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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Malloy Recognizes his Budget Proposal is $121M Out of Balance

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said repeatedly that all of the budgets legislative caucuses have proposed are so flawed he would veto them.

But the Malloy administration conceded this week that there are some holes in the governor’s budget as well — worth more than $120 million.

The $40.6 billion, two-year budget Malloy unveiled on May 15 effectively assumes $46.7 million in labor savings in the first year and $74.5 million in the second that the administration now acknowledges it can’t achieve — at least as originally planned.

Why? Because those cost-saving measures — which largely involve reducing staff and closing and consolidating facilities — would require layoffs that would be prohibited for four years under the concessions deal pending before state employee unions.

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07/13/17 09:53 AM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Comings & Goings: Ulta Beauty to Post Road East Image
Ulta Beauty, a full service salon, will open in 2018 at 1365 Post Road East in the former site of Anthropologie, according to Norwalk store manager Jennifer McIntosh. She said the business offers “all things beauty, all in one place” and includes a full service salon as well as drug store and department store brand cosmetics.  She added the Westport store is an addition to its 15 Connecticut locations. The NASDAQ Exchange-listed company (symbol: ULTA), headquartered in Bolingbrook, Illinois was founded in 1990 by Dick George and Terry Hanson and has grown to 1,000 locations. Anthropologie relocated to Bedford Square in downtown Westport in April. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


07/06/17 02:32 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Comings & Goings: Effi’s Salon to Riverside Avenue Image
Effi’s Salon, 719 Post Road East, near the intersection of Roseville Road, will relocate to 484 Riverside Ave., near the intersection of Saugatuck Avenue, in the fall. Owned by Effi Andriotis, the salon has been at its current location for 17 years, according to staff members. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


07/05/17 02:59 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Gallery: First Look: Savannah Bee Company Opening

Savannah Bee Company, known for its premium artisanal honeys and honey-based health and beauty products, today applied finishing touches for its grand opening in Westport on Friday. It is located at 47 Church Lane in the newly constructed and recently opened Bedford Square complex anchored by the Anthropologie store. According to Hillary Mack of the Savannah-based company’s management team, Westport will be its eight location; others are in Georgia (4), South Carolina (2) and Florida (1).  Mack said the business, founded by Ted Dennard in 2002, distributed its bee products through wholesale channels before opening its first retail operation in Savannah in 2008. Dave Matlow for


06/28/17 04:35 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

House, Senate Democrats Unable to Agree on Provisional Budget

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Connecticut’s prospects of enacting a state budget — even a provisional one — before the new fiscal year begins July 1 appeared to slip away late Monday night as House and Senate Democrats were unable to agree on a path forward.

After closed-door talks between House and Senate Democrats bogged down over several issues, including a potential sales tax hike and labor concessions, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz of Berlin, notified his fellow Democrats they should not expect to vote on a provisional budget Thursday.

The speaker had asked Democrats, who hold a slim 79-72 edge in the House, to hold open Thursday for a possible budget vote.

Aresimowicz refused to discuss details of the negotiations, but he confirmed today that he doesn’t anticipate a budget vote at this time.

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06/27/17 11:15 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Comings & Goings: Nike Running to Close Image
An employee today confirmed a longtime rumor that the Nike Running store, 69 Main St., will close by end of 2017. The employee said the Nike trend now is to limit retail locations to “outlets and large cities.” The store opened in November 2011 and suffered severe flooding during Super Storm Sandy in 2012. One local real estate source estimated there are now 10 vacancies or availabilities in the Main Street area, one of the highest such rates in recent years. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/21/17 12:49 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

180 Post Road East Sold for $18 Million Image
The combined retail/office building at Westport’s 180 Post Road East has changed hands for $18 million, according to a filing recorded in the Town Clerk’s Office on Monday. The town reaped $45,000 in conveyance taxes for the sale while $225,000 went to the state. The building, which recently underwent extensive renovations, last changed hands in 2013 for $11 million (see WestportNow Aug. 30, 2013). The seller this time was 180 Westport Partners LLC and the buyer JPM Westport LLC. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/20/17 03:12 PM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, June 19, 2017

Cities, Towns Ask State Leaders in TV Ad, ‘Are You Listening?’

