In re the doctoral defense:  “There is a lot of thinking on your feet,” Dr. Lee said.  “That was good training for comedy..."
Town of Weston staff, folks and creatures, and notes from the Region and elsewhere... especially in CT.  Obits or news about those who influenced this website through the years.

To have history paved over for a ...parking lot.

Bones Under Parking Lot Belonged to Richard III
February 4, 2013

LEICESTER, England — In one of Britain’s most dramatic modern archaeological finds, researchers here announced on Monday that skeletal remains found under a parking lot in this English Midlands city were those of King Richard III, for centuries the most widely reviled of English monarchs, paving the way for a possible reassessment of his brief but violent reign.

Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on a project to identify the bones, told reporters that tests and research since the remains were discovered last September proved “beyond reasonable doubt” that the “individual exhumed” from a makeshift grave under the parking lot was “indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.”

Richard Taylor, the University of Leicester registrar  who coordinated the  team of archaeologists, historians, genealogists and geneticists who worked to make the identification after the skeleton was found buried six feet below a corner of a municipal parking lot, said that the last piece of the scientific puzzle fell into place with DNA findings that became available on Sunday, five months after the skeletal remains were uncovered.

At that point, he said, members of the team knew that they had achieved something historic.

“We knew then, beyond reasonable doubt, that this was Richard III,” he said. “We’re certain now, as certain as you can be of anything in life.”

The geneticist Turi King told a news conference held by the University of Leicester research team that DNA samples taken from two modern-day descendants of Richard III’s family matched those from the bones found at the site. One of the descendants, Michael Ibsen, is the son of a 16th-generation niece of King Richard’s. The second wished to remain anonymous, the researchers said.

The skeleton, moreover, had a gaping hole in the skull consistent with contemporary accounts of the battlefield blow that killed the monarch more than 500 years ago.

Before the DNA findings came in, Mr. Taylor and other team members said, the university team had  assembled a mounting catalog of evidence that pointed conclusively at the remains being those of the king. These included confirmation that the body was that of a man in his late 20s or early 30s, and that his high-protein diet had been rich in meat and fish, characteristic of a privileged life in the 15th century.

Still more indicative, they said radiocarbon dating of two rib bones had indicated that they were those of somebody who died between the years 1455 and 1540. Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth Field, 20 miles from Leicester, in August 1485.

Equally conclusive  was the evidence available at the time the bones were unearthed — that they were found exactly where a 16th-century Tudor historian, John Rouse, had identified as the burial place, in a corner of the  chapel in the Greyfriars priory, and with  a distinctive spinal curvature that pointed to the remains being that of a sufferer from scoliosis, a disease that causes the hunchback appearance that has come down through history as Richard III’s most pronounced  physical feature.

The sense of an important watershed in Britain’s royal story was underscored when reporters were escorted to a viewing of the skeletal remains, laid out in a locked room on the third floor of the university’s library, lying on a black velvet cushion inside a glass case.

No cameras were permitted, in accordance with an agreement reached with Britain’s Justice Ministry when it issued a permit for the skeleton’s exhumation, and, university officials said, with the dignity due to a king. Two members of the university chaplaincy’s staff, one of them in the black-and-red robes of a Roman Catholic priest, sat beside the remains as reporters filed by, adding to the air of solemnity and reverence. Researchers showed photographs of the skeleton as they found it, stuffed into a grave without a coffin, clearly displaying the spinal curvature.

In addition, team members said, the remains showed an array of injuries consistent with historical accounts of the fatal blows Richard III suffered on the battlefield, and other blows he was likely to have sustained from vengeful soldiers of the army of Henry Tudor, the Bosworth victor who succeeded Richard on the throne as King Henry VII, as the slain king’s body was carried on horseback into Leicester, including dagger thrusts to the cheek, jawbone and lower back. The skeleton displayed evidence of 10 wounds, 8 of them in the skull and some likely to have caused death, possibly by a blow from a halberd, a kind of medieval weapon with an axlike head on a long pole.

Since at least the late 18th century, scholars have debated whether Richard was the victim of a campaign of denigration by the Tudor monarchs who succeeded him. His supporters argue that he was a decent king, harsh in the ways of his time, but a proponent of groundbreaking measures to help the poor, extend protections to suspected criminals and ease bans on the printing and selling of books.

But his detractors cast Richard’s 26 months on the throne as one of England’s grimmest periods, its excesses captured in his alleged role in the murder in the Tower of London of two young princes — his own nephews — to rid himself of potential rivals.

Shakespeare told the king’s story in “Richard III,” depicting him as an evil, scheming hunchback whose death at 32 ended the Wars of the Roses and more than three centuries of Plantagenet rule, book ended England’s Middle Ages, and proved a prelude to the triumphs of the Tudors and Elizabethans.

In Shakespeare’s account, Richard was killed after being unhorsed on the battlefield, crying: “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.”

Officials of the University of Leicester said plans were now in hand to bury the bones in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, barely 100 yards from where the bones were found. A spokesman for the cathedral said that reburial would probably take place early next year as part of a memorial service honoring Richard as an English king.

The bones were first located when archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar on the site of the former priory and discovered that it was not underneath a 19th-century bank where it was presumed to be, but under a parking lot across the street. The remains were located within days of the start of digging.

2011-2012 pre-Winter Storms...then nada in season!  New page on this subject here.

Watercolor by M.S. WIRTENBERG
FORUM on the string of storms...maybe the whole winter of 2010-2011?

Regional matters mattered to her.

Former Groton Mayor Linda Krause, 69, dies
By Deborah Straszheim Day Staff Writer
Article published Jun 28, 2014

Groton - Linda Blaker Krause, a former Groton town mayor and town councilor who worked years as a planner in southeastern Connecticut, died on June 19 after complications from surgery. She was 69.

Krause, of Noank, was executive director of the Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments and worked for years in planning and zoning for Ledyard. A service is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on July 14 at the Mystic Arts Center to celebrate her life.

"I really admired Linda Krause," said Groton Town Clerk Betsy Moukawsher, whose husband Tom Moukawsher served with Krause on the council. "She had a fairness in deliberations when it came to budgets and decisions that I saw her make on the Town Council, and as mayor, she was really respectful of all the councilors and the public."

Krause was born on Dec. 26, 1944, in Trenton, N.J., grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated from a high school in Bucks County, Pa. She earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Simmons College in Boston in 1962, and a master's degree in planning from the University of Rhode Island in 1977.

After graduate school, she took a job for the Town of Ledyard, first as zoning and wetlands officer and then as planning director, her daughter Jessica Fay said. Krause then became director of the Connecticut River Estuary Regional Planning Agency, which was later merged with other agencies into the Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments.

She moved to Groton when her husband was in the Navy and quickly became involved in the community. She was appointed to the Groton Inland Wetlands Agency in 1974, served four years, then became a member of the Southeastern Connecticut Regional Planning Agency in 1979. She served there for close to 10 years.

"She could step back and see the big picture," said Irene Weiss, a longtime friend who met Krause 40 years ago. "She could do that in her personal life, and certainly in her professional life. She could step back and not get caught up in the details; she could see the long range, not just the immediate consequences."

Krause was elected to Groton's Representative Town Meeting in 1985, then was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Town Council in the spring of 1987. She was town mayor from 1991 until 1993.

Krause also served on the Conservation Commission in the mid-1990s and on various other groups.

Fay said her mother had an insight into people, which made her a natural leader.

"She was intelligent and one of the most intuitive, well-spoken people I have ever met in my life. ... That's a skill that so few people have," Fay said.

Krause could get things done without being the loudest in a room, Fay said.

"A lot of people will get an idea in their head and start spouting," Fay said. "She had an innate sense of when it was important to say something and when it was important to let it go."

Paul Heifetz, former P&Z commissioner, dies
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Friday, 01 October 2010 07:50

A 45-year resident of Weston, Paul Heifetz, a former Planning and Zoning and arts commissioner, died Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010. Mr. Heifetz was married to Pat Heifetz, founder of The Weston Forum.

Mr. Heifetz is a well-known artist and sculptor, and served on P&Z for 12 years, from 1997 to 2009. He also served on the Building Committee in the 1970s, and on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Commission for the Arts.

Mr. Heifetz was a justice of the peace, and belonged to several local art groups, including ArtWhirl, a group of award-winning artists who exhibited their works locally and throughout New England and beyond.

Weston High School principal's legacy: She helped students become leaders       
Weston FORUM
Written by Patricia Gay    
Wednesday, July 02, 2008 

When Rose Marie Cipriano began her job as principal of Weston High School four years ago, she arrived in the aftermath of a hurricane.

She was greeted by flooding in the school’s basement, a parking lot that had turned into a river, and chaos in the school building from heavy construction.

“My first thought was, have I made a mistake?” Ms. Cipriano said.

But after that initial moment of doubt, her fears were soon put to rest, and Ms. Cipriano said she never had another thought about taking the position.
Ms. Cipriano retired this week, and spent her final days cleaning out her office, and working with the staff to tie up loose ends.

Although she will miss Weston, she said she is ready to move on. She has no immediate work plans for the future, but hopes to enjoy some quality time with her husband and family.

“When I took this job, I always planned this would be my last year,” she said.

As a result, Weston’s graduating Class of 2008 was very special to her. In a speech she gave at the high school graduation ceremony on June 17, she called the students “the perfect class” and reminisced about their “journey to perfection.”


To Ms. Cipriano, perfection means getting students involved in all aspects of school life, and fostering pride in individual and school success, commitment to academics, and a willingness to become role models for the underclassmen.

By these standards, she believes the Class of 2008 was a huge success, and told them as much at graduation. “The members of this graduating class worked together to develop a strong foundation for the 21st Century ... through respect and integrity. You validate Weston High School as a place where students and adults work together to demonstrate honor, wisdom and imagination,” she said.

Ms. Cipriano said her goal as principal was not only to help students become successful, but to strive to develop them as leaders.

To that end, she encouraged them to have more of a voice and take ownership of many aspects of life at the high school.

So students came to her with ideas, and some were woven into the curriculum. Although she didn’t approve everything students proposed, Ms. Cipriano said, she always listened and tried to reach a “workable compromise” with them.

“These kids are sophisticated and I think it’s important to give them explanations and reasons, and not just say, ‘No, because I said so,’” she said.

She is proud of the things the students accomplished during her time as principal. “Their leadership ran the whole gamut from academics to athletics, politics and the arts,” she said.

Some of the most notable successes achieved by the students include:

• Having the largest number of merit scholar finalists in Weston High School’s history.

• Breaking the state record for the number of athletic state championships.

• Having the largest number of All State athletes.

• Providing superior musical concerts, including a Battle of the Bands and the creation of male and female a cappella groups.

• Supporting the Alcohol Drug and Awareness (ADAP) Youth Council’s initiatives to bring Grim Reaper Day and substance awareness and prevention programs to the high school.

• Supporting domestic violence programs — in particular, dating violence awareness.

• Establishing an annual Community Service Awareness Fair.

• Holding a special day of “Open Opportunities” classes in fun things such as origami, aerobics, and Spanish dancing.

• Creating the Limos for Lives student fund-raising initiative.

• Organizing homecoming and Color Clash spirit week events.

The icing on the cake, Ms. Cipriano said, was being ranked among the highest in the state on SAT and standardized test scores. Weston is consistently at or near the top of the state’s most affluent socio-economic group of school districts — DRG (District Reference Group) A.

“This is the best scenario any high school principal could wish for,” Ms. Cipriano said.


Though pleased with her accomplishments during her tenure in Weston, Ms. Cipriano is grateful to many people who helped the high school achieve excellence.

“I would like to compliment my staff for making me look good; the parents for being demanding — as they should be; the five-star PTO who spoiled me by helping us get things we couldn’t through the budget; and the volunteer parent advisers who worked with the class officers,” she said.

She also thanked the other principals and administrators, Superintendent Jerome Belair, First Selectman Woody Bliss, and the Weston Police Department for their support.

Ms. Cipriano’s retirement will mark an end to an academic career that began in 1982, when she was a Fulbright scholar and traveled to the People’s Republic of China. At that time, Tibet was closed off from the rest of the world, and it remained a curiosity, as she was not allowed to visit there.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Castleton State College in Vermont, then a master’s degree at Rhode Island College, and a doctorate at Boston University.

In 1985, she became a social studies teacher in Woonsocket, R.I., and by 1996 she was named Rhode Island’s Principal of the Year. In between, she spent time abroad in Russia, and had a fellowship at Harvard University.

In 1999, Ms. Cipriano went to Italy to help the Italian Department of Education transfer education autonomy to cities and towns.

She later served as principal of Cumberland High School in Rhode Island, and as principal in Plainville, Conn., before coming to Weston.

Now she intends to return full circle and visit China again with her husband, Henry. This time she hopes to see Tibet and Three River Gorge. She also plans to go to Florida, and then will settle back in Rhode Island in her family’s homestead.

“I need some rest, some travel, and some dreams for my future,” she said.

Suit Over a Woman’s Suicide at an Elite Private Hospital
November 23, 2007
NEW CANAAN, Conn., Nov. 22 —Silver Hill Hospital was familiar to Ruth A. Farrell as a place of refuge, one she had sought more than a dozen times when life seemed too hard to bear.

Only this time, Ms. Farrell, a 41-year-old librarian from Westport with few relatives or close friends, never made it home safely. What the hospital papers delicately describe as her last “discharge date,” Jan. 28, 2002, was the day she left the hospital in a body bag.

Depressed and addicted to painkillers, Ms. Farrell had checked herself into the acute-care ward at Silver Hill the previous week. Records show she told the staff she was feeling better the day she died and even asked the dietitian for less garlic in her orzo, showing that she was looking ahead.

But by nightfall, Ms. Farrell had made other plans. The orderly who had been checking on her every 15 minutes found her suspended from a bathroom door, eight feet from the nurses’ station. Black Spandex pants were tied around her neck. A suicide note was in the trash.

Now Silver Hill — a 76-year-old nonprofit hospital specializing in psychiatric disorders and substance abuse — is being sued by the executor of Ms. Farrell’s estate, himself a former patient with whom she maintained a close relationship despite warnings by her doctor that she should stay away from him. The suit accuses the hospital and a psychiatrist there, Dr. Ellyn Shander, of wrongful death by failing to protect a troubled woman from herself.

The complaint, and other episodes recounted in lawsuits and police reports over the last decade, are peeling back the veil on life inside one of the country’s more prominent psychiatric institutions and raising questions about how far a psychiatric hospital has to go to ensure its patients’ safety.

Tucked away on 45 acres that include tennis courts and walking trails, Silver Hill has long had a following among celebrities like Mariah Carey and Billy Joel — along with a well-heeled crowd who find the countrylike setting a welcome place to regain control of their overstressed lives.

Originally known as the Silver Hill Inn in the days when patients dressed for dinner, the institution has typically attracted those with Champagne tastes — or at a minimum, good insurance. Costs are usually more than $1,000 a day, and patients are often expected to put up hefty deposits. “Charity care,” or what the hospital volunteers in services, is well under 1 percent of revenue in most years, according to annual reports.

Citing patient confidentiality, a hospital spokeswoman declined to comment on the suicide or any other aspect of the hospital’s operations or history. A lawyer for the company, Catherine S. Nietzel, went only slightly further.

“As unfortunate as this is, and it’s tragic, it’s horrible, sometimes these awful things happen despite our best efforts to do everything right,” Ms. Nietzel said. “It’s with great regret that Silver Hill is aware that sometimes bad things happen to its patients, despite its best efforts.”

But Victoria de Toledo, a Stamford lawyer who has twice sued the hospital, saw the situation differently. Speaking generally, she said, “It’s heartbreaking when someone goes in because they need help at a place like Silver Hill, and they come out worse than when they went in.”

In one case, Ms. de Toledo represented a patient who settled a civil case after accusing a hospital employee with a long criminal record of sexually assaulting her while she slept. And in a case settled for an undisclosed amount in August, she was the lawyer for a man who had his ear partly bitten off by another patient in 2003.

Silver Hill is aggressively fighting the suit filed by Ms. Farrell’s estate in Stamford Superior Court, which is scheduled to go to trial next week. Turning the tables, lawyers for the hospital and Dr. Shander have countersued the executor of Ms. Farrell’s estate, David L. Kervick, charging him with contributing to her death.

Mr. Kervick, who is 60, met Ms. Farrell in early 2001 when they were both patients at Silver Hill. Months later, Ms. Farrell named Mr. Kervick, a New Jersey lawyer whose license has been suspended twice because of problems related to substance abuse, her executor.

She also directed that Mr. Kervick inherit half her estate — recently valued at about $500,000 — giving the other half to her church in Ridgefield, where she lived. Besides questioning Mr. Kervick’s motives, lawyers for the hospital and the psychiatrist contend that Mr. Kervick knew, or should have known, that Ms. Farrell was suicidal, and that he treated her abusively and undermined her psychiatric care.

“Yes, she tried to commit suicide numerous times,” Nancy Monaco, a lawyer for Dr. Shander, said at a hearing this June. “And they stopped her every time except this one.”

Among the personal effects the police found in her room was a note dated Jan. 28 that began, “Dear David,” referred to a worrisome phone call and drifted into an outburst that said, in part: “I WANT TO DIE, DIE, DIE. I’M ALREADY DEAD.”

In depositions, Mr. Kervick has said he had no knowledge of a phone call that might have sent Ms. Farrell over the edge, and that he never asked her to make him either executor of her estate or a beneficiary.

Though Ms. Farrell had little in common with the celebrities who passed through Silver Hill, she was one of the regulars. One of Mr. Kervick’s lawyers, Paul Pacifico, argued that with her 17 previous stays, the hospital should have known that her problems were dire, especially since she had tried to hang herself a few years earlier in the same room.

Her emotional problems ran deep. Named after a grandmother who committed suicide, Ruth Anne Marie Farrell began cutting herself while she was at Weston High School, where she graduated in 1978. At Bates College, she continued harming herself and was sent home, spending more than a year at a psychiatric hospital.

Acquaintances who declined to be identified because they did not want to become involved in the suit said her adult life revolved around her work at the Westport Public Library. She also volunteered at a soup kitchen in Westport and baked bread that the First Congregational Church in Ridgefield presented to new residents.

But life was difficult for Ms. Farrell. Dale Rosenberger, a former pastor at her church, said she took keen interest in his sermons, but had trouble making eye contact and would sometimes flee if greeted too heartily.

Those who knew her said she carried the psychological scars of a dismal childhood. Depositions given by Mr. Kervick and briefs filed by Dr. Shander’s lawyers refer to years of sexual abuse suffered at the hands of her father, MacLennan Farrell, who died in 1997. An editor at several magazines ranging from The Saturday Evening Post to Gallery, a racy men’s magazine, Mr. Farrell handled such writers as P. G. Wodehouse, and wrote a few book reviews for The New York Times.

Meeting Mr. Kervick initially buoyed Ms. Farrell’s spirits, according to notes she made. They visited each other’s homes and shared holidays. Mr. Kervick testified that they were never intimate, although a recent court ruling referred to him as the “boyfriend.”

Notes in the medical files show that Ms. Farrell’s psychiatrist and another therapist fretted about Mr. Kervick’s influence and urged her to drop him. And entries in a journal Ms. Farrell kept describe a miserable Christmas she shared with Mr. Kervick at his home in Westfield, N.J., weeks before she killed herself. She told the hospital’s medical staff how he used drugs in her presence on that occasion and tied her to a bed and forced her to watch pornography.

But Mr. Kervick’s lawyer, Mr. Pacifico, dismissed the accusations that were leveled by Ms. Farrell, someone who he said had “personality disorders.”

“What she told her therapist does not mean it’s accurate,” he said.

In the months before the trial, lawyers for the hospital and for Dr. Shander fought to obtain Mr. Kervick’s psychiatric records in an effort to shed light on his relationship with Ms. Farrell.

Judge Thomas L. Nadeau acknowledged that some records might be relevant, although he displayed concern that the information might be used to smear Mr. Kervick. “What jury would want to give money to the beneficiary of an estate who is then portrayed as a bad guy, even if his bad-guyness didn’t impact her conduct?” he asked.

Neal P. Rogan, a Westport lawyer who once defended a man charged with abetting his wife’s suicide, though not involved in this case, said the judge’s concern was legitimate. “If the jury actually followed the law,” he said, Mr. Kervick would win his case because “even if you might not like the fact that he’s the one in the will, they’re the ones charged with her care.”

Psychiatrists with expertise in suicide say any institution that accepts troubled, high-risk patients will encounter situations that are difficult to control.

“The problem is people can receive excellent care in a facility and still manage to commit suicide,” said Dr. Peter M. Marzuk, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. “Suicide can occur when a patient may not be watched every minute. But at some point, to transition a patient from the hospital to a community, you have to relax the level of vigilance. So, there’s no foolproof way to prevent suicide, even in the best psychiatric hospitals.”

In the case of Ruth Farrell, said her former pastor, Mr. Rosenberger, with all of the emotional burdens she endured, “I had no idea how she lasted as long as she did.”

Dr. Henry Lee offers opinions on infamous murder cases on local cable show
By:Mike Cummings, Journal Inquirer

O.J. Simpson likely didn't have time to murder his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, all by himself, says renowned forensics scientist Dr. Henry Lee.

"From day one, experienced people knew this case could be two people," Lee says on an upcoming episode of "Senator Kissel and Friends," a monthly public access television program hosted by Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield.

Lee explains his opinions of the Simpson case and other infamous murders during the half-hour interview with Kissel, which was taped on March 5. It airs Monday, March 12, at 9:30 p.m. on Cox channel 15 throughout the north-central part of the state.  The program will be re-aired through April 16.  On Friday Cox Communications allowed the Journal Inquirer to view a tape of Kissel's upcoming show with Lee.

During the interview with Kissel, Lee says the timeline of the 1994 murders in Los Angeles suggests O.J. Simpson couldn't have killed two people with a small knife without help.

"Bottom line, he doesn't have time to commit this crime and run from one location to another," he tells Kissel.  Los Angeles Police Department detectives corrupted evidence during the Simpson investigation, making it impossible for a jury to convict the former football player and actor, says Lee, who served as an expert witness for the defense during Simpson's criminal trial.

Lee, 68, was born in China and grew up in Taiwan. He began his law enforcement career with the Taipei Police Department, attaining the rank of captain.
He immigrated to the United States in 1965 and earned a bachelor's degree in forensic science from John Jay College in 1972.

Lee, a former state Commissioner of Public Safety, was the state's chief criminalist from 1979 to 2000. He helped establish the State Police Forensic Science Laboratory.
According to a biography on Lee's Web site, he has participated more than 6,000 investigations, including the war crimes allegations in Bosnia and Croatia, the suicide of President Clinton's former White House lawyer, Vincent Foster, and the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.

Lee discusses the Ramsey case in detail with Kissel.  Ramsey, a 6-year-old beauty pageant contestant, was murdered in December 1996 in the basement of her parents' Boulder, Col. home. No suspect has ever been charged in the case.

"That case should have been solved on the first day," Lee says.  He says the Boulder police did a poor job of securing the murder scene. A ransom note at the Ramsey's house duped the police into believing it was a kidnapping case, he says.  Crucial evidence was never collected due to the confusion, he says.
Lee, who was called in to assist with the investigation more than two months after the killing, says the little girl's body was mishandled after its discovery, which hindered his investigation.

"By that time, all the evidence becomes meaningless because of cross-contamination," he said.

Lee also shares experiences he had reviewing evidence from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He says the so-called "magic bullet" that struck Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connelly no longer contained DNA evidence.

"That becomes a hopeless case," he says of the assassination investigation.

Lee jokes about the $1 annual salary he's paid for his current service as the state's Chief Emeritus for Scientific Services.

"That's the best dollar we could spend in state government," Kissel quips.

Saluting A Great Career 
Published on 7/12/2007 

For 27 years the editorials of Morgan McGinley graced these pages. Mr. McGinley editorialized with an authority and passion that could only come from a person who truly cares about the people and places he is writing about.

Tonight several hundred of his friends and colleagues will gather at the Mystic Marriott to toast — and roast — Mr. McGinley. He is well deserving of both.

Some of those who at times found themselves at the sharp end of Mr. McGinley's pointed pen will no doubt relish the chance to send a few good-natured barbs back his way. But there is no denying this is a life's work that should be toasted, because Mr. McGinley's criticisms were never mean-spirited and always penned with the intent to make this a better community and state.

Mr. McGinley is a product of New London, and this newspaper, down to his very DNA. A city native, his grandfather, John McGinley, was the first reporter hired at The Day. His uncle, Arthur McGinley, also worked at The Day and was the best friend of New London's most famous and infamous son, playwright Eugene O'Neill.

Mr. McGinley knew tragedy at an early age, losing both his parents before his teenage years were over. He credits his Uncle Arthur, who went on to become the sports editor at the Hartford Times, with being a second father and mentor to him.

Perhaps overcoming such misfortune at a tender age instilled in Mr. McGinley his heightened respect for the underdog, an affinity that came through clearly in his editorial writing as he railed against abuses by the powerful and urged help for the needy. And it is reflected in the charities that, by his choice, will benefit from the proceeds from tonight's event — The Salvation Army and the Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.

A graduate of Colby College in Maine, Mr. McGinley joined The Day in 1965 and earned a reputation as a force to be reckoned with through his aggressive coverage of City Hall and, later, by the biting commentary of his columns.

Mr. McGinley is a man who is hard not to like. An affable personality, an ability to remember names, and the inclination to treat the famous and the ordinary with equal respect, were among the qualities that made him a great reporter and editorial writer.

People wanted to share information with him and he was always ready to listen. Mr. McGinley could rip a public official's position in an editorial one day, and greet him on the street with a hardy hello the next. It was never personal. And he always opened his opinion pages for people to take a shot back at him.

He became assistant editorial page editor in 1980 and just two years later ascended to the job of editorial page editor, a position he held until his retirement this past April.

It was during Mr. McGinley's leadership of the editorial pages that the newspaper expanded to seven-day coverage, adding a Sunday edition, and moved from an afternoon to a morning newspaper. The Perspective section in the Sunday edition, directed by Mr. McGinley's long-time associate, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Greg Stone, offered a depth of commentary rarely seen in newspapers the size of The Day.

The career of Mr. McGinley spanned technological leaps from manual typewriters to electrics to computers and, finally, to publication on the Internet. But whatever the equipment at his disposal, or the medium used to send the message, Mr. McGinley's most fearsome editorial fire was reserved for elected leaders who conducted the people's business behind closed doors and for politicians guilty of corruption.

Mr. McGinley well knew the two are often intertwined.

He fought, and continues to fight, to assure that the business of government is done in the open. In retirement he has taken over the presidency of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information.

The Day recognized early on the seriousness of the corruption in the Rowland administration and was among the very first newspapers in the state to call for Gov. John G. Rowland's resignation.

Mr. McGinley's professional achievements are far too many to list here, but they included numerous awards for editorial writing, a public service award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2001 and the Yankee Quill Award for his contributions to better journalism in New England throughout his career.

He is a past president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, a position normally held by editorial writers from much larger newspapers. There were certainly opportunities for Mr. McGinley to move to a metropolitan newspaper, but he loved this community.

He cherished the independence of The Day and the opportunity that provided to take tough editorial stands. Such independence is a rare commodity in an industry now dominated by chain newspapers too often devoted more to fattening the stock portfolios of shareholders than to quality journalism.

In addition to being a great editorial writer, Mr. McGinley is an avid and skillful fly fisherman. When standing in the running waters of a beautiful stream, Mr. McGinley says, he encounters a peace that he can find nowhere else. A place where all of life's tragedies and triumphs, all its lessons learned from people great and humble, dead and living, come into focus.

It is not surprising then that one of Mr. McGinley's favorite quotes comes from the Norman Maclean novel about fly fishing and about so much more: “A River Runs Through It.”

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.

Fortunately, Mr. McGinley will continue to contribute a regular column to this newspaper, yet there is no mistaking that an era has passed. But like the passing waters, he has changed forever the rocks through which the life of this community rushes. And under the rocks are his words.

Well done, Morg, and happy fishing.

The Day Undergoing Change As Top Editors, Managers Opt To Retire;  Johnson, McGinley, others praised for outstanding careers 
By Anthony Cronin , Day Business Editor
Published on 3/6/2007

New London — The Day Publishing Co. said Monday its top editors overseeing news and editorial page operations have chosen to take early retirement, along with several senior managers in the advertising, circulation, production and administrative departments.  Gary Farrugia, The Day's editor and publisher, said Executive Editor Lance C. Johnson and Editorial Page Editor Morgan McGinley were among 18 employees who agreed to the early-retirement package, first announced in January.

