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Hartford Political Debate: ItӒs Like

Hartford Political Debate: ItӒs Like Trying to Sell Spinach to Six-year-olds
What does spinach have to do with Connecticut politics or Westport? Think ԓhard-to-swallow and you get the idea.

Andy Sauer, the executive director of Common Cause of Connecticut, says some state lawmakers (including some from Fairfield County?) are having a difficult time passing a bill revising the stateԒs primary election system.

It’s difficult because the proposed legislation eliminates the political protections they, as incumbents, have enjoyed for years, according to Sauer.

The controversy is about what to do after a federal court judge struck down the states primary system as unconstitutional in January. The decision left it to lawmakers to devise a new and more open process allowing challengers to have an easier time of getting their names on a primary ballot.

Common Cause of Connecticut, a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit, says legislation to deal with the issue now being debated in Hartford is being tinkered with to include provisions that are unnecessary and unfair to challengers.

“The bottom line is, (legislators) hate the bill,” said Sauer. “It’s like trying to sell spinach to six-year-olds.”

The AP has a good rundown of the issue on todayҒs news wires. Westport isnt mentioned, but the bill will affect Westporters and any one else in the state seeking to challenge incumbents for a place on the ballot.


04/20/2003 16:55 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Down By the River, Early

Down By the River, Early in the Morning
If you were up and about early Saturday, you might have come across some hardy people around the Saugatuck River.

TodayŒs Greenwich Time described the scene this way: Just before 6 a.m. yesterday, about two dozen men and one woman entered the frigid waters of the Saugatuck River in Westport. At exactly 6, the shrill sound of a whistle rang out. As if rehearsed, each person flung out a fishing line.

ӔThe 2003 Connecticut trout season had begun.

These hardy souls were joined by thousands of anglers fishing the more than 200 rivers and 86 lakes and ponds in Connecticut that were stocked with hatchery raised trout in time for opening day.Ӕ


04/20/2003 14:20 pm Comments (0)Permalink

So How Did You Enjoy

So How Did You Enjoy Your Vacation, Mary-Lou and Larry?
Anyone who knows Westporters Mary-Lou and Larry Weisman also knows that they are ultra busy and ultra involved. Shes a writer and heҒs an attorney specializing in land use issues.

Now we also know, thanks to todays New York Times, that, as one might expect, they donҒt do well on relaxing vacations.

In an essay in the Sunday travel section headlined Caffeinated Couple Meets Decaf Vacation,Ӕ Mary-Lou spells out the difficulties she and Larry have encountered trying to find relaxation on holidays in the Caribbean, on a barge trip in France, and hanging out in a village in Ireland.

The essay is adapted from Mary-Lou֒s new book, Traveling While MarriedӔ (Algonquin, $15.95).

Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, had this to say about the book:

He’s a whitewater-rafting kind of guy. She prefers the bubbling waters of a posh health club hot tub. For more than 40 years, Larry and Mary-Lou Weisman have been backpacking through Europe and barging down the Amazon as both dauntless travelers and devoted spouses.

ӓNow Mary-Lou shares the secret of staying happily married while contemplating lost luggage, jet lag, and Eurodollar equivalencies in a mirthful memoir of a lifetime of journeying a deux.

“With self-deprecating good humor, Weisman pokes fun at her own obsessive-compulsive behavior and Larry’s laid-back mentality to reveal the offbeat and off-the-beaten-track adventures of travelers as mismatched as a cheap set of luggage.

Mary-Lou is an award-winning journalist who, in addition to The New York Times, has written for Newsweek, the Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, the New Republic, New York magazine, Glamour, Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Cosmopolitan, among others.

Her previous books include ԓMy Middle-Aged Baby Book and ԓIntensive Care: A Family Love Story.


04/20/2003 13:53 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Protesters Take to Westport Downtown

Protesters Take to Westport Downtown
They werent large in number, but a group of protesters got the attention of passersby in downtown Westport today.

Less than a dozen people, including several children, were protesting a proposed 22-home development by ARS Partners on Partrick Road, the former F.D. Rich property.

They walked the sidewalks around the William Pitt real estate office on the corner of Post Road East and Myrtle Avenue for several hours holding signs protesting the project and promoting their Web site, www.savewestport.com.

They also collected signatures for presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission on May 1.

Matthew Mandell, one of the picketers, said they chose to march outside the real estate office because they expected William Pitt to be one of the agents for the housing development.

The 55-acre parcel, including 36 acres of wetlands, is off of Partrick Road and Newtown Turnpike.

The opponents of the project have formed a not-for-profit organization, The Partrick Wetlands Preservation Fund, Inc.


04/19/2003 16:15 pm Comments (0)Permalink

The Hour Takes a Look

The Hour Takes a Look at Board of Finance Bickering
Todays Hour of Norwalk takes a look at recent bickering among members of WestportҒs Board of Finance, noting that it has increased as elections approach.

Hour reporter Jen Connic quotes unnamed political observers as saying the back and forth between Democrats, who hold a 4-3 majority on the board, and Republicans has much to do with the forthcoming election in November.

Democrats Steven L. Ezzes, board chairman, and Kevin A. Connolly are up for re-election this fall as are Republicans R. Gavin S. Anderson and Robert D. Graham.


04/19/2003 13:11 pm Comments (0)Permalink

U.S. Census Bureau Updates Fairfield

U.S. Census Bureau Updates Fairfield County Data
Westport isnt mentioned specifically, but the latest U.S. Census Bureau data for Fairfield County gives a pretty good insight into population trends in the region.

