WestportNow welcomes letters from readers on matters pertaining to Westport and Westporters. Those of 300 words or less are given preference. Letters are edited for grammar, clarity, and accuracy. Publication shall be at the sole discretion of WestportNow. Third-party or anonymous letters, those signed with a pseudonym, or letters appearing in other publications are not published. WestportNow does not publish letters endorsing or opposing any political candidates.
A postal address, e-mail address if available, and day and evening telephone numbers are required for verification purposes, although this information is not published. Letters may be submitted by e-mail to , via fax at (203) 286-2099, or by mail to 150 North Ave., Westport, CT 06880.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
To the Editor:
Thank you, Westport. It is only because members of the Westport community have caring hearts and warmly embrace Special Olympics and its annual Penguin Plunge event that 475 people enthusiastically plunged into the chilly water at Compo Beach on March 6th to demonstrate support for people with intellectual disabilities and a record-breaking $130,000 was raised to fund Special Olympics’ local, year-round programs.
The Westport Penguin Plunge continues to be the largest plunge in the state for Special Olympics Connecticut and the largest fundraiser for Special Olympics Connecticut, Southwest Region of the year.
Yes, it is an event we depend on to ensure we serve our athletes all year round with programs that change attitudes about people with intellectual disabilities and change the lives of all who are involved. Westport hosting and participating in this event means so much to our organization.
The Westport crew of volunteers that organizes and helps to run this event does a phenomenal job and ensures everyone has a safe, fun experience. Thank you to Chief Chris Ackley, Firefighter Jonathan Gottfried and the Westport Firefighters, Sgt. Dave Farrell and the Westport Police, Mike Falbo and friends with Westport Parks & Recreation Department, the amazing dive team and the members of the medical response team who gave of their time and talents.
Friday, February 19, 2010
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Westport Weston Health District, we extend our sincere thanks to our Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The Westport Weston Wilton MRC, and the Westport CERT, comprised of volunteers from our communities, donated over 420 hours of service in response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic. Our successful efforts were made possible through the service of our MRC and CERT teams.
The Westport Weston Health District has vaccinated over 3,800 individuals. Our partnership with the MRC, and the support of our CERT team, provided both medical and non-medical volunteers, who provided support in several ways. Volunteers answered phone calls, scheduled appointments, conducted patient screening, assisted with parking, directed patients inside the clinic, distributed health and emergency preparedness literature, and assisted our nurse vaccinators.
We are extremely grateful to these volunteers. Again, our success in providing the H1N1 vaccine to those in need is largely attributed to their support and generous donation of their time and skills. Thank you!
Ken Kellogg, Mark Cooper, and Monica Wheeler
Westport Weston Health District
Thursday, February 04, 2010
To the Editor:
While reading the riveting article about fellow Westporter Lucia Palmieri (See WestportNow Jan. 30, 2010), I unexpectedly found myself crying.
I sat breathless as I read how Ms. Palmieri heroically pulled off the Hutch to follow an SUV which had just veered off the Parkway over a steep embankment and into a half-frozen pond.
I felt an immense pride for Ms. Palmieri (even though I do not know her personally) and an equally appalling disgust for the other samaritans’ dismissive actions. I know it must have been the thought of children possibly being in the car that decided her selfless response.
As a mother of three, I know what that lioness feeling is like. You lose mind of yourself and just do. I was also caught up by the familiar Westport name—Palmieri.
I remember when my husband and I moved to Westport 20 years ago. One of the first people we met was “Grandma” Palmieri at Palmieri Nursery
I remember her sitting outside, advising us on various plants we were purchasing (as we were landscaping our new house and beginning our new lives with our first baby in tow).
Mrs. Palmieri Sr. struck us as the warmest and most endearing woman. She told us she thought our baby’s name (Michael) was a bee-utiful name and we immediately warmed to her accent and smile.
It wasn’t lost on me as I read this article of another Palmieri being a guardian angel for a total stranger while endangering herself. With winter in full swing and the “blues” always hovering, I suddenly felt hopeful again. I love our community and every once in a while I’m reminded why.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
To the Editor:
Parents of children at the Hillspoint School that was evacuated due to fumes from a roofing sealant need to ask these questions:
* Did anyone ask for the name of the chemical in the roof sealant?
* What are the Material Safety Data information for these chemicals.
* Was the contractor advised not to use the chemicals in the vicinity of children?
