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Cablevision Editorial: Ruth Steinkraus Cohen

Cablevision Editorial: Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Deserves Bridge Honor
Cablevision Connecticuts News-12 added its voice today to those approving of naming WestportҒs Post Road Bridge after Ruth Steinkraus Cohen.

In an editorial by the cable channels director of editorial services, Dianne Wildman, a Westporter, it said:

ғControversy seems to love the town of Westport, perhaps because its residents are so famously contentious. Martha Stewart comes to mind. Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen’s reputation was one of peacemaker, and yet controversy found her too.

The editorial recounted the late WestporterԒs achievements and the effort by Westport state Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard to name the bridge after her.

But to Bernhard’s surprise—and ours—there was objection to this idea. Westporters who didn’t like the United Nations. People who thought veterans should be honored instead. Ruth would have been the first to say, if you’re going to fight over this, never mind,Ԕ the editorial said.

Fortunately, ԑnever mind never happened. The bill was approved, and the bridge—the Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen Memorial Bridge—will now stand as a testament to her bedrock belief—practiced rather than preached—that peace initiatives should begin at home.”


06/25/2003 20:22 pm Comments (0)Permalink

The Mystery of the Westport-Based Merritt Parkway Conservancy

Today’s press coverage of a Merritt Parkway Conservancy event Tuesday in New Canaan announcing new preservation initiatives includes a mention in The Advocate of Stamford identifying the organization as the Westport-based group.

But its connection to Westport is less than it appears.

Indeed the Web site of the Conservancy, a nonprofit organization established in 1999 and dedicated to preserving and celebrating the 65-year-old highway, lists its home as Westport—actually a Westport post office box.

But the telephone contact number listed on the site connects not to Westport but to the Hamden, Conn.-based Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.

John M. Lupton, executive director of the Westport Historical Society, told WestportNow he had no idea the group was based in Westport and has had no contact with its officers.

Ann E. Sheffer, a Westporter active in community affairs and who was listed on the organization’s press release for Tuesday’s event as a member of the Conservancy’s advisory board of directors, said she did not realize she was on the board until she received the press release.

Sheffer said she met with Conservancy board member Deanne H. Winokur, a Greenwich resident, about a year ago but declined an invitation to join the board of directors because of commitments elsewhere and has no contact since then.

Westport’s First Selectwoman, Diane Goss Farrell, who attended Tuesday’s press conference in New Canaan, said she did not know the organization was Westport-based until she saw it on the Conservancy’s press release.

So what exactly is the Conservancy’s Westport connection?

According to Peter Szabo, the Conservancy’s part-time executive director who lives in New York, the only Westport link is the post office box and a bank account. The same word came from Helen Higgins, executive director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Trust had aided in establishing the Conservancy as an independent, nonprofit organization.

Szabo and Higgins told WestportNow the post office box is checked periodically by Emil Frankel, a Weston resident, who is now assistant secretary for transportation policy for the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C.

President Bush named Frankel to the post in March 2002. He is a former commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation where Szabo once served as a deputy commissioner. Frankel is also a former chair of the Conservancy.

Frankel confirmed to WestportNow that he indeed does empty the Westport post office box but said that is his only connection now to the group.

“As a convenience (to the group), I literally check the box on Saturdays and forward anything there,” he said.

Additionally, Frankel expressed concern that publicly identifying him as keeper of the group’s Westport mailbox could somehow land him in hot water in Washington where he said everything has got to be “squeaky clean.”

Szabo, Higgins and Frankel all said they hoped the Conservancy would gain a higher profile in Westport and get more Westporters involved in its work.

Westporter Paul Newman is among its benefactors and is listed as a member of its “honorary board of directors.” 

Classic Car Parade to Mark

Classic Car Parade to Mark Merritt Parkway Anniversary
If you happen to see a bunch of old cars making their way along the Merritt Parkway Sunday and getting off in Westport, salute them and say Happy Birthday Merritt Parkway.Ӕ

The classic car parade, involving about 30 cars, will help mark Sundays 65th anniversary of construction of the parkway.

They will head to WestportҒs exit 41 from New Haven and Greenwich beginning about 11 a.m., ending up at a luncheon at Westports Three Bears Restaurant.

