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Representative Town Meeting Races Shape Up

Representative Town Meeting Races Shape Up
With the deadline now passed for petitioning candidates for Westports Representative Town Meeting (RTM), the November race for the 36-member non-partisan body is now clearer.

Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss said seven of the nine RTM districts have more candidates than the four seats allocated to a district.  But in District 2 there are only four candidates, all incumbents, and in District 8, there are only three candidates, also incumbents.

Three residents who had taken out petitions to run Җ the signatures of 25 registered voters were needed to get on the ballot decided not to return their petitions by Tuesday’s deadline, Strauss said.

District 1 is the most competitive, fielding seven candidates—three of them incumbents—for the four seats. The other six districts with races have five candidates each competing for four seats.

Of the 44 candidates vying for election, 26 are incumbents. Of the 18 others, two have previously served on the RTM for one term. Two RTM candidates are simultaneously running for other offices ֖ one for the Board of Education and one for the Board of Finance. Both are from districts with races.

Veteran RTM member Jorgen Jensen was a last-minute addition to the race in District 9, deciding only in recent days to put his name in. He has served on the RTM since 1987 as well as one term from 1969 to 1971.

District 9 is the new RTM district which resulted from this year’s redistricting. Currently, there are eight districts.

Among those not seeking re-election is Irwin Donenfeld in District 8. He is the current longest serving member, having first been elected in 1981. With Donenfelds retirement, Jensen, if elected, would be the RTMҒs senior member.

Strauss, the town clerk, said District 8s shortage of one candidate can be filled in two ways Җ a resident can become a write-in candidate on election day or elected district members will appoint someone later.

Editors note: The editor of WestportNow serves as moderator of the RTM and is a candidate for re-election in District 8.

RTM Candidates Listed By District

RTM Candidates Listed By District
Here are the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) candidates for the November election as announced Tuesday by Town Clerk Patricia H. Strauss. Each district elects four persons. Incumbents are marked with an asterisk.

District 1:  Gerald Edward Bodell*; Donald L. Bergmann; Diane D. Cady; Gordon Marshall Clark; William L. Scheffler*; Ann Elizabeth Sheffer*, Judith K. Starr.                 

District 2: Lynn Abramson*; Gwen T. Campbell*; Alice H. Shelton*; Mary Gordon Webber*.

District 3:  Helen A. Garten; Janet B. Horowitz; William F. Meyer, III*; Hadley C. Rose; Brian Edgar Stern.

District 4: Valerie S. Fischel; George Franciscovich*; Elizabeth Kuechenmeister; Margaret K. McHenry*, Wally Meyer*.

District 5:  John W. Booth*; Chris Grimm; Ralph Hymans*; Helmuth W. Krause, Richard A. Lowenstein*.

District 6: Joann W. Davidson; Ann M. Flynn*; Velma E. Heller*; Ronald F. Malone*, David Allen Wind.

District 7: Allen S. Bomes; John G. Klinge*; Lisa S. Rome*; Stephen M. Rubin*, John E. Watson III*.

District 8: Gordon F. Joseloff*; Michael A. Rea*, Lois G. Schine*.

District 9: Marla J. Cowden*; Michael A. Gilbertie; Jorgen F. Jensen*; Kim Mathias; Joe Mioli.

Breakfast Links: Board of Ed E-mail, Soccer, Affordable Housing, I-95 Crash

Breakfast Links: Board of Ed E-Mail, Soccer, Affordable Housing, I-95 Crash, Bridal Store

The Hour takes a look at the latest on Board of Ed use of e-mail…
The Advocate of Stamford/Norwalk sizes up area high school soccer teams, including Staples…
and it spotlights a survey showing the Stamford-Norwalk area, including Westport, the third least affordable housing rental market in the country…
The Connecticut Post says police are continuing their investigation into Sunday’s I-95 crash that killed three persons, two of them workers at a Westport restaurant…
The New Haven Register looks at a bridal store that moved to Shelton from Westport after eight years, its owner complaining the rent just kept going up.

Martha Notes: Shes Had to Replace Her Westport Septic System

Martha Notes: Shes Had to Replace Her Westport Septic System
Martha Stewart, besides all her legal woes, has had some septic ones as well at her Westport home.

That was one of the nuggets to come out of a news conference Monday in Toronto where Stewart went to promote Martha Stewart Everyday, her line of linens and housewares.

The Toronto Star reported that ғStewart said she personally tests every new design of towel herself well, actually two employees do it for her ח at her own home in Westport, Conn.

This set-up recently required her to replace the septic system because the women run 12 loads of laundry a day.ӓ

On the legal front, in New York Monday, a U.S. federal judge said she saw no indication of a breach of grand jury secrecy in Stewart’s conspiracy case, rejecting demands from Stewart’s lawyers that the government investigate the source of pre-indictment leaks.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum said she found it difficult to understand how lawyers for Stewart believed their client might have been prejudiced if someone had leaked the fact that the indictment would not include a charge of insider trading.