“The flood of journalism awards that come to The Day every year are testimony to the quality of leadership provided by these two outstanding newspapermen,” Farrugia said in an announcement to employees Monday afternoon.

“Lance and Morgan have distinguished both themselves and this newspaper through decades of overseeing The Day's newsroom and its Opinion pages,” said Farrugia.

Johnson, 59, has more than 30 years of experience at The Day, including serving as managing editor in charge of its newsroom for 21 years. This past year, he was promoted to executive editor, overseeing The Day's newsroom, weekly newspapers and news operations of its Web site.

“Lance has routinely kept this newspaper in the top echelon of newspapers throughout New England,” Farrugia said.

McGinley, 65, has been at The Day for more than 41 years and was named to head its editorial page operations in 1982.

“Morgan is in a class by himself,” said Farrugia. “He has an encyclopedic knowledge of this region, and he has served as an unparalleled ambassador for this newspaper.”

In addition to Johnson and McGinley, Farrugia also announced that longtime Deputy Editorial Page Editor Greg Stone would retire. Stone, an Old Mystic resident who joined the paper in 1966, has received numerous editorial-page awards and was honored in 1991 with the prestigious Eugene C. Pulliam fellowship from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Paul Choiniere, The Day's former Norwich bureau chief and a staff writer currently covering development issues, was promoted to succeed McGinley as editorial page editor. Ann Baldelli, a Stonington resident and longtime Day staff writer and editor, was promoted to associate editor of the editorial page.

“Paul and Ann bring a vast knowledge of the issues and the newsmakers in the region,” said Farrugia. He said Choiniere and Baldelli would continue to uphold “the high standard in commentary and opinion writing that is the hallmark of the McGinley/Stone era.”

Choiniere, a Griswold resident who joined the newspaper in 1987, said The Day has had a long tradition of writing tough but fair editorials on vital issues affecting eastern Connecticut and beyond. “That's a tradition I plan to continue,” he said. “Vigorous debate is the hallmark of a healthy democracy.”

Other veteran writers and editors in the newsroom taking early retirement include Deputy Managing Editor Kyn Tolson, columnist Steven Slosberg and staff writer and columnist Bethe Dufresne.

Farrugia praised all the employees in the company's news, advertising, circulation, production and administrative areas who took early retirement, saying they provided decades of service to the company. “Their years here at The Day are deeply appreciated by all of us,” he said.

Employees 50 or older with at least 20 years of service were eligible for the early-retirement offer. A total of 32 employees were eligible out of about 400 full- and part-time employees.

The offer was part of an overall series of cost-cutting moves by The Day. The company also announced in January that it would establish a new interactive media division featuring new community-based Web sites, events-related databases and community forums. Farrugia has said the moves are part of the company's transformation into a full-service interactive information company.


Johnson said he will miss daily journalism but added the “timing was right” to pursue new opportunities.

“This paper has such a legacy of doing great journalism,” said Johnson, a Waterford resident. “There's still such a good core of staff here — and we'll continue to recruit talented journalists, to continue great journalism and always be an important part of this community.”

Johnson has deep experience as a newspaper editor and writer. He was responsible for helping to create the Sunday edition of The Day and during his tenure oversaw the expansion of the daily newspaper, the creation of its weekly newspapers and its various custom publications, including Grace magazine and its new Enterprise business monthly.  During his years as managing editor, the newsroom received numerous top awards, including multiple prizes as newspaper of the year. He also served as a director and executive committee member of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association and various New England and Connecticut press associations.

McGinley also has won numerous awards over the years, including the Yankee Quill Award for long-term meritorious service and the Stephen A. Collins Freedom of Information Award. He has served as president of the National Conference of Editorial Writers and the New England Society of Newspaper Editors. McGinley's grandfather, John McGinley, was the first reporter for The Day in 1881, its founding year.

Both Johnson and McGinley have served as judges for the coveted Pulitzer Prize.

“The Day has been a wonderful place to work,” said McGinley, a New London native. “I wouldn't trade the people I've known or the opportunities I've had for anything.”

McGinley said he would always be grateful for the quality and dedication of The Day's management and its staff “and the support that's been given the editorial page by all three publishers for whom I've worked.”

Now a judge, we think.
John Danaher, A Smart Choice
Hartford Courant editorial
February 21, 2007

Gov. M. Jodi Rell couldn't have found a more credible nominee to head the Department of Public Safety than John A. Danaher III, the veteran federal prosecutor who supervised many of the major crime and corruption cases handled by the U.S. attorney's office over the past 20 years.

Mr. Danaher's record includes the successful investigations of former Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano, former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim, former state Treasurer Paul Silvester and members of Los Macheteros, a violent Puerto Rican independence group.
Mr. Danaher possesses the added luster of coming from a family with a long and distinguished history in public service.

His great-grandfather was state labor commissioner from 1938 to 1944 and his grandfather served one term as a U.S. senator from Connecticut. His father was an FBI agent.

All that said, Mr. Danaher, who would be the ninth commissioner to head the agency in 17 years, might be in for the challenge of his career.

He will be expected to implement changes intended to unite and professionalize the state police division, where ill will between troopers and command staff has been a continuing problem.

Those changes include a sweeping overhaul of rules governing the conduct of troopers proposed earlier this month by Mrs. Rell's Commission on Internal Affairs and a budget plan that reassigns dozens of troopers to their traditional role of safeguarding state highways.

Considering his background and achievements, Mr. Danaher's appointment reflects well on Mrs. Rell, who has filled several top state jobs with experienced, well-qualified public servants. 

Rell Picks Prosecutor To Head Public Safety;  Danaher comes from long line of public servants 
Published on 2/20/2007
Hartford (AP) — Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Monday nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney John A. Danaher III to serve as the new commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.

Danaher, 56, supervised federal prosecutions of former Waterbury Mayor Philip Giordano and former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim.

If confirmed by the state legislature, he will replace Leonard Boyle, a former federal prosecutor. Boyle has said publicly he is looking for a new job. Danaher's appointment takes effect March 5.

“I am extremely pleased to have an experienced and able federal prosecutor like John move into this critical and challenging position,” Rell said in a statement. “As we continue to implement cultural changes at the Department of Public Safety, we need a leader who commands respect and knows how to work with all of the interested parties to get things done.”

Danaher is currently senior litigation counsel in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut. He served as interim U.S. attorney from May 2001 to November 2002.

The state public safety commissioner oversees the state police, the division of fire, emergency and building services, and the state forensic lab. The Connecticut State Police department was founded in 1903 and is the oldest law enforcement agency of its type in the nation.

A 1972 graduate of Fairfield University, Danaher received a master's degree in English from the University of Hartford in 1977 and his law degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1980. He worked at the Hartford firm of Day, Berry & Howard from 1981 to 1986 before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office in July 1986.

Danaher's nomination continues generations of public service. His father, John A. Danaher Jr., is a retired special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His grandfather, John A. Danaher, was a U.S. senator from Connecticut from 1939 to 1945 and also served as secretary of the state. His great-grandfather, Cornelius J. Danaher, was the state labor commissioner in the 1930s and 1940s.

In a statement, Danaher said he was “deeply honored” by the nomination.

“I have worked with many members of the department during my time as a prosecutor and have always considered it a privilege to do so,” he said. “I look forward to being associated with the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving the people of Connecticut.”

New rules, big changes coming for financial world
By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer
10 July 2010

WASHINGTON – Big changes are in store for the financial world from a government crackdown more than a year in the making. Democratic leaders in the Senate are trying to secure the final votes needed to pass legislation this coming week that would impose the most sweeping rules on banks and Wall Street since the Great Depression.

The financial industry and consumers already are anticipating — in some cases bracing for — the impact.

Banks might see their bottom lines suffer. Lenders will have to disclose more information. Borrowers will have to prove their ability to repay. The masters of high finance will find it harder to sidestep regulations. Government watchdogs will be under orders to look more suspiciously at risky behavior.

Not all the changes will occur overnight once Congress gets the legislation to President Barack Obama. Throughout the 2,300-page bill, federal monitors are given one to two years to write the new rules of the road for Wall Street. In some instances, the timing isn't even specified.

Diana Farrell, deputy director of the White House's National Economic Council, says some adjustments already are under way as big banks re-examine their trading business and prepare for a new oversight system that will require them to write their own funeral plans in the event of failure.

"There is some immediate impact," said Scott Talbott, senior vice president at the Financial Services Roundtable, an industry group representing some of the bigger banks in the United States. "But it will take about two years before the full impact is felt, before the uncertainty starts to dwindle."

"Overall," said Travis Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America, "starting with the consumer regulations, this is landmark legislation."

Votes on the bill have broken along highly partisan lines. The House passed it June 30 with only three Republicans voting in support.

It needs 60 votes in the Senate. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., delayed a final Senate vote until after the July Fourth holiday because of the death of Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., and hesitation from three Republicans who previously had supported the legislation. One of those Republicans, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, has since announced her endorsement.

The other two Republicans — Sens. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Olympia Snowe of Maine — said they wanted to study the bill over the holiday break. Both have indicated the bill is more to their liking after House and Senate negotiators dropped a plan to impose a $19 billion tax on large banks and hedge funds to pay for the bill.

Also, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who had voted against a Senate version of the legislation in May, has said she will now vote for the bill.

But a fourth Republican who supported the Senate version — Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa — has reservations about the alternative financing mechanism negotiated by Senate and House Democrats and the White House. The new method of covering the cost of the bill would use $11 billion generated by ending the unpopular Troubled Asset Relief Program — the $700 billion bank bailout created in the fall of 2008 at the height of the financial scare. Democrats also agreed to increase premium rates paid by commercial banks to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to insure bank deposits.

Grassley's spokeswoman, Jill Kozeny, said the senator is concerned using the FDIC fees as a credit to the FDIC and as an offset, and prefers that the remaining bailout money help pay down the debt.

That leaves little room for error in the vote counting. Without Grassley and with the timing of seating a replacement for Byrd still uncertain, Cantwell, Collins, Snowe and Brown would give the bill exactly the 60 votes needed to overcome potentially fatal procedural delays.

The finished legislation hews closely to the plan that Obama's administration released in June 2009.

"That's been one of the most pleasant surprises of this process," Farrell said in an interview.

In some instances, the final bill is even tougher. The administration and Democrats in Congress squabbled over details on capital standards for banks and the breadth of restrictions on their derivatives business. Derivatives are financial instruments whose values change based on the price of some underlying investment. They were used for speculation, fueling the financial crisis.

The most symbolic and high-profile defeat for the president was an exception in the bill carved out for auto dealers, who won't fall under the supervision of a new consumer protection bureau. Obama had looked upon consumer protections for home and auto buyers as features that would sell the bill to the public, but auto dealers proved to be a tough lobbying and political foe, pressing their case with lawmakers that they merely assembled loans and didn't administer them.

While Obama would have preferred an earlier conclusion for the bill, its passage less than four months from the general election is as good as it can get politically.

The partisan lines will lead Democrats to cast Republicans as the party of Wall Street, exploiting a populist, anti-big bank sentiment among voters. Republicans will portray it as big government overreach.

The legislation is a blend of specific prescriptive remedies that regulators must undertake and broader regulatory guidance.

For example, it spells out what the Federal Reserve must take into account in setting new limits on the fees that banks charge merchants who accept debit cards.

At the same time, it gives regulators leeway in such areas as the definition of a commercial user of complex derivatives — typically large manufacturers and industries such as airlines that use derivatives as hedges against market fluctuations. Regulators also would decide how much money those users should put up to cover their bets.

The bill directs regulators and other government agencies to undertake more than 60 studies that will determine if or how new rules will be put into place.

Farrell urges area firms to consider Export-Import Bank
Greenwich TIME
By Richard Lee, Assistant Business Editor
Published December 15 2007

Companies in lower Fairfield County have a fallback option if they are stymied in efforts to find financing to do business overseas.

They can look to the federal Export-Import Bank.

"Over 80 percent of what we do is with small- and medium-size business. We provide the loan guarantee. We are the bank of last resort," Diane Farrell, a new member of the bank's board of directors, told about 50 people yesterday at a Stamford Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Sheraton Stamford Hotel.

Farrell is a former first selectwoman in Westport. A Democrat, she twice unsuccessfully opposed U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Bridgeport, for his 4th Congressional District seat.

The Ex-Im Bank typically provides financing when commercial banks do not want to take a risk on companies doing businesses in countries with emerging economies, often in regions such as the Middle East, the former Soviet republics, Latin America, Asia and Africa.

The bank provides tools to U.S. exporters who need pre-export financing, protection against buyer nonpayment or financing for their buyers.

Eligible exports are products that are manufactured in and shipped from the United States and have at least 50 percent U.S. content.

"The bank was established 73 years ago to provide a level playing field for U.S. businesses dealing with foreign competition," said Farrell, who was named to the bank's board in August by President Bush. "The bank just did a $40 million line of credit for John Deere in Russia and Ukraine."

Working with a $50 million annual budget and 300 employees, the Ex-Im Bank has $57 billion in outstanding credit, she said.

"We must be repaid. We're a self-supporting federal agency," Farrell said.

Because of the weak U.S. dollar, she encouraged firms to look into foreign markets.

"If you're thinking of exporting business into the international market, this is the right place at the right time," she said.

When Farrell asked if the Stamford chamber members had heard of the Export-Import Bank, nearly everyone in the room raised their hands, but no one had used its services.

Farrell's local ties can provide an avenue for area businesses that want access to the Export-Impact Bank, said Jason Liu, chairman and chief executive officer of General Network Service Inc. in Stamford.

A dialogue between the bank and the chamber would be help area businesses who want to expand their markets, said Liu, a member of the chamber's International Trade Council.

"It's very risky and costly for business to get involved internationally," he said. "Smarter and more ambitious businessmen want to expand through international business."

Ashok Vasudevan, also a member of the trade council, said the nation's trade deficit for November was $58 billion.

Vasudevan, director of Preferred Brands International in Stamford, said the bank plays a key role in reducing the trade imbalance.

Senate Approves Farrell for Export-Import Bank Post
WestportNow Aug. 3, 2007

The U.S. Senate has approved the appointment of former Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell as a member of the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors and sent it to President Bush for his signature.

The Senate Web site said the confirmation was approved Wednesday. Her appointment is until Jan. 20, 2011.  At her confirmation hearing in July, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., warmly greeted Farrell as a longtime friend.  Farrell, a Democrat, twice challenged Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4, for his seat in Congress, losing by close margins in 2004 and 2006. 

In May, President Bush nominated Farrell to replace Max Cleland, whose term on the five-member board expired in January. (See WestportNow May 25, 2007)

She’ll serve with one other Democrat and three Republicans on the board. The job pays $145,000 a year.  President Bush still has to sign the appointment letter.

Weston filmmaker's Hubble Telescope documentary

Article Launched:12/04/2006 06:12:11 PM EST

Documentary filmmaker David Gaynes is still several months away from completing "Saving Hubble" but the Weston native is previewing scenes from the new movie about the space telescope Thursday night in Stamford.

The event at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center is the Connecticut leg of a week-long barnstorming effort by Gaynes to get moviegoers interested in the project at an earlier stage of development than is common in the film business.

"The thing that happened with my last film was that it turned out to be a modest success, but I realized that getting people to see it was as important as making it — you need to let people know before a movie comes out as well as after," Gaynes said Monday of "Keeper of the Kohn," the 2005 film that won the best documentary prize at the Palm Beach International Film Festival.

Gaynes' film about a year in the life of an elderly autistic man was screened to enthusiastic response around the country — including showings at the Avon Theatre in Stamford and the Community in Fairfield — but the 29-year-old director realized it might have benefited from a stronger marketing effort.

Rather than have his new documentary "go away quietly," Gaynes decided to launch a "grassroots effort" to bring attention to his movie before final editing is completed.

Gaynes kicked off the promotional gatherings with a party at the nightclub Mars 2112 in Manhattan Sunday night and two more New York City gatherings are set for Monday and Wednesday nights.  After the Stamford Museum and Nature Center planetarium party Thursday night, Gaynes will end his "Saving Hubble" road show at another planetarium in New Jersey Saturday night.

Gaynes' project received a boost last month when the U.S. government decided to overturn the 2004 plan to junk the space telescope.  A mission to make repairs to the Hubble is now set for 2008.  The telescope was launched aboard the space shuttle in 1990 and many of its key components were replaced and repaired during space shuttle missions over the past decade.

The images from the telescope in space are more stable than earth-based telescopic imagery that is subject to atmospheric clarity and turbulence that can distort the view. "I think Hubble is one of the most important things America has done in the last 50 years, a real gift to humanity," the 29-year-old filmmaker said in a phone interview.

"It would be great if we could build more of these space telescopes rather than bombs," the director added.  Gaynes sees "Saving Hubble" as a political film as well as the story of a great scientific achievement.

"I'd like it if the film could inspire people to look at space as something not to be used for political gain, but for scientific advances," he said.  "Saving Hubble" looks at the decision to abandon Hubble in 2004, in the wake of the Columbia space shuttle disaster the previous year.

"There was a real public backlash to the decision and what's exciting is that they listened," Gaynes said of last month's change in policy.  Thursday night, Gaynes will be showing scenes from "Saving Hubble" and will be doing a question-and-answer session as well. The event will also include a planetarium show.  Gaynes hopes to have the final cut of the movie done in time for the Cannes Film Festival deadline next April.

"We're moving forward on all cylinders which is very exciting," he said.  The "Saving Hubble" preview and planetarium show will take place Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, 39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford.  Tickets are $20. For more information, call 322-1646.

Rep. Shays has proven to be the most reasonable
Published October 22 2006

To the editor:

I am a college student who volunteered for the Diane Farrell campaign in 2004 and the Chris Shays campaign in 2006. I feel my experiences hold a valuable lesson for voters in this year's congressional race.

While at the Farrell campaign, it was the Democratic way or the highway. The partisanship in her office made it unbearable for a moderate like myself. I could not express any views that disagreed with Farrell or then-presidential candidate John Kerry without being ridiculed or mocked.

I was alienated for expressing any positive thoughts about any aspect of President Bush's foreign policy objectives. Ultimately, I voted for Congressman Shays in 2004, even after spending the summer volunteering for Farrell.

Conversely, on my first day at the Shays campaign, staff members explained that everyone held different views, and that while we may not always agree -- even with Congressman Shays -- we respected our differences of opinion, regardless how liberal or conservative they may be.

Shays and his campaign understand that being a representative is much more than just being a Democrat or Republican; it is about serving the people. Farrell's campaign, on the other hand, made it all about electing a Democrat over a Republican.

Having spent my last summer volunteering for Shays, I could not be more proud to say that: "Chris Shays is my congressman, and I will continue to support him."

Ethan Zorfas


All Fight, No More Fear
By JOEL LANG, Courant Staff Writer
October 22, 2006

Since Diane Farrell of Westport first decided more than two years ago to challenge Republican Christopher Shays for the 4th District Congressional seat he'd then held for 17 years, she has carried with her an inspirational message written on a yellow piece of paper.

"All the world is a narrow bridge, and we must not be afraid," it says. It is a shortened version of a saying attributed to an 18th-century Hasidic sage, and it was passed on to her by Sen. Joe Lieberman.

"I saw Joe on St. Patrick's Day in Fairfield. He asked me how it was going. I literally only filed my [candidacy] papers a few weeks before," Farrell recalled recently. "I said it's going well. I said my motto is `No fear.' I just have to dive into this campaign and have no fear about it. And Joe read me the quote."

Farrell kept the quote in front of her during her first debate with Shays, a popular maverick who'd routed all who dared to run against him. Farrell's fear was bred from inexperience and audacity.

"I had only run for elective office in a town of 25,000, and there I was in 2004 running for elective office against a long-term incumbent in a population base of 700,000. I always found [the quote] very comforting."

The confession is about the only evidence that the former Westport first selectwoman ever felt any fear at all. On the campaign trail, she exhibits what those who know her say is an uncanny reservoir of energy and confidence.

It helped her come within 4 percentage points of beating Shays in 2004, when she made his support of the war in Iraq a central issue. This year, with the prolonged war even more dominant, polls rank them in a statistical dead heat, and a Farrell victory would bring her party one of the 15 additional seats it needs to gain control of the House of Representatives.

Shays is running hard, trumpeting his independence and experience, and accusing Farrell of excessive partisanship and a paltry track record of accomplishment. But Farrell is not easily daunted.

At the end of one long day that began with an 8 a.m. debate in Bridgeport - she and Shays have run an 11-debate marathon - Farrell was still going strong when she shared the limelight with Democratic Senate candidate Ned Lamont at an evening rally at the Fat Cat Pie Company in Norwalk.

Lamont, whose defeat of Farrell's friend Lieberman in the Democratic Senate primary proved the potency of the war issue, seemed self-conscious and almost amused, telling the cheering crowd, "I got to tell you, I had a nice normal life going on about a year ago."

When Farrell took the floor, she pumped both fists in the air and shouted, "All right! You know what? This is only Part 1 of the victory celebration!"

Then she roused the faithful into a call-and-response chant, asking them the three questions she has made the billboard of her anti-incumbent campaign.

One: Where Chris Shays has agreed with the president and Republican leadership, like on the Iraq war, has it been good for the country? Two: Where he's disagreed, like on stem cell research, has it made a difference? And three: Can the nation afford two more years without checks and balances in Washington?

The crowd roared back, No! No! No!

Ten hours earlier, Farrell showed another side of her appeal at a Head Start school in Norwalk. Trailed by reporters and accompanied by U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the senior congressman from Harlem, Farrell wandered to a corner table where she soon was leading a half-dozen children in a sing-along from the book, "The Wheels on the Bus."

"The wheels on the bus go round and round all the live long day. The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish, all the live long day," they sang together. Farrell, who once taught Montessori school, paused only to admonish one child, "No fingers in the mouth."

Then, the book finished, she moved to another table where she helped children roll out Play-Doh while she talked to reporters.

"She's got real sizzle. She's effervescent. She lights up a room," said George Jepsen, the former state Senate majority leader who as party chairman counseled Farrell in 2004. "I don't recall a single other contender. Things pretty much cleared away for her."

Carl Leaman, who served with Farrell on the Westport Board of Selectmen from 1997 to 2005, and before that on the board of finance, said she has always been self-assured. "I doubt she's ever been intimidated in her life," Leaman said.

Like others close to Farrell, he calls her "Di." Leaman remembered his wonderment when she began to talk about running for a larger office. He thought she might aim for a state post. But she was eyeing Shays' House seat. "I said, `Boy oh boy, you really want to jump into the middle of things.'"

In Westport, as in other Connecticut Gold Coast towns oriented toward New York, people are used to performing on a larger stage. Leaman is retired from a career as a Wall Street bond expert. Gordon Joseloff, Farrell's successor as the town's chief executive, was an international correspondent for CBS news.

Then there are the town's reigning celebrities, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Westport prides itself on treating them like regular folk, who happen to be active in community affairs. In 2004, they recorded an automated phone message for Farrell. This year they are said to have hosted an unpublicized fundraiser. At another closed fundraiser, the drawing card was Westport writer-in-residence Erica Jong.

Farrell herself is a hometown girl. She was 3 when her parents moved to Westport in 1958. The novel "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" by Sloan Wilson, set in a fictionalized Westport, had recently been published, capturing the darker side of the public relations industry, postwar prosperity and suburbanization.

Farrell's father, Donald Goss, happened to be an advertising executive who commuted to Manhattan, but any similarity with Wilson's novel ended there. Her mother, Lillian, had three more children after Diane and stayed at home until going back to work as a kindergarten teacher. Eventually, her mother became a special education teacher, and two of her siblings also entered teaching.

Asked to identify things in Westport that mean the most to her, Farrell mentioned improved schools and the new senior center, achievements she associates with her town service. But what about as a child? That would be Long Shore Club Park, a waterfront recreation area, she said.

"That's where I learned to play tennis. That's where I attempted to learn to sail. It didn't stick. It's where I learned to swim. ... The other would be the church [Greens Farm Congregational] where I grew up, and my old neighborhood. ... We were never on the water. We were above the Post Road."

In shoreline towns like Westport, that is an important distinction. The Post Road, U.S. Route 1, is the business strip that runs through Fairfield County, parallel to I-95 and the Metro-North Railroad. (Farrell has vowed to seek a seat on the transportation committee if elected to Congress.) The congested corridor, where backups miles long clog I-95 any time of the day, separates super-rich shoreline residences from estate-like homes nestled into a classic country landscape of winding roads lined by low stone walls and white fences.

Westport, however, is the odd town out on the Gold Coast. It is known for having been an artists' colony before World War II, and for its tolerance. "The most important thing about us is we were the first town in Fairfield County that broke the gentleman's agreement," said longtime resident Martha Aasen, referring to the silent pact barring Jews from buying real estate.

A transplanted Mississippian, Aasen said she and her husband (a "mixed marriage" of Lutheran and Presbyterian) were mistaken for Jews when they were house hunting in the area in the early 1960s. She worked at the United Nations and became Democratic town chairwoman during the time Farrell was first selectwoman.

Aasen described Farrell's family as "textbook, see Jane run," and said Farrell "has more energy than God ought to have given anybody. When I first met her I didn't think she could be true."

Remembering the impression Farrell made at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, Aasen also described her in a way only permitted to another woman. "Here was this very, very good-looking woman walking around introducing herself to people she knew and didn't know. ... She comes into a room and she's a real presence."

At Bridgeport's Central High School, another campaign stop the day she toured with Rangel, a sophomore civics student asked, "What did you do to take the steps to become where you are?"

Farrell's answer was simple. As selectwoman she grew interested in regional issues and learned how laws affect local communities. And "some of the president's positions I disagree with, like Iraq."

Her answer was similar several days later at her campaign headquarters that shares a hut-like building with the Westport Arts Center overlooking the Saugatuck River. "It was just simply that I got frustrated to the point where I realized I was in a position to do something," Farrell said, explaining her leap from local to national in 2004. "I could see where I could stand much more independently against the president and the Republican majority in Congress."

In fact, as Farrell tells it, she never expected to enter politics, on any level. She went away for high school, to the Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, then attended Wheaton College, in Norton, Mass., where she majored in American government and minored in education. While there she met her husband, Winslow Farrell Jr., and followed him to California, to his job at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.

In California, she tested the two careers that her parents' background might have predicted for her. She taught Montessori school, then joined the regional office of a New York advertising firm. Soon, though, she and her husband moved back to Westport to raise two daughters, Hilary and Margaret, who are indirectly responsible for her political career.

Farrell became a PTA president, and Leaman, the former finance board member, remembers her making an impression when she argued for schools before the board of finance, to which she would later be elected. Farrell told her alumni magazine that as a parent and busy town official the emergency number she left at her daughters' schools was for the police department.

Now, 23, Hilary is entering graduate school and Margaret, 19, is in college. Their father is now a consultant specializing in computer predictive modeling. The work led him to write a book, "How Hits Happen," applying chaos theory to the entertainment marketplace.

"One of these days I swear I'm going to try to understand it," Farrell said, laughing. She also laughs that her husband is a registered Republican. It guarantees party mail attacking her comes to their home.

In their debates, Farrell and Shays have traded complaints about negative ads. But the contest so far has been relatively civil, focusing on the war and Washington, just as it did two years ago. Farrell said the main difference this year is that the issues have intensified. There are some new ironies, though, that chaos theory might help explain.

Shays and Lieberman are centrists from opposing parties, under attack for their similar stances on the war. Farrell, who supported Lieberman in the primary against Lamont, hammers Shays for suddenly becoming critical of the Bush administration's war policy. Shays, who defends his conversion as genuine and evidence of his independence, says Farrell is the kind of partisan Washington already has too many of.

Given the big-canvas issues, it can sound odd during their debates when Farrell's record as first selectwoman comes up. At one debate the audience audibly gasped when Shays suggested that Farrell couldn't have been elected to a third term. He has also said alternately that Westport has the state's highest tax rate or highest per capita tax rate.

Farrell's response, when she bothers to respond, is that she won 71 percent of the vote in her second term and that Westport's mill rate, the usual measure of tax burden, is lower than that of most towns in the 4th District.

In Westport itself, the Republican town chairman, Pete Wolgast, a retired Exxon executive, said Farrell was criticized for failing to oversee the assessor's office, which fell behind in property revaluations. "She was already running for Congress and really wasn't managing town hall," Wolgast said.