TodayҒs Advocate of Stamford has a good rundown of the data, noting that If it weren’t for immigrants and a bunch of babies, Fairfield County would be rapidly losing population.

The bureau reported that from April 2000 to July, Fairfield County’s population grew 1.5 percent to an estimated 896,202.

In that two-year period, an estimated 16,281 immigrants arrived to Fairfield County from foreign nations and 14,353 residents left for other parts of the United States. Fairfield County also had the state’s highest birth rate, which helped replace those leaving.


04/19/2003 12:48 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Investor in Empire State Building Buys a Piece of Main Street

Talk about your high profile properties the Empire State Building and now a prize piece of downtown Westport in your portfolio.

The $18.1 million Westport deal closed on April 14 and today’s Hartford Courant/The Advocate of Stamford gives prominent coverage to the transaction under the headline: “Best of Westport: $1,046 a square foot.”

Reporting on the sale of the 17,282-square-foot retail building at 66-99 Main St., the Courant notes, Owning a retail building in a town where Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Martha Stewart live isn’t cheap.

The one-story building housing Gap, Ann Taylor and J. McLaughlin stores was sold to a partnership led by W&M Properties executives Peter L. and Anthony E. Malkin of Greenwich. They bought it from Boston-based First Westport Properties.

Last year, an investment entity owned by Peter Malkin and his father-in-law, Lawrence A. Wien, acquired the fee title to the Empire State Building after owning the buildings master lease since 1961.

Each of the 66-99 Main St. retailers has a long-term lease for their space—The Gap, with 10,521 square feet; Ann Taylor, with 3,880 square feet; and J. McLaughlin, with 2,881 square feet.

W&M Properties said the Westport purchase, through its Wien & Malkin Co-Investor Capital L.P., is the investor group’s first retail acquisition outside of Manhattan in more than a decade.

The Malkins’ commercial and office building portfolio also includes properties in Norwalk, Darien, and Stamford, New York and elsewhere.

According to the Courant, the buyer said dependable rents, high-income residents in the area and future value of the property prompted its purchase.

Parade Coordinator Says Nothing Special

Parade Coordinator Says Nothing Special for Memorial Day Parade
Bill Vornkahl has been coordinating Westport’s Memorial Day parade for more than three decades. He says this year will be his 33rd or 34th—he can’t remember which.

What the 72-year-old Westporter is sure about, however, is that this years parade on May 26 won’t be much different than all the other years, despite the war in Iraq.

“We’ll be honoring the Korea War vets,” he said. “You know, this is the 50th anniversary of that war’s end.”

Vornkahl, who also helps organize Westport’s Italian Festival parade (this year will be his 19th – he is also sure of that), said the Korean anniversary will be the theme of the paradeҒs floats.

He said the latest war and its casualties will certainly be on the minds of all vets and all Westporters. But he made clear it was important that the deeds of those who made the ultimate sacrifice before this year need to be remembered as well.

The parade steps off shortly after 9 a.m. from Riverside Avenue in front of Saugatuck Elementary School and ends up in front of Town Hall where the traditional post parade ceremonies will be held.


04/18/2003 03:14 am Comments (0)Permalink

NY Times: Vanishing of a

NY Times: Vanishing of a Well-Known Bartender Stirs Placid WestportӔ
Todays New York Times gives prominent coverage to a missing person case in Westport Җ bartender David Bargmann from VӒs restaurant on Post Road East.

The 44-year-old Fairfield man disappeared more than three weeks ago without a trace.

ԓI dont think thereҒs a person in Westport or Fairfield who didnt know who he was,Ҕ Mark Goad, the general manager of Vs, told the newspaper. ғHe just had a following.

Adds the Times: ԓWestport is one of those suburbs whose police officers are more likely to be summoned about missing jewelry than missing people, and nearby in Fairfield, the police are good sports when elderly residents need help with their drapes.

So how a person widely described as utterly reliable and conscientious could simply vanish is upsetting the quiet rhythms of a place where people do not disappear. They call. They cancel. They reschedule.Ӕ


04/17/2003 10:42 am Comments (0)Permalink

Westport Connection Gets Chris Shays

Westport Connection Gets Chris Shays into Iraq
The State Department didnt want him there. Neither did the U.S. military. But Congressman Chris Shays got into Iraq today thanks to his Westport connections.

The Republican, whose district includes Westport and much of Fairfield County, managed to cross into Iraq from Kuwait with a convoy of aid workers from the Westport-based charity Save the Children, according to an AP report.

Shays, the first member of Congress to enter Iraq since most of the fighting there ended, told the AP in a phone call from Kuwait that other U.S. lawmakers meeting with military leaders in Kuwait were told they could not go to Iraq.

“I had to use the Save the Children’s network to get in. And (the State Department) led me to believe I was doing something that they didn’t want me to do,” he said. “I saw a lot of poverty, I saw a lot of bad living conditions. I just wish other members of Congress had seen what I got to see,” he told the AP.

Shays said aid organizations are frustrated because they are being curtailed by the military due to security concerns, and their access to the needy residents of Iraq has been limited to just one community, Umm Qasr. That is where he spent most of today.

Save the Children workers have been going into Iraq for about 10 days, and are concentrating on getting propane cooking fuel to residents in Umm Qasr. They are hoping to send representatives to Basra on Saturday, the AP said.

Shays is on a 10-day Middle East tour that will take him to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank, where he plans to meet with Palestinian business leaders, clergy and civil rights advocates.


04/17/2003 02:19 am Comments (0)Permalink