The parade is being organized by the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, which held its first public event at the New Canaan Historical Society Tuesday to outline its goals and initiatives.

Peter Szabo, the conservancyҒs part-time executive director, said this weeks press conference and parade are intended to raise the visibility of the organization which was established in 1999 to ғrevitalize and celebrate the Merritt Parkway.

Gov. John G. Rowland has proclaimed Sunday as Merritt Parkway Day and Lt. Gov. Jodi Rell was on hand at the New Canaan event Tuesday to help celebrate.

Westporter Bill Scheffler hopes to be among those participating in the classic car parade—weather and readiness of his classic car willing.


06/25/2003 16:38 pm Comments (0)Permalink

NY Times: Former Westporter Seppy

NY Times: Former Westporter Seppy Basili Comments on Affirmative Action Ruling
Todays New York Times devotes multiple stories to the Supreme Court ruling preserving affirmative action in university admissions and among those quoted reacting is former Westporter Seppy Basili.

Basili, a lawyer for Kaplan Inc., a test preparation company, said:  “You’re going to see a big increase in the number of readers at state universities” (referring to closer scrutiny those big schools will have to give to individual applications).

Basili grew up in Westport and is the son of well-known Westport real estate maven Marj Basili.


06/24/2003 14:58 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Author Stephen Kings New Yorker

Author Stephen Kings New Yorker Short Story Set in Westport
Stephen King, one of the worldҒs bestselling novelists, sets his latest short story in The New Yorker in Westport.

HarveyӒs Dream is about a conversation between a middle-aged couple in their Westport kitchen on a Saturday morning.

Known as the “Master of Horror,” King’s books have been translated into 33 different languages with 300 million copies of his novels in publication. He lives in Bangor, Maine with his wife.


06/24/2003 00:37 am Comments (0)Permalink

Westport Public Library DistressedӔ Over

Westport Public Library DistressedӔ Over Supreme Court Internet Decision
An official of Westports Public Library says the library views with distress a divided Supreme Court decision today that Congress can require public libraries to equip computers with antipornography filters.

George Wagner, the libraryҒs assistant director, commenting in the absence of Maxine Bleiweiss, the librarys director who was unavailable, told WestportNow:

ғI think I can safely say that Maxine would be distressed by the Supreme Court decision today. 

From what IӒve read so far, it didnt make a distinction between the types of sites that filters attempt to block and valid informational sites that may be useful to adults as well as students doing research on topics.Ҕ

In its 6-3 decision, the court rejected arguments from civil libertarians who said that allowing Internet controls infringes on free speech.

The court said the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), passed by Congress in 2000, did not violate the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech because libraries will have the capability to disable the filters for any adult patron who may ask.

The law, which did not take effect pending the legal challenge by public libraries and civil liberties groups, required libraries to equip their computers with filters as a condition for receiving federal funds.

The ruling was a defeat for a coalition of libraries, library patrons and Web site operators, led by the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the law as unconstitutional censorship.

We do not use filters at the Westport Library,Ӕ said Wagner. We believe that parents are responsible for guiding their childrenӒs Internet use, and we provide guidance to parents in doing so through literature and workshops. 

We also believe that users of the library, both adults and children, have the right to find information uncensored by any commercial provider of filtering software.Ӕ

Wagner said the library does not receive federal funds under the Universal Service Fund or under any other program. 

We may be pursuing grants from the National Science Foundation for a demonstration project on the public library in the Internet age, and if the CIPA requirements are part of the application, Maxine and the Board will likely uphold the freedom to read,Ӕ he said.

The New York Times, in reporting on today’s decision, noted that libraries receive $200 million a year under two federal programs, one that provides Internet access at a discount and the other that gives grants for setting up and linking to electronic networks.

It added: “Although libraries are free to reject the money and ignore the Children’s Internet Protection Act, budgetary constraints make that quite unlikely. ”


06/23/2003 21:53 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Its Beginning to Look a

Its Beginning to Look a Lot Like Summer҅Finally!
Westporters took to the beaches today as the temperature soared into the mid-80s along the shore with even hotter weather forecast for later in the week.

JoeyҒs by the Shore did brisk business in ice cream and sodas at Compo Beach as the beachgoers came out with the sun. Lifeguards at Compo measured the water temperature at 60, but that did not deter swimmers young and old from taking the plunge.