* How long were the children and teachers exposed to the chemicals before they were evacuated?
* Who authorized the application of the roof sealant during the school day?
* Was that person qualified to make a decision that exposed children to hazardous substances? Who oversees the use of toxic substances at schools?
I was seriously and permanently injured by a roofing sealant applied during the school day at the school where I was teaching in Mississippi. School officials lied to the media that no one was seriously injured.
It only takes a short time to cause injury to respiratory, eye and brain tissue. It sometimes takes a lifetime to diagnosed that toxic chemicals caused the damage.
Fumes from roofing sealant have caused injuries to school children all across the nation. Even though the EPA recognizes that children are more vulnerable to toxic injury, there are no laws preventing the use of toxic chemicals like roofing sealant while school children and personnel are present.
When I asked the questions above, the school and contractor attempted to cover it up. School officials at my school were more concerned with their liability and politics than with providing medical care for the injured.
I am now an activist to protect children from toxic injury and for healthier schools. For stories about toxic justice, news and resources about schools and toxic risks, visit http://www.nancyswan.com and follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ToxicJustice
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
To the Editor:
Twice over the last few weeks, while walking our dog, I have found stamped, unpostmarked mail in strange places near the road. In both cases, within a mile of Staples High School, the mail turned out to be very important communications including significant personal checks.
Upon investigation, it turned out that in both cases, the mail had been left in personal rural mailboxes for pickup.
While I have, as has at least one of the parties involved, notified the US Postal Inspector, I would recommend that Westport residents not leave mail for pickup in their street boxes unless they won’t be inconvenienced if it doesn’t get to its destination.
Joel R. Hallas
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
To the Editor:
The members of the Westport Police Union and Westport Police Benevolent Association would like to extend our sincere gratitude for the extremely generous contributions we received during our 2009 Holiday Toy Drive.
The toy drive which is held annually, sponsored by the Westport Police Union and the Westport Police Benevolent Association, and run by its members, has historically been tremendously successful. This year was no different.
We were able to donate gifts to several hundred children throughout Fairfield County who otherwise would not have received toys for the holidays.
Toys were distributed to organizations such as the Interfaith Housing Association (Westport), Carver Community Center (Norwalk), Norwalk Community Health Center (Norwalk), Bridgeport Council of Churches (Bridgeport), St. Charles Urban Center (Bridgeport), Burroughs Community Center (Bridgeport), the New Haven Domestic Violence Shelter (New Haven), and local individual families in need.
The project would not be nearly as successful if it weren’t for the individuals and local businesses that show their support, concern, and generosity toward the underprivileged in our area.
Each year as the members of the Westport Police Department collect the donations, we are deeply touched by the generosity and caring that is displayed. To see not only adults demonstrate the true spirit of the holidays, but children as well, is truly heartwarming.
Special thanks to the Athletic Shoe Factory, Vautrin Auto, 95.9 The Fox Radio, and Sign Smarts, for their assistance in the logistical aspects of our efforts and their generosity. Without them, we couldn’t have done it.
With thanks from the bottom of our hearts,
The Men and Women of the Westport Police Department
Saturday, January 16, 2010
To the Editor:
I have to question the decision by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) to overturn Planning and Zoning Commission’s (P&Z) decision to amend the zoning regulations to allow the Inn at National Hall to have offices on the first floor.
What is wrong with this change? As a small retail business owner in the downtown area, this change along with moving the “historic building” on the corner of Wilton Road to free up traffic, would have done nothing but bring more business to the downtown and surrounding areas.
I don’t profess to be a smart person; but I have been blessed with a little common sense. A vacant Inn will do little or nothing for our local economy.
Occupied office space, by a well run company with a vested interest in the property, would do nothing but enhance our local merchants; and more importantly maintain the property to the highest of standards.
What I think we are forgetting here is that people who work in offices; tend to shop, buy supplies, take clients to lunch, and do other things that require infusing money into the local economy. To have an empty building owned by a bank, getting ready for a fire sale is not good business.
I have a lot of respect for our RTM and its members, as well as the people involved in overturning this text amendment.
But we have to remember is that we are not talking about a 102,000 square foot building in a residential AAA zone like the YMCA’s proposed move to Mahackeno. It’s a simple change of use of an already designated commercial property.
What we have here is a good company, trying to work with P&Z to make a commercial piece of property work. When you look at this zone change it totally makes sense. A dead area would come back to life, the town would reap the benefits of commercial tax revenue to go along with a revitalized area. What would be wrong with that?
