (The other 10 state dailies, including The Advocate, are group-owned.) It has no other holdings aside from the Wilton Villager, a weekly, and The Stamford Times, also a weekly.

(For circulation purposes, The Hour counts The Stamford Times as part of its Sunday edition. It reports it that way to the all-important Audit Bureau of Circulations —much to the dismay of The Advocate, which has complained to the circulation-auditing organization.)

The Advocate is owned by Chicago-based Tribune Company, whose newspapers include the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and the Hartford Courant. It also owns two television stations in the state WTIC-TV in Hartford and WTXX-TV in Waterbury.

The Advocate, which also publishes Greenwich Time, makes no mention of Stamford on the front page of its Norwalk edition and instead has Norwalk emblazoned in large type beneath its logo.

In addition to noting its Web address as www.norwalkadvocate.com (from which visitors are redirected to www.stamfordadvocate.com), the front-page logo includes the tagline “in Norwalk, Westport, Wilton and Weston.”

In its bid to increase Norwalk readership, The Advocate has opened an editorial office in Norwalk and staffed it with at least four former Hour journalists.

While The Advocate mentions Westport on its front page, its coverage of the town is sporadic. But when its reporters do cover town issues, town officials say their coverage is usually comprehensive and accurate.

First Selectman Diane Goss Farrell said she has been particularly impressed with The Advocate coverage of her efforts to deal with the area’s transportation woes.

The Hour has one reporter assigned to Westport who also gets high marks from town officials for being thorough and accurate. But these same officials say they are concerned that as The Hour devotes more resources to its battle with The Advocate, coverage of Westport could suffer.

Its unclear whether The Advocate is ready to increase its coverage of Westport. Nevertheless, Westporters are included in the same bargain home delivery subscription offer the newspaper is making to new readers of its Norwalk edition—99 cents a week for daily and Sunday editions.

With the Connecticut Post having abandoned daily coverage of Westport, there is plenty of room for competition here as well.

Update Asked whether The Advocate had any plans to expand Westport coverage, Durham Monsma, publisher of the newspaper, told WestportNow via e-mail: “For now we are concentrating on Norwalk.”

   

06/20/03 08:56 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Jan. 12 Set as Trial Date for Martha Stewart

A federal court judge today set Jan. 12 as the start date for the trial of Martha Stewart on obstruction of justice charges related to her insider-trading case.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum also set a Nov. 18 date for lawyers to make oral arguments on their pretrial motions and asked them to submit written arguments before that.

Stewart appeared at the federal court house in Manhattan for the procedural action, which some media described as “court housekeeping.”

Unlike her appearance there two weeks ago, the media was kept behind barricades and Stewart was able to enter and leave the court house without incident.

   

06/19/03 03:45 PM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Westports $37 million Riverside Avenue Sale Draws Interest

It didnt draw much local notice at the time, but experts are pointing to the $37 million sale of seven landmark office buildings on WestportҒs Riverside Avenue as indicative of the vitality of the towns commercial real estate market.

New York-based pension fund TIAA Realty Inc., sold the properties to a joint venture of Normandy Realty Partners of Morristown, N.J. and Lexham Private Investors of Stamford, Conn., in April.

The seven-building office complex includes 285 Riverside Ave.; 321-329 Riverside Ave., which consist of five buildings; and 355 Riverside Ave. The complex totals 145,190 square feet of space and was originally constructed from 1981 to 1986.

The space was once home to Marketing Corp. of America, whose founder and former chairman is former Westporter James McManus. The company is now based in Wilton although building tenants include a unit of Interpublic Group, which now owns Marketing Corp.

Among other tenants in the complex is Allied Domecq Spirits North America, part of BritainҒs Allied Domecq PLC, which also owns Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins. The unit is headed by Westporter Tom Wilen (see WestportNow March 11, 2003).

David Welsh, managing principal of Normandy Realty Partners, said the partnership expects to invest a significant amount of capital over the next few years to reposition some of the Riverside Avenue building complex for multi-tenant use.

Footnote: The sale added almost $93,000 to the town’s coffers, pushing the town’s revenue for the month on real estate transactions to about $235,000, one of the highest in recent memory, according to Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss.

   

06/15/03 01:36 PM Comments () • Permalink

Fairfield County Business Journal: Judy Rovins Connects as Event Organizer

This weeks Fairfield County Business Journal spotlights former Westport educator Judy Rovins and her event organizing business.

Excerpt: ғAs a 25-year veteran of the education field, former Westport schools superintendent Judy Rovins understood the value of an organized presentation.