In general, Wolgast said, her biggest weakness was a reluctance to make decisions on her own. "She knows people's children. She knows people's parents. She's got a warm personality. ... Rather than working with department heads in town [on a problem], she'd form a committee."

Last week, the national party tapped Farrell to give the Democratic response to the president's regular Saturday radio address. It is a measure of the importance of the 4th District race, and Farrell's political rise.

"I've always found it ironic that my passion turned out to be my profession," Farrell said, looking back to her college years as a government major at Wheaton.

"It was not a clear path from the beginning. Because I have a passion about public service it enables me to maintain the level of stamina necessary to pursue it. It makes me happy. ... I go to bed every night semi-exhausted, but not as tired as I should be."

Westport's revaluation should come to voters' minds
Norwalk HOUR
October 19, 2006

To the Editor,

Diane Farrell came to Weston a few weeks ago asking us to give her one of the most precious things we have: our votes. As she spoke I was reminded of Westport's reevaluation fiasco. It took Westport three attempts at reevaluation to get it right. Diane refused to take charge.

In 2004 she appointed a committee to determine what went wrong with the first effort. Diane watched as the second reevaluation blew up in Westport's face. The same Diane Farrell who wants our votes took a pass.

I know one thing. Good leaders don't run from problems. They solve them.

I know something else. Diane worked to reduce the autonomy of Weston and Westport. I helped stop her. Weston and Westport belong to the South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA). Diane supported SWRPA's "2004 Legislative Agenda." The agenda called for the conversion of SWRPA to a Councils of Governments (COGs), and provided for "...strengthening COGs so they have greater authority to foster regional cooperation." Diane wanted state legislation providing incentives for the creation of an agency with "authority" over local decision making.

At a public session held during April 2005, Diane spoke in favor of creating a COG. I spoke against the idea. Diane's proposal died that night. It died in Westport as well. Westport's Planning and Zoning Commission recommended against the conversion.

When the Democratic Party members of Westport's Planning and Zoning Commission go to the polls to vote "yes" or "no" on Diane, I suspect several will vote yes. But when their votes reflected trust in her leadership on an issue of critical importance for Westport, they voted no.

Dr. Dan Gilbert

Keefe bringing down curtain on Playhouse career

By JEANNE HOFF, Hour Staff Writer
August 26, 2006

WESTPORT — Turning 60 this Sunday, Anne Keefe, associate artistic director of the Westport Country Playhouse, is poised to begin her odyssey from theater disciple to suburban homemaker.

Last week Keefe announced her resignation from the Playhouse after seven summers with the theater. Yet the leading lady of backstage production refuses — in the words of Dylan Thomas — to "go gently into that good night."

"Of all the experiences I've had in my life — some hideous, some miraculous — the theater has been the center of it," said Keefe, whose resignation is effective Sep. 25. " I'm very conflicted."

Keefe, who has three daughters with husband and playwright David Wiltse, said although the Playhouse fosters a great sense of family, she wanted time off — specifically to vacation in Rome, Australia and New York — destinations that are home to the couple's children and grandchildren — but more so, Keefe wanted to devote more time to herself, her husband, and their Weston home.

"Theater is my anchor," Keefe said. "As of today I've worked 32 days without 24 hours off. A lot of this is my choice, but I'm nearly 60 years- old."

Keefe's incessant work pace coupled with her 37-year theater tenure and love of the field may serve as impetus, she said, for possibly several unpremeditated drives to 25 Powers Court.

"I just see myself driving down to the Playhouse even after this," she said. " I'd like to continue to be involved with Playhouse. I certainly want to be a resource for them ... I'm not going anywhere. I'm not leaving town. I'm just not sitting at this desk."

Before coming to Westport, Keefe spent 27 years at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, where she was resident stage manager. She began her career in 1969 as a production secretary at the McCarter Theater in New Jersey in 1969.

It was at the McCarter Theater that Keefe first meet executive director Alison Harris, who announced her resignation from the Westport Country Playhouse in July,

The current artistic director, Tazewell Thompson, succeeded Joanne Woodward, whose resignation became effective Jan. 1.

Woodward is now artistic director emeritus, but is said to be still influential in overseeing operations at the Playhouse.

Harris, who joined the Playhouse in 2000, announced late last year that she would not renew her contract, which expires Nov. 30 2006.

Amid a whirlwind of changes in the Playhouse management, Harris reportedly was asked to leave last month and not stay for the duration of her contract.

Former managing director of Baltimore's Center Stage and past president of the League of Resident Theaters, or LORT, Peter Culman will serve as a consulting director to the board as the Playhouse searches for someone to permanently succeed Harris.

Despite rumors of tension or friction within the walls of the Playhouse, Keefe said everyone enjoys a very amicable relationship.

Keefe added that she, Woodward and Harris all served on the committee responsible for soliciting Thompson for the position of artistic director.

Woodward became artistic director in 2001. She first served as artistic advisor in 2000 after the resignation of executive producer James B. McKenzie, who had run the theater for 41 years.

Keefe, Harris and Woodward were all on the team that successfully led a $31 million renovation, expansion and endowment campaign that converted the summer playhouse into a year-round arts center.

Much of the turnover, Keefe said, can be attributed new management, as with any other operation.

"Anytime a new artistic director comes on board there is change," Keefe said. "His job is to get a team of people in place to support his vision"

Thompson, however, she said, will continue to have the support of herself, Harris and Woodward. "We're the team that built the place. He has to keep it running ... I'm enormously proud of what we have accomplished. I have never in my life done anything this important. But it doesn't mean I have to die at this desk."

Theater lovers can expect to see another addition to the Playhouse as soon as next month with opening of "The Dressing Room — Newman's Own — A Homegrown Restaurant," which will be co-managed by chef and author Michel Nischan as well as actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, who is Woodward's husband.

Paul Newman dies at 83 years young;  a great friend to the environment and to his neighbor, Weston.  Made the difference in Trout Brook Valley land purchase.

Newman planned for charitable legacy after death
Published: September 28, 2008
Filed at 5:13 p.m. ET

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A friend of the late Paul Newman says the actor made plans for his charity work to continue after his death.

Robert Forrester is vice chairman of the Newman's Own Foundation. He said Sunday that the actor began planning several years ago to make sure profits from his food company would always benefit charities worldwide.

The charities include camps for children suffering from life-threatening diseases. Newman and his company gave away more than $250 million.

Newman died Friday at age 83.

Newman Seeks Again to Protect Images of Actors
Posted 03/21 at 07:42 PM

Westport’s Paul Newman was back in Hartford today pushing for legislation that would create a “right of publicity” and prevent unauthorized digital distribution of anyone’s image.

Newman, who was accompanied by fellow actor James Naughton of Weston, made a similar appearance before lawmakers last year in an unsuccessful attempt at getting the legislation. (See WestportNow March, 24, 2006)

“What I am talking about is ownership of self,” Newman told the Judiciary Committee. “To me, that [misuse] is nothing less than theft.”

Because technology has improved dramatically, he said, he fears that film clips from his performances could be digitally extracted for use in film or commercials to unjustly profit the producers.

"We are living in an age of cheap and easy electronic manipulation,” said Newman.

“Almost anyone with a computer can now lift a few frames of someone’s image ... and expand it into a production that there’s no resemblance of the original but can look and sound as though those who appeared are actually filmed doing and saying what they appear to be doing.”

Newman’s appearance drew a crowd and he signed autographs after his testimony and posed for pictures.

The proposed bill would prevent any distortion that would “cause the individual to speak or appear to speak words that the person did not speak or place the individual or appear to place the individual in a place or circumstance in which the individual did not agree to be placed.”

Newman is pushing for state legislation because there is no federal law that protects public figures from having their image, voice, likeness or signature from being misused.

Copyright and trademark laws, he said, do not go far enough. Although 19 states - including California, Florida, and New York - have passed their own laws, many officials believe that the problem could be addressed more simply with federal legislation, but that has not happened.

After Newman left the room, representatives from NBC Universal Studios and other film companies denounced the bill and warned that it would allow sweeping violations of the First Amendment. Many of the biggest players in the film industry submitted written testimony against the bill.

Actors Back Bill That Protects Their Likenesses
By Susan Haigh & Associated Press 
Published on 3/25/2006
Hartford — Three familiar faces from Hollywood urged Connecticut lawmakers Friday to help protect their images.
Actors Paul Newman, Christopher Plummer and Charles Grodin, all state residents, said they worry that technology has made it possible to access their films, images and voices, and use that material to produce another product they know nothing about.

“We are suddenly cloned into something we're not,” said Plummer. “We are robbed of our individuality and our life's work is tarnished.”

A bill before the legislature's Judiciary Committee would forbid someone from using another person's so-called “right of publicity,” such as their name, voice, signature, photograph, image, likeness, distinctive appearance, gestures or mannerisms, for commercial purposes without proper consent.  The legislation would extend that right of publicity during the person's lifetime or for 70 years after the person's death.

The Motion Picture Association of America opposes the bill in its current form. The organization, which represents the major film studios, is worried the legislation could infringe on filmmakers' rights of expression and their ability to use old footage of famous people in their movies.  Stephen E. Nevas, a Westport attorney, said 19 states have enacted some type of “right of publicity statute.” Nevas said there is a presumed right in Connecticut, but legislators have never spelled out the details.

Lawmakers, he said, have also not addressed digitized larceny of people's images.

“There's a kind of cult of piracy that seems to be prevalent,” Newman told the legislators. “This cult of piracy has a new gorilla in the room, which is technology.”

Many people in the public eye have gone to the courts to stop others from using their likenesses.  In February, a federal appeals court barred a California auto parts supplier from using retired race car driver Mario Andretti's name, likeness or quotes without his permission. Andretti had sued the company for running an advertisement featuring an interview him praising one of the company's products.

The availability of inexpensive computer technology also makes it possible for someone to produce a new movie by reediting the original.  Vans Stevenson, the MPAA's senior vice president for state government affairs, said existing copyright law covers some of those concerns. The issue also has been tested in court, he said. In 1983, the Connecticut Supreme Court determined the state's privacy laws address a person's name or likeness.

“Our position basically is, common law covers this,” said Stevenson, adding how Connecticut is the first state to take up a right of publicity bill since the late 1990s.

But Stevenson said MPAA is willing to work with Connecticut lawmakers and reach a compromise.

The way the bill is now written, he said, it could prevent parody of famous people. Stevenson said it also would have required the heirs of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy to give permission to use old news footage of the late presidents in the movie “Forest Gump,” which depicted the main character meeting with the men.

Plummer said he's not concerned about famous people being parodied

“I'm not talking about the nice, ridiculing cartoons that were mentioned. That's fine. We all love those. It's the outrageous daring of putting ideas into people's mouths that reminds me of the George Orwell book,” Plummer said, referring to “1984.”

Staples Girls Swimming & Diving Take Third at Class LL
The Staples girls swimming and diving team took third place tonight at the 2008 Class LL championship at Wesleyan University in Middletown.

The Staples team, which finished behind Greenwich and Cheshire, was led by tri-captain Savitri Horrigan, who won fifth place in the 100- yard breaststroke and sixth place in the 200-yard individual medley.

Sophomore Molly Loftus took second place in the 200-yard freestyle and third place in the 500-yard freestyle.

The Staples championship swimming team included senior Savitri Horrigan; juniors Natalie LeBlanc, Catherine Friel, Charlotte Katter and Helen Neuhaus; sophomores Louise Fonteyne, Molly Loftus and Julie Valgren; and freshman Gabrielle Wimer. The championship diving team included senior Ariel Steinglass; junior Megan Kratky; and sophomore Schaefer Andrews.

Steinglass moves into spotlight
By GEORGE ALBANO, Hour Staff Writer
March 28, 2007

As a freshman gymnast last year, Ariel Steinglass of Staples had no problem staying in the background. She almost relished it.

Steinglass was content to let the spotlight shine on teammate and senior captain Meghan Lally, the Wreckers' All-FCIAC and second-team all-state gymnast who was named The Hour's All-Area MVP in 2006.

Not that Steinglass didn't have a big year herself, In fact, she also garnered first-team All-FCIAC and second-team all-state honors and was named to the All-Area team as a freshman. It's just that she did it all while flying under the radar. Staying in the background, if you will.

But with Lally and a few other key seniors graduating, Steinglass had to step up as a sophomore this season. And did she ever.

Steinglass not only replaced Lally as Staples' top gymnast and team leader, but she also succeeded her former teammate one other way: She was named The Hour's 2007 All-Area MVP.

Guess you could say Ariel Steinglass stepped to the foreground.

"She really was in the background last year," agreed Staples coach Melissa Zigmont. "But this year she kinda came out, not only on our team but in the FCIAC and also in the state. Last year it was like she snuck onto the All-FCIAC team and second-team all-state without anyone noticing. But this year she made first team All-FCIAC and all-state.

"And she didn't even make the State Open last year and this year she made it in all four events. We all cross our fingers that someone makes it in one event and she made it in all four."

But just being a year older and more experienced only partly explains the big improvement in Steinglass from one year to the next. The biggest reason could be summed up in two words: Hard work.

"I did do a lot in the offseason, like working out in the summer, and that definitely helped," the soft-spoken Steinglass said. "I went to a gymnastics camp in Vermont for four weeks and I did a lot of gymnastics there. I definitely improved a lot because of that."

Zigmont, for one, wasn't surprised by Steinglass' improvement.

"She works real hard during the offseason," the Staples coach said. "She just has a great work ethic."

Her commitment to gymnastics and her desire to take it to another level were also key factors.

"Ariel is involved in a lot of things, but she dropped a couple of extra-curricular activities this year so she could concentrate on gymnastics more," Zigmont pointed out. "That obviously made a huge difference. So did the camp she went to in the summer.

"She also dove on the swim team in the fall and that helps you a lot in gymnastics."

By the time gymnastics season rolled around this winter, Steinglass was ready to take that next step and Zigmont could see it right away, in some places more than others.

"She drastically got a lot better on floor," the coach said. "Last year, she started out with a 7.8, 7.9, and averaged out to an 8.2, 8.3. But this year she broke a 9. Usually if you can improve your average by two or three tenths of a point that's pretty good

"But in the first meet of the season she scored an 8.8. She improved her average from last year by six-tenths. That's a pretty big deal. That means she upped the difficulty in her routine."

Ah, yes, her routine. That, too, really made a difference.

"She had a whole new floor routine with new music," Zigmont noted. "I think the new music helped show off her dance skills. She's a great dancer, too. She goes to dance class four times a week."

"I take the class for fun, but it definitely helps me in gymnastics," Steinglass said.

The new floor routine had Steinglass' signature all over it.

"I chose my own music," she explained. "I mixed two songs ("Show Me the Money" by Petey Pablo, and "Believe Me" by Fort Minor) and I was able to incorporate a lot of dance into it.

"I also choreographed part of the routine myself."

From that score of 8.8 in the season-opening meet, Steinglass just got consistently better. In fact, she couldn't have picked a better time to post her best score, ringing up a 9.05 at the Class M state meet to finish runner-up.

"That was the first time I broke 9 in high school in any event," she said. "It just really came together."

That impressive score and second-place finish earned Steinglass first-team all-state status. The top eight scores in each event qualify for all-state, and Steinglass was able to pick up another first-team honor in the all-around where she scored a 32.4 to finish eighth.

She also garnered second-team all-state accolades (9th through 16th place) in vault and beam, tying for 10th place in both, as well as on bars, where she tied for 13th.

Her outstanding individual effort also helped lead Staples to a second-place finish in the team standings.

What's more, Steinglass qualified for the State Open in all four events.

"I didn't even qualify for Opens in one event last year," she said. "I surprised myself a little bit this year. It was really exciting."

At the State Open, she tied for 13th place on floor and finished 23rd in vault and in the all-around.

Two weeks earlier, Steinglass paced the Wreckers to a fifth-place finish at the FCIAC Championships, placing third on floor with an 8.6 to land a spot on the All-FCIAC first-team (first through fourth place). She also tied for seventh on bars to earn second-team honors (fifth through 10th qualified), and added an 11th-place finish in the all-around.

"Her highest score on beam was an 8.9, which also improved from last year by a tenth or two," Zigmont said. "She was also very consistent on vault. Her average was around 8.5 and her high was probably 8.6.

"And she had a high of 8.2 on bars, which is her weakest event. The bars are usually the lowest score for everyone, but she got consistently better all season."

And the best thing about Ariel Steinglass, according to her coach, is she hasn't even come close to scratching the surface of her full potential.

"She definitely hasn't plateaued yet," Zigmont said. "There's definitely a lot of room for improvement as far as difficulty of skills. She doesn't feel she's plateaued, either. She can't wait for next season. She's already saying 'I want to get better at this and better at that.'

"So she's already looking forward to next season and setting her goals high."

And as much as she would like to, staying in the background is no longer an option.

Click on "Karlan" below to get to Eric's website (at U. of P.):

Karlan Hits Winners, Leads Weston to The Top
By Eliot Schickler
Article Last Updated: Friday, August 26, 2005 - 5:16:36 PM EST

Eric Karlan completed an illustrious scholastic tennis career in June. Karlan, a senior tri-captain for the Weston High School boys tennis team before graduating, was a four-year member of Weston's varsity and contributed to four straight Class S titles and three straight SWC titles.

"Going into high school, I knew the only sport I'd play was tennis," says Karlan. "I got pretty lucky and played with an amazing team. Making varsity itself all four years is a privilege, but to be on a tennis team that won four straight titles is awesome."

Freshman year, Karlan played third doubles with then sophomore Mike Shea and they were runners-up at the SWC individuals tournament for third doubles.

"[Then senior] Ryan Pierce got injured, which opened up a spot and I was able to take advantage," says Karlan. "Freshman year, I went in with confidence. Being part of a winning tradition and playing in the varsity lineup all four years was cool."

The Trojans finished second to Barlow High at SWCs during Karlan's freshman year. Weston's 7-0 loss to Barlow at the SWC championships that year was its last lost and has won 49 straight matches since then.

Sophomore year, Karlan played third doubles with classmate Brandon Gillespie and then freshman Alex Toutoungi. In the regular season match against Barlow, Karlan and Toutoungi won the deciding match that gave the Trojans a 4-3 win. Karlan and Gillespie won their match in the team's 5-2 win over Barlow in the SWC championship and they won the SWC individuals title at third doubles.

"You are on a team that's expected to win at SWCs," says Karlan. "That's what you are supposed to do. Playing your game like you always do was key." On most teams, Karlan would be higher on the ladder, but with Weston's vaunted lineup, he had to settle for third singles which is fine with him.

"I was just happy to be in the varsity lineup, a lineup as strong as the year before if not stronger," says Karlan. "We had a great time. Tennis is an individual sport, but you are part of a team and it's more important to be a part of the team than to be a premier player." By being at third doubles, Karlan didn't get to play at Class S because each team can only send three singles players and two doubles combinations. If Class S had the same amount of entries as Class L, which is four singles players and three doubles combinations, Karlan and Gillespie would have played in it.

"It's disappointing not to go my first two years, but I wouldn't trade being an All-Stater my junior year for going all four years," says Karlan.

Before Karlan's junior year, Dave Meyer replaced Rob Parker, who moved to Vermont, as Trojan head coach. Karlan was paired with then freshman Taylor Stein and they became a lethal combination at first doubles.

"To move from third to first doubles was an amazing blast," says Karlan. "We were trying different partners at tryouts. The first time Taylor and I played [then senior] Jesse [Kirschenbaum] and [Karlan's classmate] Corey [Brandfon], we lost 6-0. I went home that night and told my parents Taylor was going to be my partner for the season. Once we'd learn how to play together, I knew we'd become an amazing team."

Kirschenbaum missed the first five matches of the season, which paved the way for Karlan and Stein to play first doubles. When Kirschenbaum returned, Karlan and Stein beat Kirschenbaum and Brandfon in a challenge match in maintaining their hold of first doubles.

"Taylor and I have unmatched chemistry," says Karlan. "Even if we weren't the best talent-wise, on the court, we had unmatched chemistry that was rare in high school tennis. Taylor and I worked hard together and grew at a very quick rate. It's not so much beating them but knowing Taylor and I made the right decision. After losing the first match to them, I knew Taylor was the right partner for me and the decision paid off."

Meyer appreciated Karlan's contributions to the team.

"Eric is a great team player from the get-go and brings a positive attitude every day to practice," says Meyer. "He's improved a lot since freshman year because he works on his game year round. He's a class act and does what's asked of him and puts the team first. He does what's for the betterment of the team. He did a great job as a junior for me and as a senior this year."

Karlan and Stein were perfect junior year and never lost in the regular season and Class S tournament. They won the Class S doubles title by winning six matches, putting Weston over the top in its 16-15 win over second place Avon High School.

In the semifinals match, Karlan and Stein lost the first and trailed Michael Crehan and Shane Lindner of Valley Regional High in the second set, 5-3. Moreover, Crehan and Lindner were serving at match point with a 40-15 lead. Showing their pluckiness and determination, Karlan and Stein withstood two match points and won the game, set and match, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

"Obviously, it's easy to look back now, but if Eric and Taylor didn't win the match, we wouldn't have won States," says Meyer. "They both talked to each other and it was a good match for the character of both kids. They didn't play to not to lose, they played to win, and as a result, they came back." Even when they were on the brink of losing, Karlan's confidence was unwavering.

"I turned around to Taylor and I said, 'There's no way we're going to lose,'" recalls Karlan. "I don't know how we did it but we went from being down two match points to winning the third set. When I watch sports, I root for the underdog and I always believe the underdog can come back and win. Believing we still had a chance to win and knowing we had a chance to win, helped."

One day after a grueling semifinal win, Karlan and Stein clinched the Class S title for the Trojans with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 win over William Heyniger and Kevin Levinson of Stonington High.

"In one match, to win States for yourself and the entire team, is an unmatched feeling in high school sports," says Karlan. "That would be the highlight for my athletic career for my entire life. It's a storybook ending to the perfect season. You could not have scripted it better." Handling the heat and humidity wasn't easy, but Karlan and Stein persevered.

"Endurance was one thing," recalls Karlan. "We outlasted our opponents. It was a very hot week and our strategy was to outlast and overpower our opponents and it worked. We saved the best for last."   The SWC tournament changed its individual format that year by having one singles and one doubles champion overall instead of one for each position. Karlan and Stein lost to Kirschenbaum and Brandfon in a three-setter with the deciding set ending in a tiebreaker.

"We wanted to win [States] for the team because we needed to and we wanted to avenge our loss at SWCs," says Karlan. "I'm not sure if we didn't lose at SWCs to Jesse and Corey if we would have done as well at States. All we heard in the two weeks between SWC individuals and States is how we lost at SWCs."

In Karlan's senior year, Gary Meunier replaced Meyer as Weston coach with the latter enrolling in Brooklyn Law School. Karlan and Stein were undefeated as a pair in regular season action but lost in the Class S semifinals to East Catholic High School's No. 1 and 2 singles players. The Trojans easily won Class S with 20 points, outdistancing second place Haddam-Killingworth.

"It was a great season and exactly how I wanted," says Karlan. "We decided we will defend our title and we were one match short. It was a huge disappointment but I'd do it all over again. We had a great time together. We were too hesitant and worried more about losing a point instead of trying to win a point."

Early in the season, Weston had key injuries and a tough match with Pomperaug. Meunier put Karlan at third singles and the Trojan senior tri-captain delivered with a 6-3, 6-2 win which enabled Weston to win 5-2 and maintain its streak.

"That was fun playing singles and I play singles in the offseason," says Karlan. Except for Barlow and Pomperaug, Karlan would play first singles for any other SWC teams. Freshman and sophomore year, he played a few singles matches. Although Karlan likes playing singles matches, he's happy being at doubles.

"I like my partner Taylor, we are a great team and I got very lucky," says Karlan. Having an outstanding serve and confidence in it contributed to Karlan's success.

"I never had a second serve," says Karlan. "I have two, big kick serves, which is unique to high school tennis. My first and second serves are the same. You work on it and know it goes in. It's rare when you miss two serves in a row and when you do, you get the third serve in." In choosing the baseline or net, Karlan prefers the baseline.

"I love my forehand," says Karlan on his success at the baseline. Even though Karlan is a baseline person, he's adept at the net and has slammed home many overhead forehand shots for winners.

"I have quick hands to make up for not-so quick feet and I was good at poaching," says Karlan. Life on the tennis courts began for Karlan at age 10 through the encouragement of his paternal grandmother.

"She wanted to get me on the court to play with her and said she'd buy me a tennis racket," recalls Karlan. "She knew it would be my favorite sport. I fell in love with the game and quit the other sports."

Karlan played baseball until sixth grade and quit the day he made the All-Star team because he wanted to commit to tennis. He also played recreational basketball in his formative years. Leadership is another Karlan strength as he ably served as captain, leading the team by example through his work ethic and verbally when he needed to speak to his teammates.

"I loved being captain and it was a huge honor being captain for arguably the best sports team in Weston," says Karlan. "To be associated with Weston boys tennis is an honor. I try to emphasize team and make sure we supported each other and rooted for each other. I think we supported each other and grew. I credit the other captains, Corey and Brandon, and coach Gary Meunier. I didn't think we'd get better than Dave Meyer and now we can't get better than Gary Meunier."

Meyer thinks Karlan is an outstanding leader.

"Even as a junior, he was a natural leader," says Meyer. "He commands respect on and off the court. He commands respect in a positive way and he's a positive influence in the community. Kids gravitate towards him."  When Karlan's school year ends next year, he plans on being a volunteer assistant under Meunier. Academically, Karlan has a 4.32 grade point average.

"I just manage my time real well," says Karlan on balancing academics with tennis. Karlan also won an award for the Holocaust Rememberence Essay Contest, describing how Denmark saved almost its entire Jewish population.

"I feel strongly about the subject," says Karlan. "I think it's inspirational because the people took action and didn't let evil prevail."

This fall, Karlan will attend the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). He will major in writing and his goal is to become a sports journalist. With Penn being a Division I school, Karlan doesn't plan on playing varsity tennis. He has the makings of a good Division II and Division III tennis player.

"From the first day I saw the school, I fell in love with it and there was no school I wanted to go to more than Penn," says Karlan. "There's no question it's my dream school and tennis wasn't a priority. It's the right school for me. I will still play tennis with my friends. Will I miss it, yes, but there are other things to do in life and I want to be well-rounded."

Karlan hopes to play tennis at the club level.

"I intend on playing tennis and I'm not giving it up," says Karlan.

College tennis could use a good ambassador like Karlan, but Penn gains an outstanding student, leader, thinker and person with a strong conscience in Eric Karlan.

Questions surround director's departure
Greenwich TIME
By Hoa Nguyen, Staff Writer
Published December 12 2006

Greenwich's wetlands director Mark Massoud resigned Friday, raising questions yesterday about the reasons for his abrupt departure and how it could shape potential plans to reorganize the land use departments.

"I was aware he was thinking about resigning," said First Selectman Jim Lash, who after winning re-election last year began publicly talking about the need to reorganize the land use agencies to make them more efficient. "That was one of the things that was on my mind about the possibility of reorganizing the land use agencies."

On Friday, Massoud, a former Danbury environmental inspector who was hired four years ago to direct the Greenwich Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Agency, ushered staff members together to tell them he was resigning.

"His words were as of that day, he was resigning," said senior wetlands analyst Michael Chambers, who declined further comment, referring additional questions to Human Resources Director Maureen Kast.

Both Kast and Massoud, who lives in Danbury, could not be reached for comment. Lash declined to comment on whether Massoud had been forced out or had negotiated a severance package.

Tom Baptist, who serves as the chairman of the wetlands agency as well on the subcommittee that picked Massoud for the job in 2003, also declined to comment on the resignation or Massoud's performance during his tenure in Greenwich.

"I couldn't really comment on what motivated Mark to take that action," Baptist said. "It's best that if you have questions along those lines that you talk to Maureen."

Prior to coming to Greenwich, Massoud served in Danbury's health department as an environmental inspector for 12 years. He also had been an environmental officer with the town of New Fairfield, and was a land-use coordinator for Redding. While working, Massoud obtained a master's degree in urban policy from Southern Connecticut State University. He also has a bachelor's degree in psychology from Northeastern University.Though staff and agency members would not say what had prompted the resignation, there were signs that Massoud and agency members may not have been on the best of terms.

Retired wetlands directgor Michael Aurelia, a Representative Town Meeting member who was Massoud's predecessor, said he started seeing signs things may have been amiss earlier this year, including at a public hearing in September.