Sometimes in affluent communities, highly educated people tend to lose sight of one of the most important assets in the decision making process: common sense.
I think if a little common sense would’ve been applied to the process in this text amendment change, all parties could’ve walked away with a deal that would’ve worked for everyone.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
To the Editor:
I received a phone call from my old friend Zak, on the seventh of January, at almost the same minute that in another place the other man most intertwined with my time in Staples Players passed away quietly. He left us way too soon. He helped create my joyous teen years.
His name was Mr. Joseph W. Ziegahn. To the thousands of other students who loved him; myself especially, he was simply Ziegahn.
My mother once said that she received a good less headaches from me during high school because I was too busy studying stagecraft and doing backstage theater under the tutelage of Ziegahn to get into trouble.
It all started when I had him for seventh grade art class, then four years of Staples Players. Those four years shaped me. Like the clay on the wheel in his classroom he molded me. If any teacher could teach a student how to be a man, he was Ziegahn.
I am not a person of extravagant gratitude except when I finished high school and towards Ziegahn. To enumerate my gratitude for all Ziegahn did for me, I will tell about how I said goodbye to Staples Players.
I was 18 and I spent almost a month’s pay on a pewter knife engraved “THANKS JWZ, FROM DEA” as a surprise for him. The gesture was so that every time he used that tool to create art, he would remember how much he helped one crazy kid survive high school. He helped many kids survive high school or junior high in 39 years as a teacher.
I learned how to swing a hammer and build a table as well as be polite and talk to a lady from this man. I learned how to lift with my knees and not with back as well as how not to be afraid to ask a girl to prom. Ziegahn was from South Dakota and I married a girl from South Dakota. That’s only fair; he taught me (at 15) that the girls I wanted to talk to were just as nervous as I was.
Every day, every single day I think about all he taught me. I remembered that quite well the day I met my wife and the life lesson came back, I was a nervous 29 year-old and so was she. Mostly I’m impressed that Ziegahn could teach me all that and make me laugh.
I watched him one day, during our annual haunted house, transform me into Mr. Spock from Star Trek with less than $5 worth of makeup. I think Paramount could have used him. I watched him teach Zak about lighting, Lindsay about costumes and even a dozen of more my peers how to stage student productions.
In the more than 25 years he was technical director, he probably saw more than 10,000 students. I would bet most of us feel the same way, I apologize that it’s an old cliché but “we shall not see his like again.”
I called him two months ago, not to say ‘good-bye;’ but to say ‘thank you.’ I told him that everyone has one teacher they look back on as the one that influenced them the most and he was mine. For all this I am grateful.
For his quarter century, Ziegahn put in 14-hour days. Arriving in the workroom hours before school then running stagecraft alongside after school clubs or rehearsals. He’d then leave hours after us invariably. I went pre-K through 12 in Westport and I can tell you this, no one, no one in the education profession showed more caring or concern for students than Joe Ziegahn.
This is why I implore the powers that be to host a tribute to Ziegahn on the main stage at Staples High School. Drape the chair that bears his name with a curtain and ribbon like a ‘missing man formation’ gesture and let more than a quarter of a century worth of students that loved him fill that auditorium one last time. Not for me or what he did for me, but for of the thousands of other Westport students who loved him like I do.
David E. Arcudi
Vice President, Technical, Staples Players, 1995-6
Prop Master, Staples Players 1994-1996
Staples High School Alumnus, 1996
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
To the Editor:
With our nearly two-year-old grandson Henry visiting for the holidays, my wife visited Earthplace and several other venues looking for suggestions about ways to entertain our special visitor.
She also went to the Westport Library and would you believe they have Grandkits designed for such occasions. The kit includes CDs books, games and toys well suited for little tykes.
They are on loan, of course, but we were absolutely floored by this brilliant idea which will certainly enliven Henry’s visit.
Grandkits? There sure are some clever and imaginative folks in our midst.
Friday, November 06, 2009
To the Editor:
As a retired school principal here in Nebraska, and having formerly worked closely with Dr. Cary Bell as his assistant principal at Boys Town, Neb., I wish to acknowledge his school’s achievement as regards their recent excellent recognition as a Blue Ribbon School.
What an honor, but it is not surprising since I know Dr. Bell and always admired him for his leadership and caring attitude towards kids and staff.
