Saturday, March 02, 2024


Levitt Pavilion Gets Ready for Benefit Concert

Workers set up Westport’s Levitt Pavilion for Thursday night’s benefit concert featuring Roberta Flack and Michael Bolton. The performers stepped in at the last minute when Ray Charles was forced to cancel because of hip discomfort. Levitt Executive Director Freda Welsh said the concert drew about 2,500 people. Threatening rain held off except for a slight sprinkle just before the end. photo

Westport State Rep. G. Kenneth

Westport State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard Votes for Budget
Westports State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard was among legislators Wednesday night who voted to approve a two-year $27.5 billion budget after weeks of wrangling.

The budget plan passed on a mostly Democratic vote of 87-56 and was sent to the Senate, which was expected to take up the bill today.

Both Republicans and Democrats seemed to dislike the package – reached five weeks into the new fiscal year.

Debate lasted only 35 minutes and only five representatives spoke. Sixty-three Democrats and 24 Republicans voted for the bill.

Bernhard, a Republican, told WestportNow today: ғDespite some reservations about the tax proposals, I voted for the budget package because the people, businesses, and municipal agencies that depend upon state revenues need to have financial certainty going forward.”

The budget would cut the State Administered General Assistance cash program for the poor by $6 million. It would also reduce AIDS services by 9.5 percent and needle exchange programs by 5 percent.

The proposal would cut general aid to cities and towns by $30 million and reduce the maximum property tax credit against the income tax from $500 to $350. It also would eliminate the $100 property tax credit available to higher income taxpayers..

Setting a budget is the single most important function of the legislature and we were already four weeks overdue,” Bernhard said. “At least for the first year, the budget we passed is not only responsible but opens the door to the serious restructuring of state government.

“For my constituents, if we didn’t resolve the budget now, it would only have gotten worse and more expensive. Many of the taxing proposals, including a higher income tax, a higher sales tax, and a higher real estate conveyance tax, were successfully defeated.”

State Rep. Cathy C. Tymniak, a Republican whose district includes a small portion of Westport in the Green’s Farms area but mostly Fairfield, voted against the budget.

07/31/2003 11:47 am Comments (0)Permalink

Race for Westports Representative Town

Race for Westports Representative Town Meeting Shaping Up
Seven of the 29 incumbents on WestportҒs Representative Town Meeting (RTM) eligible to file letters of intent to run again with the Town Clerks office did not do so by todayҒs deadline, according to Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss.

She said four of them had informed her officially of their intention not to run again in the November election for the 36-member non-partisan body. The others, along with non-incumbents, still have until Sept. 9 to file petitions with 25 signatures to get on the ballot.

Incumbents eligible to file the letters but who did not include: District 3: Charles W. Haberstroh, John W. Kiermaier, and Richard Lichter; District 5: Margaret J. Slez; District 6:  Saul Haffner and Catherine MyGodney, and District 8: Irwin Donenfeld.

Strauss said she had been told officially by Haffner, Lichter, MyGodney, and Slez that they do not intend to run again.

Haberstroh has been nominated as a Republican candidate for the Board of Finance. Donenfeld, the RTMs senior member with 22 years service, has been sidelined recently by illness.

Six RTM members were ineligible to file the letters because of redistricting and a seventh has to petition because he changed residences, Strauss said.

Two of them Җ Gerald Bodell (currently District 4 but who now will be in District 1) and William F. Meyer (currently District 8 but who now will be in District 3)—have taken out petitions to run again, she said.

Other incumbents who must take out petitions to run again but have yet to do so include: District 1: Marla Cowden, Jorgen Jensen, and Theodore Youngling; District 3: Deborah Rath, and District 4: Thomas Feeley.

Ralph Hymans, District 5, and Steve Rubin, District 7, have also taken out petitions to run for other offices Hymans for the Board of Finance and Rubin for the Board of Education, Strauss said. There is no prohibition against them running for these offices and the RTM at the same time.

Strauss said eight newcomers have taken out petitions to run for the RTM, but so far only in District 7 does the combination of declared-by-letter incumbents (4) and those who have taken out petitions (1) exceed the number (4) of candidates to be elected.

Editor’s Note: The editor of WestportNow is moderator of the RTM and among those who have submitted letters of intent to run again. The above article is based on publicly available information only.

07/29/2003 21:10 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Ray Charles Cancels Levitt Pavilion Appearance, Roberta Flack, Michael Bolton Fill In

Ray Charles has canceled Thursdays appearance at WestportҒs Levitt Pavilion due to acute hip discomfort, his publicists announced late Monday. The Levitt replaced him with Roberta Flack and Westporter Michael Bolton.

The Westport appearance was among a number of concert dates canceled by the entertainer, who is being treated in Los Angeles, according to a spokesperson.

The 72-year-old singer, who already missed three appearances last week, plans to resume his full slate of late summer and fall dates starting Aug. 22 at Harrah’s Casino in Escondido, Calif., the spokesperson said.

Levitt Pavilion Executive Director Freda Welsh announced the commitments from Flack and Bolton at about 3 p.m.

“It was touch and go but they stepped forward to save the day.” she told WestportNow. It is the first joint appearance by the entertainers, she said.

Welsh said those holding tickets for Thursday will be able to use them for the replacement concert or return them for a full refund.

She said she hoped the number of those returning tickets would be minimal, adding that they instead might simply consider making their purchase a donation to the Levitt.

Further information is posted on the Levitt Pavilion Web site.

