Friday, February 03, 2023

Sponsors

Only in Westport: U.S. Flags on Post Road Bridge Stir Controvery

Westport has flown the American flag on flagpoles on the Post Road Bridge for several years now.

They usually go up April 1 and remain there until the fall. But First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell ordered them up early this week as U.S. troops moved into Iraq and immediately received protest calls.

Farrell, a Democrat, said after the flags went up Wednesday one caller told her flying the flag was a partisan gesture in support of President Bush and his Iraq policy and that they should come down.

Another said the action was not in keeping with the spirit of longtime Westporter and United Nations supporter Ruth Steinkraus Cohen in whose name the bridge is to be renamed under a proposal submitted to the state legislature.

Steinkraus Cohen died last year.

Update: A resolution endorsing the proposal, submitted by State Rep. G. Kenneth Bernhard, a Republican, was approved 26-5 by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) at its April 1 meeting.

Still another caller told Farrell Westport should cancel its annual ֓jUNe Day celebration in June, which Steinkraus Cohen led annually.

The town flies flags of U.N.members from the Post Road Bridge flagpoles to welcome U.N. delegates, mission members and staff who spend the last Saturday in June in Westport enjoying the townԒs hospitality.

Farrell said she ordered the Public Works Department to put the flags up early this year as a show of support for U.S. troops at risk in Iraq.

She said it is not an endorsement of President Bushs Iraq policy, which she has publicly criticized for failing to win diplomatic support from the U.N. Security Council.

She said she has no intention of removing the flags or canceling ғjUNe Day. ԓThe last time I checked, she said, ԓthe United States is still a member of the United Nations. Only in Westport.

Westport on Alert: Object Found

Westport on Alert: Object Found Near Greens Farms Railroad Station
Westport police, like their counterparts across the country, have been told to look for suspicious people or objects near strategic targets as a war with Iraq breaks out.

Shortly after reports of a U.S. surgical strike on a Baghdad ғtarget of opportunity Wednesday night, one Westport police officer spotted some suspicious activity near the GreenԒs Farms Railroad Station.

Westports train stations have long gotten high-profile police coverage to protect against car thieves or other criminal activity near the important Northeast transportation link. But now that has been stepped up.

Upon investigating, the officer found that instead of a terrorist situation on WestportҒs doorstep, the problem was much more mundane. He radioed it in as a dumping complaintӔ meaning someone had illegally dumped something near the station. It turned out to be a toilet.

Hours later, a cardboard box on the Post Road Bridge (to be known as the Ruth Steinkraus-Cohen Memorial Bridge?) also brought investigation. It was found to be harmless.

Meanwhile, a number of Westporters said they heard a low-flying helicopter overhead in the early morning hours. There was no word on its identity, but Gov. John Rowland announced Wednesday that National Guard helicopters would be patrolling the state’s skies, especially near strategic installations.


03/20/2003 11:48 am Comments (0)Permalink

Westports Tauck Watching Iraq Developments

Westports Tauck Watching Iraq Developments Closely
As the airline and travel industry battens down the hatches with bombs flying in Iraq, WestportҒs nationally known travel operator, Tauck World Discovery, says it is conducting business normally but with a watchful eye.

֓We have been preparing for many weeks to meet any challenges which may arise as a result of war in Iraq, said Robin Tauck, head of the 78-year-old family-run travel company, in a statement issued before the war got underway.

ԓAll of our tours and cruises are running as scheduled, since we do not operate trips anywhere in the vicinity of the impending conflict.

We will continue to work closely with our trained crisis management team and appropriate authorities to determine if any alterations are warranted.Ӕ

The company said it continues to monitor news reports and information from its network of employees and partners around the world and will provide updated information through its Web site and media contacts.

Tauck, which has more than 100 tours and small ship cruises to all seven continents, was recently named WorldӒs Best Tour Operator & Safari Outfitter” for the third time by readers of Travel and Leisure Magazine.