Today, sheӒs taken that understanding into her Westport business, The Motivators JK Rovins Associates LLC., a large event-planning business whose clients include NASA, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Maritime Association Port of New York and New Jersey.֔

   

06/15/03 01:04 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Westporter Takes Over Helm of Save the Sound

Westporter Nina Sankovitch has always loved the water and moved to Westport to be near it. Now she has a job that allows her to put her love to work improving Long Island Sound.

Sankovitch, a 40-year-old attorney, began working Monday as the new president and executive director of Save the Sound, the environmental education, research and advocacy nonprofit organization based in South Norwalk, according to The Advocate of Stamford.

Sankovitch is experienced in coastal issues, having worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, two nonprofit organizations based in New York City, the newspaper said.

   

06/10/03 01:20 PM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, June 09, 2003

NY Post: Westport in Nations No. 1 Wealth Corridor

The New York Post takes note of this months American Demographics magazine and says it identifies the Stamford-Norwalk area of Connecticut, including Westport, as the ғepicenter of American wealth.

In a story headlined ԓConnecti-Cash, the newspaper said a ԓstaggering 25 percent of households in the Southwest Connecticut area rank among the nation’s ԓupper crust” of richest families.

The Post quoted a survey by American Demographics magazine that it said shows that one in four households in the Stamford-Norwalk area - home to embattled domestic diva Martha Stewart, actor Paul Newman and designer Tommy Hilfiger - have a net worth of at least $2 million and annual incomes over $200,000.Ӕ

It said running a distant second to Stamford is Silicon Valley’s San Jose, Calif., where 12.9 percent of households meet the magzines “upper crust” criteria.

The Post said the survey showed the Stamford-Norwalk areaҒs 35,000 rich households are three times more likely to use Grey Poupon mustard than the average American, prefer Samuel Adams beer and are twice as likely to drive Jaguars, Volvos and BMWs, thumbing their noses at American-made cars.Ӕ

   

06/09/03 03:04 PM Comments () • Permalink

Newsweek: Martha Stewart Should Try for Danbury Prison

The legal pundits are having a field day discussing the likelihood that Martha Stewart may go to prison. Now Newsweek has found one expert suggesting which prison and he picked Danbury.

In its issue hitting newsstands this week, the magazine reported:

֓Sentencing consultant Alan Ellis, coauthor of the Federal Prison Guidebook,ђ says if shes facing prison time, heҒd try to get her sent to the minimum-security prison camp in Danbury, Conn., so shed be closer to visitors from New York.

ғOne small consolation: according to the guidebook, the camp features craft and aerobics classes.

The last prominent Westporter to do time in a federal prison was Stew Leonard Sr., jailed for three and a half years in 1993 in a tax evasion scheme. The founder of the ԓworlds largest dairy storeҔ served his sentence at the minimum-security federal prison in Bradford, Pa.

   

06/09/03 02:30 AM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, June 08, 2003

NY Times: Westport Retains Retail Allure with Old-Time Shopping

Todays New York Times focuses on WestportҒs Main Street and Greenwichs downtown as bastions of old-time shopping.

In a story headlined ғOld-Time Shopping Is in Fashion in Wealthy Towns, Times correspondent Eleanor Charles, who has written often about WestportԒs real estate market, said Westport attracts those who find mall shopping unsatisfying.

It has been a factor in the success and continued high rents ֖ of Main Street for years, but the Times lead paragraph makes it sound as if it is something new:

In some affluent suburbs around the country, people are returning to the old-fashioned way of shopping, urban retail analysts say: strolling along a downtown street, stepping into a store, stepping outside to browse the next few stores, lunching at a cozy restaurant, pausing to chat with a friend in the shade of a sidewalk tree.Ӕ

But the Times then quotes an expert who acknowledges it is a trend in place at least since the mid 90s.

The story includes details of recent Main Street sales transactions but notes that not everything on the street is high-end retail Җ citing Oscars Deli, opened in 1948, and AchornҒs Pharmacy, a Main Street fixture since 1927.

The Times does have an error many Westporters will be quick to spot. It said Westports population is 23,000. The 2000 census put it at 25,749. It has not been 23,000 at least since the 60Ғs. The Times also listed Greenwich’s population as 65,000. The 2000 census put it at 61,101.

Less apparent is the error stating a Main Street property changed hands “last month” for $18.1 million. It was actually April 14 (see WestportNow on April 19, 2003).

   

06/08/03 10:57 AM Comments () • Permalink

Larry King to Martha: We Were So Poor When We Were Kids We Couldnt Say ғWestport

CNN tonight aired a rerun of an interview Larry King did in February 2002 with Martha Stewart and the conversation touched briefly on Westport.

King: YouӒre in Westport?