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities is pressing state officials to deliver a budget that protects cities and towns, unveiling a television commercial today that suggests the legislature’s inaction could cost people their homes.

The 30-second spot, which will air through the rest of the month on network affiliates and Cable News 12 in Fairfield County, urges officials to revisit a state budget stabilization plan local leaders developed back in January.

The ad mingles concerns raised by unnamed home and business owners with responses from municipal leaders, who drew contrasts of responsive local officials with deadlocked legislators.

“High property taxes are going to cause me to lose my home,” one woman says as the ad opens. A second asks “Why can’t government be more efficient?”

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06/19/17 01:03 PM Comments () • Permalink

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Without a CT Budget by July 1, the Options Are All Bad

By Keith M. Phaneuf

For more than 100 years, Connecticut has periodically grappled with what to do when the fiscal year begins and a new budget is not in place to greet it.

But with just 15 days left in the outgoing fiscal year — and a $2.3 billion deficit looming after that — gridlocked legislators’ inability to adopt a new budget has huge repercussions across a wide spectrum.

Big question marks already hang over some social services for children, the poor and disabled, as well as certain aid to cities and towns.

And Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has warned legislators for several weeks now not to force him to run the state without a new budget in place, already has said he considers that option a “worst-case scenario,” and that legislators should as well.

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06/15/17 01:11 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Comings & Goings: Morgan Stanley to Relocate to 500 Post Road East Image
Morgan Stanley will relocate its offices at Nyala Farms and 320 Post Road West to the newly renovated, solar-powered office building at 500 Post Road East next month. The building’s principal owner, Timon Malloy, said today the firm would occupy 24,000-square feet, including all of the third level and one-half of the second level in the 37,000-square foot building. Its previous tenants pror to renovation had included Terex Corp. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/14/17 03:37 PM Comments () • Permalink

Remembering Mom Image
Timon Malloy, principal owner of the newly renovated, solar-powered office building at 500 Post Road East, today shows the painting he selected for the ground floor entrance area. Called “Compo Beach,” it was done by his late mother, Susan Malloy, artist and philanthropist who died in April 2015. (See WestportNow April 14, 2015) “It is very personal to me,” he said. “it was the last large size painting she completed.” It was announced today that Morgan Stanley will consolidate its two Westport offices in the building. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/14/17 03:32 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Gallery: Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce Dinner

Scenes from tonight’s Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce 1st Citizen Awards dinner at the Saugatuck Rowing Club. photos


06/13/17 10:22 PM Comments () • Permalink

Chamber Honors 1st Citizens, Young Entrepreneurs Image
The Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce tonight honored Jeff Wieser (l), CEO and president of Westport nonprofit Homes with Hope, and developer David Waldman (2nd r) with its annual 1st Citizen Award. Also honored were young entrepreneurs and high school students Aishah Avidu (2nd l) owner and operator Bar Bucha in Saugatuck, James O’Brien (3rd l), funder of Workshop Garden Technologies, which produces “food computers,” Phoebe Spear (c), a two-time cancer survivor who founded Phoebe’s Phriends, a nonprofit that raises money for pediatric cancer,  (all Staples students), and Remy Glick (not pictured), a Weston High School student who founded Ripped by Remy, which redesigns vintage clothing into new and creative pieces. Joining them in the picture are Matthew Mandell, executive director of the chamber, and Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe. Keynote speaker was Westporter David Pogue, personal technology correspondent for Yahoo News and contributor to “CBS Sunday Morning” among media outlets. The event took place at the Saugatuck Rowing Club and was catered by The Boathouse Restaurant at the club. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo


06/13/17 10:11 PM Comments () • Permalink

Westport No. 3 in CT Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) finally are making some headway in Connecticut with Westport having the third highest number of them behind Greenwich and Stamford. Image

The figures, compiled by the Westport Electric Car Club (WECC) following a Freedom of Information request by member Bruce Becker to the Department of Motor Vehicles, were released today.