"I thought it was suspicious that they weren't letting him say anything," said Aurelia, who has been publicly at odds with Baptist and whose wife, Conservation Director Denise Savageau, competed with Massoud for the director's job in 2002.

Savageau, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, recently settled a lawsuit with the town in which she said Baptist and her have "ill feelings for each other," accusing him of unfair treatment when he and the rest of the hiring committee members passed her over in favor of Massoud.

Lash said though he and others had talked about reorganizing the land use departments, which also include the Planning and Zoning Commission and Conservation Commission, well before he had learned about the possibility of Massoud's resignation, the vacancy might spur more conversation on the topic.

"Now we can look again at how we can reorganize the land use agencies," he said.

Study sparks concern for nonprofit organization
Greenwich TIME
By Michael Dinan
Published May 24 2005  

As consultants approach the halfway point in a two-month evaluation of the Greenwich Department of Social Services, at least one nonprofit organization is concerned that a potential downsizing of the department could hinder the town's ability to deliver groceries to needy residents.

Yesterday, during a public forum, the Board of Selectmen were asked about the long-term implications if a home food delivery service the department offers is outsourced. The food for the service is collected and bagged by Neighbor to Neighbor -- the only food pantry in town.

First Selectman Jim Lash and Selectman Peter Crumbine responded that the town's goal is not to eliminate services. Rather, an ongoing study of the social services department is intended to save taxpayers' money, they said.

"The idea is . . . to change who provides (services), and generally speaking, services are better provided in private sector through nonprofits, more efficiently and more flexibly," Crumbine said during the Selectmen's Breakfast, an annual question-and-answer session co-sponsored by the Commission on Aging and the Senior Center. More than 40 seniors attended the forum.

Last month, the Board of Social Services hired a consulting firm to study the department's personnel structure and operations. Town finance officials have urged the board to outsource programs that could be provided by private, nonprofit organizations, thereby saving money in employee wages and benefits. That study should be completed in about a month.

No one knows how much money the town spends on delivering groceries to people's homes, because the municipal employees' work hours are not broken down by each run.  More importantly to Neighbor to Neighbor, it isn't clear that clients who depend on the home-delivery service would be adequately served by a nonprofit agency instead of the town's social workers. Town social workers and aides helped deliver groceries from Neighbor to Neighbor to the homes of about 50 low-income clients in a recent week, according to the organization.

"We would be very concerned that if a nonprofit agency assumed this service, that they might see it as not as important as other services," said Mary Bausch, vice president of the organization's board.

Neighbor to Neighbor clients must meet strict income qualifications to receive the donated groceries, said Judith Cullen, director of the social services department's senior division. All of Neighbor to Neighbor's 250 families and single clients are financially screened and referred to the organization by the town's social workers. Typically, they earn less than $1,596 per month for a single-person household, Cullen said.

Residents who depend on home delivery are mostly homebound seniors and working families who lack transportation, Cullen said. Between the department's senior division and adult and family division, three full-time and two part-time employees spend a good portion of their workweek delivering groceries from Neighbor to Neighbor.

After the event, Lash said, "I don't have any reason to believe, at the moment, that (the home-delivery) program is getting any more or less review than another program."

Neighbor to Neighbor is unique, President Sandy Motland said, because the organization works closely with social workers to ensure that food is delivered.

"What other agency would get involved in delivering food?" she asked. "I can't think of any."

If push came to shove, Motland said, Neighbor to Neighbor would try to handle the home deliveries itself, but the organization isn't set up with the volunteer staff or time to do that.

"If that was only way these people were going to get the food, I imagine we could come up with a method, so long as we had the volunteers to do it," she said. "But what the social workers really do is provide casework, referring clients to a whole array of services like Neighbor to Neighbor. We can't provide the casework, because we're not trained to do that." 

Notes from here and there about other public employees, and other people gone but not forgotten.

Ed Gomeau checking out dog licence of new Wiemariner staff member of Weston FORUM...

Election won't stop candidate interviews
Greenwich TIME
By Hoa Nguyen, Staff Writer
Published June 4 2007

A six-figure salary comes with the job, but so does the uncertainty coming from an upcoming election.

Greenwich is looking for a new town administrator, with a first review of the candidate list expected this week and a hiring decision likely made before the November elections, First Selectman Jim Lash said.

"It just stays opened until it gets filled," he said. "This is a pretty important position and I think we should get the best person we can get and on board as soon as possible."

The new hire will work under the direction of the first selectman. Even though Lash will not run for a third term, and will have minimal interaction with this person, he will fill the position before leaving office, he said.

"It's a very important position and one that should not be allowed to sit empty," Lash said. He said he is doing it so the next first selectman doesn't have to worry about the hiring. "It's part of my job to make their transition as easy as possible."

The former town administrator, Ed Gomeau, left after the Representative Town Meeting declined to make the post permanent by amending the Town Charter and including it as a part of municipal government. Gomeau, who could have continued working indefinitely as town administrator, said he decided to leave shortly after the RTM vote to show his discontent with its decision.

"That was a clear message to me that I wasn't able to convince them that you needed a professional in that job," Gomeau said of the RTM vote. "They decided not to do it. For me to stay on, it would have been me saying that it didn't matter that they decided they didn't need it."

Any town administrator must realize that until the post and official job responsibilities are part of the charter, job security and day-to-day duties can be as fleeting as the whim of the next first selectman, Gomeau said.

"You're asking somebody with municipal experience to come and take that job and have a very uncertain tenure -- and it may not be based on performance but it may be based on what will happen in town," he said, referring to the upcoming election. "Your duties are not explicit and they're only assigned as the first selectman wants to assign it."

Gomeau, who served for nearly three years and whose salary was $156,515, was the first town administrator hired in Greenwich in about two decades. Prior to Lash, several predecessors appointed an assistant to help in day-to-day activities, though these aides earned significantly less than Gomeau, often lacked municipal expertise and interacted with town departments much less frequently.

"There has to be some concession on the part of the RTM and other boards if they want a professional in that position," Gomeau said. "If that doesn't happen, it will revert back because there's no sense in it."

After leaving Greenwich, Gomeau returned to working as director of business and operations for the North Haven Board of Education.

Two contenders for first selectman said they support having a permanent town administrator and are behind the decision to hire a new one quickly.

"This is terribly awkward and anybody who is applying for the job is applying with the knowledge that this is not in the charter," said Frank Farricker, a Democrat who entered the race this week. "The only upside is the two leading contenders, myself and Peter Tesei, are both on record that they support charter change."

Lash also has offered to consult with the Republican and Democratic nominees for first selectman during the hiring process, the candidates said.

"If he's going to consult with the major candidates and talk to them, that makes sense," said Peter Tesei, a contender for the Republican nomination. "I don't think delay is the best option. There are things that need to get done."

Though he is willing to consult, Lash also made clear the decision will be his.

"I'm first selectman now," he said. "The most likely outcome is we'll find a very good candidate and they will be hired through the remainder of my term and onto the next administration."

Lash's decision doesn't sit well with everyone, particularly one of his most vocal critics -- Sam Romeo, who ran and lost as a petition candidate for first selectman in 2003. Romeo said he has not decided on whether to run again this year, but that if he did and won, he would not approve funding for a town administrator.

"Why are we building this big bureaucracy in the first selectman's office?" Romeo asked, adding that the first selectman in conjunction with department heads should be capable of running the town. "If we're not hiring the right people, the people who are doing the hiring have to go."
Copyright © 2007, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

Permanent post nixed, Gomeau's future cloudy
Greenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published December 13 2006

A day after the Representative Town Meeting rejected permanent status for the town administrator's post, speculation over how long Edward Gomeau would remain on the job consumed Town Hall yesterday.  Promoted to the newly created job in 2004 from town comptroller, Gomeau is said by several confidantes to be frustrated by the RTM's unwillingness to make his position permanent through an amendment to the Town Charter and could move on.

"That, I have heard at times," said Peter Tesei, chairman of the Board of Estimate and Taxation. "It's a possibility."

Tesei lamented the prospect, saying that Gomeau has become a key figure in the management of the town since the post was re-established after a long absence.

Likened by many of its supporters to a business's chief operating officer, the town administrator assumed responsibility for day-to-day operations of municipal departments from the first selectman, who was left to concentrate on policy-making.

"I think he's been a tremendous asset in improving the overall administration of the town and effectiveness of town government," Tesei said.

With a salary of about $150,000 annually, Gomeau is the town's highest paid non-school administrator. Several messages seeking comment from him were left yesterday at his office.  First Selectman Jim Lash said he knew of no plans for Gomeau to take another job.

"It would be very disappointing if this action resulted in Ed's leaving Greenwich," said Lash, a staunch proponent of the proposed charter amendment.  Lash credited Gomeau with helping him on a variety of fronts during his two terms as first selectman, including preparing a $400 million capital improvement plan, funding school renovations, reorganizing municipal departments and breaking ground on a languishing public safety complex project.

"The list of things that we've been able to do because there are two of us working here instead of one goes on and on," Lash said. "This was not the outcome we were hoping for."

In a narrow vote marked by vocal opposition, the RTM rejected the amendment 97-91 with four abstentions Monday night at Central Middle School.  A majority of RTM members -- 115 of 229 total -- would have been required to support the amendment for it to gain approval. A public referendum on the amendment would have then been scheduled to coincide with next November's municipal election, with a majority of voters required to pass the measure.

Opponents assailed the permanent restructuring as a dramatic departure from a time-tested municipal government that concentrates power at the expense of checks and balances.  Few RTM members expressed their support publicly during the meeting for the amendment, which had stalled in the RTM since it was first approved by the Board of Selectmen in March 2005.

One of the amendment's supporters yesterday admonished her colleagues who killed the measure, saying the town needs a professional to help handle its increasingly complex affairs.

"These are the same people who would have to think about buying a life preserver to put on their boat," said Joan Caldwell, the legislative body's moderator pro tempore.

Several advocates for making the town administrator position permanent had argued that it would make it easier to recruit and retain people for the job.  Caldwell disagreed, however.

"I can see (Gomeau) being disappointed because he apparently wanted the position in the charter. However, the fact that it isn't in the charter doesn't restrict him in any way from acting as he has," Caldwell said, conceding, "It's true we can do away with the town administrator when Mr. Lash leaves, whereas if it was in the charter that would not be the case."

While she said she would hate to lose Gomeau, Caldwell downplayed the amendment's impact on his job security.

"I hate to say it, but the old days of job security, job stability, whatever you want to call it, went away a long time ago in the private sector and it is spilling over into the public sector," Caldwell said.

Peter Basilevsky, a District 8/Cos Cob RTM member who supported the amendment, said the issue was bigger than any one person.  He noted that the proposed charter language included certain requirements that the job of town administrator be filled by someone with professional experience as a municipal manager.

"The issue goes much further than Ed Gomeau," Basilevsky said.

Gomeau to Wear Two Hats Until Replacement Found
By Patricia McCormack HYPERLINK
(Article Last Updated: Friday, January 09, 2004 - 5:23:01 PM EST )

At last month's Representative Town Meeting, Greenwich Comptroller Ed Gomeau sported a neat grey mustache when he sat in the front row, as is customary, next to Peter J. Tesei, chairman of the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET).

Tuesday morning in the office of First Selectman Jim Lash, Gomeau, 61 and the divorced father of four grown children, was sans the facial hair adornment as he faced a battery of individuals behind still and television cameras. As he peered into the lenses during one of his momentous life events, Gomeau put on a thin smile and listened to Lash naming him to the $136,000 town administrator post.

Lash said Gomeau would "transition" to his new position until the Board of Estimate and Taxation appoints his replacement, working on assignments from the first selectman while continuing to serve as comptroller/CFO. The replacement is expected to be named before the end of March.

Gomeau, of Old Saybrook, took a lot of heavy questions and a few light ones. One was about the lost mustache. Blushing as much as a former member of the 82nd Airborne ever could, he answered something about "being told" top executives don't have mustaches.

Paula Belmont, receptionist in the first selectman's office, commented, "Now we can see your smile. And it is very nice."

Lash appeared joyous as he told the media about Gomeau: "He has been Greenwich CFO since May 2000, and has over 30 years experience as an appointed official in highly responsible local government management positions in Connecticut in addition to having been an elected official (Old Saybrook Board of Finance) for 10 years," Lash said.

He added, "He will provide daily administrative and operational supervision to the departments under the direct responsibility of the first selectman."

Lash expects Gomeau to "hit the ground running" and provide a high level of energy and professional management to the numerous challenges facing the first selectman's office.

Running, incidentally, comes naturally to Gomeau. He keeps trim by knocking off five miles daily around 4 a.m., eating up 35 to 40 minutes before the crack of dawn these winter days. Then he catches the ShoreLine Limited to Stamford and a change to Metro-North for the hop across the border to Greenwich.

Gomeau's transportation mode frees him from traffic clots on 1-95 and even parking problems in town. But town parking problems are to be on his new agenda.

Lash said Gomeau will "immediately begin working on the consolidation of the town's parking operations, currently spread among a half-dozen departments."

Lash also said he and Gomeau have worked well together on the last three town budgets. That relationship, he added, will be needed as they work under the new first selectman's budget responsibilities resulting from recently passed charter revision. Additionally, Lash said Gomeau is expected to bring his experience to bear on numerous other projects that face the first Selectman, such as a viable proposal for a new police station.

Tesei, participating in the news conference called by Lash to announce the appointment of Gomeau, smiled broadly and said, "The Board of Estimate and Taxation unanimously supports the re-institution of the position of town administrator. We are extremely pleased that a proven municipal professional will be assuming this position.

"Ed is an outstanding employee and restored confidence in the town's finance department and retirement system at a time when employees, retirees and citizens had doubts. He has put us on a firm footing to continue to make improvements to our financial processes."

As town administrator of Weston for 18 years, Gomeau said he had responsibilities very similar to those he will have in Greenwich. The record shows while in Weston, he worked under six different first selectmen. He also served as director of fiscal management and operations for the North Haven School District for two years and was finance director for the town of Stratford for more than seven years.

Prior to his position in Weston, Gomeau worked for the Federal Disaster Agency that was the forerunner of the current Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). He has served as a commissioner on the state Commission on Fire Prevention and Control for the past 14 years, having been re-appointed by three different governors.

He holds a master's degree in operations research and systems analysis from the Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The former paratrooper said he hits the silk on occasion but only in the company of responsible parachutists.

Wednesday, January 7, 2004 Greenwich TIME:
Gomeau becomes town administrator
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
First Selectman Jim Lash added a new link to Greenwich government's chain of command yesterday with the introduction of Comptroller Edward Gomeau as town administrator.

Gomeau, 61, will become the town's chief operating officer -- overseeing the internal operations and budgets of the eight municipal departments that report to the first selectman -- and the second-highest paid employee when the long-awaited restructuring plan is finalized.

The job of first selectman will evolve into a policy-making position under the plan, reverting to the function it served when the town last employed an administrator nearly two decades ago.

Lash supported the changes on a temporary basis, saying a successful trial could precipitate a Town Charter amendment that permanently incorporates the managerial post into the local bureaucracy.  "Maybe you can think of it as a test drive," said Lash, who, in his first major
announcement since taking office five weeks ago, commended Gomeau for his contributions as comptroller and said his extensive résumé in the area of public administration should make for a smooth transition. "Mr. Gomeau is extraordinarily well-qualified."

Gomeau served as Weston's town administrator from 1973 to 1991, working under six different administrations, and as finance director for Stratford from 1993 to 2000. From 1991 to 1993, he was director of fiscal management and operations for the North Haven Public Schools...

New Director of Finance hired (March 21) - to start April 15;  Richard Darling, from Norwalk Finance Department...stopping by prior to beginning work (now that Budget is passed).

Memorial Day 2010 - Representative Stripp honored.  Link to news of the greatest First Selectman ever

Weston's State Representative John Stripp bids farewell
Weston FORUM
Written by Kimberly Donnelly
Wednesday, 22 December 2010 11:28

For the last few weeks, while many were tying bows on Christmas gifts, John Stripp has been tying up loose ends in Hartford and cleaning out his office at the Capitol building.

After 18 years as the representative for Connecticut’s 135th House District — a district that includes all of Weston, Easton, and part of Redding — Jan. 4, 2011, is Mr. Stripp’s last official day in office. The newly elected representatives — including Mr. Stripp’s replacement, Republican John Shaban of Redding — are sworn in on Jan. 5, at the opening of the new legislative session.

Mr. Stripp, a Republican from Weston, chose not to run for a 10th term, but he’ll still pay close attention to the work of the state legislature. “I intend to keep a hand in politics. I probably won’t run for another office, but maybe I’ll start a blog, or write some op eds,” he said. “Instead of a full-time job, now politics will be my main hobby.”

For nearly 40 years, politics has been far more than just a hobby for Mr. Stripp.

He was active in local politics for 20 years, sitting on the Weston finance board, where he was chairman, and Board of Selectmen in the 1970s and 80s. He was also chairman of the Weston Republican Town Committee and chairman of the Weston Land Acquisition Committee during that time.

First elected to state office in 1992, Mr. Stripp was re-elected eight more times after that, for a total of 18 years in the legislature — one year more than his predecessor, Republican Alice Meyer. In the nine elections in which he participated, the Republican faced a challenger just a handful of times.

Part-time position

Some have suggested making the legislative job a full-time one, instead of the technically “part-time” position it is now. Mr. Stripp thinks that would be a mistake.

“If it were full time, imagine how many taxes we could come up with,” he said with a laugh.

On a more serious note, however, he said expanding the scope of the office would limit the people who could afford to do the job, “unless they upped the pay.”

Alternating short sessions with long ones every other year — something else that occasionally comes up for discussion — is also something Mr. Stripp thinks should remain unchanged. The short sessions allow legislators to spend more time in their districts “because we’re not in Hartford as often,” he said.

Mr. Stripp said it’s much harder to get a “good sense of the sufferings of the people in your district” if you are not there with them.

His full-time job as vice president of commercial lending at Fairfield County Bank puts him right in the thick of things with his constituents. “With things the way they are, my job has gotten more time consuming,” he said.

In the past, Mr. Stripp worked in the Corporate Finance Department and did some consulting on long-term financial planning for Citicorp. It kept him busy, but Mr. Stripp said he appreciates the fact that it allowed him to travel around the world.

“At that time, I had a boss who told me, ‘Don’t ever let me catch you traveling steerage,’” Mr. Stripp said with a laugh. “Those were different times, that’s for sure.”


While having spent most of his working life in politics and financial planning, Mr. Stripp’s educational background is in engineering.

“The engineering field gives you a lot of techniques that are useful in politics and other areas. It’s really a good background in problem solving,” he said.

Before moving to Weston nearly 50 years ago, Mr. Stripp lived in Laurelton, N.Y., on the border of Queens and Nassau, where he was born and raised.

He attended Brooklyn Tech, an engineering high school on the edge of the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of New York City. “I was going to become an aeronautical engineer, but became a mechanical engineer instead,” he said.

Never straying more than five miles or so from home, he went to Pratt for four years and received an engineering degree, then earned his master’s degree in business management from Columbia.

In the legislature

As a state lawmaker, Mr. Stripp served on the appropriations, banks, and commerce committees.

In the legislature, he said, “the big thing is the budget, the budget, and the budget.”

He believes the state’s financial situation is dire. Jobs have not increased in Connecticut in about 20 years, Mr. Stripp said. Of the jobs that are here, he added, the number of high paying jobs has gone down while lower paying jobs increased.

“That doesn’t bode well for us in the future if we want to try to attract companies to the state that can pay decent wages,” he said.

Mr. Stripp is interested to see what Democrat Dan Malloy will do when he takes over the governor’s office in January. The biggest problem is that the governor-elect is starting off facing a “huge problem” with the deficit.

There’s no doubt in Mr. Stripp’s mind that, in addition to spending cuts, the state’s budget deficit may only be overcome by increasing revenue. “But that has to come from more people with good-paying jobs paying taxes, not necessarily by the same people paying more taxes,” he said.

“It’s a tough balancing act. I wish Malloy all the best. Boy, is he going to need it,” Mr. Stripp said.

Favorite part

Mr. Stripp said without a doubt his favorite part about being a legislator has been the people he has met along the way.

“I think my greatest accomplishment has been the number of people I’ve had the opportunity to help in small or larger ways,” he said.

He also appreciates the people he has worked with — and considers friends — on both sides of the aisle.

“Democrats and Republicans alike, there are a lot of decent, good people [in the legislature] trying to do the right thing, the good thing, working honestly for the state,” he said.

While the political process can be frustrating, Mr. Stripp said there are far more positives than negatives in the job.

But it often seems like an uphill battle. “The most aggravating thing is that you see problems that, no matter how hard you work, they are never all going to get solved... The important thing, though, is you have to try.”


He is disappointed, however, that he is leaving office without being able to solve the state’s financial woes.

“That’s really the undone thing, not having the state be on sound financial footing,” he said. “I feel bad we didn’t accomplish that. We did try, but the economy has been fighting us.”

One of the unfortunate parts of the economic downturn, he said, is “we don’t have the opportunity to do things that need to be done and that we know we should do.”

He is hopeful future legislators will be able to get the job done. “They have a chance — it’s just a matter of toughing it out and dealing with it,” Mr. Stripp said.

He does look back and see positive accomplishments, however. Mr. Stripp said he is most proud of the amount of open space he and other legislators were able to save and preserve around the state.

“Once we save land, it’s available for generations to come. It keeps giving to ... future generations. It’s the longest lasting effect we can have.”

It’s that sense of doing something positive and lasting that makes Mr. Stripp “highly recommend” a career in politics.

Around the house

Mr. Stripp is looking forward to having the time to work on some projects around the house that had been put aside while he was working as a legislator.

He and his wife, Judy, have two married children, a son and daughter, and each have a boy and girl ranging in age from about 7 to 11.

“I feel like I missed a lot of my own kids’ growing up because I traveled a lot when I was with Citicorp,” Mr. Stripp said, adding that he tries to make up for that by spending as much time “doing a lot of fun things” with them and his grandchildren now.

One of the things he looks forward to in his retirement is building a wooden boat with his grandson — something he did years ago with his son.

“That one sank eventually. I think we’ll have better luck this time around,” he said.

Corporate financier enters public sector
Greenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published December 25 2006

You thought balancing your checkbook was tough.

When Kathleen Murphy takes over as municipal treasurer next month, she will be in charge of tracking the flow of money into and out of the town's coffers and investing it for short term purposes.

That figure is estimated at $343 million for the current fiscal year.

"A very good treasurer can make the town additional moneys by choosing prudent investments and staying on top of cash flows," said Peter Mynarski Jr., the town's comptroller.

Murphy, 56, edged out 25 other candidates for the $86,505-per-year post, which was filled last week by the Board of Estimate and Taxation. Her unanimous appointment ended a five-month search for a successor to Joyce Bostic, who died of cancer in July.

"This seemed to be a very good fit for me," said Murphy, who is making her foray into the public sector after a career in corporate treasury.

Murphy and her twin sister run the Stamford Financial Group, an investment banking consulting service to major companies.

From 1987 to 2001, Muphy worked at Connell Limited Partnership, a Boston-based acquisitions company that specializes in automotive, appliance, aerospace, electronics, power and process industries. She rose to senior vice president and chief financial officer at the company.

Murphy previously ran the treasury department at Fairchild Industries, an aerospace company in Chantilly, Va.

"I've been involved with billion-dollar companies," said Murphy, who learned of the treasurer opening from a friend. "I was very interested in getting involved in government and public service."

While Murphy will be in charge of cash management and investments, state laws dictate how the town's revenue can be invested.

A Scranton, Pa., native who lives in Stamford, Murphy holds a bachelor's degree in math from Syracuse University and master's degree in business administration from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. She is a trustee of Emmanuel College in Boston and treasurer of the Shippan Point Association.

Weston's Director of Finance is moving on to Trumbull--good luck to Peter!  A larger place, and a step up, professionally.  "About Town" wishes Peter well...

Board of Selectmen acted Nov. 1 to hire a new Town Administrator--Tom Landry of Massachusetts.  He started December 1, 2001.
With U.Maine MPA, several different-sized towns in New England work experience, married. 

What has Roy Hill achieved in his time as Weston Town Administrator?  Perhaps more than anything, he helped knit together a staff already in transition--new Finance Director, new Assessor, new Building Inspector;  the crisis over septic/sewage treatment, school construction and other Town expenditures began long before he sat in the Town Administrator's chair, and will play out after he leaves.  The professionalism of Town staff remaining will hold us all together...thank you and good luck again, Roy, for the many years you have dedicated to Weston--as protector and are the strongest link--and the perfect expression of civility in government.  Capable staff, well trained in the way Weston works will carry on...experienced hands will be "on the wheel" of government, including individual who has been responsible for monitoring costs of government (reporting to the Board of Selectmen about budget projections quarterly), providing data to help prepare "calculators" for all sides in the School Construction debate...

Rosemary Cashman followed Ed Gomeau, in the tradition of the can-do everything leader she served; (was retained as his assistant in the 1980's) - Rosemary back in Massachusetts now.

Transit planner leaving for Virginia
By Mark Ginocchio
Published May 13 2006

One of the region's top transportation planners will step down from his post next month to tackle traffic and development issues in the Washington, D.C., area.

Robert Wilson, 45, executive director of the South Western Regional Planning Agency since August 2001, said this week his last day will be June 16.   Wilson will become executive director of the Rappahannock Area Development Commission in Fredericksburg, Va., about 50 miles outside Washington D.C.  Wilson's new job will be similar to his work for SWRPA -- a state agency focused on transportation, housing and environmental issues in lower Fairfield County.

The Rappahannock position, which covers Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford, will provide a greater challenge, Wilson said.

"I recognized this as an opportunity to deal with a bigger area that is experiencing a lot of growth," Wilson said. "I was looking for a new challenge. There is an enormous traffic problem there."

Traffic problems outside Washington, D.C., may make lower Fairfield County's concerns appear minor, Wilson said. During a recent visit one early Friday afternoon, Wilson noticed a traffic jam on a stretch of Interstate 95 in Virginia backed up for 40 miles.

"Unlike here in Connecticut, where we have the Merritt Parkway to take some of the pressure off I-95, I-95 in Virginia is the only game in town," Wilson said.

During Wilson's tenure, SWRPA was able to update its long-range transportation plan and Regional Plan of Conservation and Development, two projects that took years of drafting and reviewing with the region's eight municipalities, he said.  While working with the South Western Region's Metropolitan Planning Organization -- a committee of lower Fairfield County's eight municipal leaders -- Wilson advocated for transportation improvement for I-95, the Merritt and Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line.

"He had a very positive impact on regional planning and transportation and was an effective advocate for us in Hartford," said Alex Knopp, who, as the former mayor of Norwalk, worked with Wilson on the planning organization.

Knopp also was a former SWRPA member for 10 years.

Karen Burnaska, who worked with Wilson and SWRPA as a member of the state Transportation Strategy Board, said his advocacy for mass transit helped to push the legislature to improve a financing plan for new rail cars on the New Haven Line.

"He was always an outspoken advocate for improved mass transit and was there to remind people of the need in southwestern Connecticut," Burnaska said. "He was always very accessible and very interested."

Before coming to SWRPA, Wilson, who lives in Milford, was the president and chief executive officer of the Long Island Transportation Management Inc. in New York.
His experience in transportation planning was a benefit for the region, said Diane Farrell, former Westport first selectwoman and planning organization chairwoman.

"He was very responsive and forward thinking," she said. "This is going to be a great opportunity for him."

In the coming weeks, SWRPA will start its search for a new executive director, Wilson said.

Weston First Selectman Woody Bliss, current chairman of the planning organization, said the state will miss Wilson's services.

"Their gain is our loss," Bliss said of Wilson's new position. "He was a great leader who dealt with some very complex issues."

Paganelli steps down
By ROBERT KOCH Hour Staff Writer
Sunday, May 15, 2005

After bringing tourists to the region for more than a decade, Steven Paganelli is moving on. Later this month, Paganelli will step down as president of Connecticut's Coastal Fairfield County Convention & Visitors Bureau in Norwalk to head the state's New Haven region office. The board of directors hopes to find his replacement in six weeks, he said.

"The decision to leave -- after more than a decade with this organization and region that have become such a part of my being -- has been a difficult one fraught with mixed emotions. The time for change, however, is right for me and the bureau," said Paganelli, speaking from the Lockwood-Mathews Gate House into which the bureau relocated last year.

