Sunday, March 03, 2024


Pot Legalization is Latest Issue Debated, Then Tabled

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The House of Representatives debated the legalization of recreational marijuana use for 90 minutes late today, only to table it afterward.

That debate was just the latest in a string of controversial issues discussed in the House in recent days with the prearranged understanding among both political parties that no vote would be taken.

“We’re going to get left behind,” Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, said, noting that nine states currently have legalized marijuana and several others have debated such action in recent years.

While some have pushed for marijuana legalization — and taxation — as a partial solution to Connecticut’s fiscal woes, Ziobron, the ranking House Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said the potential revenue for state government was not the issue.

Cutting the Ribbon at NewBrook Kitchen Image
NewBrook Kitchen and Artisan Market, a paleo cuisine takeout cafe, opened today with a ribbon cutting at 37 Saugatuck Ave., next to Dunville’s. Taking part were (l-r) Matthew Mandell, executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, First Selectman Jim Marpe, owner Cindy Hartog, and her daughter, Danielle. The store offers a wide range of gluten-free and paleo foods. At the end of the day, Cindy Hartog said: “It was a great day. We really did well, especially with our wild caught tuna sandwiches and our salads.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

House Inches CT Closer to Tolls — But Stops Short

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The House of Representatives took two steps today — one legal and one symbolic — to move Connecticut slightly closer to the imposition of tolls on its highways.

The House narrowly approved a resolution to establish a constitutional “lockbox” amendment to safeguard revenues earmarked for transportation. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would not consider any discussion of tolls unless a lockbox amendment is sent before voters on the 2018 statewide ballot.

The House also debated a bill directing the Department of Transportation to craft a plan to establish tolls. But it tabled the measure — in a prearranged, bipartisan deal — after 110 minutes of debate.

The question of tolling is not expected to be taken up again before the regular 2017 General Assembly adjourns Wednesday, though some supporters hope it will remain in talks during the summer special session to resolve the next two-year state budget.

Granger at the Movies: ‘Megan Leavey,’ ‘Paris Can Wait,’ ‘The Wedding Plan’

By Susan Granger

Special to WestportNow

While “Wonder Woman” celebrates a fantasy hero, “Megan Leavey” — opening on Friday — reveals the true story of a real woman, a Marine in combat, and the bomb-sniffing German Shepherd who becomes her constant companion. Image

Growing up in suburban New York, Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) doesn’t connect with people very well, nor does Rex, the large, aggressive, allegedly uncontrollable Military Working Dog dog with whom she’s paired in Marine K-9 training at Camp Pendleton.

They soon become inseparable and, when they’re deployed to Iraq, their bond is forged even deeper. After more than 100 missions (2003-2006), Megan is wounded by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) and sent home, leaving Rex behind with a series of different handlers.

Suffering from PTSD, stoic Megan descends into a deep depression, much to the annoyance of her ne’er-do-well, divorced mother Kathy (Edie Falco). And it isn’t until her empathetic father Bob (Bradley Whitford) questions what would make Megan’s life worth living, that she realizes that the answer is Rex.

Analyses Show Concessions Would Save $24B Over Two Decades

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The tentative concessions framework struck by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state employee union leaders would save $4.8 billion over the next five years and $24.1 billion over the next two decades, according to analyses prepared by the administration, Connecticut pension actuaries and its healthcare consultant.

If the concessions deal is ratified, the $1.57 billion annual contribution to the state employees’ pension would rise steadily and peak at just under $1.9 billion in 2022. It would remain at that level through 2031, according to a pension analysis by Cavanaugh Macdonald Consulting of Kennesaw, Ga.

That’s $460 million less than the peak payment Connecticut otherwise would face based on the restructured pension schedule Malloy and unions agreed to back in January.

Connecticut’s worst-funded benefit program — retirement health care — would see its long-term, unfunded liability shrink by one-quarter dropping from $20.9 billion to $15.6 billion, according to an analysis prepared by Segal Consulting of Farmington.

Spencer Platt Documents Westport Protest for World Image
The Westport protest rally Sunday night against the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord is getting international attention thanks to Westport native and award-winning photographer Spencer Platt (pictured in action on Sunday).  Platt, a 1989 Staples High School graduate, said he drove his motorcycle from his Brooklyn home to cover the protest in his hometown. His images, syndicated by Getty Images, appeared in newspapers and on websites around the world soon afterward. (See examples HERE and HERE and HERE.) One of the rally organizers was Darcy Hicks, sister of Platt’s longtime friend and fellow award-winning native Westport photographer Tyler Hicks. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

8 a.m. – Town Hall Room 201 – TEAM Westport
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Westport Arts Center – “Main Street to Madison Avenue”
10 a.m. – 3 p.m. – 44 Imperial Ave. – Half-price sale at Westport Woman’s Club Curio Cottage
10 a.m. – Westport Library – Book Chat
4 p.m. – 6 p.m. – Westport Library – Drop-in Tech Help
4 p.m. – Earthplace – Adventures in Animal Hall
6 p.m. – Toquet Hall Teen Center – Earth Guardians Crew Meeting
7 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – Historic District Commission & Architectural Review Board
7 p.m. – Westport Country Playhouse – “Lettice & Lovage”
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Auditorium – Representative Town Meeting (live coverage cable channel 79, Frontier channel 99, and

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar

Looking at Police Use of Force from Across a Racial Divide

By Mark Pazniokas

A debate today over the police use of force laid bare partisan, racial and geographic divisions in the Connecticut House, where black and Puerto Rican Democrats united behind a bill whose very title, An Act Concerning Police Misconduct, was branded an insult to law enforcement by the House Republican leader.

As originally drafted, the bill would have required the state Division of Criminal Justice to make a preliminary decision within five days if a use of force by police was justified. If deemed inappropriate by a preponderance of the evidence, the officer would be immediately suspended without pay pending a full investigation.

The Black and Puerto Rican caucus convinced House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, to open a debate on a much-narrowed bill that focused on fatal police shootings at motor vehicles, an issue since Bridgeport police shot and killed 15-year-old Jayson Negron in a stolen car last month. Police said he threatened the officer with the car.

Negron was one of nearly 200 people killed since Jan. 1, 2015, according to a database compiled by the Washington Post, in what for decades has been one of the most controversial and oft-debated uses of deadly force: a police officer firing into a motor vehicle, a practice already tightly restricted by many of the nation’s police departments.

Library Presents BOOKED for the Evening Award to Alan Alda Image
Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer tonight presented actor, author, director Alan Alda with the library’s BOOKED for the Evening Award. The annual event attracted about 550 persons, all of them subjects during Alda’s remarks of his lessons in improving communications. All attendees received a copy of Alda’s new book, “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for