Greenwich was No. 1 in the state with 429 registered EVs, Stamford was No. 2 with 233, and Westport No. 3 with 217, the club said.

In all, there are 4,636 EVs registered in the state—not a large number but significant considering “a decade ago there was nothing,” said Barry Kresch, spokesman for the WECC.

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06/13/17 07:26 PM Comments () • Permalink

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Westport Chamber to Honor Waldman and Wieser

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday will honor David Waldman of David Adam Realty, and Jeff Wieser, CEO and president of Homes with Hope, at its First Citizen Award dinner. Image
Honored by Westport Weston Chamber: David Waldman (l) and Jeff Wieser. Contributed photos

The event from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. will be on the patio overlooking the river at the Saugatuck Rowing Club, 521 Riverside Ave., and will be catered by The Boathouse.

Tickets for the gala dinner are available through the chamber and cost $80 per person.  Tables of 10 are also available. Information can be found at

The chamber said it was honoring Waldman for showing “a true vision for what can be done through adaptive reuse and specific choices in development.”

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06/11/17 07:11 PM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, June 09, 2017

Comings & Goings: Marine Layer to Main Street Image
Marine Layer, an independently owned, California-based retail casual clothing and accessories store opens Saturday at 135 Main St. in space previously occupied by Davids Tea.  East coast manager John Ferrin describes the product line as having a “seven day weekend softness, the fabrics are super soft, we’re fabric obsessed, we sell everything you’d want to wear to relax.”  He said the Westport store is the 29th or 30th in the country; the first opened in the Bay Area in 2010. He said the public is invited Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for “drinks, soft stuff and music, friends, and good vibes.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/09/17 05:39 PM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Comings & Goings: T-Mobile at 1799 Post Road East Image
T-Mobile, the cellphone, activation center and accessories business, has opened at 1799 Post Road East in the retail shopping strip previously anchored by Garelick & Herbs, which relocated to Southport. T-Mobile previously had an outlet at 396 Post Road East. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


06/07/17 12:27 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Years Behind Other States, Rules for Uber, Lyft Win Final Passage

By Kyle Constable

The Senate voted 28-8 tonight to approve a bill that would make Connecticut one of the last states to impose standards on ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

The bill now heads to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy after facing what proved to be its last two close calls — a pair of Republican-backed amendments in the Senate.

With the legislature’s upper chamber evenly divided between Democratic and Republican members, both proposed amendments ended in a deadlock, leaving Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman to cast tiebreaking votes. She opposed both amendments, probably keeping the bill from stalling for another year.

Had the Republican amendments passed, the bill would have had to go back to the House of Representatives with little more than 24 hours remaining in the legislative session — a death sentence for most legislation.

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06/06/17 11:40 PM Comments () • Permalink

Cutting the Ribbon at NewBrook Kitchen Image
NewBrook Kitchen and Artisan Market, a paleo cuisine takeout cafe, opened today with a ribbon cutting at 37 Saugatuck Ave., next to Dunville’s. Taking part were (l-r) Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, First Selectman Jim Marpe, owner Cindy Hartog, and her daughter, Danielle. The store offers a wide range of gluten-free and paleo foods. At the end of the day, Cindy Hartog said: “It was a great day. We really did well, especially with our wild caught tuna sandwiches and our salads.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo


06/06/17 06:27 PM Comments () • Permalink

House Inches CT Closer to Tolls — But Stops Short

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The House of Representatives took two steps today — one legal and one symbolic — to move Connecticut slightly closer to the imposition of tolls on its highways.

The House narrowly approved a resolution to establish a constitutional “lockbox” amendment to safeguard revenues earmarked for transportation. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would not consider any discussion of tolls unless a lockbox amendment is sent before voters on the 2018 statewide ballot.

The House also debated a bill directing the Department of Transportation to craft a plan to establish tolls. But it tabled the measure — in a prearranged, bipartisan deal — after 110 minutes of debate.