"We have emerged from the bureau's restructuring and resulting financial challenges of 18 short months ago, and the bureau is now back on solid financial footing with exciting initiatives under way." Pagenelli said he will cut his hours at the Norwalk office from three to one day a week, as he becomes more involved with the Greater New Haven Convention & Visitors Bureau and the board of directors works to replace him.

"We are extremely saddened that he will be leaving Coastal Fairfield County, a tourism region whose very character he has been so instrumental in shaping," said Susan Sweitzer, board chairwoman.

"It will be very difficult to replace Steve's infectious enthusiasm for his profession and his exceptional management skills." In New Haven, Paganelli said he will be serving a different tourist market than in Norwalk. The Coastal Fairfield office focuses on bringing conventions to the region, whereas its New Haven counterpart works with bus tours and attracting international visitors -- in part because of Yale University -- he said.

For Paganelli, the change also will lessen his commute. Paganelli said he moved to New Haven two years ago after having lived in Stamford and Trumbull. The Coastal Fairfield Bureau, in existence in various forms since the early 1980s, is responsible for marketing, travel and tourism to Norwalk, Bridgeport, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Monroe, New Canaan, Shelton, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

In announcing his departure, Paganelli highlighted several bureau initiatives. The Meeting Planning Guide will market the region to meetings, conventions, corporate outings, destination weddings and events. In February, the bureau opened a new booth at Destinations Showcase, a tradeshow for professionals, he said. In addition, the bureau has released its fifth Getway Guide, helped launch, and placed full-page advertisements in Canoe & Kayak, Sea Kayaker, Fly Fish America and Fly Fishing in Salt Waters magazines, he said.

In 2003, under pressure to cut spending, the state consolidated Connecticut's 11 tourism districts into five bureaus. And while the Coastal Fairifield County bureau remained opened afterward, it did lose about 50 percent of its public-sector funding and half of its full-time staff, according to Paganelli.

"We've seen the impact of the decreased funding both at the regional and the state level. We've had to walk away from entire markets," Paganelli said.

And "as Connecticut is decreasing its investment in tourist marketing, all those nearby states that we're competing with are increasing their investments." Paganelli said the restructuring and cuts have eliminated the bureau's ability to bring motor-coach tours and international visitors to coastal Fairfield County.

Paganelli started at the Norwalk-based bureau in January 1994 as director of convention sales. Four years later, he was promoted to executive director. His title was changed to president in late 2003. Board members credit Paganelli with "shaking up the status quo" by anticipating industry trends and making the bureau pro-active rather than reactive.

Under Paganelli, the bureau received national and international recognition, including awards from Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International, the American Bus Association's Destinations magazine; the Northeast Economic Development Association; and the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, according to the board. Paganelli counts the 117th Annual Amateur Athletic Union Convention held in Norwalk last September among the bureau's greatest accomplishments. For the prior five years, the group had met in Las Vegas, Hawaii, Orlando, Fla., and Puerto Rico, he said.

Wanted For Theft, Former Town Employee Turns Herself In
Day Staff Columnist, Stonington/Mystic
Published on 6/15/2004

Stonington— Former town employee Donna Allen turned herself in to police Monday after learning they had a warrant for her arrest in connection with the theft of more than $257,000 in town funds since the summer of 2001.

Allen, 43, who worked 24 years in the town's finance office before being fired six months ago, may have stolen more than that, police and town officials said, but no records exist to prove it.

Allen was charged with first-degree larceny and unlawful removal or alteration of records in connection with a scheme that involved the theft of cash payments to the town and the falsification of financial records, sometimes on a daily basis. The arrest capped a six-month investigation by police and forensic auditors that cost the town more than $50,000.

Allen, who lives at 24 Summit St., was released on a $50,000 nonsurety bond and was scheduled to appear June 23 in New London Superior Court. She faces up to 30 years in prison, a $15,000 fine and restitution.

“This is a sad betrayal of trust. She betrayed the town, her friends and her co-workers. It's very sad,” said Board of Finance Chairman Glenn Frishman.

Allen's attorney, Paul Chinigo, declined to comment Monday.

The town fired Allen on Dec. 29 after Finance Director Maryanna Stevens noticed discrepancies in town financial records. According to a sworn affidavit filed in New London Superior Court, Allen admitted to stealing the money when questioned by Director of Administrative Services George Sylvestre. She held the position of staff accountant.

“She was a very nice person and very kind,” Stevens said. “My initial reaction was there's got to be some sort of explanation here. I didn't want to believe she was doing this.”

According to sources, Allen gambled more than $1 million at Foxwoods Resort Casino based on her wampum card, which tracked the money she bet there. The sum included any winnings she may have put back into slot machines. It is unknown if she gambled any town money at the casino.

Asked about Allen's arrest, Acting First Selectman William Brown said he wants to let the case go through the court system before making any comment. He said residents should have confidence in the finance department because steps have been taken to prevent future problems.

Stevens said the regular annual audit done by the town did not reveal the thefts. She said the auditors only take samples of the numerous daily transactions and that Allen had developed a system that made it look like she had deposited the correct amount of cash and checks. A much more detailed forensic audit, which the town performed over the past six months, verified the thefts.

Stevens said the town's antiquated computerized system would be replaced with a new program July 1. The new system will integrate the town's accounts receivable fund and general ledger, which Allen was able to manipulate, Stevens said. The new system also will create a trail for auditors to follow and have security measures that will alert town officials to any problems.

“How this was done will no longer be able to happen,” Stevens said.

The forensic audit revealed that $132,534 was stolen between July 1, 2002 and Dec. 19, 2003. Despite missing paperwork, Stevens said she was able to determine that Allen stole another $124,554 between July 1, 2001 and June 30, 2002. This was based on discrepancies between the town's general ledger and accounts receivable fund.

Town officials and auditors said the scheme worked this way:

The finance department would receive money in cash and checks paid to a town department. Allen would take the cash and replace it with checks of an equal amount that businesses had sent to the town to pay for their garbage hauling fees. She would properly log the deposits in accounts receivable, which meant the checks would clear and the businesses would be credited for their payments. She did not log the payments in the general ledger.

According to the forensic audit, Allen typically stole between $200 and $1,500 at a time. Three weeks before she was fired and after Stevens became suspicious, the audit charges that Allen stole $11,666 in one transaction. Money was typically stolen a few times a week but in some cases there were multiple thefts in a single day.

As a result of the thefts, the town's fund balance has $257,000 less than previously thought. The amount of the fund balance, which is cash the town keeps on hand, is one of the factors considered in establishing the town's bond rating. The rating affects the interest rate the town pays to borrow money. Frishman said the thefts should not affect the bond rating, as Stevens said the town's insurance company is expected to reimburse the town for at least the $132,534 stolen between July 1, 2002 and Dec. 19, 2003.

The town has attached Allen's assets worth more than $500 in an attempt to recoup some of the lost money.

AP: 4 Unions to Boycott AFL-CIO Meeting
Associated Press
By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer
Jul 24, 11:18 AM EDT
CHICAGO (AP) -- Four major unions decided Sunday to boycott the AFL-CIO convention, setting the stage for one or more to bolt from the 50-year-old federation in a battle over how to reverse organized labor's decades-long decline, The Associated Press has learned.

The unions, representing about one-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members, planned to announce the decision Sunday afternoon, a day before the convention opens, according to three labor officials familiar with the failed negotiations to avoid the walkout.

It was unclear which, if any, of the unions would take the next step and leave the AFL-CIO altogether.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss the decision.  The protest is led by Andy Stern, president of the federation's largest union, the 1.8 million-member Service Employees International Union.  Joining him will be the Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE, a group of textile and hotel workers, according to the labor officials.

The four unions already had formed the Change to Win Coalition to pressure AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to undertake major changes to the federation.

Three others unions that are part of the dissident coalition had not planned to leave the Chicago convention: the Laborers International Union of North America, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, and the United Farm Workers.  Officials said Stern's group probably would sever ties with the AFL-CIO, perhaps as early as Sunday, with hopes of bringing the Teamsters, UFCW and UNITE HERE along.

The other three unions may delay deciding whether to leave the federation, officials said.

Leaders of the dissident unions say the AFL-CIO leadership has done too little to stop the steep decline in union membership nationwide. In addition to seeking the ouster of Sweeney, they have demanded more money for organizing and the power to force mergers of smaller unions.  Sweeney's allies contend he has taken steps to reform the AFL-CIO, meeting many of the dissidents' demands in an effort to avoid a split. They say a divided House of Labor will embolden employers and anti-union Republicans at the worst possible time for workers.

Globalization, automation and the transition from an industrial-based economy have forced hundreds of thousands out of unionized workers out of jobs, weakening labor's role in the workplace.  When the AFL-CIO formed 50 years ago, union membership was at its zenith with one of every three private-sector workers belonged to a labor group. Now, less than 8 percent of private-sector workers are unionized. Of the total work force, including government jobs, about 12 percent people belong to a union.

Stern's allies and some outside labor experts note that labor reached its peak in the 1950s while the AFL and CIO were competing against each other. Still, the prospect of a dividing labor movement worries Democratic leaders who rely on the AFL-CIO's money and manpower on Election Day.

In the 2004 elections, households with union members accounted for 24 percent of the votes, and people from those households sided with Democratic candidate John Kerry by 5.8 million votes.  Unions ran nearly 260 phone banks and mailed out at least 30 million pieces of political literature in 16 states, a massive effort that primarily benefited Democratic.

"Anybody who thinks that a divided labor movement is going to make them better off ought to join George Bush's administration, because the only people who would applaud this perilous adventure is George Bush and Karl Rove," said Gerald McEntee, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the largest union backing Sweeney.

Rove is the president's chief political adviser.

Democratic Party leaders were reluctant to take sides, fearing the wrath of whatever faction emerges strongest from the fight. Most agreed that a divided AFL-CIO would be harmful to the party in the short term. Privately, some said they could only hope that the battle jolts the House of Labor from its decades-only slump.

"Anything that sidetracks us from our goals ... is not healthy," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., chairman of the House campaign committee.  Added Democratic consultant Steve Elmendorf, who has long ties to the AFL-CIO: "Obviously, if you have a disunited labor movement, you're not going to have as good of a political operation."

Labor experts predicted a rough road ahead for both factions.

"What a divided AFL-CIO would do is signal to opponents of the labor movement that the House of Labor is in disarray and therefore is vulnerable," said Gary Chaison, industrial relations professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

"Employer opposition to organizing might increase and I think that political opponents might feel emboldened, because they would see it as a sign of weakness."

Newton's Venality `Knew Few Bounds' -  Prosecutors' Memo Slams Ex-Official
The Hartford Courant
January 13, 2006
In a blistering memo filed in court Thursday, federal prosecutors portray former state Sen. Ernest Newton as a shameless hustler who worked for mobsters, shook down social service agencies, stole from his own campaign treasury and had the audacity to demand a raise after obtaining a no-show job through the city of Bridgeport.

Perhaps as astonishing as the criminal behavior charged against Newton are the paltry sums he allegedly received from the people to whom he is accused of selling the services of his Senate office. He collected $5,000 from one constituent, $1,750 from another and routinely pilfered sums in the hundreds of dollars from his campaign to pay personal expenses, the memo says, and he asked the mob to foot the bill when he needed to bail an arrested son out of jail.

Prosecutors, preparing for Newton's sentencing, condemned his "warped conception of his status as an elected official," which they said apparently moved Newton to collect bribes even from the operators of social service agencies providing training and housing for his poor constituents.

"Astonishingly, the defendant's venality knew few bounds, and he readily sold his office and influence for modest sums," the memorandum states. "The defendant's hypocrisy also knew few limits."

When Newton learned that the FBI was closing in, the memo says, he started scheming how to escape arrest. In one of numerous conversations secretly recorded by the FBI, Newton suggested to Warren Godbolt, the operator of a Bridgeport jobs training agency who had paid $5,000 in bribes, that Godbolt should lie if questioned by the FBI. Newton said he would claim Godbolt was paying him for consulting services.

"Because I can be a consultant, Warren, you know, I'm a member of the national black caucus," Newton said on the tape.

Even after pleading guilty in September to three felonies - taking a bribe, failure to pay income taxes and mail fraud - Newton has continued to suggest that he is innocent and to flatly claim that his legal problems are the result of his race. Days before he pleaded guilty, Newton compared himself to Moses. After pleading guilty, he asserted that charges against him would have been resolved administratively by the State Elections Enforcement Commission were he not black.

"If any other legislator, other than being black, it would have went to the elections and campaign [commission]," Newton said in September, outside the federal courthouse in his hometown of Bridgeport. "It should have went before the elections enforcement like any other white lawmaker would have seen."

Under the guidelines used to impose sentences in federal court, Newton faces between 57 and 71 months in prison when he returns to court in Bridgeport to be sentenced on Tuesday. Prosecutors included in their memo evidence of the crimes charged against Newton as well as evidence of uncharged activity in an effort to persuade Senior U.S. District Judge Alan Nevas to sentence Newton within the guideline range.

Prosecutors said in the memo that the FBI became suspicious of Newton during a racketeering investigation of now-imprisoned former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim. In 1997, when Ganim was collecting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from a city sewer contractor called PSG, Newton, then a state representative, began staging rallies on Bridgeport's east side, ostensibly to protest the Ganim administration's racial insensitivity.

One Ganim administration insider who cooperated with the FBI investigation called the rallies part of a "political stick-up" job. Ganim and a powerful city Democratic ally decided that they could put an end to Newton's rallies by pressuring the sewer contractor, which had just won a multimillion-dollar city contract, to give Newton a no-show job.

The contractor agreed to hire Newton as a $30,000 "community relations liaison." Even though two Ganim insiders told the FBI that the job required absolutely no work, it wasn't long before Newton was demanding a raise, according to the prosecution memo. PSG balked, complaining that it wasn't going to pay Newton more for doing nothing. According to the memo, Newton collected his salary until 2003, when PSG was acquired by another company.

Newton's attorney, former state Sen. Salvatore DePiano, has repeatedly declined to comment on the case. He could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

One of the tidbits prosecutors say the FBI picked up through its tapping of Newton's cellphone was his willingness to run political interference for the mob. Those conversations allowed FBI agents to follow Newton to three dinner meetings in 2004 with a Bridgeport mobster and a business associate of the mobster. The U.S. attorney's office would not identify the mobster or his associate.

Before one of the dinners, Newton told a caller on his tapped telephone: "Alright ... I gotta meet these [expletive] people from the mob. Alright. You know. When they do favors for you, you gotta be there. So let me go see what the [expletive] they want."

Prosecutors say in their memo that as a result of the meetings, Newton agreed to speak with Bridgeport's police chief about police raids on mob strip clubs. He also told the mobster and his friend that he would attempt to get a company in which they were interested involved in a development in Bridgeport. Newton scheduled a meeting on the development deal, but the city abruptly canceled it, according to the prosecution memo.

In return, prosecutors say, the mob contributed to Newton's 2004 campaign and bailed his son out of jail after he was arrested in September 2004.

Throughout the prosecution memo, there are indications that Newton apparently thought he was operating with impunity. He was collecting a bribe from the operator of a home for troubled children one week after two Ganim administration officials, who had helped arrange his no-show job, were pleading guilty to corruption charges. And after taking a $1,500 payoff in the men's room at Bridgeport's Portuguese Club, Newton told an associate, in a conversation recorded by the FBI, that he wasn't worried because FBI agents "don't have me on tape."

Newton cut a visible figure in the legislature, not least of all for his propensity for purple suits. He was a champion for the underprivileged and a fierce advocate of a so-called millionaires' tax on the state's richest residents. He served as the fourth-ranking member in the Senate, but never played leading roles in major issues. He resigned from the legislature just days before entering his guilty plea.

As long as six years ago, when Newton began his legislative career as a state representative, he was pilfering campaign contributions and using them to pay "credit card bills, car-repair bills, telephone bills, personal loans and other expenses unrelated to his campaigns," the memo says.

Newton as much as admitted doing so during secretly recorded conversations.  In one, Newton explained to an associate, in a convoluted conversation, that he had made a mistake in the way he had misappropriated campaign contributions.  So, he explained, he had to reimburse his campaign and then misappropriate the money again.

"I did some stuff I wasn't supposed to do, so I gotta reimburse it and then get it back the right way," Newton said on a wiretap. "I just wasn't thinking."

Gone from, but not forgotten in CT!

Miss Popular:  Is Taurasi the most recognized woman in Connecticut?
By Mike Puma (date of this article prior to resignation of then Governor Rowland)

Movie stars can travel incognito, but that usually isn't easy for college basketball players. Even with an array of disguises, UConn's Diana Taurasi would probably get noticed.  Nearly four years after arriving to Connecticut, Taurasi could be the most recognized and photographed female face in state history.

If Taurasi doesn't hold that distinction, she's certainly close.

"She's everybody's darling," Lt. Gov. Jodi Rell said. "A good player, great lady and role model. She has all the right qualities to enhance the image of Connecticut."  Taurasi, a 6-foot guard from Chino, Calif., arrived on the scene in 2000 as the most heralded recruit in Huskies' history. A Naismith National Player of the Year award and two national championships later (with a chance to add in both categories), she stands to leave as a legend, perhaps even more popular than fellow women's basketball icons Rebecca Lobo and Sue Bird.

"I think one of the reasons I'm still recognizable is I'm 6-foot-4 and there's not a lot of 6-4 chicks running around," Lobo said. "Diana, she's got that face that when she smiles, if there's a doubt in anyone's mind ..."

There's never much doubt in Chris Sienko's mind. Sienko, the Connecticut Sun general manager, said Taurasi attended several WNBA games last summer at Mohegan Sun Arena, to an overwhelming response each time.  "We put her up on the scoreboard so people would see her," Sienko said. "No matter what was going on in the game, (fans) would start cheering and clapping."

On the road, UConn publicist Randy Press said it's common to find more than 100 fans waiting for Taurasi two hours after the game in hopes of landing an autograph.  Fans are also drawn to the team hotel, hoping to catch a glimpse of Taurasi and an autograph.  "Some are sitting there literally all day hoping to catch her walking by once to get her to sign something," Press said.  "That's everywhere we go."

When Hartford Magazine editor Michael Guinan decided last summer to display Taurasi and Emeka Okafor on the November issue's cover, a UConn official told him that at least 15 other publications including Sports Illustrated had the same idea. Guinan got his cover shot, beating the others to the newsstand.  The Hartford Magazine issue displaying Taurasi and Okafor debuted on Oct. 25. Within a month Taurasi was a national cover woman.

"The feedback we received was just tremendous," Guinan said.  Rell, who calls herself a "big-time" UConn women's basketball fan, puts Taurasi with Lobo as the most recognized woman in Connecticut. The state recently recognized the latter with "Rebecca Lobo Day" at the Capitol.

"I keep thinking of (Taurasi) as a young lady who took us by storm and won the hearts of the people in Connecticut," Rell said. "She never hesitates if somebody asks for an autograph. She always smiles for the fans, has one-liners for the press and keeps her coach on his toes all the time."  What else endears Taurasi to the masses?

"People like players who look like they are having a blast out there," Lobo said. "She just has that swagger, but her smile is infectious. The joy is contagious, even through the television set."  Lobo said Taurasi has received more attention than she did playing at UConn from 1991-95; the Huskies didn't start becoming a big deal until Lobo's junior season. Taurasi, in contrast, was visible in the state while still a high school player       after committing to UConn, she dazzled a crowd at the Hartford Civic Center in an All-America game, where she earned MVP honors.

"People knew Diana's name before she was even on the campus," Lobo said. "We'll see how long it lasts after the fact, depending on where she's playing."

Sienko would like to believe that destination could be a half-hour down the road from Storrs with the Connecticut Sun, but he also realizes he's got little chance of landing Taurasi with the WNBA draft's fourth overall pick. Taurasi will likely be selected No. 1, by the Phoenix Mercury.  A recent Internet poll, Sienko said, showed most Sun fans would rather watch a losing team with Diana Taurasi than a winning team without her.

"She's like a member of the family," Rell said.  Lobo knows that feeling. It's seldom she can go anywhere within Connecticut without people recognizing her.  "In this state it can be a great thing, because at least in my experience, everybody is nice," Lobo said. "It's a great way to meet people."

And it's possible that no woman in state history has met as many people, received as much attention and become as recognizable as Diana Taurasi.

"As the media has become more involved with women's sports, there's more and more conversation," Sienko said.  "(Now) it's just Diana's decision on when she wants to run for governor."

This is not so much about either the judge or Randy Johnson - rather it is the Whidbey Island connection - compare Weston and South Whidbey!

Judge Hancock
Randy Johnson drops lawsuit
South Whidbey RECORD
May 10 2006
Island County Court has put an end to a dispute about child support between baseball star Randy Johnson and Laurel Roszell, the mother of his child, in late April. 
Judge Alan R. Hancock granted the motion to dismiss a petition by Johnson to adjust child support for his daughter who lives in Langley, according to court documents.

Johnson, who makes $16 million a year pitching for the New York Yankees, was seeking a rebate for the $750 monthly daycare payments he had provided over the past eight years to the mother of his 16-year-old daughter Heather Roszell.  In a motion filed on Feb. 7 in Island County Superior Court, Johnson had asked for the return of 95 months’ worth of daycare payments, or $71,250 plus $26,148.52 in interest. He did not ask the court to adjust the base child support of $5,000 a month he pays to the Langley family.

Johnson’s decision to go after the money prompted national ­­­­‑—­media attention.

Molly McPherson, a Coupeville lawyer who is representing the baseball star, asked the court to order a voluntary dismissal of the case without prejudice on April 26, according to court documents.  Because none of the parties objected, the motion was granted by Judge Hancock on April 27.  By asking for a voluntary dismissal without prejudice, Johnson’s lawyers reserved the right to re-file the lawsuit at a later time.

The Roszells live in Langley on Cross Lake in a quiet neighborhood. Heather was born in 1989, but it wasn’t until nine years later that Johnson and Laurel Roszell entered into a custody and child support agreement and Johnson began to make payments, according to court records.

The couple separated during Roszell’s pregnancy and Johnson has only seen Heather once, when she was a baby.  Johnson said that he has taken financial responsibility for his daughter, despite the money dispute with her mother.

“I do acknowledge that I have a daughter from a previous relationship, which ended years before my marriage,” Johnson said in a statement. “I have fully financially supported her and have made every effort to protect her privacy.”

Johnson claimed in the court petition that Roszell owed him the money, in part, because she failed to provide quarterly accountings for her daycare expenditures. He also complained that Roszell had not needed any daycare in years since she is now a teenager.  The papers were filed after Roszell contacted Johnson’s agent last year and asked the athlete to pay for a car for their daughter, as well as community college classes that the high school student was taking. After being told that her request was excessive, Roszell argued that it was a reasonable request.

Johnson has has four other children with his wife Lisa.

Also known as The Big Unit, Johnson is a left-handed starting pitcher for the New York Yankees since 2005. He played for the Seattle Mariners from 1990 to 1998 when he left Washington to join the Arizona Diamondbacks. He is most noted for his 6-foot-10 stature and for having one of the most dominant fastballs in the game.

Cambridge Press publisher dies
Sep 8, 8:39 AM EDT

WESTON, Conn. (AP) -- Ronald Mansbridge, a publisher who started the first American branch of Cambridge University Press, has died. He was 100.

Mansbridge's family has confirmed he died at his Connecticut home, Sept. 1.

Mansbridge began his association with the press in the early 1930s, when he joined the New York office of Macmillan, an agent for Cambridge University Press in the United States. In 1949, he established the American branch, which he supervised until his retirement in 1970.

While Mansbridge was running Cambridge Press, it expanded its paperback publishing program and published the New English Bible, a modern translation issued jointly with Oxford University Press in the 1960s.
Mansbridge is survived by two children from his first marriage and two stepdaughters.

Raymond Saulnier, Adviser to Eisenhower, Dies at 100
May 8, 2009

Raymond J. Saulnier, the staunchly conservative chief economic adviser to President Eisenhower in the 1950s, died April 30 in Chestertown, Md. He was 100.

His death was confirmed by his son, Mark McA. Saulnier.

Raymond Saulnier, who preferred to be called Steve and pronounced his surname SONE-yay, had lived since 1992 in a retirement home in Chestertown, where he continued to write, broadcast, advise and correspond into his 90s, often in defense or explication of his record, stressing balanced budgets and contained inflation.

Even as a centenarian, Mr. Saulnier remained conversant with current affairs, expressing horror at how increasingly far policy makers of both parties had strayed from the tenets of budget balance he espoused from 1956 to 1961 as a member and then chairman of the president’s three-man Council of Economic Advisers.

After leaving office, he also served as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Richard M. Nixon and Barry Goldwater and worked in Ellen R. Sauerbrey’s unsuccessful 1998 Republican campaign for governor of Maryland. Four decades of teaching at Columbia University and Barnard College bracketed his Washington career.

As recession worsened in 2009, Mr. Saulnier complained in an interview with The New York Times about the government’s contribution to the burst credit boom through its encouragement of greatly expanded lending, particularly through Fannie Mae.

He also ruefully recalled how, as a member of a commission charged by President Nixon in 1970 to recommend ways to ease restrictions on financial institutions to make them more competitive — widely cited as another factor in the crisis that began under George W. Bush — he had failed to voice doubts about relaxing Depression-era reforms.

“I was not as vigorous pushing the minority view as I might have been,” he said in the interview. “I wish I had.”

Sometimes called Dr. No by liberal and other critics who decried his resistance to tax cuts, even as the economy slipped into recessions in the summer of 1957 and the spring of 1960, Mr. Saulnier said he never found a propitious time to advocate them.

One noteworthy occasion was in 1959, when the economy was weakened by a steel strike and the Federal Reserve under William McChesney Martin Jr. was pursuing a relatively tightfisted monetary policy.

“What were we supposed to do?” Mr. Saulnier asked a half-century later. “Cut taxes in order to offset the effect of a tight money policy? Why not change the money policy?”

He contended that monetary policy was generally more “suppressive of growth” than necessary during most of the two Eisenhower terms. Gross national product averaged a subpar 2.4 percent from 1953 to 1960 compared with a historic norm of 3 to 3.5 percent, but Mr. Saulnier pointed to reduced military spending after the Korean War as a significant factor.

Raymond Joseph Saulnier was born Sept. 20, 1908, in Hamilton, Mass., near Gloucester, and as a teenager decided to use Steve instead of Raymond or Joseph, neither of which “fit my personal style,” he said.

He graduated, as president of his class, from Middlebury College in 1929. One faculty member urged him to produce weekly commentaries on the soaring stock market as a senior thesis, but the idea was vetoed and “I did a pretty dull paper on farm price supports” instead, he later wrote.

By the time he had finished a master’s degree at Tufts College (later Tufts University), and taught introductory economics there, the nation was deep into the Depression. A $1,600 fellowship from Columbia became his lifeline, and he produced a doctoral dissertation, “Contemporary Monetary Theory,” eventually published in hardcover, that “reads well even today,” Mr. Saulnier declared more than 60 years later, in 2000.

“At the time, the conventional wisdom was Keynesian, but I was persuaded that the great man overrated the antirecessionary effect (in the face of a downcast public confidence and a doggedly anti-inflationary money policy) of the government spending and tax cuts that he favored, and underestimated the capacity of an enterprise system to heal itself,” Mr. Saulnier concluded.

Although fiscal discipline was always his chief priority, Mr. Saulnier said he insisted only that the budget should be in structural balance, meaning that deficits could be justified temporarily during recessions.

With doctorate in hand, Mr. Saulnier joined the Columbia faculty, but when he found himself assigned to teach more required contemporary civilization courses than he liked, he managed a transfer to Barnard, Columbia’s sister institution, where he taught finance and economics until 1993, except for his six years in Washington. He was a member of the Council of Economic Advisers for two years and its chairman for four.

As a graduate student, having led until then what he called “a pretty monkish life,” he met Estelle S. Sydney, a political polar opposite, with whom he joined in a marriage that ended after 62 years with her death in 1996. Besides their son, Mark, Mr. Saulnier’s survivors include their daughter, Alice Ritchie, and seven grandchildren.

At his wife’s memorial service, Mr. Saulnier recalled that when they first became acquainted he had just cast a vote for Herbert Hoover, for which he had no apologies then or since, and that she was looking to “socialist Russia for an answer” to human ills.

But with some earnest tutelage on his part, he added, “we were soon close enough together — somewhere in the middle of the political spectrum — to make life reasonably harmonious.”