Please extend to him and his staff my most sincere congratulations and best wishes.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
To the Editor:
I am very concerned about the seagulls at Compo Beach. Every time I go there I see at least one or two kids throwing large rocks at the gulls.
The last time I was there, two boys were throwing big rocks at circling gulls. I happen to have been with wildlife rehabilitator, Dara Reid She went over to them and pointed out that the birds have feelings and a right to be at the beach.
She also told them that it is illegal to throw rocks at birds and that they are protected by law.
I talked with her and asked her how often she sees injured gulls at her wildlife center (Wildlife in Crisis) in Weston. She told me that she gets hundreds of gulls per year, and about 50 percent of them have been abused.
It makes no sense that she has to take in and treat birds that have been intentionally injured by kids while their parents watch from their beach blanket. Sometimes the parents even encourage their kids to be cruel to the animals.
The beach is a natural habitat of the gulls and when we go there we are invading their home. Rather than hurting the gulls, adults and children should observe them and enjoy their unusual communication behavior.
They will realize that gulls aren’t just things that can fly but interesting creatures that we are lucky to have.
King’s Highway Elementary School fifth grade
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
To the Editor:
I’d like to bring to your attention to an inaccurate report that has been widely circulated and reported on by various media outlets in the past week regarding the effectiveness of the film and TV tax incentive program in our state.
The report was furnished by an advocacy group called Voices for Children and was based on a preliminary document from the Connecticut Film Office that was never intended to be released.
The Film Office made it clear that the draft report did not yet account for millions of dollars spent in Connecticut yet the VFC and the media chose to ignore this and ran with the story as if it were factual and complete.
Our company, dLife, is a small diabetes health media company based in Westport and is one of the entities that are misrepresented in these reports.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
To the Editor:
I am worried about the cost and availability of health care. I know I am not alone. I have Medicare today, and secondary insurance from my employer. But how many Westport residents do not have either of these?
There is a proposal before our state legislature that would provide health care for almost everyone. It is called SustiNet. It was created by people who really understand the needs and the dilemmas. It is build on the experience and input of doctors, nurses and hospitals; small business owners and corporate leaders; people without health insurance and with inadequate coverage; labor unions; faith leaders; and health care advocates.
Connecticut can be a leader in health care reform for our country. SustiNet combines the best of our public and private systems. SustiNet offers a comprehensive, affordable benefit package including mental and dental health care. SustiNet offers the same health insurance benefits as a typical large employer in Connecticut.
I support this plan and have asked our state representatives to vote for it. I hope you will join me. Call today – the vote may come any day.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
To the Editor:
My name is Katie Cioe and I am a student at Staples High School. My father, Crispin Cioe, is a renowned musician and my mother is a retired reporter and currently owns her own business. We live on 4 Valley Road in Westport. I want to thank you for being an entertaining source of information and every time I visit your Web site I am thoroughly informed of recent happenings in Westport.
I wish the sole reason for this letter could be to express how I love when a picture of myself is posted when I am involved in a town event or how I want to publicize a new club or event. However, unfortunately I am writing to you on the more serious manner of the education budget cut that Westport is faced with today.
I am currently a student in the Collab (Collaborative) course which is a class that has been affected by this horrific budget cut. Collab is a non-traditional U.S. history course where students are engaged in-depth discussions and exposed to important texts such as “A Peoples’ History of the United States” by Howard Zinn and “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.
This is a course where U.S. History Honors and English Two Honors are combined and students learn educational units as a collaboration of both Social Studies and English. Students learn how to synthesize information and at the end of each quarter write an in-depth analysis of their performance.
According to the new budget, Collab will not be available to students next year. Along with this course, Robotics, Latin American Studies, Senior Option, and many other unique classes will be erased from the Staples curriculum. I am deeply saddened by this drastic cut because it affects my future and my career at Staples. Collab has helped me realize my serious inclination toward government.
Through exposure to current events, Collab is a place where my critical thinking skills have developed. Due to this, I have joined Junior Statesman of America and will participate in my first debate at Staples High School on Saturday, April 25 against prestigious schools like Hunter, Horace Mann, High School of Math and Science, and many various other esteemed private schools. One of the reasons a public school can go up against such highly ranked private schools is because of the dedication this town has to education.