The question of tolling is not expected to be taken up again before the regular 2017 General Assembly adjourns Wednesday, though some supporters hope it will remain in talks during the summer special session to resolve the next two-year state budget.

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06/06/17 04:27 PM Comments () • Permalink

Analyses Show Concessions Would Save $24B Over Two Decades

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The tentative concessions framework struck by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state employee union leaders would save $4.8 billion over the next five years and $24.1 billion over the next two decades, according to analyses prepared by the administration, Connecticut pension actuaries and its healthcare consultant.

If the concessions deal is ratified, the $1.57 billion annual contribution to the state employees’ pension would rise steadily and peak at just under $1.9 billion in 2022. It would remain at that level through 2031, according to a pension analysis by Cavanaugh Macdonald Consulting of Kennesaw, Ga.

That’s $460 million less than the peak payment Connecticut otherwise would face based on the restructured pension schedule Malloy and unions agreed to back in January.

Connecticut’s worst-funded benefit program — retirement health care — would see its long-term, unfunded liability shrink by one-quarter dropping from $20.9 billion to $15.6 billion, according to an analysis prepared by Segal Consulting of Farmington.

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06/06/17 12:48 PM Comments () • Permalink

Monday, June 05, 2017

Hearst Buys Westport Minuteman

UPDATE Hearst, publisher of the Westport News, announced today it has acquired the Westport and Fairfield Minuteman.

Acquisition of the Westport newspaper was part of a deal in which Hearst said it had purchased three daily and eight weekly newspapers and their accompanying websites from Digital First Media, including the New Haven Register and Connecticut Magazine.

No sale price was disclosed, and it was not clear from the announcement whether the Minuteman, published Thursdays, will continue as a separate publication. A source at the newspaper said staffers have not been informed about the newspaper’s future.

The Minuteman published as usual on Thursday, but the issue made no mention of the sale of the newspaper.

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06/05/17 03:44 PM Comments () • Permalink

Saturday, June 03, 2017

House Passes Plan to Let Towns Adjust Tax Bills

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The House of Representatives today unanimously approved a bill to help cities and towns adjust their property tax bills as the state’s budget crisis plays out in the coming weeks or months.

The measure, which now heads to the Senate, would allow communities to more easily revise tax bills to reflect changes in state aid ordered later this year.

The product of a compromise between House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, the bill comes three months after another measure to offer communities budget flexibility bogged down in the Senate amid a partisan dispute.

The two leaders say they and their colleagues have been pressed constantly by municipal leaders for more guidance about how much aid their communities can expect from the state over the next two fiscal years.

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06/03/17 08:13 PM Comments () • Permalink

Friday, June 02, 2017

Connecticut Joins Alliance Committed to Paris Climate Accord

By Mark Pazniokas

Connecticut became one of the early states to rebuke President Trump’s disavowal of the Paris climate accord with a decision today by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to join a fast-growing coalition of states, cities, businesses and universities intent on ensuring the U.S. still acts to reduce greenhouse gases.

Malloy, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, joins the Democratic governors of California, New York and Washington state in the United States Climate Alliance, a group quickly organized Thursday by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others in the wake of Trump’s announcement the U.S. would stand apart from the world’s nations on the issue of climate change.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican who declined to support Trump or attend the Republican National Convention, signed on later today, according to the Boston Globe.

The decision was an easy one for a governor in Connecticut, a state with a long history of bipartisan support of efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. Gina McCarthy, a top advisor to the Obama administration on the issue, was the state’s top environmental regulator under Malloy’s predecessor, Republican M. Jodi Rell.

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06/02/17 08:06 PM Comments () • Permalink

Is 2017 CT Legislature on the Brink of Gridlock?

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The 2017 legislative session teetered on the brink of gridlock today as House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz accused Republicans of unfairly dodging all tough choices amid a huge state budget crisis.

And while Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, did not say majority House Democrats would block GOP bills, he reflected on that option as one of the few alternatives to stop Republican political posturing.