Reinhold Niebuhr

Presidents and Peace Prizes

Posted by Hendrik Hertzberg
December 11, 2009

Obama is the fourth American President to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The other three got theirs either toward the end of a second term (Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson) or long after leaving the White House (Jimmy Carter). They were honored for specific diplomatic achievements—negotiating the treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War (T.R.), founding the League of Nations (Wilson), and brokering the peace between Israel and Egypt (Carter, though the citation also praised his post-Presidential work). Obama’s prize was awarded for “vision” and “efforts” and “creat[ing] a new climate in international politics.” (The President acknowledged the problem frankly, admitting that he “cannot argue with those” who find him undeserving in comparison both to “giants of history” like “Schweitzer and King, Marshall and Mandela” and to “those who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice.”)

Nevertheless, I suspect that Obama’s Nobel lecture is one of the very few that will be read and quoted for a long time to come. It’s the speech of a man of power—a man, moreover, in the chilly morning of his power, not its sepia twilight. At the same time, it’s the speech of a man schooled in both in the nonviolent political metaphysics of Gandhi and King and in the stereoscopic, reality-based liberalism of Reinhold Niebuhr, with its consciousness of contingency, its tragic sense of history, and its awareness of radical human imperfection. In an e-mail after the speech, the historian and Lincoln biographer William Lee Miller put it this way:

    It seemed to me as thoroughly Niebuhrian an utterance as we are likely ever to hear a sitting president utter, not only in defending the sometimes morally justified use of force but also in the reference to the distinct responsibility of a head of state, and of love, justice, and peace in their interconnections. I daresay somebody who worked on this speech—conceivably Obama himself, although how could he find time?—was reading Niebuhr.

(Apparently, Obama found the time to read—and, more remarkably, had the perspicacity to understand—Niebuhr quite some time ago.)

Obama’s rueful recognition of the contrast between his tinny personal résumé and his shiny new gold medal was just the overture to his discussion of a far more consequential and vexing tension. He had to mention it, of course, but he could have steered around the storm, observing it from the outside before moving on to more agreeable matters. He didn’t do that. Instead, he flew directly into the thunderhead:

    [T]he most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of the military of a nation in the midst of two wars.... I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill, and some will be killed.

In the magazine’s Comment, on newsstands Monday but already available online, George Packer (who also discerns the “spirit of Niebuhr” in the Oslo speech) writes, referring to the “apparent contradiction” between the blunt, bluntly stated fact of the President’s war-fighting and his receipt of a peace prize, that

instead of disposing of it in a perfunctory gesture, he made it the basis of his address, devoting the first half of the speech to what he called the challenge of “reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths—that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly.” Working out apparent contradictions, reconciling irreconcilables, finding balances, living with paradox—these are the intellectual bread and butter of Obama’s politics. “We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice,” Obama concluded. “We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace.” He is the negative-capability President.

Perfect. (If you’ve forgotten what negative capability is, don’t be ashamed to look it up.)

At Oslo, Obama did not make a specific defense of his decision to send more troops (temporarily, he has vowed) to Afghanistan. He did say, “Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.” And he did say, “The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense.” But he could have said these things just as easily and just as forcefully if he had decided to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan immediately. What he was doing was arguing for the proposition that “force may sometimes be necessary,” that “yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace.” He was making an argument—a respectful argument, a civil argument—against the logic of pacifism. He was arguing that while “war itself is never glorious” and that “war at some level is an expression of human folly,” wars must sometimes be fought; moreover, it matters how they are fought. He was arguing that there are times when the ends do indeed justify the means, and that war is not always a slippery slope to unlimited cruelty and barbarism. The argument was at the level of philosophy, not the level of tactics or strategy.

T.R. and Wilson, by the way, also sent thousands of young Americans to distant lands to kill and be killed—and with far less justification than Obama can claim for his attempt to extract a minimally non-disastrous exit for the United States from Afghanistan. If Obama’s selection for a Nobel Peace Prize was ironic and so on, then so was theirs.

You can read the Roosevelt and Wilson peace prize responses at the Nobel site. Wilson’s is wispy verging on nonexistent; having suffered a severe stroke months earlier, he was practically a vegetable by the time of the 1920 Nobel ceremony. A telegram from him—a 250-word statement, as humble as its purported author was (when healthy) arrogant—was read aloud at the ceremony by an American diplomat. It said nothing of note, unless you count truisms like, “In the indefinite course of years before us there will be abundant opportunity for others to distinguish themselves in the crusade against hate and fear and war.”

Roosevelt, by contrast, let ’er rip. Here’s a sample of what the Rough Rider had to say in his Nobel lecture, which he delivered in person in 1910, four years after the prize was announced and more than a year into his tumultuous ex-presidency:

    Peace is generally good in itself, but it is never the highest good unless it comes as the handmaid of righteousness; and it becomes a very evil thing if it serves merely as a mask for cowardice and sloth, or as an instrument to further the ends of despotism or anarchy. We despise and abhor the bully, the brawler, the oppressor, whether in private or public life, but we despise no less the coward and the voluptuary. No man is worth calling a man who will not fight rather than submit to infamy or see those that are dear to him suffer wrong. No nation deserves to exist if it permits itself to lose the stern and virile virtues....

Having thumped his chest to his entire satisfaction, Teddy went on to recommend that future international disputes be settled via “treaties of arbitration” (preferably modeled on “the methods adopted in the American Constitution to prevent hostilities between the states”), with the caveat that “there are, of course, states so backward that a civilized community ought not to enter into an arbitration treaty with them.” Perhaps he was thinking of the Philippines, whose people were all too familiar with the stern and virile virtues of the hero of San Juan Hill.

Read more:

On recommendation of our Freshman advisor, we took a course with Professor Niebuhr ("The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness").  This was advice for which we will always be thankful;  we took courses whenever possible by distinguished figures from areas we were generally not interested in - but hoped to appreciate, by hearing from the best minds in these fields.  To quote Professor Niebuhr, from the Internet:

Edmund Hillary, First on Everest, Dies at 88
Published: January 11, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary, the lanky New Zealand mountaineer and explorer who with Tenzing Norgay, his Sherpa guide, won worldwide acclaim in 1953 by becoming the first to scale the 29,035-foot summit of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak, died Friday in Auckland, New Zealand. He was 88.

His death was announced by Prime Minister Helen Clark of New Zealand.

In the annals of great heroic exploits, the conquest of Mount Everest by Sir Edmund and Mr. Norgay ranks with the first trek to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen in 1911 and the first nonstop trans-Atlantic flight by Charles A. Lindbergh in 1927.

By 1953, nearly a century after British surveyors had established that the Himalayan peak on the Nepal-Tibet border was the highest point on earth, many climbers considered the mountain all but unconquerable. The summit was 5 ½ vertical miles above sea level (up where today’s jets fly): an otherworldly place of yawning crevasses and 100-mile-an-hour winds, of perpetual cold and air so thin that the human brain and lungs do not function properly in it.

Numerous Everest expeditions had failed, and dozens of experienced mountaineers, including many Sherpas, the Nepalese people famed as climbers, had been killed — buried in avalanches or lost and frozen in sudden storms that roared over the dizzying escarpments. One who vanished, in 1924, was George Leigh Mallory, known for snapping when asked why climb Everest, “Because it is there!” His body was found in the ice 75 years later, in 1999, about 2,000 feet below the summit.

Sir Edmund and Mr. Norgay were part of a Royal Geographical Society-Alpine Club expedition led by Col. Henry Cecil John Hunt — a siege group that included a dozen climbers, 35 Sherpa guides and 350 porters carrying 18 tons of food and equipment. Their route was the treacherous South Tor, facing Nepal.

After a series of climbs by coordinated teams to establish ever-higher camps on the icy slopes and perilous rock ledges, Tom Bourdillon and Dr. Charles Evans were the first team to attempt the summit, but gave up at 28,720 feet — 315 feet from the top — beaten back by exhaustion, a storm that shrouded them in ice and oxygen-tank failures.

Sir Edmund, then 33, and Mr. Norgay, 39, made the next assault. They first established a bivouac at 27,900 feet on a rock ledge six feet wide and canted at a 30-degree angle. There, holding their tent against a howling gale as the temperatures plunged to 30 degrees below zero, they spent the night.

At 6:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953, cheered by clearing skies, they began the final attack. Carrying enough oxygen for seven hours and counting on picking up two partly filled tanks left by Dr. Evans and Mr. Bourdillon, they moved out. Roped together, cutting toe-holds with their ice axes, first one man leading and then the other, they inched up a steep, knife-edged ridge southeast of the summit.

Halfway up, Sir Edmund recalled in “High Adventure” (1955, Oxford University Press), they discovered soft snow under them. “Immediately I realized we were on dangerous ground,” he said. “Suddenly, with a dull breaking noise, an area of crust all around me about six feet in diameter broke off.” He slid backward 20 or 30 feet before regaining a hold. “It was a nasty shock,” he said. “I could look down 10,000 feet between my legs.”

Farther up, they encountered what was later named the Hillary Step — a sheer face of rock and ice 40 feet high that Sir Edmund called “the most formidable obstacle on the ridge.” But they found a vertical crack and managed to climb it by bracing feet against one side and backs against the other. The last few yards to the summit were relatively easy.

“As I chipped steps, I wondered how long we could keep it up,” Sir Edmund said. “Then I realized that the ridge, instead of rising ahead, now dropped sharply away. I looked upward to see a narrow ridge running up to a sharp point. A few more whacks of the ice ax and we stood on the summit.”

The vast panorama of the Himalayas lay before them: fleecy clouds and the pastel shades of Tibet to the north, and in all directions sweeping ranks of jagged mountains, cloud-filled valleys, great natural amphitheaters of snow and rock, and the glittering Kangshung Glacier 10,000 feet below.

There was a modest celebration. “We shook hands and then, casting Anglo-Saxon formalities aside, we thumped each other on the back until forced to stop from lack of breath,” Sir Edmund remembered. They took photographs and left a crucifix for Colonel Hunt, the expedition leader. Mr. Norgay, a Buddhist, buried biscuits and chocolate as an offering to the gods of Everest. Then they ate a mint cake, strapped on their oxygen tanks and began the climb down.

Four days later, the news was flashed around the world as a coronation gift of sorts to Queen Elizabeth II, who was crowned in Westminster Abbey on June 2. “We tuned into the BBC for a description of the queen’s coronation, and to our great excitement heard the announcement that Everest had been climbed,” Sir Edmund recalled in his autobiography, “Nothing Venture, Nothing Win” (1975, Hodder & Stoughton). The queen promptly made Edmund Hillary a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, while Mr. Norgay received the George Medal of Britain and other honors.

Worldwide heroes overnight, they were greeted by huge crowds in India and London. A controversy over whether Sir Edmund or Mr. Norgay had been first to stand on the summit threatened briefly to mar the celebrations, but Colonel Hunt declared, “They reached it together, as a team.” It was not until 1999, in his book “View from the Summit” (Doubleday), that Sir Edmund broke his silence about which of the two men had reached the peak first. He wrote that it was he, not Mr. Norgay.

“We drew closer together as Tenzing brought in the slack on the rope,” he wrote. “I continued cutting a line of steps upwards. Next moment I had moved onto a flattish exposed area of snow with nothing but space in every direction.” He added, “Tenzing quickly joined me and we looked round in wonder.”

Sir Edmund continued his life of adventure, climbing mountains and once crossing the Antarctic, lecturing and making public appearances, and serving as New Zealand’s high commissioner, or ambassador, to India, Bangladesh and Nepal from 1985 to 1988.

Like Sir Edmund, Mr. Norgay, whose name was sometimes rendered Norkay, never again tried to climb Everest. He died in 1986.

In more than five decades since the first successful assault on what climbers call the top of the world, more than 3,000 people, including Sir Edmund’s son, Peter, and Mr. Norgay’s son, Jamling, have reached the summit of Everest, while more than 200 have died in the attempt, 8 of them in a 1996 expedition that was savaged by a blizzard.

Today, Everest expeditions are almost commonplace. On a single day in 2003, 118 people were reported to have made it. Some veteran climbers have criticized the “commercialism” and “circus atmosphere” surrounding Everest climbing. Sir Edmund added his voice to the lament in 2003 as crowds gathered for the 50th anniversary celebrations in Katmandu, Nepal.

Tough, rawboned, 6 feet 5 inches tall, with a long leathery and wrinkled face, Sir Edmund was an intelligent but unsophisticated man with tigerish confidence on a mountain but little taste for formal social doings. For many years after the Everest climb, he continued to list his occupation as beekeeper — his father’s pursuit — and he preferred to be known as Ed.

During the Southern Hemisphere summer of 1957-58 a British Commonwealth team that included Sir Edmund crossed the Antarctic on an overland route that traversed the South Pole. No one had reached the South Pole since Amundsen in 1911, and no one had ever crossed Antarctica.

The expedition, using tractors, was led by Sir Vivian Fuchs, but Sir Edmund and a party of New Zealanders made the dash over the pole. There was debate afterward about credit, but a book by Sir Edmund and Sir Vivian belittled the differences.

In 1960, Sir Edmund led a highly publicized but unsuccessful search for the Abominable Snowman. And in 1985, accompanied by Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, Sir Edmund flew a twin-engine ski plane over the Arctic and landed at the North Pole. He thus became the first to stand at both poles and on the summit of Everest.

Sir Edmund wrote or was a co-author of 13 books, including “No Latitude for Error” (1961, Hodder & Stoughton), about the Antarctic experience. He also formed a foundation, the Sir Edmund Hillary Himalayan Trust, which raised millions and built schools, clinics, airfields and other facilities for the Sherpa villages in Nepal. For many years, Sir Edmund was president of New Zealand’s Peace Corps and an important voice in his country’s conservation efforts.

Edmund Percival Hillary was born July 20, 1919, in Tuakau, near Auckland, the son of Percival Augustus Hillary and Gertrude Clark Hillary. His father was a commercial beekeeper, and Edmund and a younger brother, Rexford, worked on the family farm.

Edmund began climbing as a youth while attending public schools in Auckland. He went to Auckland University and served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as a navigator during World War II.

After the war he took climbing instruction from leading alpinists, began to specialize in ice-climbing techniques, climbed in the Swiss Alps and got to know British mountaineers with Himalayan experience. He began climbing peaks of more than 20,000 feet in Nepal. As his reputation grew, Colonel Hunt chose him as a member of the 1953 expedition that conquered Everest.

Four months after Everest, Sir Edmund married Louise Mary Rose, the daughter of a mountain climber. They had three children, Peter, Sarah and Belinda. In 1975, Lady Louise and Belinda were killed when their small plane crashed on takeoff from Katmandu Airport.

In 1979, Sir Edmund was to have been commentator on an Air New Zealand sightseeing flight over the Antarctic but had to withdraw because of a schedule conflict. His friend and fellow mountaineer Peter Mulgrew took his place. The plane crashed on Mount Erebus, a volcano on Ross Island in McMurdo Sound, and all 257 aboard were killed. Sir Edmund married June Mulgrew, his friend’s widow, in 1989. Besides Lady June, Sir Edmund is survived by his daughter, Sarah, his son, Peter, and six grandchildren.

A footnote to the lore of Everest was added in 1999. Using global positioning system equipment, an expedition sponsored by the National Geographic Society and others revised the elevation of the summit upward by 7 feet, to 29,035 from 29,028.

Standing atop that pinnacle in 1953 was an experience Sir Hillary would recollect many times in lectures and quiet conversations.

“The whole world around us lay spread out like a giant relief map,” he told one interviewer. “I am a lucky man. I have had a dream and it has come true, and that is not a thing that happens often to men.”

A great friend.

Capitol View:
Tobin Coleman remembered

Ken Dixon, CT POST
Article created: 08/20/2006 04:43:06 AM EDT
Life is good. Tobin Coleman's sweater is still draped on the back of his chair. It's in a quiet corner of the Capitol Press Room, right where he left it the last time he was here, before collapsing, dead, on a Milford running track early Sunday afternoon.
It was as if he ran out of his skin on that beautiful sunny, breezy day, leaving his body in a heap, heading for who knows where. He wore a baseball hat on which was written "Life is Good," a cliche that enrages me, since it's now a taunt. Because he was a single guy and because Milford police don't seem to care about releasing so-called public information on the weekend, Coleman's body was unidentified for about 48 hours.

Twenty-four hours after they found him, police finally announced the "untimely" death of a local man and requested the public and news media's help identifying him. As I write this, it's Friday afternoon and the Police Department's public information officer is on "vacation" today, so I can't find out whether the audio device he was carrying was a radio tuned to the Yankee game, at the time of his death.

Coleman was a solid Yankee fan and now I think of him nearly every inning I listen to them on the radio.

They took the body to the medical examiner in Farmington, where an autopsy found heart defects, at least one of which he had known about, that ended his life at 49. Coleman attended St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Milford. He had recently bought a new, expensive bicycle. This week would have been the start of a two-week vacation and he was thinking about going to Montreal, or getting a list of county fairs in Connecticut and New York state, hopping in the car and driving somewhere.

A pair of eyeglasses is next to his computer keyboard. On the wall above the screen, is a placard from one of those newspaper honor boxes, commemorating events of more than two years ago now.

"Rowland Resigns!" it still screams, testament to Coleman's role, working for The Advocate of Stamford, in hounding the former governor, John "Why Should I Resign if I've Done Nothing Wrong?" Rowland, out of office.

That was a once-in-a-career moment for all of us and Coleman, with his nicely twisted sense of humor, knew it as much as anyone. The hours at the job fly by, you see your byline on the front page the next day, then you scheme to find a story that will find the next front page and the one after that.

Coleman had another part-time job at the time, as shop steward for the union at The Advocate, which was immersed in a long, ultimately successful contract negotiation, which added incalculable stress to his life.

I was lucky enough to have spent the afternoon before the big statewide primary with Coleman, driving in his new Honda, "jackassing," we call it, 30 miles northeast of Hartford, to Willimantic, on Aug. 8. We were on the trail of Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, who was making last-minute appeals for support in the gubernatorial primary.

Coleman and I gabbed about the newspaper business, about gardening, about how southwestern Connecticut was less like most of the state and more like New York state, where he grew up. That's where he almost persuaded his older sister to take him to the original Woodstock rock festival back in 1969, when he was 12; where he had a cool job as a teenager at a vineyard.

Coleman could trace his potential for indignation — a good trait in a reporter — back to when he first attended school and discovered something about himself.

He wasn't "Toby," as everyone in his family had called him all the time. He was "Tobin" his teacher said and he returned home that day insisting that his family called him by his name.

Rell said some nice things about him Friday morning. "This was obviously a big shock to all of us," she told the press corps. "It touches you when you realize somebody has passed away, especially somebody at his young age and somebody that you work with on a continuing basis.

"It touches all of us and I just wanted to personally say that I'm going to miss him," she said. "I'll miss his wit, his dry sense of humor and frankly that cocky little smile that says 'I'll get you this time.'"

Rell, told of the apparent 24-hour delay by police in seeking the public's assistance to identify Coleman, said "that saddens me, to think that happened." She said that possibly Milford Hospital officials could have made such an announcement.

Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. said Friday afternoon that staffing issues seem to be the reason why little, if any, news emerges from the Milford Police Department on weekends.

"I will discuss the matter with the police chief and we'll look at this specific situation and see if there are things to improve the way we get information out," Richetelli said.

Life is good but, Tobin Coleman's sweater is still draped on the back of his chair.

Leader of environmental firm that found septic solution to school expansion retires;

Making His Mark;  From self-employed surveyor to leading civil engineer, Angus McDonald has spent 40 years charting the course of development

By Eileen McNamara
Published on 10/8/2006
A week after Angus Mcdonald was feted at his retirement party, the 72-year-old civil engineer could be found back at his company's offices, trying to answer two different telephones and assisting a client who made an early-morning surprise visit.

And in between, he found time to apologize several times to a scheduled visitor for the interruptions.

There's something both kind and civil about McDonald, a tall man with broad shoulders and still-sharp blue eyes.

Perhaps it's because he's the first to admit that he will not go quietly into retirement.

After spending 40 years building a successful civil engineering firm and a solid reputation in the community as a consummate professional, McDonald figures he'll never really completely retire.

“I'm just phasing myself out a little at a time,” he says with a laugh.

Or maybe it's the way he apologizes because he still gets choked up, more than 20 years later, when he talks about his first wife's death of cancer.

“It happens every time,” he says, dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief.

And then there are the series of pictures above a filing cabinet of some of the 20 or so employees of his Old Saybrook firm and their families on the annual company outing to Block Island or Newport. It's a tradition McDonald started years ago when the company was still small, as a way to get all the employees' families together.

“It's nice for everyone to see each other and visit at least once a year,” he says.

In fact, he's alone this particular morning in the office because it's the day of the annual outing and the offices are closed. He'll join the rest of the gang later in Newport, he says.

That kind of devotion to those close to him is partly what has made him so successful, friends and colleagues say. He coached local Little League, went to all his children's ball games and served on local land-use boards in the 1970s.

“He's just done so much for his community,” says attorney David M. Royston, one of McDonald's longtime friends and colleagues.

McDonald's decision in 1966 to start his own surveying company was borne largely out of necessity. Married and with two young children to feed, McDonald lost his job as a surveyor and needed another one fast.

He and his family were living in Ledyard at the time so he started doing work out of his home.

Within a few months, however, he had so many jobs he needed to move into bigger offices. That brought him to Old Saybrook, he recalls, adding it's a “nice little town.”

Today, the company that McDonald built, called Angus L. McDonald Jr. & Gary Sharpe & Associates, employs 20 people, including McDonald's son, in a building at 233 Boston Post Road, just south of Interstate 95.

The firm of surveyors and civil engineers has played a role in a good deal of the land development that has occurred in the region over the past four decades.

McDonald's love of his field, his broad knowledge of land-use laws and his reputation for professionalism and integrity are well known in the business community.

“I don't think I've ever met anyone, either on a professional or a personal level, that has more knowledge or more professionalism in their field than Angus,” says Royston.

Part of that professionalism stems from McDonald's love of what he does.

Evidence of it abounds in his company's offices, from the case of old glass bottles he has discovered in fields or woods he's tramped through over the years, to the large reproduction of an early surveyor's map of Connecticut.

Surveying is one of this country's oldest professions and was practiced even before the noted map makers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, McDonald says. George Washington dabbled in surveying, so did Thomas Jefferson, he adds.

McDonald got hooked on the field after high school when, too poor to go to college, he worked for a road construction company. He watched the firm's surveyors plot the course of highways and was hooked. He joined the U.S. Army in 1952 and went to work for its surveying and engineering division.

When he mustered out of the service he got married and while starting a family, he went to college on the GI bill.

He earned a master's degree and went to work for a Ledyard surveying company before starting his own company.

He worked closely with developers and builders on projects and loved the political end of his work, convincing local land-use officials of the worthiness of a project.

And he enjoyed the physical aspects of his career, which included finding and marking the bounds of the land.

That aspect of the job hasn't changed much in 40 years, but others have, he says.

Besides the way technology has streamlined creating maps, land-use regulations and the people who oversee them have gotten so complex, he says.

Bringing a project to fruition nowadays is more about politics and personalities than wise land stewardship, said McDonald.

In retirement, McDonald figures he'll become something of an elder statesmen.

He hopes to act as an advisor to younger employees and to keep in touch with clients.

He likes to quote baseball legend Lou Gehrig when summing up his professional life.

“I feel like the luckiest man in the world,” he says. “I did exactly what I wanted to do, exactly how I wanted to do it. In the meantime, I made a little bit of money – and a lot of friends.” 

Weston schools chief to share know-how with Mideast nation
By JEREMY SOULLIERE, Hour Staff Writer
June 25, 2007

WESTON — Weston Public Schools Superintendent Lynne Pierson will soon be taking a one-year leave of absence to help an education council in the United Arab Emirates develop schools in the Middle Eastern country.

Pierson had recently asked the Board of Education for the one-year leave, and the board approved her request this past week. Her sabbatical will take effect on Aug. 15, and is scheduled to end on June 30, 2008.

In late-August, Pierson said, she will begin her stint as the head of the Abu Dhabi Education Council's schools development unit, assisting the council in its efforts to develop and restructure schools in three of the country's seven emirates. She said she's pleased to get the chance to help children on an international level.

"I'm very excited — I think it's a wonderful opportunity to do something on behalf of children internationally," she said. "I've always had an interest in that area."

Pierson — who has 12 years experience as a superintendent, five of which she has spent in Weston — said the council had approached her about the position.

"They came to me," she said. "They are seeking senior level educators who have been responsible for (school) systems."

Board Chairwoman Ellen Uzenoff said the panel recognized Pierson's job offer as one that would be personally rewarding for her, and they wanted to give her that chance.

"It's something that is an excellent opportunity for her, and we were happy to grant that to her," she said.

Pierson's experience will also be beneficial for Weston, Uzenoff added, with the superintendent being able to share her international experiences with students, staff, the board and the community when she returns.

"Her experience will enrich us all," she said.

Uzenoff also said the timing of Pierson's sabbatical is good, with the district having completed its extensive building projects and the superintendent leaving a quality school administration team in place.

"We're in good shape," she said.

The search for an interim superintendent is underway, Uzenoff said, and the board will be conducting interviews soon. The board, she added, will only be looking at candidates outside the district.

"We will not be looking inward for an interim superintendent," Uzenoff said.

Pierson has until Jan. 31, 2008 to confirm she will be returning to Weston, Uzenoff said, but the superintendent said she's planning on it.

"It is my intention to come back," she said.

Pierson said she knows the district will be in good hands while she is gone.

"I'll miss the students and I'll miss the staff, but I have a lot of confidence in our management team," she said.

"About Town" says he's a good guy, very serious, and means business!  At least he was a long time ago! 

What Does the Detroit Bomber Know?  The president's job is not detecting bombs at the airport but neutralizing terrorists before they get there.
Wall Street Journal
JANUARY 6, 2010, 11:05 P.M. ET

There was much to celebrate in the providential combination of an incompetent terrorist and surpassingly brave passengers and crew who saved 288 people aboard Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas Day. There is a lot less to applaud in the official reaction.

Well-deserved mockery has already been heaped on the move-along-folks-nothing-to-see-here tone of the administration's initial pronouncements—from Janet Napolitano's "the system worked," to President Obama's statement that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was an "isolated extremist." This week brought little improvement.

The president acknowledged that the plot had been hatched in Yemen, but not without adding the misleading statement that Yemen faces "crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies." That Yemenis have to cope with "crushing poverty" is irrelevant here. Abdulmutallab is the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker. Other jihadists, including the physician who blew himself up and killed seven CIA agents in Afghanistan last week, and indeed the millionaire Osama bin Laden, prove that poverty does not beget terrorists. "Deadly insurgencies" is a half-truth, which omits the fact that the Yemeni government itself has supported al Qaeda and continues to harbor at least two people—Jamal Ahmed Mohammed Ali al-Badawi and Fahad Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso—involved in the bombing of the USS Cole.

Then, too, there was the unfortunate metaphor chosen by a senior intelligence adviser to account for why a conspiracy helped along by at least two Guantanamo alumni had not been discovered before Abdulmutallab boarded the plane. There was, he said, "no smoking gun"—a clue one would expect to find after disaster strikes, not before. There were, as it happens, many smokeless but redolent clues lying about before the plane took off. These included Abdulmutallab's father's warning to the State Department that his son was being radicalized and had gone to Yemen; the one-way ticket purchased for cash; no luggage; and intercepted communication referring to a plot involving "the Nigerian" in Yemen.

But it is not so much these gaffes as what they appear to reflect that gives serious cause for concern. Even as the initial spin was in progress, Abdulmutallab was chattering like a magpie to his FBI captors about having been trained by al Qaeda and about there being more where he came from.

Braggadocio aside, he was certainly aware of who had prepared the potentially deadly mix that was sewn in his underwear, who had trained him, where the training had taken place, whether there was in fact a South Asian man described by two other passengers who helped him talk his way on to the plane, and a good deal more. Such facts are valuable but evanescent intelligence. The location of people—and with it our ability to find and neutralize them—is subject to rapid change.

Had Abdulmutallab been turned over immediately to interrogators intent on gathering intelligence, valuable facts could have been gathered and perhaps acted upon. Indeed, a White House spokesman has confirmed that Abdulmutallab did disclose some actionable intelligence before he fell silent on advice of counsel. Nor is it any comfort to be told, as we were, by the senior intelligence adviser referred to above—he of the "no smoking gun"—that we can learn facts from Abdulmutallab as part of a plea bargaining process in connection with his prosecution.

Whatever that official thinks he knows about the plea bargaining process, he certainly should know that the kind of facts that Abdulmutallab might be expected to know have a shelf life that is a lot shorter than the plea bargaining process, assuming such a process ever gets started.

