Wednesday, April 24, 2024


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.

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