She was responding to an inquiry into whether information about the grand jury that indicted Stewart was released before the June 4 indictment

Stewart was charged with five counts of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and securities fraud. She has pleaded not guilty. Her trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 12 before Cedarbaum.

Westport Democrats Pleased With Fundraiser

Westport Democrats Pleased With Fundraiser
Westport Democrats kicked off the election season with a weekend fundraiser that added thousands of dollars to their campaign chest, according to Democratic Town Committee chair Martha Aasen.

We had a wonderful turnout,Ӕ she told WestportNow today. She said more than 250 people attended the Friday night affair, which charged $40 admission in advance and $50 at the door.

Aasen declined to cite specific figures but said contributions were enhanced by sales at a wine tasting and bids at a silent auction.

Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell, who is not up for re-election this year, led local Democrats in greeting attendees. State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz also stopped by.

Westport Fire, Ambulance Work at I-95 Accident That Kills 3

Westport Fire, Ambulance Respond to I-95 Accident That Kills Three
Three Bridgeport residents were killed early Sunday in a one-car acccident on Interstate-95 in Norwalk, state police said. Two of them were employed at a Westport restaurant.
Westport fire and ambulance services responded along with units from Norwalk to the scene near the Strawberry Hill Avenue overpass between exits 17 and 16, shortly before 2 a.m. Emergency personnel had to extricate the victims from the car, a BMW.
State police said a witness told them the car was traveling at a high rate of speed in a pack of three cars in the northbound lane.


Traffic backs up on I-95 near the Stawberry Hill Avenue overpass in Norwalk moments after a car crashed into the overpass, killing all thee persons inside. Photo is from a Department of Transportation camera nearby. DOT photo


Police said the driver,  identified as Hany M. Abdelaal, 29, of Bridgeport, lost control and struck a center guardrail. The car became airborne and struck the side of the overpass.
Abdelaal was traveling with Angie Cascante, 16, of Bridgeport and Viviana Sanchez, 23, of Bridgeport. Police said the three were pronounced dead at the scene.
Family members said Abdelaal, who was employed at The Chef’s Table restaurant in Westport, was a native of Egypt and had hoped to return to medical school there, Cablevision News-12 reported. He was married and had two children.
The Connecticut Post said Cascante was also employed at the Westport restaurant and that the three of them had been partying at a Norwalk club before heading home to Bridgeport.
It quoted Abdelaal’s wife, Norma, as saying another retaurant employee had told her they were drag racing when the accident occurred.
Westport Fire Chief Denis McCarthy was among those on the scene. He said the car was barely recognizable after it impacted the underpass.
“People think snow and rain produce the worst accidents, but drivers let their guard down when traffic is light and the weather is clear and speed becomes a factor as it did here,” he told WestportNow today. “Once it (the acccident) started, they didn’t have a chance.”
McCarthy said it was the worst accident in terms of fatalities his department had responded to since another I-95 accident in October 2000 near exit 17 that killed four persons.
A short time later, other Westport fire units responded to a call of a rollover northbound between exits 18 and 19 between Westport and Fairfield. It was not known if there were any injuries in that accident.
No victims were found in the car and police and fire personnel searched nearby roadways without finding anyone.

Staples Basketball Star Jessica Gelman Now Stars for Football Patriots




Todays The Advocate of Stamford/Norwalk takes a look at the career of Staples basketball star Jessica Gelman, Ғ93.

Shes gone from the Wrecker basketball court to the front office of the New England Patriots football team, with a few stops in between.

She just started her second year as their business development manager and assistant to Andy Wasynczuk, the team’s senior vice president and chief operating officer—and he makes clear she very well one day could take his job.

“I think running a team requires a lot of things: passion, work ethic, creativity, leadership,” Wasynczuk said.

“Jessica has strong skills in each of these areas. Over time, as she gains experience, I have no doubt she’ll continue to grow as a manager and leader and eventually be able to run a team.Ҕ

Author of Westport Historical Society Book Killed in Accident

Damon G. Douglas, a professional surveyor who authored a book published last year by the Westport Historical Society marking the 225th anniversary of the British landing at Westport’s Compo Beach, has been killed in an accident in Greenwich.

Police said Douglas, 69, of Wilton, died Thursday while working inside a manhole on a private driveway examining pipes that connect the manhole to some catch basins. As he raised his head, he was struck by a sports utility vehicle, according to police.