Stewart: ԓOh, yes, we have a state-of-the-art television studio in Westport.

King: ԓDo you know how poor we were when we were kids? We couldnt say ‘Westport.’Ҕ

   

06/08/03 01:03 AM Comments () • Permalink

Saturday, June 07, 2003

NY Times: Mitchells Shrinking its Mens Clothing Space, Part of National Trend

Sundays New York Times takes a look at what it says is smaller space being devoted to menҒs clothing at retailers around the country and zeroes in on Mitchells of Westport.

Mitchells is known around the country as one of the last great men’s retailers ӗ an icon of the traditional carriage trade, a bastion of ribbon belts and club ties, dark green linen jackets and light yellow socks, interspersed with Armani, the newspaper said.

ԓNow this venerable men’s store in Westport, Conn., is shrinking its men’s clothing space and expanding its women’s department. Herms purses at $4,750 are shoving aside Tommy Bahama sport shirts.

Mitchells is hardly the only merchant making a change: last month, Target said it would reduce the floor space for its men’s collections 蓗 to make room for more food.

   

06/07/03 09:21 PM Comments () • Permalink

Stamfords Advocate: Authorities Have Pushed Stewart Case ғPossibly Beyond Point of Reason

Stamfords The Advocate, in an editorial in SundayҒs edition, says federal authorities have pushed the Martha Stewart case awfully hard Ӗ and in one regard, possibly beyond the point of reason.

ԓIf you make billions teaching people to be considerate hosts, thoughtful friends and attentive parents, then you should expect a little additional scrutiny in the personal integrity department, the newspaper said.

It then cited Stewart’s insider-trading indictments and said the ԓfirestorm over the federal action is hardly surprising.

ԓWith that understood, we think the authorities have pushed this case awfully hard—and in one regard, possibly beyond the point of reason.

The editorial said StewartԒs sale of ImClone stock helped her avoid a $45,000 loss and added:

That’s peanuts compared to hundreds of millions in losses covered up on the company books at WorldCom, and a pittance when you consider the multibillion-dollar losses resulting from the accounting scandal at Enron.

ԓYet those top executives have yet to be charged with anything, while Ms. Stewart was the subject of a very public investigation for more than a year.

If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $2 million fine. You have to wonder if the government’s priorities are straight.

ӔOne of the charges in particular seems to be a stretch. Prosecutors claim that Ms. Stewart effectively misled shareholders of her own company, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, when she lied to investigators about the circumstances surrounding the ImClone sale, because her fate is central to that of her signature company.

It’s a tough connection to make, and only time will tell whether the government is successful. Ms. Stewart has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and the case is headed to court.Ӕ

   

06/07/03 09:06 PM Comments () • Permalink

Stamfords Advocate Mistakenly Says Martha Left Westport in 2000

Readers of an editorial in Sundays edition of The Advocate of Stamford no doubt will be confused by the newspaper saying Martha Stewart no longer lives in Westport.

ғShe no longer lives in Westport, but does some magazine photography and films some of her television segments there, and she has many ties to our area, said the editorial, which commented on her insider-trading case.

ԓShe moved out in 2000 after complaining that the chain retail stores had helped to sweep the charm from downtown Westport. She didn’t mind selling some of those same retailers to readers of her magazine through advertisements and special editions, however.

The newspaper, owned by the Tribune Company and which circulates in the mid-Fairfield County area, referred to a critical article under StewartԒs byline that appeared in The New York Times Magazine three years ago. 

Headlined Martha Stewart Leaving,Ӕ the article included a large picture of a tractor-trailer turning a sharp corner on Post Road West.

In fact, Stewart still lives in Westport and on Feb. 14, 2002, told a Westport audience: “I’m still a resident of Westport. I sleep here at night, unless I am on vacation.”

She told a meeting of the YӒs Men that some of her words in the Times article had been edited. “I wrote what I thought was a balanced article,” she said. “It was not my picture; it was not my title.”

The AdvocateԒs error was especially glaring since the newspaper carried an AP story this week that described the reaction of Westporters to Stewarts troubles.

   

06/07/03 08:50 PM Comments () • Permalink

Martha Stewart to Fans: You Have My Deepest Thanks”

Martha Stewart may be avoiding the media in the days after her indictment on federal charges related to her insider-trading case, but she is talking to her fans directly on the Internet.

I am very grateful for the goodwill that so many friends and supporters have shown me by visiting these web pages,Ӕ Stewart wrote on her Web site, www. marthatalks.com.

In its first day, the site has logged more than 2 million hits, and more than 20,000 visitors have taken the time to send messages of support and encouragement.