Staples High School was recently ranked No. 1 in the state and the entire Staples community was thrilled at this fact. However, this budget cut seems to disagree with our status because we are cutting the classes that make our school “the private school with no tuition” anomaly it is. Robotics, Collab, and other unique courses are vital to helping students realize their interests and helping them gain the drive to pursue their interests in the future. It would be a shame to let our children’s future go to waste.
Staples High School is one of the crown gems of Westport society. From Wreckers football games to Players’ Productions to Teacher of the Year ceremonies, there is a lot to be proud of at Staples. We truly deserve our No. 1 ranking, or at least we did. I realize we are in a deep economic recession and no one understands this more than students at Staples. We are the ones who are going to have bills to pay and have to try and restore our country in the future.
Clearly, we, as the youth, feel this burden as much anyone in Westport. However, if this budget is replenished, it comes out to a mere $12 a household a month, and $144 per household a year. We need to invest in our children’s future and make this sacrifice.
It is these classes that make Staples what it is. If we let the value and reputation of Staples High School, then other aspects for Westport will decline as well. Housing prices will drop and town will lose many important members of our society. The youth will lose trust in the board and will exude less Westport pride
The main reason my parents moved me here from Fieldston Ethical Culture Private School in New York City was the education system. If we instate this budget cut, then house prices could go down and we could no longer have the same Westport pride. I implore you to make this decision and help the future of our children and the future of America. Thank you for your time.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
To the Editor:
We were so disappointed and devastated to hear of the potential cancellation of Collab.
This class teaches students in a unique way—one that encourages individual thinking instead of the practiced memorization of facts, asks students to question surroundings and what is expected and known, and has proved to be a progressive teaching style.
We have been taught the importance of thinking for ourselves, working with peers, and how 21st century skills are vital to the learning process.
Westport prides itself on the superior education, individuality, and support it provides to its students. Our town was recently honored with having the No. 1 school in Connecticut.
With these supposedly necessary budget cuts, our class is finding it hard to believe we will be able to maintain this status without the many classes that make Staples unique.
In addition to Collab, many other distinctive classes are being canceled, including ones that are critical to an average high school. French 1, music lessons, Latin American Studies, Senior Options, Current Issues, British and Irish Literature, and A.P. Computer Science are among the courses being cut.
This fight is not simply about Collab. We believe that restricting educational opportunities is a critical error, no matter what the class.
We spent almost an entire quarter researching and studying American education. From this examination, we learned how easy it is for funds to be mismanaged.
Education should never be limited, so we urge the Town of Westport and all interested in furthering the education of its children to help us.
The Staples High School Collab Class 2008-09
Thursday, April 09, 2009
(Editor’s note: Because of its nature, the following letter is being published simultaneously here as well as on our Letters to the Editor page.)
Anthony Giunta: 64, retired in 2006 after 34 years service. File photo
To the Editor:
This is not your run-of-the-mill letter to the editor. In fact, I’ve never written anything quite like this.
This letter is about my husband’s cousin, Anthony Giunta. He is a retired Westport detective and in dire need of a new kidney. He’s no stranger to the citizens of Westport and surrounding areas.
This is because Tony, a.k.a. Chip, spent the greater part of his life serving the needs of Westport citizens and dedicating his life to helping others. In fact, he’s so out of his comfort zone in asking for help, it took me months to convince him to let me write this letter.
As a longtime police officer on the Westport force, he tirelessly helped citizens by investigating and solving all types of cases from petty thievery to serious crimes.
Friday, December 19, 2008
To the Editor:
Today at around 5:30 a.m., my phone rang with an automated message that the schools were closed.
I think the idea of this phone call is great, but I have to say that as a parent of three children ages 6, 4, and 2, it’s ridiculous that they would call anyone at 5:30 a.m. I could always get this info on your site, News 12, the radio or any local TV station.
I don’t need to have my entire family woken up at 5:30 for information I can get easily.
What were they thinking sending this at 5:30?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
To the Editor:
Too many local families and individuals are suddenly struggling for food, housing, employment and protection from domestic violence. Fairfield County nonprofits are trapped in a Catch-22; just as demand for their services is skyrocketing, donations are plummeting.
Where can one give to help the most? As a board member of the Fairfield County Community Foundation, I’m convinced we offer a smart solution: The Fairfield County Community Foundation will match donations to its Safety Net Giving Circle, which helps area residents hit hardest by the economic crisis.