03/20/2003 03:51 am Comments (0)Permalink

Spotlight on Westports Freighter Travel

Spotlight on Westports Freighter Travel Specialist
Ask a Westporter about a well known travel name in town, and youҒre likely to hear the name Tauck. After all, Westport-based Tauck World Discovery (once known as Tauck Tours) has been around for more than 30 years. (But not much longer. See update below,)

But those truly in the know might also mention Maris Frieghter Cruises, at 215 Main St., MSNBCs travel column spotlights the local agency as a good source for those interested in meandering freighter cruises.

ғRanko Zunic, a retired Croatian freighter captain is the owner, and he puts out a monthly magazine detailing the itineraries and onboard life of one freighter in each 10-page issue., MSNBC reports.

ԓThe cost for a years subscription is $27, but Zunic will give subscribers a $45 refund on any cruise booked within that year.Ҕ

Visitors to the agencys Web site, find that not only is Westport home to 10-year-old Maris and its Maris Magazine, but also that Maris, since last year, is allied with the 45-year-old Freighter Travel Club of America.

Another example of a niche Westport-based business that many Westporters may not know shares their hometown.

Update: Tauck announced April 2 it would be consolidating its three Westport locations into one office in Norwalk.


03/20/2003 03:22 am Comments (0)Permalink

WSJ: Former Westport Dry-Cleaning Worker Target of Hospital Bill Collector

Quinton White worked in Westport for many years in a dry-cleaning shop. Now retired and living in Bridgeport, the 77-year-old is a central figure in a Wall Street Journal story of how U.S. hospitals use aggressive collection tactics.

According to the Journal, White owes Yale-New Haven Hospital $40,000 for treatment his wife, Jeanette, received 20 years ago.

Jeanette White died in 1993, but it says, her debt lives on, growing like her cancer because of the 10 percent interest charged on her original $18,740 bill.

The Journal says White worked as a spotter, or stain remover, for the dry-cleaning shop in Westport and notes, The occasional movie star would wander in, he recalls, including Westport’s most famous resident, Paul Newman, whom he laughingly describes as that short, blue-eyed guy.’

Fortune: Westport is Hedge Fund Central, Home of a “Wall Street Monster”

Westport is portrayed as ground zero for hedge funds in the latest (March 31) issue of Fortune magazine.

It paints a word picture for readers this way: Across a quiet, snowy field, through the trees and over the fence, lurks a Wall Street monster. The locale is Westport, Conn., about a mile inland from Long Island Sound across I-95.

The beast within those stark walls is Pequot Capital, a superpowerful $7 billion hedge fund that along with a dozen or so other mega-hedge funds many sprinkled among towns nearby ֖ is rocking mainstream Wall Street to its core.

Here in Fairfield County, the richest county in the richest state in the richest country in the world, vast fortunes are being created, and rules of finance are being rewritten.

For Westporters who have never heard of Pequot Capital and dont know where it is, it’s in the Nyala Farm office complex off of Greens Farms Road and I-95. (It also has offices in New York City and Menlo Park, Calif.)

Employee-owned, Pequot Capital offers funds that focus on technology, health care services, and small-cap firms to institutional investors and wealthy individuals.

But don’t look in Fortune for much more about Pequot. After breathlessly introducing readers to Westport and Pequot Capital at the beginning of its story, Fortune makes no mention of either Pequot or Westport again—except in a sidebar story listing fund principals and their locales.

As they say in the newspaper biz, Westport makes good copy.

In the Papers: Greenwich Disses Westport

Newspaper stories that caught my eye:

Greenwich Time Greenwich doesn֒t think much of Westport distributing potassium iodide pills in the event of a nuclear event at Indian Point, nor of calling for a shutdown of the Westchester County facility as others have done.

Hartford Courant: If smallpox were to break out in Connecticut, there would be troops surrounding vaccination centers and the states borders would be sealed. A chilling scenario by reporter William Hathaway.

Hartford Courant: One town in Connecticut considers giving up its town meeting form of government but it would be tough in the ғLand of Steady Habits.

Danbury News-Times—Connecticut libraries are in a quandry over the Patriot Act; the question is how much privacy could shelter terrorists. Some libraries may ask users to sign up for computers using numbers, not names, and post warnings that e-mails are not secure.