ԔWhile I am unable to respond to each of these messages individually, I have read many of them already and I am doing my best to read them all.

I especially want those who have written to know that your kind words and good wishes mean a great deal to me.  You have my deepest thanks.

ԔI hope to provide updates for you here as often as I can. Many thanks again for your interest.

   

06/07/03 07:16 PM Comments () • Permalink

Playboy Editorial Director’s First Peek at Magazine Was in “Boring” Westport

Playboys editorial director, James Kaminsky, says his first peek at the Hugh Hefner property came while he was growing up in Westport.

According to TorontoҒs Globe and Mail, Kaminsky started reading Playboy when he was 15 and restless in the tony but boring Connecticut town of Westport. (His dad left the mag lying around the house.) It gave him a view of a larger world.Ӕ

His father is former Westporter Leonard P. Kaminsky, who now lives in Shelton, Conn. Leonard Kaminsky is a former chair of Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission and most recently served on the Board of Assessment Appeals.

Kaminsky, 41, joined Playboy last October from Maxim magazine.

At the time, he said: As a writer and editor, IӒve long admired Playboy for its ability to demonstrate the power that a magazine can have. This is the magazine that convinced me to go into this business.”

Prior to Maxim, Kaminsky was a top editor at Conde Nast Womens Sport & Fitness, which he helped launch in 1997. In the mid-1990s, he was a senior editor at MenҒs Journal while also serving as editor-in-chief of the top-selling Mens Journal BuyersҒ Guide

A graduate of Boston University with a B.S. in journalism, Kaminsky also has been a freelance writer and project editor during his career.

Playboy Editorial Director’s First Peek at Magazine Was in “Boring” Westport

Playboys editorial director, James Kaminsky, says his first peek at the Hugh Hefner property came while he was growing up in Westport.

According to Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Kaminsky started reading Playboy when he was 15 and restless in the tony but boring Connecticut town of Westport. (His dad left the mag lying around the house.) It gave him a view of a larger world.”

His father is former Westporter Leonard P. Kaminsky, who now lives in Shelton, Conn. Leonard Kaminsky is a former chair of Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission and most recently served on the Board of Assessment Appeals.

Kaminsky, 41, joined Playboy last October from Maxim magazine.

At the time, he said: “As a writer and editor, I’ve long admired Playboy for its ability to demonstrate the power that a magazine can have. This is the magazine that convinced me to go into this business.”

Prior to Maxim, Kaminsky was a top editor at Conde Nast Womens Sport & Fitness, which he helped launch in 1997. In the mid-1990s, he was a senior editor at Men’s Journal while also serving as editor-in-chief of the top-selling Mens Journal Buyers Guide

A graduate of Boston University with a B.S. in journalism, Kaminsky also has been a freelance writer and project editor during his career.

   

06/07/03 03:08 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Martha Stewart: I am Innocent ... ”

Martha Stewart: I am Innocent and Will FightӔ: In an open letter today published as a full-page ad in USA Today, Martha Stewart said, “I want you to know that I am innocent—and that I will fight to clear my name.”

“I simply returned a call from my stockbroker,” Stewart wrote. “Based in large part on prior discussions with my broker about price, I authorized a sale of my remaining shares in a biotech company called ImClone. I later denied any wrongdoing in public statements and voluntary interviews with prosecutors. The government’s attempt to criminalize these actions makes no sense to me.”

The letter was also published on a Web site—marthatalks.com—where Stewart said she would post information about the case.

The site also includes a statement issued Wednesday from her attorney as well as an e-mail link where visitors are invited to send a letter to Stewart.

   

06/05/03 10:08 AM Comments () • Permalink

Martha Stewart and Her Broker Indicted and Plead Not Guilty

It was all-Martha-all-the-time coverage on the cable news networks today as Westports latest and most famous possible federal prisoner pleaded innocent to federal charges stemming from her insider-trading scandal.

Hours later she stepped down as chief executive of her company but said she would remain on the board, but not as chairman.

“I love this company, its people and everything it stands for, and I am stepping aside as chairman and CEO because it is the right thing to do,” Stewart said in a brief statement.

A 41-page indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court charged Stewart with securities fraud, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and making false statements to prosecutors and the FBI.

The indictment also charged Peter Bacanovic, Stewart’s stockbroker, with perjury and obstruction of justice, among other charges. He also pleaded innocent to all charges.

As the expectation increased that this would be indictment day for her, media representatives descended on Westport asking residents what they thought.

A private security guard maintained a vigil at Stewart’s Turkey Hill Road South home.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum released Stewart and Bacanovic without setting bail until their next hearings. The judge ordered Stewart to notify authorities three days ahead if she planned to leave the country.