Bedford Middle Schools weather station, in the north part of town, registered a high of 90 in mid-afternoon.

Weather forecasts for the first time this year mentioned the ғthree HsҔ  hot, hazy and humid with a high Tuesday expected to be 92 inland and even hotter, possibly approaching 100, later in the week.

An accident along I-95 in Fairfield stopped and then slowed northbound traffic along the thruway in late afternoon, causing many cars to spill over to local Westport roads to try to avoid the backup.


06/23/2003 21:17 pm Comments (0)Permalink

State Developing Evacuation Plan, I-95

State Developing Evacuation Plan, I-95 May Become One-Way Northbound
Preparing for a man-made or natural disaster, Connecticut homeland security officials have begun developing an evacuation plan to move large numbers of people along the states already-congested commuter routes.

The AP, in a Stamford-datelined dispatch, quoted Vincent J. DeRosa, Connecticut homeland security director, as saying the planning is based on another major terrorist attack or natural disaster in New York City.

The AP did not say where or when DeRosa made the remarks.

Westport First Selectman Diane Goss Farrell has met recently with other municipal elected officials as well as state officials urging them to prepare such evacuation plans.

The local officials in Fairfield County have expressed concern about emergency evacuation plans also in connection with the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County.

The AP quoted DeRosa as saying one option would be to close all ramps on a major highway, such as Interstate 95, and make traffic one-way headed north. Another highway, such as the Merritt Parkway, could be used for southbound traffic and emergency vehicles heading into New York, he said.

The report also quoted Donald Petri, a program manager with the state Division of Homeland Security who is working on the initiative, as saying he hopes to have a conceptual plan ready for review by September.


06/23/2003 05:20 am Comments (0)Permalink

NY Post: Marthas Life Never

NY Post: Marthas Life Never Been Busier
If you think Martha StewartҒs legal problems are slowing her down, think again says todays New York Post.

It chronicled a number of her activities over the past couple of weeks aside from the twice-weekly taping of her show in her Westport studio. They included a Kmart photo shoot, dining out in Manhattan, and a Yankees game with owner George Steinbrenner.

While keeping busy and still making the occasional visit to her home in East Hampton, the newspaper said Stewart is not venturing out as much as she used to.

ғInstead, Stewart has been spending more time at her home in Westport, where she took a stroll on the beach one recent Sunday afternoon with her housekeeper and her two Chow Chow dogs, Paw Paw and Tutu.

Bonnie Adler, who chronicled the outing for the Westport Minuteman, remarked that Stewart ӑlooked as if she had put on some weight.Ҕ

The Post quote from The Minuteman erred slightly. Adlers story said it was an early morning stroll, not afternoon.


06/22/2003 11:21 am Comments (0)Permalink

NY Times: Jack Mitchells New

NY Times: Jack Mitchells New Book ғa Surprising Little Gem
The New York Times offers a glowing review today of a new book by Jack Mitchell, chief executive officer of WestportԒs family-owned Mitchells clothing store.

Written with Sonny Klein, it is titled, “Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results” (Hyperion, $19.95).

Mitchells, which also owns the equally well-known Richards clothing store in Greenwich, does a $65 million a year business selling to ordinary folks as well chief corporate executives among its 115,000 customers.

Excerpt: At a time when so many companies seem to have strayed from the core mission of serving their customers, and when others are seeking fancy customer-relationship management software to avoid eye-to-eye contact, ӑHug Your Customers is indeed refreshing.

ғMr. Mitchell describes how his company, founded by his parents in 1958, remains relationship driven,ђ rather than simply interested in selling another Armani necktie. Huggingђ may sometimes involve a bearhug, but more generally it means going the extra mile to satisfy, amuse or delight a customer.

The Times business section review wonders whether the company would be as successful if it were much larger. ԓBut all doubts aside, ” it said, “this book is a surprising little gem. The reader will almost certainly feel hugged.ђ

Mitchell, who has established his own Web site to promote the book, hugyourcustomers.com, will be at Westport’s Barnes and Noble for a book signing June 26 from 7:30 pm. to 8:30 p.m.

He and his wife, Linda, who is “women’s merchant” for Mitchells/Richards, live in Wilton.


06/22/2003 10:59 am Comments (0)Permalink