“It’s hard for me right now to go out there and … run bills that will allow people to move forward their proposals and their goals while my caucus continues — continues — to sacrifice things they care about for the greater good of the state but there’s no accountability on the other side,” the speaker said during a news conference in his Capitol office.

He made his comments after House Democrats failed Wednesday and Thursday to take up a bill to establish tolls — something Democratic leaders said was impossible because House Republicans offered virtually no support.

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06/02/17 07:26 PM Comments () • Permalink

Eversource to Buy Aquarion for $1.675 Billion

Two utility companies serving Westport are about to become one. Image

In an acquisition that will combine New England’s largest energy company with the region’s largest private water company, Eversource Energy today announced that it reached an agreement to acquire Aquarion Water Company for $1.675 billion, comprised of $880 million in cash and $795 million of assumed Aquarion debt.

“This transaction combines two companies that are leaders in providing the critical infrastructure New England residents and businesses need to grow and thrive,” said Jim Judge, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Eversource.

“Both companies’ dedicated employees work relentlessly to put customers first, and that commitment to reliability and customer service will remain paramount.”

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06/02/17 10:26 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Taking Aim at Wasteful AC

Open doors to air-conditioned Main Street stores on steamy hot days, a cool way to bait potential customers, are once again getting the cold shoulder from town officials. Image
Lululemon athletica, 91 Main St., kept its doors open last July in 90-degree heat. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

David Mann, chairman of Westport’s Green Task Force, today urged Westport business owners and managers to keep the doors shut while the premises are being cooled on hot days, as well as being heated on cold ones. This is the second year of the initiative.

Mann’s letter to local merchants also won support from First Selectman Jim Marpe, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Merchants Association in an effort to conserve resources for Westport to become a more sustainable community.

Mann added that Earth Guardians, a Toquet Hall-based environmental activist youth group, will help by visiting businesses that leave doors open and remind them of the initiative.

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05/31/17 06:47 PM Comments () • Permalink

House Passes Deficit Closure Plan Despite Sweep of Firearm Permit Fees

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The House of Representatives gave final approval today to a plan to cover the $317 million state budget deficit in the current fiscal year.

The House voted 75-74 to approve the plan, but only after Republican legislators narrowly failed to modify it to prevent the use of $300,000 in firearm and ammunition permit-related fees to help close the shortfall.

The bill, which the Senate passed unanimously Tuesday night, now heads to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who is expected to sign it.

The mitigation plan does avert several controversial proposals from the governor, including cuts to a municipal grant, hospitals and state parks.

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05/31/17 06:19 PM Comments () • Permalink

Proposed Ordinance Targets Yellow Page Directories

By James Lomuscio

The directories, be they Yellow Book, Yellow Pages or Frontier Yellow Pages, arrive unsolicited annually in driveways. Many residents welcome them, but others in the internet age see them as a bulky, hard copy versions of spam. Image

The latter group has prompted a proposed an Unsolicited Bulky Mail Ordinance scheduled to have its first reading at the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) on Tuesday.

Cosponsored by RTM members Jeff Wieser, Liz Milwe and Matthew Mandell, the proposed ordinance says its purpose is “to establish standards for the placement of unsolicited, bulky printed material on private property in order to protect the public health, safety and welfare of residents of Westport and to protect and promote the environmental quality of the town.”

While aimed at business directories, the proposal targets any document of more than 100 pages not delivered through the U.S. Postal Service. That could include free community newspapers, such as the Minuteman if it swelled to 100 pages during the holiday season.

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05/31/17 05:29 PM Comments () • Permalink

Comings and Goings: RadioShack Closes Image
RadioShack, 877 Post Road East, has closed. According to workers at the site, the nearest Radio Shack is in Wilton at 14 Danbury Road in the Gateway Shopping Center RadioShack’s parent company filed for bankruptcy in March and said in its bankruptcy filing it would close 200 stores and evaluate its options for the remaining 1,300.. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for


05/31/17 02:27 PM Comments () • Permalink

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