Stewart has denied wrongdoing in her December 2001 sale of shares of ImClone Systems Inc. ahead of an unfavorable government ruling. She said she had an arrangement with her broker for the automatic sale of the stock when it dropped to a certain price.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney James Comey said the case centered on Stewart’s lies to the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and investors.

“That is conduct that will not be tolerated,” Comey said at a news conference. “Miss Stewart is being prosecuted not because of who she is, but what she did.”

Meanwhile, the SEC filed a civil suit in Manhattan seeking to bar Stewart from being in charge of any public company.

   

06/05/03 12:17 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Media Descends on Westport for Martha Reaction

It was predictable following indications that Martha Stewart was about to be indicted related to her insider-trading problems the national media descended on Westport early today for reactions from her neighbors.

CNBC set up its satellite truck at the Saugatuck train station where correspondent Garret Glaser noted that Westport was the town that in 1978 issued a cease and desist order to stop Stewart from running a catering business out of her home.

֓Well, Martha has come a long way from those days and so has the town, Glaser said.

ԓBesides the large home at Turkey Hill and the TV production facility and numerous Martha-related ventures, Westport is very much aware of Martha Stewart and all she has been through.

The AP sent reporter John Christoffersen to prowl Main Street for reaction. He said those he interviewed were divided in their reaction to Stewart’s indictment.

Glaser found the same thing as he and his crew stopped commuters as they boarded the 7:28 for New York and asked them ԓwhat do you make of all of this?

The quick clips from commuters did not identify them by name but here is what they said:

(Man #1) ԓI think she should get whats coming. I mean the lawҒs the law. You break it, you deserve it.

(Man #2) ԓTheres plenty of people who have done much worse. Leave her alone.”

(Man #3) ғShe did something wrong, and, I mean I dont think any differently because she happens to live here. I mean she did something wrong then she deserves to be indicted like anyone else.Ҕ

(Woman #1) Ah Ӗ who cares? You know really, with all the stuff thats happening in the world, it really seems very insignificant.Ҕ

(Man #4) TheyӒre just making a show of her. I mean this is something that happens to a lot of people. A lot of people do it. If shes innocent or not, I donҒt know, but theyre making a big show of it. TheyҒre trying to make an example of her.

(Woman #2) ԓWhat she did was so much less than what everybody else did with all the other scandals. I think its resentment. I think thereҒs a lot of sexism going on here and, you know, a powerful woman, (they) tried to bring her down.

Later, the CNBC crew did a quick pass by Stewart’s home on Turkey Hill Road South. Its footage, shot from a distance through a car window, showed only a red SUV manned by a security guard parked in her driveway.

Glaser ended his report this way: ԓPeople are being tempting to say or easy to say there is no love lost between the town and Martha. But thats not true. ItҒs really a complex mix of opinions.

A New Haven station took up a spot in the Main Street area. Its correspondent interviewed Planning and Zoning Director Kathy Barnard about Stewart’s applications over the years to do taping at her Westport home and other issues.

   

06/04/03 01:00 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Martha Stewart Indictment Expected Soon; Attorney Says She Will Plead Innocent and Go to Trial

Martha Stewart is expecting to be indicted soon by a federal grand jury in connection with her insider-trading case, her company said today.

Her chief attorney, Robert Morvillo, later in the day issued a brief statement saying: “If Martha Stewart is indicted, she intends to declare her innocence and proceed to trial,” according to the AP.

CNBC quoted sources as saying the indictment would come Wednesday and that Stewart would be arrested on the charges. It said it is not known whether agents would arrest her at her home or whether she would arrange to surrender to them.

All was quiet around the Stewart home on Turkey Hill Road South this afternoon. But there was a burly man sitting in a red SUV parked facing outward in her driveway outside her gate. He carefully eyed passing cars.

CNBC also said she would step down as head of the company following the indictment.

A statement issued this morning by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said the company was preparing for all contingencies.

The brief statement said: “Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (MSO) has been informed by Martha Stewart’s attorneys that the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has informed them that Ms. Stewart is a target of a criminal investigation and that the United States Attorney’s Office intends to request the grand jury to return an indictment against her in the near future.

“Additionally, MSO has been informed that a civil complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission is also expected.

“MSO and its board of directors have been planning for a number of possible contingencies, are evaluating the current situation and will take action as appropriate.”

Federal investigators had been considering bringing criminal and civil securities-fraud charges against Stewart for her sale of ImClone Systems stock in December 2001, just days before an application for review of its promising cancer drug was rejected.

There were reports that her attorneys and investigators were trying to work out a plea agreement, but today’s statement indicated that the talks failed.

