Friday, September 29, 2023


Footnote: NY Times Corrects Elaine

Footnote: NY Times Corrects Elaine Steinbeck Obituary (With a Little Help from Us)
Among the corrections in todays New York Times is one concerning its April 29 obituary of Elaine Anderson Steinbeck, a former stage manager and widow of author John Steinbeck.

As WestportNow noted in its April 29 story about Ms. Steinbeck, who once worked at the Westport Country Playhouse, the Times misspelled the surname of the founder of the Playhouse, Lawrence Langner, and also incorrectly listed her as stage manager of ғOklahoma!

The latter error was confirmed to WestportNow by Westport author Max Wilk who wrote a history of the musical for which he had done an extensive interview with Ms. Steinbeck.

WestportNow called the errors to the attention of Times editors, resulting in the following correction:

ԓAn obituary on April 29 about Elaine Anderson Steinbeck, a former stage manager and the widow of John Steinbeck, misspelled the surname of a co-founder of the Theater Guild, where she found work after first coming to New York, and misstated her job with the original Broadway production of “Oklahoma!” The co-founder was Lawrence Langner, not Langer. Ms. Steinbeck was a replacement assistant stage manager, not stage manager.

05/26/2003 06:11 am Comments (0)Permalink

AP: Easton Stands Apart as

AP: Easton Stands Apart as it Resists Commercialism
The Associated Press takes a look a Westports neighbor Easton.

Excerpt: ғThe past is always present in Easton, a town of 7,200 in Fairfield County. It’s a rare refuge from commercialism in a prosperous and highly developed region that is home to many large corporations and severe traffic congestion.

05/25/2003 19:58 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Sunday Spotlight: 50th Anniversary of

Sunday Spotlight: 50th Anniversary of Westports Gov. Lodge Okaying I-95
TodayҒs The Advocate of Stamford notes that this week marks the 50th anniversary of Westports Gov. John Davis Lodge signing authorization for construction of a new Connecticut highway from the New York border to Rhode Island.

It’s now widely called I-95, but formally it’s The Gov. John Davis Lodge Turnpike.

Lodge’s signature on the bill literally changed the landscape of the state, displacing thousands in the name of progress and eventually costing Lodge his political career.

“He paid the ultimate political price because the highway went right through Republican Fairfield County,” Westporter Michael Rea told the newspaper.

“He was alienating many of his own supporters, but he would always say, ‘I am the governor of Connecticut, not of Fairfield County,Ҕ said Rea, a member of Westports Representative Town Meeting.

Rea and his wife Carla knew the Lodges well.

Although his name is rarely used in association with the turnpike, it will always be his legacy—a fact that Carla Rea says he would be proud of.

“He wanted it to be named after him more than anything else,” Carla Rea told The Advocate.

“He wanted to see it while he was alive, but he died knowing that it would be named for him,” said the Westport Realtor who was close friends with Lodge and his wife, Francesca.

Lodge died on Oct. 29, 1985, at the age of 82 in New York City while still living in Westport. The highway was renamed in his honor on Oct. 1, 1986.

Carla Rea said Lodge had a “great sense for the future” and knew that the state could not go on without the turnpike. However, he also knew his support of the highway would exact a heavy political price.

05/25/2003 11:47 am Comments (0)Permalink

Lobbying in Hartford: The Legislator

Lobbying in Hartford: The Legislator Who Held a Microphone to His Ear
Theres no specific mention of Westport, but todayҒs Hartford Courant zeroes in the world of lobbying legislators in Hartford and Westport֒s representatives are targets like everyone else.

As the state legislature moves toward completing its session, the pressure on lobbyists to win a victory for their clients increases. Kevin Rennie of South Windsor, a lawyer and former Republican state lawmaker, details what its all about.

Among Rennie’s recollections: in days past, ғthe post-dinner sessions provided great entertainment value.

ԓSome lawmakers – not many but enough to be noticed – would return from dinner lubricated and feeling expansive,” he writes.