Thanks to a matching grant from an anonymous donor, donations made to the Safety Net Giving Circle by January 15, 2009, will be matched up to $100,000. Ultimately $200,000 will be pumped into 10 area nonprofits that help residents throughout Fairfield County meet their basic needs. A giving circle pools individual donations to focus on one cause, amplifying the impact of each gift.
The 10 nonprofits are: Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County, Neighbor to Neighbor, Catholic Charities, Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging,
Person to Person, Operation Hope, Norwalk Community Health Center, Domestic Violence Crisis Center, Center for Women and Families, and
Anyone can donate online or by check. To learn more, visit www.fccfoundation.org.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Dear Westport Residents,
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued vote of confidence and support this Election Day.
It has always been an honor and a privilege to serve you! Having been re-elected for a third consecutive term as your state representative in Hartford, I look forward to bringing more positive changes at the Capitol to benefit the Town of Westport and the State of Connecticut.
Positive change is made possible with dedication, collaboration, integrity and honesty.
Please join my family and me for coffee, bagels, doughnuts and whatever on Sunday, Nov. 9 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Westport Pizzeria, so I can personally thank you and celebrate our victory together.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Open Letter to Westport Teens:
I, 7 months pregnant, was strolling down Main Street with my husband the other evening. A few small packs of teenagers were hanging around the area. We slowly neared one gang of teens whose scooters were blocking the sidewalk. One of them spotted us, told his buddies, “We have to get these off the sidewalk” and promptly moved his gear out of the way to let us through.
We walked through. I didn’t say “thank you.” I’m not sure why. Possibly because I was too busy being impressed that a bunch of adolescents would notice a random pregnant woman and her husband out for a quiet evening walk.
So thank you. Not just to the boy who moved his and his friend’s scooters, but to every young person in this town who steps out of their way to let me through, who smiles at my children, opens a door for us, or performs some other act of grace and kindness.
There are many of you in this town, and I notice every single one of you. I may not verbalize it (fine example I’m setting), but it’s young people like you who make me happy we moved here, and who make me hope our children grow up with the same courtesy and thoughtfulness.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
To the Editor:
The Westport Soccer Association (WSA) would like to thank Dan DeVito for the last minute securing of both the Wakeman B and the Ginny Parker turf fields for our travel soccer tryouts on Friday afternoon, May 16.
Soccer is a game that typically is played even in inclement weather (they say it builds character!), but surely it is not an enjoyable experience for the kids when it is raining and cold, as was the case this past week. Despite the poor weather conditions, the children persisted – thanks to our ability to play on synthetic turf.
It seems that lately we’ve only heard the negatives about synthetic turf fields. I think most players and parents would agree that the synthetic turf fields provided a clean, safe playing environment in less than optimal playing conditions.
After being rained out on our first scheduled attempt to hold tryouts, the turf fields allowed us to “get it done.” It brought meaning to the term “grin and bear it” as we had record numbers attend our tryouts this year, and it certainly was a Field of Dreams for many hopeful children vying for spots on next year’s team rosters.
Thanks again Dan.
Westport Soccer Association
Thursday, May 08, 2008
To the Editor:
Since announcing I will not seek reelection to the State Senate on April 21, 2008 it would be remiss of me if I did not thank you, your readers and my constituents for the support they have given me over the last 22 years.
I am appreciative of the honor bestowed upon me by the voters and the residents of this district through 11 elections. I have listened to you, have worked with you to resolve the problems you have brought to my attention and, when appropriate, taken your advice to pursue legislation.
As I said in my statement to the press, when one serves as a legislator there is always unfinished business that needs to be addressed and, so, one can always rationalize running for reelection. But this is the right time for me to go forward with my life.
I have met some wonderful, devoted people in all seven towns. I will treasure the many friendships I have made during this time. I have some wonderful memories of my colleagues in both legislative chambers and on both sides of the aisle.
I hope the legacy of my 22 years is one that will encourage more people to become involved in what is happening in our state and to become part of the process that sets Connecticut apart from the other 50 states.
Thank you for giving me that opportunity.
Judith G. Freedman
State Senator, 26th District
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
To the Editor:
A friend and former classmate of ours, Sameer Mathur, passed away on April 30, losing his battle against meningitis. He was a distinguished member of the Authentic Science Research program at Staples High School and graduated in the class of 2006.