Holding Abdulmutallab for a time in military custody, regardless of where he is ultimately to be charged, would have been entirely lawful—even in the view of the current administration, which has taken the position that it needs no further legislative authority to hold dangerous detainees even for a lengthy period in the United States. Then we could decide at relative leisure where to charge him—whether before a military commission or before a civilian court. In Abdulmutallab's case, it would hardly make a difference, given the nature of most of the evidence against him. (Although potential disclosure of the body of intercepted communications that included reference to "the Nigerian" could prove problematic if the prosecution were to be brought in a civilian court.)

Those considerations, however, are entirely academic because Abdulmutallab was proceeded against—if that is the correct description—in a civilian tribunal where the first step was to get him a lawyer who promptly put an end to his disclosures. The point is less where Abdulmutallab will eventually be prosecuted than what use could have been made of him as an intelligence source. No consideration whatsoever appears to have been given to where Abdulmutallab fits in the foreign contingency operation (formerly known as the global war on terror) in which we are engaged.

Most recently we have had the promise of more rigorous searches at the airport, along with a White House summit meeting that featured a furrowed brow, an earnest injunction to "do better" at "connecting dots," an oddly benign reference to al Qaeda as our "agile adversary," and a promise to suspend the transfer of prisoners to Yemen because of the "unsettled" situation in that country, accompanied by an emphatic recommitment to closing Guantanamo.

What the gaffes, the almost comically strained avoidance of such direct terms as "war" and "Islamist terrorism," and the failure to think of Abdulmutallab as a potential source of intelligence rather than simply as a criminal defendant seem to reflect is that some in the executive branch are focused more on not sounding like their predecessors than they are on finding and neutralizing people who believe it is their religious duty to kill us. That's too bad, because the Constitution vests "the executive power"—not some of it, all of it—in the president. He, and those acting at his direction, are responsible for protecting us.

There is much to worry about if they think that the principal challenge of the day is detecting bombs at the airport rather than actively searching out, finding and neutralizing terrorists before they get there.

Mukasey to Join New York Law Firm
By Sewell Chan AND Benjamin Weiser
February 17, 2009, 4:01 pm

Michael B. Mukasey, who was United States attorney general from October 2007 until President George W. Bush left office in January, will join the New York law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton as a partner in its litigation department, the firm announced on Tuesday.

Mr. Mukasey, who was a judge in the Federal District Court in Manhattan for 18 years, 6 of them as chief judge, tried to restore confidence in the Justice Department after his predecessor, Alberto R. Gonzales, resigned amid investigations into the firing of federal prosecutors and widespread criticism that the Bush administration had politicized the department.

When Mr. Mukasey joins Debevoise later this month, he will work alongside Mary Jo White, a former United States attorney in Manhattan, who is chairwoman of the firm’s litigation department, and Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general of Britain, who is the firm’s European litigation chairman.

“We’re very excited, to say the least,” Ms. White said.

Mr. Mukasey will focus his practice primarily on internal corporate and other investigations, independent board reviews and corporate governance, among other matters.

In a brief phone interview Tuesday, Mr. Mukasey said that he hoped “to work on the kinds of matters that the Debevoise firm has worked on with great success up to now, and contribute to that.”

He added that government ethics rules would prevent him from dealing directly with any agency of the federal government for two years.

Asked whether he would write a book, he said that he had no plans to.

AG Takes Himself Out of Madoff Probe
Filed at 6:00 p.m. ET
December 17, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The fraud investigation of Wall Street money manager Bernard L. Madoff took unusual twists Wednesday as the U.S. attorney general removed himself and the Securities and Exchange Commission looked into the relationship between Madoff's niece and a former SEC attorney who reviewed Madoff's business.

The developments reflect growing criticism that Wall Street and regulators in Washington have grown too close. Madoff himself has boasted of his ties to the SEC.

The question of Madoff's connection to regulators goes to the heart of the investigation of the alleged $50 billion fraud, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox told reporters.

Congress jumped into the Madoff scandal, too. The chairman of the House capital markets subcommittee, Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., announced an inquiry that will begin early next month into what may be the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time and how the government failed to detect it.

In New York, Madoff showed up at the federal courthouse to sign some papers in his case, wearing a baseball cap and walking silently past a reporter who asked Madoff whether he had anything to say to his alleged victims. Free on $10 million bail, Madoff now has a curfew and an ankle-bracelet to monitor his movements.

U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey recused himself from the Madoff probe because his son, Marc Mukasey, is representing Frank DiPascali, a top financial officer at Madoff's investment firm. The Justice Department refused to say when Mukasey became aware of the conflict but confirmed Wednesday he was removing himself all aspects of the case.

DiPascali was the Madoff employee who had the most day-to-day contact with the firm's investors. Several described him as the man they reached by phone when they had questions about the firm's investment strategy, or wanted to add or subtract money from their accounts.

The turmoil at the SEC came as the investigation into the scandal widened.

Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin's office said he subpoenaed Madoff's brother, Peter Madoff, who is the chief compliance officer of Madoff's company, and Marcia Beth Cohn, chief compliance officer of Cohmad Securities Corp., which is in the same building in New York. Galvin is trying to determine the relationship between Madoff's firm and Cohmad Securities, as well as the names and numbers of all Massachusetts investors with both companies.

The events unfolded the day after Cox delivered a stunning rebuke to his own career staff, blaming them for a decade-long failure to investigate Madoff.

Credible and specific allegations regarding Madoff's financial wrongdoing going back to at least 1999 were repeatedly brought to the attention of SEC staff, said Cox. Cox said he was gravely concerned by the apparent multiple failures over at least a decade to thoroughly investigate the allegations or at any point to seek formal authority from the politically appointed commission to pursue them.

Cox's critics said that targeting the staff was Cox's attempt to salvage his own reputation.

''He put in place the people he is now shifting the blame to,'' said Ross Albert, a former SEC senior special counsel, former federal prosecutor and now a private attorney in Atlanta.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., suggested Cox bears some of the responsibility for what went wrong.

''I served in Congress with Christopher Cox, but I don't think he's going to make the All-Star team,'' said Reid.

SEC Inspector General David Kotz is looking into the agency's failure to uncover the alleged fraud in Madoff's operation. One area Kotz said he will examine is the relationship between a former SEC attorney, Eric Swanson, and Madoff's niece, Shana, who are now married.

As an SEC attorney, Swanson was part of a team that examined Madoff's securities brokerage operation in 1999 and 2004. Neither review resulted in any action against Madoff. In a statement about Swanson's role, the SEC compliance office cited its strict rules prohibiting employees from participating in cases involving firms where they have a personal interest.

Kotz said his office would move as quickly as possible to complete the inquiry into why regulators didn't pursue Madoff more aggressively.

Kanjorski, the lawmaker, said his subcommittee's inquiry will examine the alleged Madoff fraud and try to determine why the SEC and other regulators ''failed to detect these substantial evasions.''

With the scandal swirling around Madoff, he was unable to find co-signers of his bail package. The judge modified the bail package, and gave lawyers until next Monday to come up with additional paperwork.

Mukasey Returns to Work After Collapse
Filed at 3:41 p.m. ET
November 21, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) -- With briefcase in hand and a smile on his face, Attorney General Michael Mukasey returned to work Friday after collapsing during a speech the night before and spurring a 14-hour scare about his health.

A Justice Department spokeswoman blamed the 67-year-old's dramatic and public fall on a fainting spell.

Determined to prove his fitness, Mukasey checked out of George Washington University Hospital shortly after noon, telling reporters he felt ''excellent.'' Arriving at the Justice Department a few minutes later with his wife, Susan, Mukasey climbed out of his security van unassisted and showing no signs of pain or discomfort.

In an e-mail to the department's 108,000 employees, Mukasey said he would ''continue doing the work I swore to do last November'' when he became President Bush's third attorney general.

''As you may have heard, I collapsed briefly last night at the conclusion of a speech,'' Mukasey wrote. ''All tests at the hospital have come back with good results, and I feel fine.''

Leaving little doubt about his plans to stay on the job for the last two months of his tenure, Mukasey added: ''It has been and remains an honor to serve with you.''

Mukasey was the keynote speaker at a black-tie dinner Thursday night for The Federalist Society, a conservative legal group. He opened his speech about the Bush administration's fight against terrorism with a wry remark about expecting the mood at the dinner to be ''somber or sober.''

Around 10:10 p.m. EST, Mukasey was about 20 minutes into his speech when he began shaking and slurring his words. He repeated a phrase -- ''as a result'' -- three times and then slumped forward on the podium. His FBI security detail ran to catch him as he fell.

''Oh, no, no!'' people in the audience cried out as Mukasey fell. ''Oh, my God!''

Flitting in and out of consciousness, Mukasey lay on the stage for about 10 minutes as FBI agents and medical personnel at the dinner sought to help him. He was then rushed to the hospital, where he remained overnight for tests and observation.

Mukasey is not the first attorney general to faint publicly. Clinton administration Attorney General Janet Reno fainted twice -- during a 1998 church service in suburban Maryland and while attending a 1997 conference in Mexico City -- in episodes blamed on exhaustion.

Other publicly viewed health scares by top U.S. officials include when Clinton administration Commerce Secretary William Daly fell off a stage and when then-President George H.W. Bush became sick at a Tokyo dinner.

President Bush telephoned the attorney general shortly before 7 a.m. EST to wish him a speedy recovery, press secretary Dana Perino said, describing Mukasey as ''sounding well'' and saying he was getting ''excellent care.''

Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona reported Mukasey had passed a treadmill stress test, a stress echocardiogram, CT scan and an MRI. She also said doctors ruled out a cardiac problem or stroke, and specifically ruled out TIA -- or transient ischemic attack -- which is a mini-stroke.

''It really appears to be a fainting spell,'' Talamona said.

Mukasey ''works long days, she said. ''He's very active. It was a late-night speech under hot lights.''

Mukasey, a flinty but measured former federal judge, has scaled back his public appearances in recent weeks. He was described as tired-looking and drawn hours by a former federal prosecutor before he collapsed. In an interview last year early in his tenure, he called the attorney general's job discouraging.

The native New Yorker stepped in as the nation's chief law enforcement officer after the resignation of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who left under fire in a controversy over the firings of several federal prosecutors.

Abigail Thernstrom, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, attended Thursday's dinner at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in northwest Washington. She described Mukasey's fall as ''horrible,'' adding:

''It was hard to watch such a thing.''

Mukasey vetoes plans for CIA tape probe
Article Last Updated: 01/25/2008 11:38:45 PM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Friday he doesn't plan for a special prosecutor to investigate whether the CIA broke the law when it destroyed videotapes of terror interrogations, defying some in Congress who want an independent look at the politically charged case.

Mukasey, in a 41-minute briefing with reporters, also ducked repeated questions about whether he considers waterboarding an illegal form of torture — an issue expected to be at the top of the agenda when he appears next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Speaking tersely and in an even, low tone, Mukasey would not discuss whether he has seen any evidence that destroying the interrogation tapes violated court orders or otherwise interfered with any case. He said the ongoing criminal investigation, headed by career federal prosecutor John Durham of Connecticut, was opened on grounds of "some indication — which is a lot less than probable cause — some indication that there was any violation of any federal statute."

Asked if he has reconsidered his decision not to put a special prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Mukasey said, simply, "No."

Mukasey was even more reluctant to discuss the act of waterboarding itself — the interrogation tactic that is believed to have been shown on the destroyed tapes. The issue briefly stalled Mukasey's nomination as attorney general last October, when he said he did not know enough about it to say then that it should be outlawed by the United States.

"I understand there's interest in that," Mukasey said Friday, noting that he promised senators last fall that he would review the practice of waterboarding and "offer the view of whether the current program is lawful or not."

He also refused to say whether he has completed his review, or if he would ever publicly announce his opinion of whether waterboarding is legal. Used during the Spanish Inquisition, waterboarding involves pouring water over a person's cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning. It was banned by the CIA and the Pentagon in 2006.

In his first congressional hearing since being sworn in, Mukasey is scheduled to testify Wednesday in front of the Senate Judiciary panel that threatened his nomination. Ten senators, led by Democrat Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, demanded this week that Mukasey immediately clarify his stand on waterboarding, saying he has had "ample time ... to study this issue and reach a conclusion."

Mukasey also touched Friday on the administration's push for Congress to permanently allow U.S. intelligence officials to eavesdrop on overseas terror suspects without first seeking court approval. Such changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act are under fierce debate in Congress, and without them, Mukasey said, "it certainly doesn't help" investigations.

Meanwhile, Durham recently added two veteran organized crime prosecutors from Boston to his team investigating the destroyed CIA tapes. James Farmer is the head of the criminal division and supervises the national security section for the U.S. attorney's office. James Herbert is the head of the state's Organized Crime Strike Force.

Durham and Herbert were part of a Justice Department squad that won national accolades for unraveling a decades-long corrupt relationship between the Boston FBI and the area's most ruthless gangsters. Farmer successfully prosecuted members of the Boston Police Department for extorting bribes from business owners in the neighborhoods they patrolled in the late 1980s.

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan described Farmer and Herbert as "consummate professionals" who are not swayed by political forces.

"I have absolute confidence in their ability to exercise independent judgment," Sullivan said.

Samuel W. Buell, a former federal prosecutor in Boston, praised the Justice Department for placing the sensitive investigation in the hands of career prosecutors without political ambitions.

"They are veterans of the U.S. attorney's office in Boston through administrations in both parties," Buell said. "Neither of them has been trying to climb the ladder for a political plum job in Washington."

Justice Dept. Sets Criminal Inquiry on C.I.A. Tapes
Published: January 3, 2008

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said Wednesday that the Justice Department had elevated its inquiry into the destruction of Central Intelligence Agency interrogation videotapes to a formal criminal investigation headed by a career federal prosecutor.

 The announcement is the first indication that investigators have concluded on a preliminary basis that C.I.A. officers, possibly along with other government officials, may have committed criminal acts in their handling of the tapes, which recorded the interrogations in 2002 of two operatives with Al Qaeda and were destroyed in 2005.

C.I.A. officials have for years feared becoming entangled in a criminal investigation involving alleged improprieties in secret counterterrorism programs. Now, the investigation and a probable grand jury inquiry will scrutinize the actions of some of the highest-ranking current and former officials at the agency.

The tapes were never provided to the courts or to the Sept. 11 commission, which had requested all C.I.A. documents related to Qaeda prisoners. The question of whether to destroy the tapes was for nearly three years the subject of deliberations among lawyers at the highest levels of the Bush administration.

Justice Department officials declined to specify what crimes might be under investigation, but government lawyers have said the inquiry will probably focus on whether the destruction of the tapes involved criminal obstruction of justice and related false-statement offenses.

Mr. Mukasey assigned John H. Durham, a veteran federal prosecutor from Connecticut, to lead the criminal inquiry in tandem with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The appointment of a prosecutor from outside Washington was an unusual move, and it suggested that Mr. Mukasey wanted to give the investigation the appearance of an extra measure of independence, after complaints from lawmakers in both parties that Mr. Mukasey’s predecessor, Alberto R. Gonzales, had allowed politics to influence the Justice Department’s judgment.

Mr. Durham was not appointed as a special counsel in this case, a step sought by some Congressional Democrats. He will have less expansive authority than a special counsel and will report to the deputy attorney general rather than assume the powers of the attorney general, which he would have had as a special counsel.

Mr. Durham has spent years bringing cases against organized crime figures in Hartford and Boston. In legal circles he has the reputation of a tough, tight-lipped litigator who compiled a stellar track record against the mob.

A C.I.A. spokesman said that the agency would cooperate fully with the Justice Department investigation. Current and former officials have said that the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the tapes in November 2005 was Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., who at the time was the head of the agency’s clandestine branch.

The decision to start a full-scale criminal investigation into the matter came four weeks after the disclosure on Dec. 6 that the tapes had been created and then destroyed. The Justice Department and the C.I.A. opened a preliminary inquiry on Dec. 8, and Mr. Mukasey said Wednesday that he had concluded from that review “that there is a basis for initiating a criminal investigation of this matter.”

The chairmen of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas, and the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, welcomed Mr. Mukasey’s announcement. But neither gave any indication he would defer to the criminal inquiry, and in separate statements they pledged to proceed with their committees’ investigations into the destruction of the tapes.

John L. Helgerson, the C.I.A. inspector general who took part in the preliminary inquiry, said Wednesday that he would step aside from the criminal investigation to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

Mr. Helgerson’s office had reviewed the videotapes, documenting the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, as part of an investigation into the C.I.A’s secret detention and interrogation program. Mr. Helgerson completed his investigation into the program in early 2004.

Among White House lawyers who took part in discussions between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy the tapes were Mr. Gonzales, when he was White House counsel; Harriet E. Miers, Mr. Gonzales’s successor as counsel; David S. Addington, who was then counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney; and John B. Bellinger III, then the legal adviser to the National Security Council. It is unclear whether anyone outside the C.I.A. endorsed destroying the tapes.

The new Justice Department investigation is likely to last for months, possibly beyond the end of the Bush administration.

Mr. Durham is currently the top-ranking deputy in the United States attorney’s office in Connecticut, supervising all major felony cases brought in the state.

In the late 1990s he was assigned as a special attorney in Boston leading an inquiry into allegations that F.B.I. agents and police officers had been compromised by mobsters.

In taking over the inquiry, Mr. Durham is expected to be able to move ahead without a long delay because his team will include Justice Department prosecutors who have already been working on the case. But at least in the beginning, it is likely to proceed more slowly than parallel investigations on Capitol Hill that are already well under way. Investigators from the House Intelligence Committee last month reviewed C.I.A. documents related to the destruction of the tapes, and the committee has called government witnesses to testify at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 16.

Mr. Mukasey pointedly did not designate Mr. Durham as a special counsel, in effect refusing to bow to pressure from Congressional Democrats to appoint an independent prosecutor with the same broad legal powers that were given to Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel who was appointed in 2003 to lead the investigation into the disclosure of a C.I.A. officer’s identity. That inquiry resulted in the perjury and obstruction prosecution of I. Lewis Libby Jr., formerly Mr. Cheney’s chief of staff. After Mr. Libby’s conviction, President Bush commuted his sentence.

Mr. Fitzgerald was appointed after the attorney general at the time, John Ashcroft, determined that his own relationship with officials under possible scrutiny in the leak case forced him to recuse himself from the investigation. As special counsel, Mr. Fitzgerald had the authority of the attorney general for the matters under investigation.

Mr. Durham will report to the deputy attorney general, an office being held temporarily by Craig S. Morford. Mr. Durham will have the powers of the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, a jurisdiction that includes C.I.A. headquarters. If a grand jury is convened as expected, it will meet in Alexandria, Va., where the prosecutor’s office is located.

Mr. Mukasey said “in an abundance of caution” the office of United States attorney for the district, Chuck Rosenberg, had been recused from the case and would not take part in the inquiry. Mr. Rosenberg’s office has investigated cases of detainee abuse by C.I.A. employees and contractors and has worked closely with the C.I.A. on counterterrorism and espionage cases.

Mr. Mukasey said the decision was made “to avoid any possible appearance of a conflict with other matters handled by that office.” Appointments like Mr. Durham’s are sometimes made in cases in which prosecutors like Mr. Rosenberg have recused themselves.

In an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on Wednesday, Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, the chairman and vice chairman of the Sept. 11 commission, said they believed that C.I.A. officials had deliberately withheld the tapes from the commission. They suggested that since the commission received its authority from both Congress and President Bush, any deliberate withholding of evidence might have violated federal law.

“Those who knew about those videotapes — and did not tell us about them — obstructed our investigation,” they wrote.

AG Nominee Is Back On Secure Footing 
By Philip Shenon, David M. Herszenhorn    
Published on 11/3/2007 

Washington — The confirmation of Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general appeared to be all but certain Friday after two key Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee announced they would support the nomination despite complaints over Mukasey's refusal to clarify his views on what amounts to torture.

The announcements by the senators, Dianne Feinstein of California and Charles E. Schumer of New York, came after Schumer met with the nominee Friday afternoon and said he had obtained Mukasey's promise to enforce laws that banned any of the harsh interrogation methods known to have been used on Qaida terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Schumer said Mukasey, a retired federal judge from New York, had “pledged to enforce such a law and repeated his willingness to leave office rather than participate in a violation of the law.”

Initially welcomed by Democrats and Republicans alike when it was announced in September, Mukasey's nomination appeared close to being derailed this week over his repeated refusal to declare to senators that the interrogation technique known as waterboarding was torture. Waterboarding simulates drowning and is reported to have been used by the CIA against a few top leaders of al-Qaida.

Five Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, including its chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., have announced their intention to oppose the nomination when it comes to a vote before the panel, now scheduled for Tuesday.

In declaring Friday that he would vote against Mukasey, Leahy said that “no American should need a classified briefing to determine whether waterboarding is torture.”

“I like Michael Mukasey,” Leahy added. “I wish that I could support his nomination. But I cannot.”

The White House welcomed the announcement by Feinstein and Schumer, which appeared to give Mukasey the margin of support he needed to win approval in the Judiciary Committee, which has 10 Democrats and nine Republicans.

Lawmakers had predicted that if Mukasey's nomination was moved to the full Senate, he would easily be confirmed.

to replace Alberto R. Gonzales, who resigned in September in the wake of a series of scandals.

“Judge Mukasey is exceptionally qualified and would be an outstanding attorney general,” a White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said late Friday. “He deserves a vote from the full Senate, where we are confident he would be confirmed.”

Schumer, who had proposed Mukasey's name to the White House for the Justice Department post and had initially championed his nomination, was under increasing pressure from all sides this week to make clear where he stood. His meeting Friday afternoon with Mukasey appeared to be a last-minute effort to rescue the nomination.

Schumer's role as the main Democratic champion of the nominee had become especially thorny for him when Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., the Senate's No.2 Democrat, announced this week that he would oppose Mukasey, while the majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, suggested that he, too, would vote against the nomination because of Mukasey's unwillingness to label waterboarding as torture.

Democratic congressional aides said Feinstein, who has broken ranks with her party's leaders in the past, decided earlier in the week that she would support Mukasey's nomination and withheld an announcement until Friday, in coordination with Schumer.

Her support also proved crucial last week to another of Bush's nominees, Judge Leslie H. Southwick, who was confirmed for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Feinstein was one of nine Democrats to vote in favor of Southwick, who had been accused of racial insensitivity.

Schumer said in a statement that he requested the meeting with Mukasey “to address, in person, some of my concerns” about his views on torture and the authority of the executive branch. During the meeting, he said, “the judge made clear to me that, were Congress to pass a law banning certain interrogation techniques, we would clearly be acting within our constitutional authority.”

“And,” Schumer added, “he flatly told me that the president would have absolutely no legal authority to ignore such a law, not even under some theory of inherent authority under Article II of the Constitution.”

The senator's statement did not address the possibility that President Bush would veto any such legislation.

As suggested by Schumer, Democrats would likely move to approve a measure now before the Senate to outlaw waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques that many lawmakers and human rights groups have defined as torture. Schumer said he was “confident that this nominee would enforce a law that bans waterboarding.”

In his confirmation hearings last week, Mukasey alarmed some Democrats with testimony in which he suggested that the president's authority under the Constitution could supersede measures passed by Congress, especially in his authority as commander in chief in wartime.

Many in the Bush administration share this sweeping view of executive power. Democrats argued that Mukasey, as attorney general, might rely on it in allowing the White House to authorize waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques that might otherwise be considered illegal or even unconstitutional as torture.

Schumer suggested that a rejection of Mukasey would lead the president to appoint an acting attorney general who would not end the turmoil that the Justice Department had known under Gonzales.

“Judge Mukasey is not my ideal choice,” the senator said. “However, Judge Mukasey, whose integrity and independence is respected even by those who oppose him, is far better than anyone could expect from this administration.” 

Bush picks Mukasey for attorney general
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
September 17, 2007, 2:30pm EDT

WASHINGTON - President Bush, seeking to avoid a possible confirmation fight over a fiercely partisan candidate, chose retired federal judge Michael B. Mukasey Monday to replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Democrats said Bush made a wise choice and raised no immediate objections.

As chief judge of the busy U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Mukasey had presided over high-profile terrorism cases.

"He knows what it takes to fight this war effectively and he knows how to do it in a manner consistent with our laws and our Constitution," Bush said, standing next Mukasey in the Rose Garden.

The president urged the Senate to quickly confirm Mukasey, who would be Bush's third attorney general.  If approved by the Senate, Mukasey would take charge of a Justice Department where morale is low following months of investigations into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys and Gonzales' sworn testimony on the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program.

Mukasey said he was honored to be Bush's nominee to take the helm of the department.

"My finest hope and prayer at this time is that if confirmed I can give them the support and the leadership they deserve," he said.

There had been rampant speculation that Bush might turn to former Solicitor General Ted Olson for the job, but key Democrats on Capitol Hill said they believed Olson too partisan a figure and indicated they would fight his nomination. The White House acknowledged that Bush had interviewed others for the job besides Mukasey.  The White House said that ease of confirmation was a factor, but not the decisive one, in Bush's selection. Bush critics contended that Mukasey's nomination was evidence of the president's weakened political clout as he heads into the final 15 months of his term.

Senate Democrats declared no outright opposition to Mukasey. But they made clear that there would be no confirmation hearings until the administration answers outstanding questions about the White House's role in the firings of federal prosecutors over the winter.

"Our focus now will be on securing the relevant information we need so we can proceed to schedule fair and thorough hearings," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Cooperation from the White House will be essential in determining that schedule."

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said the answers Leahy seeks are important, but not enough to delay the installation of someone to stabilize a leaderless Justice Department hobbled by scandal.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the president listened to Congress and decided against a more partisan replacement for Gonzales. He said Mukasey had "strong professional credentials and a reputation for independence."

"A man who spent 18 years on the federal bench surely understands the importance of checks and balances and knows how to say no to the president when he oversteps the Constitution," said Reid, D-Nev. "But there should be no rush to judgment. The Senate Judiciary Committee must carefully examine Judge Mukasey's views on the complex legal challenges facing the nation."

Some legal conservatives and Republican activists have expressed reservations about Mukasey's legal record. Even before he was nominated, Mukasey met on Sunday with six conservative leaders to answer their questions.  Sen. Charles Schumer, one of the most confrontational Democrats in the Senate on judicial nominations, suggested Mukasey to White House counsel Fred Fielding. Granted his wish, Schumer on Monday did not endorse Leahy's demand for information as a precondition for confirmation hearings.

"To hasten an attitude of confrontation when the White House has taken a step forward would be a mistake," Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters. Schumer also urged Fielding to find a compromise with Leahy.

Mukasey currently serves as a judicial adviser to GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani; the White House said he would sever ties with the campaign.

Mukasey, chosen in large part for his experience in national security matters, noted the threat of terrorism in his brief remarks. "Thirty five years ago, our foreign adversaries saw widespread devastation as a deterrent," he said. "Today, our fanatical enemies see it as a divine fulfillment."

Friday was the last day of Gonzales' 2-1/2 years at Justice. He resigned amid a continuing controversy over the firings of several federal prosecutors and questions about the administration's warrantless eavesdropping program.  Until a new attorney general is confirmed by the Senate, Bush said, Assistant Attorney General Peter D. Keisler will serve as acting attorney general. Keisler oversaw the Bush administration's lengthy legal fight over the rights of terrorism war-era prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Keisler had announced his resignation from the department in early September. He had been nominated by Bush earlier in the year for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Senate has not acted on Keisler's nomination.

Bush said that Keisler had agreed to stay on at the Justice Department, which will allow Solicitor General Paul Clement to focus on his duties as the government's chief advocate as the Supreme Court nears the opening of its new fall term.

During his 18 years as a judge, Mukasey presided over thousands of cases, including the trial of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was accused of plotting to destroy New York City landmarks. In the 1996 sentencing of co-conspirators in the case, Mukasey accused the sheik of trying to spread death "in a scale unseen in this country since the Civil War." He then sentenced the blind sheik to life in prison.

Campaign finance records show Mukasey has made few political donations at the federal level, and that not all of the money he gave went to Republicans.

From the 1980 election to this year, the only contributions listed for Mukasey are $1,000 given last September to Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent, and $1,200 to Giuliani's presidential campaign this year, according to the nonpartisan CQ Money Line, a service that tracks political giving.

