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Has Rowland Signed Bill Naming

Has Rowland Signed Bill Naming Post Road Bridge for Ruth Steinkraus Cohen?
Has Gov. John G. Rowland signed a bill naming the Post Road Bridge over the Saugatuck River for longtime Westporter Ruth Steinkraus Cohen?

The state legislative Web site Friday showed the measure, part of an overall transportation bill, has been designated Public Act 03-115.

But a summary of legislation on the Web site today showed the measure (HB-6404) has yet to be signed. In fact, it shows Rowland has not signed any bill since May 23.

The bill passed the House on May 15 and the Senate on May 22—the latter passage came despite an effort by Westport’s Sen. Judith G. Freedman to block the legislation.

She said the bill had not had a fair hearing in Westport and that people were not aware that a naming process was underway. The legislator said there were other names that could have been considered

The bill was introduced by fellow Westport Republican Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard and gained endorsement from the Westport Board of Selectmen by a 2-1 vote and the Representative Town Meeting by a 26-5 vote.

The act states: “(Effective from passage) The bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport shall be designated as the ‘Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Bridge.’”

Streinkraus Cohen, an avid supporter of the United Nations and the arts, died May 26, 2002, after a long battle with cancer. She had been a Westport resident for more than 45 years.


05/31/2003 12:38 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Sen. Judy Freedman Fails to Block Mascot Bill

Last week she failed to block a bill naming the Post Road Bridge after Ruth Steinkraus Cohen. This week Westports Sen. Judith G. Freedman failed in her attempt to block another bill—about the state mascot.

According to the AP, the state Senate on Thursday approved by a 28-8 vote legislation that would make the University of Connecticut husky dog Connecticut’s official mascot. The bill goes to the House for further action.

Sen. Joseph Crisco Jr., D-Woodbridge, said because UConn is the state’s flagship university and has brought the state much acclaim, the school’s mascot should be the state’s mascot, the AP said.

But Freedman, a Republican, questioned why other Connecticut school mascots were not considered for the honor, according to the report which quoted her as saying: “We should table it for future reference so we can have a contest in the state.Ҕ

The bill passed overwhelmingly, the AP said.

Update (6/6/03)
: The House failed to take up the bill in the closing session rush and it died.


05/30/2003 23:15 pm Comments (0)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.

Footnote: Westport News Avoids Mention

Footnote: Westport News Avoids Mention of Freedman Opposition to Bridge Bill
Todays Westport News has a small front-page story (that continues inside) on last weekҒs state Senate passage of a bill naming the Post Road Bridge in honor of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen.

But the newspaper curiously makes no mention that Westport Sen. Judith G. Freedman unsuccessfully attempted to block it (See WestportNow May 22, 2003).

It quotes the sponsor of the bill, state Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard, a fellow Republican, as saying, The process which resulted in the overwhelming support of WestportӒs legislative body for legislation I submitted, was fair, open and thorough.

The only reference to opposition to the bill in the story is in a paragraph saying that Bernhard was confident that the governor would sign the legislation ԓdespite some opposition including local residents who don֒t like the United Nations, a cause Cohen fervently supported during her lifetime.

During Senate debate on her attempt to eliminate the Westport section of the overall transportation bill, Freedman said she had a problem with the “process that took place in the town of Westport” in naming the bridge, a process she called “just not fair.”

The Hour of Norwalk, the only daily newspaper which regularly covers Westport, has made no mention of Senate passage of the bill, including Freedman’s opposition.

Update: Westport Minuteman, Westport’s other local newspaper, in its May 29, 2003, edition—the first since passage of the bill on May 22—made no mention of the legislation.

But Fairfield County Weekly in its May 29 edition did cover the issue, mentioning Freedman’s failed attempt to block the naming. It also noted that Bernhard’s law firm, Cohen and Wolf, was founded by Steinkraus Cohen’s late husband.

Additionally, it criticized the Moderator of the Representative Town Meeting—the editor of this publication—for not permitting extensive debate about the United Nations at the April 1 RTM meeting that endorsed the naming proposal 26-5.

The Hour of Norwalk in its May 30, 2003 edition—eight days after the Senate action—carried a full story on the matter, including the Freedman opposition and updated quotes from all those involved.

A letter to the Westport News on June 6, 2003, refuted an accusation that the April 1 RTM debate did not permit discussion of Steinkraus Cohen’s work with the United Nations.


05/28/2003 16:20 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Priest Picked Up by Police in 1968 Sex Abuse Case Quits

A Roman Catholic priest picked up by Westport police in 1968 for allegedly molesting a boy in his car has agreed to leave the priesthood, according to today’s Connecticut Post.

The newspaper said Martin J. Federici, suspended in 1996 after lawsuits naming him were filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, was in clerical terminology “voluntarily laicized,” according to a diocese spokesman.

The newspaper said Federici was accused of sexually molesting boys in the 1970s, ‘80s and early ‘90s.

According to a Bridgeport law firm involved in legal actions against accused priests, he is one of seven priests who have served in Westport churches from 1964 to 1990 who have been sued, suspended following allegations of sexual abuse of minors, or have claims against them.