To honor his memory, we are working to create the Sameer Mathur Memorial Award for Execllence in Neuroscience or Infectious Disease to be awarded by Dr. A.J. Scheetz, director of the ASR program and a mentor of Sameer’s. In addition to a physical award, we would like to facilitate the endowment of a small monetary prize.
If you would like to contribute to help us create this award in Sameer’s memory, you can visit www.SameerMemorialAward.org or send a check, made out to “Staples High School,” to Dr. AJ Scheetz, 70 North Ave., Westport, CT 06880.
Any small contribution will be extremely helpful in establishing this permanent memory of Sameer.
Aaron Eisman, Steve Beckoff, and Rob Sobelman
Staples High School ‘04
Saturday, April 26, 2008
To the Editor:
Seeing photos of those adorable dogs needing a home on Westportnow.com prompted me to write about our wonderful 16-year experience with Thor, a mixed breed (probably partially Border collie) adopted as a puppy from the Westport branch of the Connecticut Humane Society.
Thor was healthy and had been given his shots when we took him home, and for the rest of his life received loving care from Westport veterinarian Dr. Christian Benyei. With all the dogs available and waiting at the Humane Society I don’t know why anyone who isn’t interested in “showing” dogs would buy one, or even want a purebred; mutts are known to be healthier and smarter.
Thor looked after us with total dedication. He alerted us to snakes in the grass, and to people arriving at our house, had a great bark but never bit or even snapped at a human, or hurt an animal or bird he found - merely brought the creature to our attention.
Thor did, unfortunately, have a couple of tiffs with Boo-Boo, a dog he played with as a puppy, after the two matured and the testosterone, or whatever male dogs have, kicked in.
He also fell in love - with Beuli Getts, Lise Connell’s dog, also obtained from the Humane Society, who looked enough like him to have been a sister, but Beuli was cool to his advances, and the tender letters he wrote to Beuli’s column in the Westport News didn’t alter her indifference.
(Adoptions at the Humane Society then - and perhaps now - were not “open” so we never found out anything about Thor’s original family.) What a blessing Thor was; he truly enhanced our lives.
For anyone thinking about getting a dog, I strongly recommend visiting the Humane Society on the Post Road to find the right dog for a lifetime of love and fun.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
(Editor’s note: The following is a copy of a letter addressed to Sarah Longwell, managing director, American Beverage Institute, in response to a letter posted on WestportNow on Dec. 4.)
Dear Ms. Longwell:
I would like to respond to your comments in WestportNow.com relative to the article on DUI checkpoints on Dec. 3, 2007. I take offense to your quick judgment about our enforcement efforts. Had you taken the time to be responsible and do a little investigating, you would have found that the DUI checkpoint is only a small part of our DUI enforcement efforts. The majority of our resources are in fact devoted to “roving patrols” as you put it.
I strongly disagree with your statement that the DUI checkpoints are ineffective. It is a common question from people throughout our area to be concerned about the DUI checkpoints, doesn’t that say they are concerned about them and they keep those checkpoints in mind when consuming alcohol?
You and your Web site make numerous references to the “Chronic Alcohol Abusers,” are they the only problem? I think not. A casual alcohol abuser who gets behind the wheel of a car can just as well kill a motorist or pedestrian as a chronic abuser. I believe that these checkpoints do make a difference. They educate and raise the awareness level of the motoring public.
Next time think before you make a statement, be part of the solution. There are thousands of law enforcement professionals on the streets everyday trying to make our communities safer for everyone, please support their efforts and the sacrifices they make.
Alfred R. Fiore
Chief of Police
Saturday, December 08, 2007
To The Editor:
Let me get this straight.
Last year the Dalio Family Foundation and Ray Dalio donated approximately $5 million to 400 different charities.
Yet the executive director of the local First Night group feels justified to engage in libel and besmirch the man’s good name because he did not specifically give to her charity?
J. Kevin Shushtari, M.D.
Farmington, CT 06032
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
To the Editor:
In the fight to get drunken drivers off the roads, Connecticut law enforcement agencies would likely make far more arrests if they spent their available time roaming the streets looking for drunken drivers, rather than standing at roadblocks waiting for these drivers to come to them (Westport Police to Set Up DUI Checkpoints, Dec. 3 ).
Because they are highly visible by design and publicized in advance, roadblocks are all too easily avoided by the chronic alcohol-abusers who compose the core of today’s drunken-driving problem.