The announcement came hours before the company held its annual meeting in New York. Stewart did not attend the meeting but made a statement to shareholders via videotape saying she regretted she could not be there.

Arthur Martinez, an MSO board member, later told reporters that Stewart had taped the message this morning and in it expressed “her gratitude for support shown to her by her shareholder family.”

He said during the meeting a shareholder had asked whether Stewart had resigned as head of the company and was told it was “categorically untrue.”

Martinez said the company was in good shape, adding that he was confident about its future. He would not answer any questions from reporters.

The meeting lasted about 45 minutes and Stewart, chairman and CEO, was among those re-elected to the board, attendees said.

CNBC said Stewart would be indicted on charges of obstruction of justice and making false statements, according to its sources. The network said she would not be indicted on federal insider trading charges but would likely face civil insider trading penalties.

CNBC said her trial could be more than a year away, posing major uncertainties for her company in the interim.

Stewart, 61, has denied any wrongdoing in the ImClone sale. She said she had an arrangement with her broker for the automatic sale of the stock when it dropped to a certain price.

   

06/03/03 06:25 PM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, May 30, 2003

Eddie Bauer: The End is Near

The sale signs have gone up in Westports Eddie Bauer store indicating the end is near.

As first reported here April 28, the store, a fixture for many years at the intersection of Post Road East and Taylor Place in the heart of the town center, is closing as part of parent company The Spiegel Group Inc.Ғs Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

At the time of the announcement, the timing of the actual closure was in doubt as the company needed approval of its shutdown plan from the bankruptcy court.

The court has now approved the plan and the closeout specialist handling the sale has put up the 30 percent off signs in the windows. One employee said the store will remain open until all the merchandise is gone.

The Spiegel Group Inc. said the store—which it actually counts as two as it has apparel as well as home items—is one of its 60 underperforming Eddie Bauer stores going out of business immediately.

It said it may close more of its 529 Eddie Bauer stores in the future.

A real estate source said the 16,400-square foot building at 40-44 Post Road East owned by a Greenwich-based real estate investment trust should rent quickly, if a new lease has not already been signed.

   

05/30/03 04:18 AM Comments () • Permalink

Eddie Bauer: The End is Near

The sale signs have gone up in Westports Eddie Bauer store indicating the end is near.

As first reported here April 28, the store, a fixture for many years at the intersection of Post Road East and Taylor Place in the heart of the town center, is closing as part of parent company The Spiegel Group Inc.Ғs Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

At the time of the announcement, the timing of the actual closure was in doubt as the company needed approval of its shutdown plan from the bankruptcy court.

The court has now approved the plan and the closeout specialist handling the sale has put up the 30 percent off signs in the windows. One employee said the store will remain open until all the merchandise is gone.

The Spiegel Group Inc. said the store—which it actually counts as two as it has apparel as well as home items—is one of its 60 underperforming Eddie Bauer stores going out of business immediately.

It said it may close more of its 529 Eddie Bauer stores in the future.

A real estate source said the 16,400-square foot building at 40-44 Post Road East owned by a Greenwich-based real estate investment trust should rent quickly, if a new lease has not already been signed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

USA Today: Ann Fudge Does Her Own Laundry

The media interviews have started for Westports latest corporate celebrity Җ Ann Fudge, named last week as chairman and chief executive officer of Young and Rubicam, one of the worlds best known ad agencies (See story May 13, 2003).

Tidbits from a USA Today interview Җ Fudge says she still makes time for ӑnormal things. She does yoga once a week and can execute the difficult ґCrane position.

ғShe is also someone, who despite living in Westport, Conn., the second-richest city in America and home to Martha Stewart and Paul Newman ח does her own laundry.

Westport a city? Second-richest in America? Guess the USA Today fact-checkers weren’t consulted on this one.

Worth magazine this year rated Jupiter Island, Fla., as the “richest town in America” with a median house price of $1.9 million followed by Aspen, Colo. at $1.75 million. No Connecticut town made the top 10.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Westport was well behind Darien, Weston and New Canaan in terms of median household income among towns in the area.

Update: Alert WestportNow reader Harris Goldblat points out that the USA Today reference probably came from a CNN/Money story on household income of U.S. places with a population of 25,000 or more.

In that listing, from real estate data marketing firm On Board, LLC, Westport is cited as No. 2 behind Potomac, Md. Potomac, with a population of 45,166, has a household income of $112,452, while Westport is listed as having a population of 25,899 and a household income of $110,413.

The 2000 U.S. Census lists WestportԒs population as 25,749 with a median household income of $119,872.

   

05/21/03 11:54 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Westporters Coupon Consulting Business Thriving

In these difficult economic times, more people are using coupons in their daily shopping and that֒s good news for Westporter Philip R. von Stade, Jr.