Douglas was a senior surveyor for Redniss and Mead in Stamford. He was also a history buff, which led to his writing The Bridge Not Taken: Benedict Arnold Outwitted.Ӕ

Its publication last year was part of a week-long series of events by the Westport Historical Society marking the April 25, 1777, British landing at Compo Beach on a mission to destroy a cache of Revolutionary Army military stores in Danbury. Douglas was honored at a society reception.

Douglas’s work traces in meticulous detail the route taken by the 1,800-man force, under the command of William Tryon,  from Westport to Danbury and back again three days later.

Patriots, under the command of Benedict Arnold, closed in behind the British and attempted to block their return, first in Ridgefield and then on a bridge over the Saugatuck River in Westport on what is now Ford Road.

Douglas’s book explains how the British avoided what could have turned into a major disaster for them in the final hours of their incursion by avoiding the bridge where Arnold and his men were waiting.

Barbara Raymond of the Westport Historical Society worked closely with Douglas on the book for two years.

In his acknowledgments, he wrote that she was the first to suggest that his research should be published, proofed every page and refused to let me settle for partial answers.Ӕ

Raymond said today she was deeply saddened by his sudden passing and recalled his excitement and enthusiasm as they worked together on the book.

WeӒd go on field trips in his pickup truck, often driving to the top of Compo Hill tracing the British route, she told WestportNow. ԓHe loved discovering things and finding out when, where, and how they occurred.

Raymond, the societyԒs historian, said she and Douglas did not always agree on their research. The two of us agreed to disagree about one point whether the British went up North Compo or the Post Road,Ӕ she said. But it was his book so it got told his way.Ӕ

Raymond said Douglas, at her request, was working on an index for another Westport Historical Society publication project at the time of his death. We will miss him,Ӕ she said.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Presbyterian Church, 48 New Canaan Road, Wilton.

The Hour Withdraws its FOI Complaint against Landon, Board of Education

The Hour of Norwalk said today it is withdrawing its Freedom of Information (FOI) complaint against Schools Supt. Elliott Landon and the Board of Education over its request for e-mail correspondence.

The newspaper, which filed the complaint Aug. 11 over the controversial school start times issue, notified the FOI Commission in Hartford of its desire to withdraw the complaint by letter. (See WestportNow Aug. 12, 2003).

We have received the information that we had requested and a second request filed for school board e-mails was fulfilled in a more prompt manner,Ӕ said the letter, signed by James Dean, the newspapers editor, and Jennifer Connic, its Westport reporter.

The letter, which was made available to WestportNow, said school officials had established a system for the public to review future e-mails subject to public inspection.

Connecticut’s FOI law provides any communication to a quorum of a public agency is subject to such scrutiny. WestportҒs Representative Town Meeting (RTM) has long had a system in place whereby copies of such e-mails are available in the town clerks office.

ғWe believe the steps the school board has taken will make it easier for future requests for public e-mails to be fulfilled much more promptly than was our experience in July, The Hour journalists said.

Landon did not respond to a request to comment.

The schools superintendent turned over the requested e-mails to the newspaper shortly after receiving a copy of its Aug. 11 complaint. Landon told The Hour at the time that he regretted it did not feel its request was being acted upon in a prompt fashion.

The newspaper said at the time that belated distribution of the e-mails did not make its complaint moot. In its Aug. 11 letter to the commission, The Hour had also asked the commission to rule if school officials had acted promptly under the law.

That request apparently was withdrawn as well by today’s letter.

Editor’s Note: The editor of WestportNow also serves as moderator of the RTM.

Regional Council Idea Gets Mixed Reception

Regional Council Idea Gets Mixed Reception
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell was among lower Fairfield County elected officials who discussed the idea of forming a new council to set regional priorities, according to todays The Advocate of Stamford/Norwalk.

It said Farrell and other officials talked about the idea at ThursdayҒs meeting of the South Western Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) in Norwalk. Farrell is chair of the MPO. The concept appeared to receive a mixed reception.

The MPO is the federally mandated organization designated by the governor as the forum for cooperative transportation decision-making.

The report did not make clear who floated the notion of a new regional body, but it quoted Farrell as saying,I really do think it improves the statureӔ of the region.

The Westport First Selectwoman told WestportNow today that the idea originated with the staff of the South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA), but that she strongly endorsed it.

At least seven councils of government exist in other parts of the state. Proponents say one in this region would allow officials to confront issues, including casino development, housing shortages, the West Nile virus, emergency management and other cross-border issues, The Advocate said.

Farrell said sheӒs noticed that councils of government instead of regional planning agencies ֖ often have a greater say in certain statewide debates, the newspaper said.

New Canaan First Selectman Richard Bond and Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss were among those quoted as saying they didnԒt see a real need to change the present form of regional cooperation.

The Capitol Region Council of Governments is the largest of Connecticuts government councils. A voluntary association of municipal governments, it serves the City of Hartford and 28 surrounding suburban and rural communities.