Charles had been scheduled to appear Wednesday in Worcester, Mass. After Westport, 12 other concerts that had been scheduled across the country were now canceled,  the spokesperson said.

Flack is known as a singer of soulful jazz and pop ballads. She became popular in the 1970s when she recorded a string of hits including “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” The latter was included on the soundtrack for Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film “Play Misty For Me.”

The title cut from Flack’s 1973 album “Killing Me Softly” became her biggest hit.

Bolton, who has said Ray Charles was one of his idols growing up and who has appeared in concert with Charles, has had a successful career both as a performer and songwriter.

He has sold more than 52 million albums and singles worldwide, won two Grammys, and been nominated four times for Best Pop Vocals, Male.  He has also won six American Music Awards.

His hits have included When a Man Loves a Woman,Ӕ (SittinӒ on) The Dock of the Bay, ԓThats What Love is All About,Ҕ and How am I Supposed to Live Without You.Ӕ

07/29/2003 18:01 pm Comments (0)Permalink

Former Westport Town Attorney Andrew

Former Westport Town Attorney Andrew Fink and Wife Open Michigan B&B
Former Westport Town Attorney Andrew F. Fink has returned to his native Michigan and opened a bed and breakfast with his wife in the small town of Whitehall near Lake Michigan about 40 miles northwest of Grand Rapids.

Andy and Helen Fink had dreamed of owning a bed and breakfast for years before finding a place to hatch their business,Ӕ said a report in the White Lake Beacon, a weekly newspaper published in Whitehall.

The couple’s last name means Finch in German, which is why the Finks cleverly named their home A Finch Nest.Ԕ

Helen, a retired middle school special education teacher, and Andrew, an attorney, made their move from Westport, Connecticut to the White Lake area because they enjoyed the community. They say they enjoy the safe atmosphere and feel lucky to be here.Ԕ

Long active in Westport Republican Party politics, Fink, 62, served as town attorney under former First Selectman Joseph Arcudi from 1993 to 1997. He served on the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) from 1979 to 1981 and was chair of the Recreation Commission from 1981 to 1985.

An unsuccessful candidate for a seat on the RTM in 2001, Fink and his wife lived in Westport for 25 years before returning to Michigan. He was also active in Rotary, the Sister Cities group and Westport soccer. Their children Karl and Barbara are Staples High School grads.

Fink was born in Ypsilanti, Mich., and is a son of the late Ypsilanti judge and lawyer Robert V. Fink who died last year at the age of 88. Both of Finks brothers Karl and Jim are attorneys. Karl served as a judge in MichiganҒs 14th District Court at the same time as his father.

Update (7/30/03):
Fink messages from Whitehall that WestportNow readers are invited to visit his Web site,

07/28/2003 20:49 pm Comments (0)Permalink

NY Times Highlights Circulation War Between The Advocate and The Hour

Sunday’s New York Times Connecticut section spotlights the circulation war between The Advocate of Norwalk/Stamford and The Hour of Norwalk (See WestportNow June 20, 2003).

The story quotes one Hour staffer as saying his newspaper and the area it serves—Norwalk, Westport, Wilton, and Weston—is the only barrier to The Advocate’s domination of lower Fairfield County.

“We’re the only other player here, and the towns we cover are the chunk they’d really like to have,” said Thomas Connors.

Close readers of The Advocate’s Norwalk edition have seen a subtle but noticeable increase in stories dealing with Westport in recent weeks as the newspaper seeks to expand further north in the county.

The latest came this week with two stories about the effort by a Westport doctor to gain approval for a controversial method of harvesting oysters off Westport’s coast using cages suspended from the surface.

The Advocate did note the story’s nominal Norwalk angle—the doctor is employed at Norwalk Hospital.

Durham Monsma, the publisher of The Advocate, told WestportNow last month that the newspaper for now is concentrating on Norwalk. But Monsma said the possibility of also competing with The Hour for Westport readers was “intriguing.”

While the population of Norwalk dwarfs its surrounding suburban communities, the towns of Westport, Weston and Wilton with their high net worth individuals are highly prized by advertisers. And that certainly is an incentive for any newspaper publisher.

Commentary: Learning Lessons from Westport’s Past

By Gordon Joseloff


It’s often difficult for local newspaper reporters, unless they have been around for a long time or their papers have good files, to put today’s events into historical perspective.

Even more reason, therefore, to credit Jennifer Connic of The Hour of Norwalk for her story today in the newspapers Westport edition headlined “Recall hot topic after 30 years.”

It’s unfortunately not available online but worth tracking down on a newsstand or the library.

The story refers to current talk among some Westport parents about attempting to recall members of the Board of Education because of unhappiness with their recent actions and votes on school starting times and other issues.

Connic looks back at a 30-year-old controversy involving bringing inner city Bridgeport youngsters to Westport as part of what was called Project Concern.

Angry parents tried to recall board chair Joan Schine only to have a Bridgeport Superior Court judge rule that school board members were not subject to recall provisions in the Westport town charter because the board was really a state agency.

The story quotes Schine on the subject as well a former school board chair Leonard Rovins. He was chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission at the time and his group was considering a program to allow Bridgeport children to use Compo Beach.

“People went nuts,” Rovins told The Hour. “There were people saying their little girls would get raped on the beach.”

It’s with some irony that memories of Project Concern are raised the same week that a new Westport group aimed at promoting diversity had its first public event (See WestportNow July 22, 2003).

Westport can always learn from its past, even if the lessons and memories are painful.