Von Stade and his Westport-based VSI Targeting help companies such as Krafts, Uniliever, Campbell Soup and others optimize their return on investment with coupons, according to todays The Advocate of Stamford.

   

05/14/03 11:53 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Westports Black Duck Cafҩ Seeks Permit to Construct Small Marina

It may soon be beer, burgers and boats—or, if you prefer, suds, salads and sails—at Westports Black Duck Cafҩ.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the well-known restaurant whose home is a one-time barge on the Saugatuck River is seeking a permit to construct and maintain a small commercial marina providing 11 slips for vessels up to 20 feet in length.

The Corps is asking for public comment on the proposal with a deadline of June 2.

Details of the application are available on the Corps Web site.

The Black Duck Caf, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is located on a former sea-going refrigeration and ice storage barge that was built around 1840.

According to a history of the restaurant on the Black Duck Web site, the barge was refurbished in the early 1900s and had been anchored in Westport since 1961.

The restaurant is named for a legendary rumrunner that operated off the New England coast during the Prohibition era.

   

05/07/03 06:26 PM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Martha Stewarts New Furniture Line Includes Some Westport-inspired Items

Martha Stewarts new furniture line has some items linked to her being a Westporter.

For example, you can buy her ғWestport Studio Armoire, which todayԒs Fort Worth Star-Telegram says is one of favorites.

(It is) a beautiful, carved piece with drawers and cabinets aplenty, inspired by a French Canadian antique that Stewart keeps stocked with craft supplies. A large piece, more than 7 feet tall and 6 feet wide, it sells for $3,599,Ӕ the newspaper said.

Theres also the ғTurkey Hill Chest, the “Westport Stool,” and “Westport Kitchen Island,” but her Web site doesnԒt give the prices. You have to go to a local dealer for that.

The new line of furniture, along with a collection of flooring, paint and fabrics, are part of Martha Stewart Signature, which Stewarts company describes as ғa complete decorating system of home furnishings.

Alas, there is no store carrying the line listed in Westport. The closest Martha Stewart furniture outlet is Huffman-Koos on West Avenue in Norwalk.

   

05/04/03 12:21 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Another Retailer Quits: Sconset Squares CamerArts is Selling Out

Westport is losing another longtime local retailer CamerArts, a photo and camera store in Sconset Square, is selling out to a Ridgefield retailer who will reopen it as a photo, card and gift shop.

֓The face of retailing has changed dramatically, said owner Stephen A. Schwartz, 58. ԓThe competition is stronger than it ever has been. And that makes it very, very tough.

Schwartz, who ran a learning center for photographers as well as selling cameras, photo supplies, and offering photo finishing, said he has no regrets after 23 years in the square.

ԓIve been in retailing for 35 years and itҒs time, he said. ԓEverybody in Westport has been terrific. But times change.  People are more demanding. Its hard to meet those demands and make a profit. You just max out.Ҕ

Schwartz, who lives in the Compo Beach area with wife Nancy Holson, founder of the political satire group “The News in Revue,”  said while sale of his business has been completed, hes waiting a few days to change the sign.

ғThe Fairfield County Weekly, or Advocate, whatever they call it, is coming out in a few days naming us the best photo shop in the county, he said. ԓIronic, isnt it? So weҒll keep the sign up until then.

Schwartz gained some national notoriety three years ago after Martha Stewart wrote an article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine saying she really didnԒt like Westport and intended to leave.

The CamerArts owner put up a bulletin board in his store and invited Westporters angered at her comments to post messages to her. That was fun,Ӕ he recalled with a chuckle.

Of course Stewart stayed anyway. But now its CamerArts thatҒs leaving.

   

04/30/03 07:18 PM Comments () • Permalink

Martha Stewart Acknowledges the Obvious: Stock Probe Hurt Earnings

Westporter Martha Stewarts media company says it had a much wider net loss and 15 percent lower revenue for its first quarter and that it was hurt by the government’s insider trading investigation of her.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., which produces magazines, TV programs and merchandise, reported a loss of $4.51 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a loss of $234,000, or break-even on a per share basis, in the year-ago period.

The 2002 first-quarter results include a charge of $3.14 million, or 6 cents a share, related to an accounting rule change.

Its operating loss was $7.5 million, or 9 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected a loss of 6 cents per share. Revenues declined to $58 million from $68 million for the year-ago period.

“Our business results reflect considerable pressure associated with the continuing governmental investigations of my sale of noncompany stock,” Stewart said in a statement.