Sloan Wilson, Author of Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” Dies


WestportNow.com Image
“Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” movie poster. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
Sloan Wilson, the Norwalk-born author of the 1955 bestseller “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit,” which was set in Westport and later became a hit film starring Gregory Peck and was partially filmed in Westport, died Sunday after a long illness. He had turned 83 on May 8.

He died in Colonial Beach, Va., and had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, according to The Free-Lance Star in Fredericksburg, Va.

Wilson wrote “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” while working at Time-Life Inc. and was based on his experience with corporate culture at the publishing firm.

The novel portrays young executive Tom Rath’s struggles with his conscience as he tries to get ahead and provide for his social-climbing wife.

Westport Police Marine Unit Responds

Westport Police Marine Unit Responds to Report of Plane Down Off Bridgeport
A Westport Police marine unit responded to a distress call today by the pilot of a twin-engine private plane that went down in the waters of Long Island Sound off Bridgeport.

The AP quoted a Coast Guard spokesman as saying the plane crashed in foggy conditions but the pilot survived and was able to summon help by cell phone.

The pilot, Itai Shoshani, 41, of White Plains, N.Y., set off a flare and was picked up wearing his lifejacket by a passing tugboat. He was taken to Port Jefferson, Long Island, where he was transferred to a hospital.

His injuries were not believed life-threatening.

Authorities said the plane sank in about 80 feet of water.

The Westport boat was among vessels responding to the call for help, but did not play a role in the rescue.

The pilot ran out of fuel and went down in Long Island Sound at 2:27 p.m., about seven miles off the coast near Bridgeport, said Coast Guard Operations Duty Officer John Olsen.

Weather in the area at the time was rainy with gusty winds.

The Westport unit reported shortly before 4 p.m. that it had completed its work and that Stratford Police were handling the incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it lost contact with the Cessna 414 after the pilot declared low fuel. The plane was en route from Orlando, Fla., to Westchester County Airport in White Plains. He was advised to try for Sikorsky Airport in Stratford but could not make it.

Update: Shoshani left a Port Jefferson hospital Tuesday after treatment for exposure and hypothermia. A recording of his dramatic cell phone call to the Coast Guard is available on the Hartford Courant Web site.


05/26/2003 18:55 pm Comments (0)Permalink

It Rains on Westport’s Memorial

It Rains on Westport’s Memorial Day Parade, Ceremony Held Indoors
For only the third time in recent memory, Westport’s annual Memorial Day parade was canceled today due to bad weather.


Almost 400 persons jammed the Town Hall auditorium and the adjoining hallway instead for ceremonies to mark the day.

First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell led the town’s tribute to those who have died in service of their country and paid particular homage to veterans of the Korean War.

Among those receiving special honor at the event was John Martin Bieling Jr., better known as “Junior” and operator of a hot dog stand on Riverside Avenue.

Bieling earned the Silver Star and other awards for his heroic deeds during the Korean conflict. He was this year’s parade grand marshal.

The ceremony was broadcast live on the town’s government cable access channel.


05/26/2003 14:05 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Paul Newman Spends Memorial Day Racing at Lime Rock

Paul Newman may be nearing 80, but the famed Westporter still indulges in sports car racing and was at it again this holiday weekend at Connecticuts Lime Rock Park, according to todayҒs Hartford Courant.

Even at 78, Newman still finds speed and competing on the edge to be the ultimate exhilaration and at the same time the utmost respite from the world,Ӕ the newspaper said.

“Explain why I still do this?Ғ Newman said. I just love it, so why not keep doing it? It’s the greatest form of relaxation for me.ђ”

Update: Newman finished fifth in the Memorial Day Trans-Am event and was able to overcome mid-race problems. He went off track after briefly misjudging turn one on lap 13. He still managed to be one of six cars on the lead lap out of a field of 17 when the race finished.

“It was cool,” said Newman, who won a Trans-Am race at Lime Rock in 1986. “I thought we could finish in the top two.”

NY Times: State Budget Woes

NY Times: State Budget Woes Impact Westport and Other Wealthy Towns Only Slightly
Todays New York Times takes a look at how ConnecticutҒs budget crunch impacts Westport and other towns in the gilded enclaves of Fairfield County.Ӕ Its finding not much.

In a story headlined ֓Times Only a Little Tough in Fairfield County, the newspaper said the stateԒs cities are holding their breath as they wait nervously to find out how much the states severe budget crunch will cost them.

ғBut here inside the gilded enclaves of Fairfield County, mayors and first selectmen are putting the finishing touches on spending plans that are only mildly different from years past, the newspaper said.

ԓThey never got much help from the state because of their affluent citizenry and super-size grand lists of taxable property, so now they are experiencing less pain than other cities.

The Times quoted Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell as saying: “The wealthier suburban communities are less reliant on state funds.Ԕ

It added, Her town got only 1 percent of its budget from the state in good times, so the $107,000 or so she expects to lose next year is the least of her worries.Ӕ

ӒObviously, every loss is lamentable, she said. ґBut the money is not significant enough to throw us into a budgetary tailspin.Ҕ


05/26/2003 06:52 am Comments (0)Permalink