Conversely, the number of DUI arrests made by roving patrol programs is nearly 10 times the average number of DUI arrests made by checkpoint programs, according to testimony by a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation official.
Westport residents and taxpayers would benefit from employing the most effective tactics to catch drunken drivers: roving police patrols.
American Beverage Institute
Saturday, November 17, 2007
To the Editor:
We want to thank all of the Westport electorate who voted in the recent mid-term elections. As your two returning members of the town’s legislative body, the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), Liz Milwe and Gene Seidman wish to welcome our newest elected member, Jeffrey Wieser.
This leaves one remaining vacancy for RTM District 4. In accordance with the Town Charter, (specifically Section C5-8C), the vacancy must be filled by a registered voter living in District 4. No party affiliation is required since Westport’s RTM is non-partisan. The term expires in November 2009.
Residents of RTM District 4 interested in being considered to fill the vacancy are invited meet with your elected representatives on Monday Nov. 26 at 10 a.m. at Town Hall Room 309 (110 Myrtle Ave., Room 105, Westport, CT 06880).
Any questions can be directed to the remaining district members below. Contact information and a district boundary map are available on the town’s Web site at www.westportct.gov/government/boards/rtm.htm .
Patricia Strauss, Town Clerk
Thursday, April 26, 2007
To the Editor:
The Westport Woman’s Club is celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year and deserves special recognition for all the “good” this civic organization has brought to Westport.
My association with Westport Woman’s Club is very recent. We just completed Build for the Cure™ supporting Susan G. Komen for the Cure and our breast cancer programs. We turned to the Westport Woman’s Club for help with this major project in their community and without hesitation, they were there to help. They provided advice, committee volunteers, and house tour guides, and very importantly awarded a $10,000 Ruegg Grant to Komen for the Cure in Connecticut. We were honored to be selected as the recipient of such a prestigious award.
The Westport Woman’s Club embodies a strong commitment to volunteerism which is so vital to any community. In these times, it is increasingly difficult to keep this type of organization together and strong, but in Westport, these ladies have done an outstanding job.
I congratulate them on their 100th Anniversary and personally thank President Barbara Levy and Linda Clair for their leadership and assistance on our Build for the Cure.
Pauline R. Kezer
President, Komen for the Cure CT
Old Saybrook, CT
Saturday, January 20, 2007
To the Editor:
The recent arrest of journalist-activist Ken Krayeske at Gov. (M. Jodi) Rell’s inaugural parade is the latest in a growing series of government covert actions that make modern life feel more and more like a spy thriller.
Krayeske’s arrest brought to light the existence of a secret “suspicious persons” list provided to state police by the little-known Connecticut Intelligence Center. Apparently Krayeske got on the list because he was campaign director for Green Party candidate Cliff Thornton, and because he criticized Rell for refusing to debate Thornton.
This list may or may not be the same as the Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File (VGTOF) maintained by the FBI. The VGTOF has included, among others, the American Friends Service Committee, a pacifist organization. And then there is the secret “no-fly” list which bans people from airplanes based on their political affiliations.
These secret lists, we are told, are a necessary tool of law enforcement, along with warrantless wiretapping and, as of last month, the opening of sealed mail without court orders.
In Stamford, the police department, with support from the Board of Representatives, is planning to install video surveillance cameras throughout the city to monitor people’s behavior in public places. This is already widespread in London and New York.
Secret lists, eavesdropping, hidden cameras. And we also have midnight deportations to secret overseas prisons (“extraordinary rendition”), indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo, and the use of approved forms of torture to extract information.
Not very pretty. And not very effective, either. How can these heavy-handed, clandestine, and centralized methods of gathering information keep up with a world of burgeoning print media, the Internet, cell-phones and digital cameras?
Perhaps we need a new national security paradigm, based not on obscure government operations but on the collective intelligence of an informed citizenry.
Imagine, instead of J. Edgar Hoover and his G-men, a whole society armed with cellphones and computers, combing publicly available information sources and reporting their findings on blogs. Imagine, instead of a Central Intelligence Agency, a Citizen Intelligence Network. The young hackers will run circles around the old spies.
This is the concept behind Open Source Intelligence, a movement founded by former Marine and CIA officer Robert Steele.
To learn more about the movement, the Fairfield County Green Party will show and discuss a film about Robert Steele, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Spying and Intelligence,” on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Westport Public Library.
We need to start treating bloggers like Ken Krayeske as a national resource, not a national threat.