“In the face of these pressures, the company nonetheless remains focused on creating and producing the original how-to content and quality products that fuel our company and define our brand.”

Prosecutors have been investigating whether Stewart and a Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. broker violated insider-trading laws in the December 2001 sale of ImClone Systems Inc. stock. No charges have been filed against Stewart, and she has denied wrongdoing.

Stewart said the companyҒs recent ideas and products include the new digest-sized Everyday Food magazine and our recently launched Martha Stewart Signature furniture collection, both of which are experiencing early strong consumer response.Ӕ

   

04/30/03 01:23 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Westports Kidwear Closing Its Doors

Another longtime locally-owned Westport retailer is closing its doors Kidwear at 1045 Post Road East near Colonial Road. The two sisters who founded the children֒s clothing and accessory store 16 years ago say its time to move on.

ғIts a combination of everything,Ҕ said Westporter Lynne Rozsa, who along with her younger sister Nancy Symington of Bridgeport, opened the store in 1987. ItӒs hard fighting the (poor) economy and retail is so consuming.

The storeԒs Web site says the two sisters decided to open Kidwear because they wanted to create a fun, easy one-stop shopping experience for moms or anyone shopping for children.Ӕ

Now, in a mailing to Westporters, they announced they are launching a quitting business saleӔ beginning Thursday. Everything will be sold, their letter said, including clothing, shoes, accessories, toys, and even store fixtures and equipment.

At the end of the sale, they plan to award customers more than $2,000 in prizes.

Rozsa said she looked forward to quieter times. It’s been hard, she said, having three kids go through the Westport schools while helping Westporters and customers throughout the country via their Web site or phone.ItӒs time to get out, she said.

   

04/29/03 07:06 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westports Playtex Reports 29 Percent Profit Drop

One of Westports highҖprofile corporate residents, Playtex Products Inc., says its first-quarter earnings fell 29 percent.

The company, with its corporate headquarters in the Nyala Farms office complex just off I-95, warned of lower 2003 earnings as it steps up promotions to stave off strong competition in the tampon market.

The maker of Playtex tampons, Mr. Bubble bath soap and other consumer products said first-quarter net income fell to $11.4 million, or 19 cents a share from $16.1 million, or 26 cents a share, a year ago.

While most Westporters may not know it, their hometown is also home to other Playtex products such as Wet Ones, Baby Magic, Diaper Genie, Banana Boat, Woolite rug and upholstery cleaning products, Playtex gloves, Binaca and Ogilvie.

Finally, in the interests of further educating WestportNow readers about some things they may not know, Westports Playtex doesnҒt mean Playtex bras.

The explanation—in 1986, Playtex Holdings was comprised of two companies: Playtex Family Products Corp. (tampons, infant feeding and household products) and Playtex Apparel, Inc. (bras, girdles, hosiery and other apparel).

In 1991, the publicly traded Sara Lee Co. purchased Playtex Apparel and acquired a 25 percent interest in Playtex Family Products (which it later sold back). Playtex Family Products eventually became Playtex Products, Inc.

Update: Playtex shares closed down 15 percent, or $1.33, at $7.45 today on the New York Stock Exchange. It was the largest percentage loser on the exchange.

   

04/29/03 10:41 AM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, April 28, 2003

Westports Eddie Bauer Store to Close

Westports Eddie Bauer store, a fixture for many years at the intersection of Post Road East and Taylor Place in the heart of the town center, is closing.

The Spiegel Group Inc. said the store—which it actually counts as two as it has apparel as well as home items—is one of its 60 underperforming Eddie Bauer stores it plans to close as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

The Downers Grove, Ill.-based catalog retailer said the closings affect 51 apparel stores, eight home stores and one outlet store in 25 states plus the District of Columbia. It said it may close more of its 529 Eddie Bauer stores in the future.

Eddie Bauer operates outdoor-themed stores in the United States and Canada. Spiegel said the closures should improve the chain’s financial results in fiscal 2003 and beyond. It said the stores will remain open pending the bankruptcy court’s approval of the store-closing plan.

Spiegel did not say how many jobs will be lost. The company, founded in 1865, filed for protection from creditors in March.

THe 16,400-square foot building at 40-44 Post Road East was sold in 2002 by Maryland-based Federal Realty Investment Trust to a Greenwich-based real estate investment group for $7.5 million. It had purchased the building in 1994 for $4.2 million.

Longtime Westporters will remember the Eddie Bauer location as housing the old Ship’s Lantern Restaurant as well as Colgan’s Pharmacy. The Ship’s name is retained by the Ship’s Corner Chinese takeout which occupies the rear portion of the building facing on Jesup Road.

   

04/28/03 10:21 PM Comments () • Permalink

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