The legend grew of the western Connecticut legislator who returned from dinner drunk and determined to speak on a transportation bill.

ӓSadly, he kept raising the microphone to his ear instead of his mouth. Dinner breaks are rare now. Dinner is brought in by the party caucuses. Those cable cameras are taking the vaudeville out of politics.

05/25/2003 10:29 am Comments (0)Permalink

Now its NewmanҒs Time on National TV

The week began with Westporter Martha Stewart gaining renewed national television exposure with NBCs made-for-TV movie about her. Now the week ends with WestportҒs other mega-celebrity, Paul Newman, doing the same.

Newman appears Saturday in a television adaptation of the Westport Country Playhouses Broadway version of ғOur Town. It airs at 8 p.m. on cableԒs Showtime channel (and in the fall on PBS).

Newman, in his first Broadway role in 38 years, stars as the omniscient Stage Manager, and approaches this TV recording of it differently, subtly and superbly,Ӕ writes todays New York Daily News.

Adds LouisvilleҒs Courier-Journal: If you’re the kind of person who thinks life is rushing by, then stop and watch Paul Newman as the Stage Manager in a new production of Thornton Wilder’s ӑOur Town҅ If you have Showtime, dont miss it.Ҕ

One more, Akrons Beacon Journal: ғDirected by James Naughton, this Our Townђ retains the feel of the stage play while making concessions to the visual needs of television. And it is very, very good.

Senate Approves Naming Post Road Bridge After Steinkraus Cohen

Copyright 2003 by

Despite an effort by Westport’s state Senator Judith G. Freedman to block its passage, the state Senate today approved a bill naming the Post Road Bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport after Ruth Steinkraus Cohen.

On a voice vote, the Senate rejected Freedman’s amendment to remove the provision from an overall transportation bill and then unanimously voted for the bill as part of the chamber’s “consent calendar.”

The House of Representatives approved it a week ago. It now goes to the governor for signature.

Freedman, a Republican, said the bill, introduced by fellow Westport Republican state Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard, had not had a fair hearing in Westport.

People were not aware that a naming process was underway, she said, and there were other names that could have been considered.

“The naming of this particular bridge has created a little bit of dissension within the town of Westport at this time,” she said.

ғAnd being a firm believer of open and free government, one of the problems has been that there are people in the town who felt that they had been eliminated from the process of hoping and helping to come forth with a name for this particular bridge.”

She noted that Bernhard’s legislation did not say which bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport “has been designated to be named in honor of this particular person.”

Freedman added, however, that she “wanted the record to note that I have great admiration for the person that has been chosen to have this particular bridge named (after her).” But she never uttered Steinkraus Cohens name.

Freedman said the problem with the bill was that “free and open government prior to it coming on our calendar did not operate in Westport the way I think my constituents felt it ought to.

“And that is there should have been a process in place where they knew it was an opportunity to put forward names.”

She said she did not even know that Bernhard was submitting the bill and holding a public hearing in Hartford.

“Once I did learn about it, it was too late—the bill had already been incorporated,” she said.

Freedman said, “Personally I think we should remove it. We should let it go back to the Town of Westport. Let them have a fair and open discussion.

“I suspect that when it goes through the process all over again, well probably end up with the same name and we will also end up with a particular bridge being designated to receive that name.”

The senator said she and other Senate colleagues had been hearing from some Westporters that “there are a lot of names that were not considered. And that is just not fair. And this is a fairness process issue.”

Sen. Biagio “Billy” Ciotto (D-Wethersfield), co-chair of the Transportation Committee, spoke against the removal amendment, saying Bernhard had properly introduced the legislation.

He presented information “that (the) Representative Town Meeting in the town voted 26-5 to name this bridge in honor of Ruth Steinkraus Cohen,” Ciotto said.

He said the process had been fair and it was not as if someone was “trying to use sleight of hand to name a bridge without the town not knowing it.”