Greenwich Time—Greenwich moves ahead with a redistricting plan for its Representative Town Meeting, but unlike Westport, is not aiming to do it on basis of population—something the town’s Republican registrar of voters says can get them sued.

Caught in the Headlights: A Deer Outside Martha Stewart’s House

As I drove by Martha Stewarts house tonight, there was a shadowy figure next to her stone wall along Turkey Hill Road South.

As I got closer, my headlights picked up a deer carefully eyeing me as I went by. There was no sign of Ms. Stewart.

Nevertheless, Ms. Stewart has been metaphorically caught in the media headlights for months now ever since the insider trading scandal emerged over her sale of shares of ImClone.

And now it’s about to get worse, thanks to NBC and Cybill Shepherd.

NBC is rushing to finish shooting of a made-for-television movie about Ms. Stewart, starring Ms. Shepherd. The Stewart Westport home plays a central role in the scenes being shot in a studio in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

A story on the MSNBC site says, The care taken in casting extends to nearly every other aspect of the production, especially the decoration for the set of Stewart’s famed Turkey Hill estate in Westport, Conn.

Many fans know the interior of her home as well as they know their own. So the set decorator spent an estimated $100,000 renting and buying antiques to fill the rooms.

The details range from the green Jadeite dinnerware in the cupboards of Stewarts television kitchen to an inexpensive replica of a $40,000 high-back double Queen Anne chair from the 1700s.

Not being as familiar as some with the intricacies of either her kitchen or her home (I was there once for a garden party tour sponsored by the Westport Historical Society), Im not sure whether NBC is duplicating Turkey Hill Road South or her made-for-television kitchen at her studio on Newtown Turnpike just over the town line in Norwalk.

In any case, it will be interesting to see if they attempt to duplicate any Westport exteriors in Nova Scotia as well.

If nothing else, the movie will remind millions of viewers that Westport is still StewartҒs home despite her now infamous New York Times Sunday Magazine article almost three years ago headlined ֓Martha Stewart Leaving.

The NBC project, set for May screening, is based on the biography Martha, Inc. by New York Post business columnist Christopher Byron, who lives in Weston.

Did You Run into Paul Newman at Westport’s McDonald’s?

To hear Tom Indoe, tell it, he and Paul Newman spent a lot of time checking out the salads at Westport’s McDonald’s on Post Road East before launching their latest venture this week.

Indoe is chief operating officer of Newman’s Westport-based Newman’s Own food company and made his remarks in an interview with cable news channel CNBC.

Newman’s Own and McDonald’s on Monday announced an exclusive agreement in which Newman’s Own all-natural salad dressings will be served with McDonald’s new Premium Salads in restaurants nationwide starting March 24.

Asked by the interviewer whether Newman or his company had any hesitation linking up with the fast-food retailer, Indoe said any concerns they had went away after repeated samplings of salads at the Westport McDonald’s.

Details of the alliance are available on the Newman’s Own site.

Background on Indoe and his extensive experience in the food industry (RJR Nabisco and Del Monte) can be found in an interview he gave several years ago to the online marketing journal Reveries.com.

It includes such tidbits as the fact that when he arrived at the company, it had no budget, and that Newman had a plaque in his office that read, “If we ever have a plan we’re screwed.”

Q: Id Like to Speak to the Deputy Chief A: Which One?

The Westport Police Department has quietly realigned its ranks. With longtime Chief William Chiarenzelli temporarily sidelined for health reasons, the town has promoted three captains to the rank of deputy chief.

Getting the additional stripes: Don Brown, Al Fiore and David Heinmiller. All are veterans of the department and all are highly regarded law enforcement professionals.

Each will be acting chief on a rotating basis until Chiarenzelli’s return.

Brown is service commander in charge of the detective bureau and records division.

Fiore is support commander in charge of public safety and railroad parking.

Heinmiller is the line commander in charge of patrol units as well as director of the Emergency Medical Service unit.

All are seen as possible successors to the top job some day. The department has not had a deputy chief since John Anastasia retired 14 years ago.