Freedman then responded: “I have no qualms with the process that took place here in Hartford.

“The problem has been the process that took place in the town of Westport. And I believe that those people that learned of this long after the fact feel totally disenfranchised by what happened Ӗ not at this level, but at the local level.

“And it is for that reason that I am asking that this be withdrawn from the bill so that it could go back to the drawing board in Westport.”

Steinkraus Cohen, who died last year, was a longtime Westporter and friend and supporter of the United Nations.

Some of those opposed to naming the bridge after her were unhappy with the U.N. Security Council’s stance on efforts to disarm Iraq.

The split between two of the town’s state legislators on the issue was unusual as they both are Republicans and the action was endorsed not only by the town’s non-partisan RTM but also the Democrat-led Board of Selectmen.

Update: Asked later whether he felt his bill needed clarification as to which bridge was involved in the legislation, Bernhard replied, “It is clearly the Post Road Saugatuck River Bridge.”

Bridgeport Columnist to Suburbs: How About a Regional Tax?

A Bridgeport newspaper columnist says if suburban communities really want to help Bridgeport, why not support a regional property tax.

Writing in the weekly Bridgeport News, columnist Brad Durrell said the recent summit on Bridgeports economic development led by Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell was nothing new.

ғThese types of meetings seem to take place every once in awhile, and although the cast of characters changes due to the will of the voters, self-imposed retirements and (this is a new one) corruption trials, the results don’t, he said.

ԓMost people who live in suburban towns genuinely want to help the city, but they remain leery of many possible ways of really doing so. As is human instinct, they are watching out for number one.

Durrell said the problem in Bridgeport has much less to do with political corruption than with the high cost of government and a non-expanding tax base.

ԓPersonally, I would not object to paying an additional regional property tax if the funds were spent and monitored by an all-volunteer regional entity, he said.

Referendum Petition Drive to Cut Budget by $5 Million Falls Short

An attempt by Westporter Michael Gilbertie to force a referendum to cut the towns budget by $5 million has fallen short—by at least 120 signatures.

Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss said today that Gilbertie turned in 1,473 signatures Җ unverified and needed 1,593 by Tuesday to achieve his goal.

She said Gilbertie submitted almost 300 signatures Tuesday night to Selectman John Izzo in a last-minute attempt to support his drive for a referendum on whether to shrink next year’s $128.6 million budget.

Last year, the 63-year-old Gilbertie also failed in a petition drive for a referendum to cut $40 million of the $73 million approved for rebuilding and renovating Staples High School.

He thought he had 30 more signatures than he needed to force a referendum, but he ended up 97 short after the registrars disqualified some.

Strauss said there would be no examination of signatures submitted on Gilbertie’s latest effort to determine how many were valid. “He didn’t get enough for us to do that,” she said.

Gilbertie֒s two failed attempts to force referendums came following a town charter change which increased from one week to 14 days the time period petitioners had to gather signatures for a referendum.

AP: Staples Senior Gets Ready for Prom

If its almost June, itҒs time for the annual how-much-do-teens-spend-to-go-to-proms stories. This year, The Associated Press zeroes in on, natch, Westport. The lucky teen Staples senior Raquel Lucas.

The AP informs readers across the country (and the world): ֓Raquel Lucas is spending a small fortune on her senior prom.

Her dress cost $250; her shoes were $100; and there was $60 for a bottle of Christian Dior’s J’adore, her favorite perfume. A trip to the beauty salon will cost $70, the limo is $50 a person, and it will cost $90 just to get in the door.

ӓLucas, 18, who attends Staples High School in Westport, expects to spend more than $700 by the time the evening is over.

ӒWe’re going all out this year because it’s our last prom,’ said Lucas, who got a part-time job at a clothing store to help pay for the event.

05/21/2003 12:11 pm Comments (0)Permalink

USA Today: Ann Fudge Does Her Own Laundry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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