Bush picks Mukasey for attorney general
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
September 17, 2007, 2:30pm EDT

WASHINGTON - President Bush, seeking to avoid a possible confirmation fight over a fiercely partisan candidate, chose retired federal judge Michael B. Mukasey Monday to replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Democrats said Bush made a wise choice and raised no immediate objections.

As chief judge of the busy U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Mukasey had presided over high-profile terrorism cases.

"He knows what it takes to fight this war effectively and he knows how to do it in a manner consistent with our laws and our Constitution," Bush said, standing next Mukasey in the Rose Garden.

The president urged the Senate to quickly confirm Mukasey, who would be Bush's third attorney general.  If approved by the Senate, Mukasey would take charge of a Justice Department where morale is low following months of investigations into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys and Gonzales' sworn testimony on the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program.

Mukasey said he was honored to be Bush's nominee to take the helm of the department.

"My finest hope and prayer at this time is that if confirmed I can give them the support and the leadership they deserve," he said.

There had been rampant speculation that Bush might turn to former Solicitor General Ted Olson for the job, but key Democrats on Capitol Hill said they believed Olson too partisan a figure and indicated they would fight his nomination. The White House acknowledged that Bush had interviewed others for the job besides Mukasey.  The White House said that ease of confirmation was a factor, but not the decisive one, in Bush's selection. Bush critics contended that Mukasey's nomination was evidence of the president's weakened political clout as he heads into the final 15 months of his term.

Senate Democrats declared no outright opposition to Mukasey. But they made clear that there would be no confirmation hearings until the administration answers outstanding questions about the White House's role in the firings of federal prosecutors over the winter.

"Our focus now will be on securing the relevant information we need so we can proceed to schedule fair and thorough hearings," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Cooperation from the White House will be essential in determining that schedule."

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said the answers Leahy seeks are important, but not enough to delay the installation of someone to stabilize a leaderless Justice Department hobbled by scandal.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he believes the president listened to Congress and decided against a more partisan replacement for Gonzales. He said Mukasey had "strong professional credentials and a reputation for independence."

"A man who spent 18 years on the federal bench surely understands the importance of checks and balances and knows how to say no to the president when he oversteps the Constitution," said Reid, D-Nev. "But there should be no rush to judgment. The Senate Judiciary Committee must carefully examine Judge Mukasey's views on the complex legal challenges facing the nation."

Some legal conservatives and Republican activists have expressed reservations about Mukasey's legal record. Even before he was nominated, Mukasey met on Sunday with six conservative leaders to answer their questions.  Sen. Charles Schumer, one of the most confrontational Democrats in the Senate on judicial nominations, suggested Mukasey to White House counsel Fred Fielding. Granted his wish, Schumer on Monday did not endorse Leahy's demand for information as a precondition for confirmation hearings.

"To hasten an attitude of confrontation when the White House has taken a step forward would be a mistake," Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters. Schumer also urged Fielding to find a compromise with Leahy.

Mukasey currently serves as a judicial adviser to GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani; the White House said he would sever ties with the campaign.

Mukasey, chosen in large part for his experience in national security matters, noted the threat of terrorism in his brief remarks. "Thirty five years ago, our foreign adversaries saw widespread devastation as a deterrent," he said. "Today, our fanatical enemies see it as a divine fulfillment."

Friday was the last day of Gonzales' 2-1/2 years at Justice. He resigned amid a continuing controversy over the firings of several federal prosecutors and questions about the administration's warrantless eavesdropping program.  Until a new attorney general is confirmed by the Senate, Bush said, Assistant Attorney General Peter D. Keisler will serve as acting attorney general. Keisler oversaw the Bush administration's lengthy legal fight over the rights of terrorism war-era prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Keisler had announced his resignation from the department in early September. He had been nominated by Bush earlier in the year for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Senate has not acted on Keisler's nomination.

Bush said that Keisler had agreed to stay on at the Justice Department, which will allow Solicitor General Paul Clement to focus on his duties as the government's chief advocate as the Supreme Court nears the opening of its new fall term.

During his 18 years as a judge, Mukasey presided over thousands of cases, including the trial of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was accused of plotting to destroy New York City landmarks. In the 1996 sentencing of co-conspirators in the case, Mukasey accused the sheik of trying to spread death "in a scale unseen in this country since the Civil War." He then sentenced the blind sheik to life in prison.

Campaign finance records show Mukasey has made few political donations at the federal level, and that not all of the money he gave went to Republicans.

From the 1980 election to this year, the only contributions listed for Mukasey are $1,000 given last September to Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent, and $1,200 to Giuliani's presidential campaign this year, according to the nonpartisan CQ Money Line, a service that tracks political giving.

Bush Tabs N.Y. Man To Replace Gonzales; Retired federal judge seen as acceptable to most Democrats 
By Deb Riechmann , Associated Press Writer    
Published on 9/17/2007 

Washington — President Bush has settled on Michael B. Mukasey, a retired federal judge from New York, to replace Alberto Gonzales as attorney general and will announce his selection today, a person familiar with the president's decision said Sunday evening.

Mukasey, who has handled terrorist cases in the U.S. legal system for more than a decade, would become the nation's top law enforcement officer if confirmed by the Senate. Mukasey has the support of some key Democrats, and it appeared Bush was trying to avoid a bruising confirmation battle.

The 66-year-old New York native, who is a judicial adviser to GOP presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, would take charge of a Justice Department where morale is low followng months of investigations into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys and Gonzales' sworn testimony on the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program.

Key lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike, had questioned Gonzales' credibility and competency after he repeatedly testified that he could not recall key events.

The White House refused to comment Sunday. The person familiar with Bush's decision refused to be identified by name because the nomination had not been officially announced.

Bush supporters say Mukasey, who was chief judge of the high-profile courthouse in Manhattan for six years, has impeccable credentials, is a strong, law-and-order jurist, especially on national security issues, and will restore confidence in the Justice Department.

Bush critics see the Mukasey nomination as evidence of Bush's weakened political clout as he heads into the final 15 months of his presidency. It's unclear how Senate Democrats will view Mukasey's credentials, but early indications are that he will face less opposition than a more hardline, partisan candidate like Ted Olson, who was believed to have been a finalist.

Mukasey has received past endorsements from Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is from Mukasey's home state. And in 2005, the liberal Alliance for Justice put Mukasey on a list of four judges who, if chosen for the Supreme Court, would show the president's commitment to nominating people who could be supported by both Democrats and Republicans.

Last week, some Senate Democrats threatened to block the confirmation of Olson, who represented Bush before the Supreme Court in the contested 2000 election. Democratic senators have theorized that Bush might nominate Mukasey, in part, because he wanted to avoid a bruising confirmation battle.

The possibility that Bush would pick Mukasey, however, angered some supporters on the GOP's right flank, who have given Mukasey less-than-enthusiastic reviews. Some legal conservatives and Republican activists have expressed reservations about Mukasey's legal record and past endorsements from liberals, and were drafting a strategy to oppose his confirmation even before it became known that Bush had chosen him.

Mukasey was nominated to the federal bench in 1987 by President Reagan. He was chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York before he rejoined the New York law firm of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler as a partner in September 2006.

He first joined Patterson Belknap in 1976 after serving as assistant U.S. attorney in the criminal division of the Southern District, where he rose to become chief of its official corruption unit. During his 18 years as a judge, Mukasey presided over thousands of cases, including the trial of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was accused of plotting to destroy New York City landmarks.

In the 1996 sentencing of co-conspirators in the case, Mukasey accused the sheik of trying to spread death “in a scale unseen in this country since the Civil War.” He then sentenced the blind sheik to life.

The Mukasey nomination could be Bush's last major Cabinet appointment.

Friday was the last day of Gonzales' 2-1/2 years at Justice. Solicitor General Paul Clement will serve as acting attorney general until the Senate confirms Gonzales' replacement. Gonzales' conflicting public statements about the firings of the U.S. prosecutors led Democrats and Republicans alike to question his honesty. Their charges were compounded by his later sworn testimony about the terrorist surveillance program, which was contradicted by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller and former senior Justice Department officials.

A congressional investigation into the firings recently shifted its focus onto whether the attorney general lied to Congress. The Justice Department also has opened an internal investigation into the matters.

At first, the president backed his embattled attorney general. At an Aug. 9 news conference, Bush said, “Why would I hold somebody accountable who has done nothing wrong?”

A little more than two weeks later, Bush announced that he had “reluctantly” accepted the resignation of Gonzales, who followed John Ashcroft's four-year stint as Bush's first attorney general. Bush said Gonzales, his loyal colleague from Texas who was his White House counsel before heading to Justice, had worked tirelessly to keep the nation safe.

Bush said opposition lawmakers treated Gonzales unfairly for political reasons. “It's sad that we live in a time when a talented and honorable person like Alberto Gonzales is impeded from doing important work because his good name was dragged through the mud,” Bush said. 

A Quiet Crusader; Fabled Lawyer At Home On Landmark Cases, Small Claims
By LYNNE TUOHY | Courant Staff Writer
October 20, 2007

Civil rights lawyer Catherine Gertrude Roraback, whose work paved the way for the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights case and who was steeped in the Black Panthers trials of the early 1970s, has died at age 87.

Though best known for cases famous and infamous, Roraback made a profound imprint on the legal landscape in many more subtle ways, by mentoring female lawyers, helping to found such organizations as the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union and the Connecticut Bar Foundation and quietly crusading for the poor and the voiceless against injustice.

"She was quite a giant," friend and former Appellate Court Judge Anne C. Dranginis said Friday. "She wasn't afraid to take a case that was controversial. She considered that her life's work. I think it was her courage, above all, that I admired."

Roraback, who died Wednesday, was the only woman in her 1948 graduating class at Yale Law School and faced the many rigors of being a female litigator in that day, tales she shared in later years with her younger colleagues.

The longtime Canaan resident was well known in Litchfield County. But when going to courthouses where she wasn't known, she always had to wear a hat and gloves, so that she would be recognized as a lawyer, Winsted attorney Judith Dixon recalled. Even the hat and gloves weren't enough in Superior Court in New Haven one day, when a male lawyer told her that secretaries were not allowed to enter the well of the courtroom.

"She told him she was a lawyer, and said he just didn't know how to deal with that," Dixon said. "When she was telling me this story, she gave me that wonderful little smile of hers and said, `But he learned how.'"

Roraback was a passionate civil rights lawyer, but she was neither strident nor shrill.

"I have met a lot of feminist attorneys and I like them and they've autographed books for me," Dixon said. "The bottom line - they were clearly way out there, as in W-O-M-A-N. Catherine wasn't like that. She didn't trumpet it. She didn't walk into a room bristling. She walked in as a lawyer. There was no chip on her shoulder on any gender issues."

Dixon borrowed a line from an old television series in summing up Roraback's creed: "Respect. I expect nothing more and I'll accept nothing less."

"That was her attitude about being a lawyer and a woman. It was just wonderful," Dixon said.

Roraback's cousin, state Sen. Andrew Roraback of Goshen, recalled her regaling family and friends with tales of tribulations as well as trials.

"She told wonderful stories about the gender issues of the time, including having to enter the New Haven Graduate Club by a back door because she was a woman," Andrew Roraback said. "But there was a very real sense that the trials she had as an early woman professional hardened her into the successful person she became."

Roraback, who was inducted into the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame in 2001, was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., but had strong ties to Litchfield County, where she made her home in Canaan. Her father, a Congregational minister, came from a family of prominent Litchfield lawyers. Her grandfather was a member of the Connecticut Supreme Court; a great uncle had been chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party. Both her parents were social activists, and Roraback followed in their footsteps.

She made a name for herself in a string of cases challenging Connecticut's 1879 law banning the use of contraceptives, the most stringent such law in the country. She was co-counsel in the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the U.S. Supreme Court in 1965 ruled 7-2 to establish reproductive health rights for women and extend privacy rights to reproductive freedom of choice. The Griswold case became the cornerstone of the high court's 1973 landmark abortion rights case, Roe v. Wade.

Attorney Peter Herbst worked for Roraback as an associate in her North Canaan office, fresh out of law school, from 1973 to 1976. Within weeks of Herbst's arrival, Roraback was retained to represent Falls Village teenager Peter Reilly against charges that he had murdered his mother, Barbara Gibbons. Only two years earlier, she had represented Ericka Huggins on murder and related charges in the Black Panthers trials in New Haven. That jury was hopelessly deadlocked, and Huggins was freed after a mistrial was declared.

"Catherine was very intense, so intense that during the Reilly case she kept a yellow legal pad on her bedside table at all times," Herbst said. "She told me that virtually every night she would wake up, because she was living the case, she would wake up and write down her thoughts so she would remember them all in the morning."

Reilly was convicted, but was later granted a new trial and ultimately the charges were dismissed after a new prosecutor discovered evidence in his file that tended to show Reilly was innocent, evidence that Herbst said Roraback had repeatedly requested.

"She could have the smallest of cases, a small claims case, and she brought the same intensity to it," Herbst said. "It wasn't just the big cases. It was every case.

"Working for her changed my outlook on law, and also my outlook on life. She's a very creative thinker, a very imaginative person. And she was absolutely dedicated to her clients. She was truly inexhaustible."

Friends recall that Roraback could be intense one moment and burst into infectious laughter the next, so great was her sense of humor. Her anger would flash only occasionally and she would slam a door, prompted by a perceived injustice or anger at herself or an associate for not living up to her own extraordinary expectations. She was brilliant and an opera aficionado who had an apartment in New York and season tickets to the Metropolitan.

For years she was a partner in a New Haven law firm - Roraback, Williams & Avery - but also maintained the office in North Canaan.

Andrew Roraback said that for more than 50 years his cousin led "a curious dual life." At the beginning of each week, she would drive to New Haven to represent her high-profile clients in public interest and civil liberties cases such as Griswold, but then she would drive back on Thursday nights to spend all day Friday conducting her small-town country practice in Canaan.

"You definitely wanted Catherine as your lawyer," Roraback said. "She was the champion of the underdog and unflinchingly devoted to her clients. She was tough and unyielding, but always a lady."

Catherine Roraback is survived by her sister, Elizabeth, and her nieces, nephews and cousins. Her family will hold a public memorial service Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. at Music Mountain in Falls Village.

Pioneering attorney Roraback dies at 87 
Posted on Oct 19, 2:12 PM EDT
SALISBURY, Conn. (AP) -- Catherine Roraback, a pioneering attorney who was among the founders of the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, died this week at a local retirement home, according to family members.

She was 87.

Roraback, a longtime resident of Canaan, died in her sleep of undisclosed causes Wednesday night at Noble Horizons in Salisbury, family members told the Republican-American newspaper.

Some of the cases that Roraback litigated led to landmark rulings establishing privacy rights and the right of access to contraception.

Roraback, who described her work as protecting the rights of "dissenters and the dispossessed," also defended the Black Panthers in New Haven and civil rights workers in Mississippi.

"She was a woman who was ahead of her time in so many ways," said state Sen. Andrew W. Roraback, R-Goshen, her cousin. "While she had a substantial national profile, her heart was always in Litchfield County and specifically in Canaan."

Until earlier this year, she reported to her law office in the Canaan practice that her grandfather, Alberto Roraback, founded in 1872.

In her most famous case, Roraback received a favorable ruling in 1965 from the U.S. Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut, which established the right to contraceptives and privacy.

Roraback was a graduate of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., and Yale University Law School, where she was the only woman in her class.

In addition to helping found the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union in 1948, she was a former president of the National Lawyers Guild and served on the American Civil Liberties Union's board. She also was a member of the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame.

She is survived by one sister, Elizabeth; three nieces and two nephews; and several cousins.

The family plans a public memorial service at 2 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Music Mountain in Falls Village.

Borrowed from Google...

Civil actions
September/October 2005
by Melinda Tuhus

Forty years ago this summer, Catherine Roraback '48LLB was part of the legal team that established the right of married couples to receive birth control counseling from their doctors. The challenge to Connecticut's birth-control ban, by Roraback and Yale law professors Fowler Harper and Thomas Emerson '31LLB, went to the Supreme Court, whose decision in Griswold v. Connecticut established the Constitutional right to privacy. Roraback, who has focused her career on civil liberties, practices in Canaan, Connecticut.

Y: Forty years later, what do you think was important about Griswold v. Connecticut?

R: It freed women to be able to control their reproductive systems, and to be able to control their lives that way, so they could make plans. It began the development of the law so that women should have this right to control their bodies.

Y: The Law School now is 44 percent women, but you were the only woman in your graduating class in 1948.

R: I never had this sense that it was something unusual. My uncle and grandfather were attorneys. In the term I finished, I was the only woman, but when I was at the Law School there were 30 women out of 450.

Y: Over the decades, you've worked on many of the defining civil liberties cases of our time -- defending communists in the 1950s, conscientious objectors in the 1960s, Native American activists and Black Panthers in the 1970s, and decades' worth of cases involving women's reproductive issues. How did you decide which cases to take on?

R: I wasn't picking and choosing. If an important case arose, I got involved, and I don't remember saying no.

Y: You're 84, and still go regularly to your office. What kind of work are you doing now?

R: People call me because I've been a lawyer here in Canaan for a long time. I give them a place to air their thoughts. I talk to various people to see how the problem could be approached and recommend a lawyer.

Y: You were known for your meticulous research. Can you give me an example?

R: I did a case involving a Native American woman who was not anyone very political. She lived on the Rosebud reservation [in South Dakota]. She went to the general store, and one of the men from the American Indian Movement told her the store had been "liberated." So she took a few things from the store and went back home. The marshals followed her home and seized all the stuff and charged her with theft. I filed a motion to suppress all the stuff they'd taken from the general store. In court, as each of the seized items was being introduced into evidence, I asked the marshal to describe each item, where they had found this or that. The marshal described a box of Pampers, a little toy dump truck, and some candy. I asked him where he had found the candy. The marshal began to look a little embarrassed, because he'd found it in the baby's mouth. It was the funniest moment in my career.

Y: The marshal took the candy from the baby's mouth?

R: Yes, the defendant had a little baby who had started to cry when all this hullabaloo started, and the grandmother stuck a piece of candy in the baby's mouth. It was one of those classic moments. I won the motion to suppress because the evidence had been improperly seized, but I also knew the judge was not about to try a case where they take candy out of a baby's mouth.

Hundreds of women line up at Fairway to meet Martha Stewart
Elizabeth Kim, Staff Writer
Published: 06:22 p.m., Saturday, February 12, 2011

STAMFORD -- Some were there to see Martha Stewart, the natural foods cook, some were there for Martha, the inventive crafts-maker and home design guru. Others were there simply for Martha, the woman.

"She's just an inspiration to women," said Joan Aracich, an art teacher from Harrison, N.Y. "She's driven, she acts on her ideas. She's just amazing."

On an overcast and cold Saturday morning, Aracich and several hundred Stewart admirers waited eagerly on line to meet the style maven for a book-signing event at Fairway Market in the city's South End.

Billed as "America's leading lifestyle authority," Stewart was on hand to promote "Power Foods," the latest book written by the editors of Whole Living, one of the four magazines her company publishes.

Dressed in a cream-colored sweater, the 69-year-old sat at a table and one by one greeted and posed for photos with fans, the large majority of whom were women and some cell-phone fiddling husbands who had generously agreed to come along for the ride.

Since coming out with her first book in 1982, "Entertaining," Stewart has built a media empire that has adapted with the times. Along with blogging, she also tweets.

"It's just been a natural evolution," she said, about how her interests have evolved over the years. "It's always been about being from the farm and organic, about being creative and cutting edge."

These days, she said, she has made an effort to showcase how the rest of the world eats, including more international dishes. Stewart, a former resident of Westport, now makes her home at a farmhouse in Bedford, N.Y.

She said she will often be approached with very specific questions, about something to do with cookies or a recipe from her book.

But among many of the women there that day, Stewart's impact extends way beyond the kitchen.

Ellen Kiernan, 58, from New Canaan, said she first tuned into Stewart's television show 20 years ago, when she decided to leave her job as a college administrator to care for her infant son at home. Suddenly, there was a woman who was celebrating and dignifying the role of homemaker.

"She legitimized being a stay-at-home mom," Kiernan said. "She gave you upscale, smart things to do with your time. She showed you that housework was something to be proud of. It wasn't drudgery."

She added: "She's one of the greatest female figures in American history. We've watched her go through all her personal triumphs and tragedies. And here she is."

In 2004, Stewart was found guilty of lying to federal authorities about a stock sale and sentenced to five months in prison.

But the blemish on an otherwise seemingly perfect life and career seems to have had little effect on Stewart's popularity, which has continued with younger women.

Thirty-one-year-old Megan McLain chose to make Stewart's magazine Living the subject of her master's thesis. A graduate student in history and museum studies, she said she wanted to examine the publication "in the broader context of domestic manuals."

"It's a reflection of current society," she said. Standing near the end of the line, which stretched from the produce to the meat section, the Stamford resident said she brought the thesis in hopes of showing it to Stewart. Although Stewart has in the past been criticized for being impossibly perfect, some women said they were drawn to her high standards. Because there are some occasions where nothing less than perfect will do.

Christine El-Eris said she remembered spending weeks agonizing over a wedding cake until one day, when walking past a newsstand, she stopped dead in her tracks after spotting a photo of a five-tiered octagon-shaped cake on the cover a Martha Stewart Weddings magazine.

"I was the kind of person who knew exactly what I wanted," recalled the 40-year-old Trumbull resident. "Nothing inspired me before that. And the kismet of it all was that it went with my dress, which belonged to my grandmother."

Karen Davidson, 45, from Wallkill, N.Y., described Stewart's taste as "refined but very simple and earthy."

She drove an hour and half that morning to meet her idol. Clutching a book in her hand, she confessed that she would probably be "tongue-tied" when she finally got to meet Stewart. Then again, she added, she wouldn't mind telling her, "I'd love to see your house."

Martha Kostyra, Martha Stewart’s Mother, Dies at 93
November 18, 2007

Martha Stewart and “Big Martha.” File photoMartha Kostyra, the mother of Martha Stewart who lived in her daughter’s Westport home for a time and frequently visited the Westport Weston Family Y for aquatic exercise classes, died Friday in Norwalk Hospital. She was 93.

Kostyra, a Weston resident since 1986, was often credited by her daughter with teaching her everything she knew about cooking and housekeeping.

The Polish family recipes of “Big Martha,” as she was affectionately called, despite her diminutive stature, were the earliest inspiration for the woman who would turn a small Westport catering operation into an international business empire.

Stewart broke the news of her mother’s death on her Web site blog, asking fans to post memories. 

"Please feel free to reflect on her amazing life,” wrote Stewart, who said she was “very sad.”

Kostyra’s death came eight days after a visibly shaken Stewart announced on her live TV show that her mother, a former schoolteacher who raised six children in Nutley, N.J., had suffered a small stroke and was hospitalized.

An obituary sent to local media noted that “when not spending time with her family, she enjoyed helping friends with little errands around town.” Stewart said on her TV show that her mother drove her Volvo as the “designated driver” for friends unable to drive.

The obituary said Kostyra was active in the Weston Senior’s Book Club and the Westport Y, “where she was a regular swimmer in the aquatic exercise class.”

Kostyra stoically stood by Stewart during her six-week insider-trading trial in 2004, even traveling to West Virginia to visit her in prison.

While Stewart was in prison, Kostyra lived in Stewart’s Westport home on Turkey Hill Road South. Stewart sold the home in June after earlier moving to Bedford, N.Y. (See WestportNow June 15, 2007)

Martha Ruszkowski was born Sept. 16, 1914, in Buffalo, N.Y. She married Edward Kostyra, and together they raised six children in a middle-class Catholic household in suburban Nutley, N.J.

Both were teachers, although Kostyra’s husband later became a pharmaceuticals salesman.

Stewart acknowledged her mother’s influence throughout her lavish books and magazine articles and featured Kostyra on her television program dozens of times.

She would often knead dough side by side with her at a kitchen counter or have her demonstrate a sewing technique.

In addition to Stewart, Kostyra is survived by five other children: Laura Plimpton of Weston; Dr. Eric Scott of Williamsville, N.Y., Frank Kostyra of Fairhope, Ala., Kathryn Evans of Old Greenwich, and George Christiansen of Fairfield; 13 grandchildren; a great-grandchild; a brother, Alexander Russ; and a sister, Clementine Carriere.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday at 10 a.m. in St. Francis of Assisi Church, 35 Norfield Road, Weston. Internment will follow in New Jersey.

Memorial contributions may be sent to either The Norwalk Hospital Foundation, Maple Street, Norwalk, CT 06856, or Vistas Innovative Hospice Care-Charitable Fund, 777 Commerce Drive, Fairfield, CT 06825

Posted 11/18 at 09:10 AM

Martha Stewart's mom dies
Article Launched: 11/17/2007 07:05:00 PM EST

WESTON — Martha Kostyra, the mother of domestic doyenne Martha Stewart, has died at a hospital near her Connecticut home. She was 93.
Kostyra, a retired teacher whose family long ago nicknamed her "Big Martha," died Friday at Norwalk Hospital of undisclosed causes, according to an obituary published Saturday.

Martha Stewart announced her mother's death in an entry Saturday on her blog, and a Stewart representative and a selectman in Kostyra's hometown of Weston also confirmed the death.

Kostyra and her husband, the late Edward Kostyra, raised Martha and her five siblings in Nutley, N.J., where Martha Stewart said she learned many of her domestic tricks and techniques from her mother.

In an appearance together in December 2003 on CNN Larry King Live, Kostyra described herself as "very proud" of her daughter's accomplishments.

"And you know, the first thing people say to me when they meet me for the first time, they'll say, 'Did you teach her everything she knows?' Well, I'll take the credit, certainly," Kostyra said.

Until recently, Martha Stewart lived in a Colonial-era estate in Westport, not far from her mother's Weston home. Stewart put the estate on the market and now lives primarily in Katonah, N.Y., about 20 miles away.

Some of Stewart's siblings still live near Kostyra's Weston home, including a sister who lives in town and was often spotted on errands with the family matriarch.

"We all knew who she was, but she was low key and nobody made a big deal out of it," Glenn Major, a Weston selectman, said Saturday. "There are a lot of well-known people who live here, so nobody thinks anything of it to see them around."

Kostyra's funeral arrangements were pending Saturday. Calls were placed Saturday for Stewart's representative and representatives of Martha Stewart Living.

For lawmaker, Nixon paved the way
By Stephen P. Clark
Published December 15 2007

STAMFORD - Democratic state legislator William Tong, who last year became the first Asian-American elected to the General Assembly, has an unusual hero: President Nixon.

Last month, Tong, 34, blogged on Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy's Web site,, that he was grateful for Nixon's presidency.

"I am proud to say that President Richard Nixon occupies a special place in my family," he wrote. "Nixon will always have a seat at our Thanksgiving table because, without him, life in America could have gone a very different way for us."

In 1972, Nixon blocked the deportation of Tong's father, Ady Tong, after he wrote Nixon a letter pleading for help. At the time, Ady Tong was a fledgling restaurant owner in Hartford living in the United States on a tourist visa. When Ady Tong was granted permission to stay, he embarked on a pathway to citizenship that culminated around 1979.

"Without President Nixon, I wouldn't be here," Ady Tong, 61, said in an interview at his son's house in North Stamford. "I don't know where I'd be. . . . He's my lifesaver."

Ady Tong was born in a small Chinese village near Hong Kong to a wealthy family. But Tong's family was shattered by the communist revolution led by Mao Zedong. Ady Tong's father, targeted by the new regime because he was a landlord, fled the country, leaving his wife to raise Ady and his two younger sisters.

But Ady soon found himself alone at age 5, when his mother, who had been jailed and released after she was assumed dead, fled the village, and his sisters were given to strangers. Ady survived on his own for about two years by living in a pit that had been used as an outhouse and begging for scraps from villagers.

"It was survival mode," William Tong said, noting that Ady's uncle hung himself. "My father was toxic because he was a landlord's son."

When Ady Tong was 11, he reunited with his parents in Hong Kong and was adopted by his parent's wealthy employers. His mother worked as a housekeeper for them, and his father worked for their bus company.

"God intervened several times," William Tong said. The employers "provided for him until he was ready to go to school."

Ady Tong went to college in Canada. After earning a bachelor's degree in commerce in 1966 from Carleton University in Ottawa, he wanted to get a master's in business administration. There was one problem: He didn't have the money.

Because Canada's economy was slumping, Ady Tong went to New York City and soon found a cooking job in Hartford from an employment agency. He met his future wife, Nancy Sun, who was a friend of the restaurant owner's daughter.

When Ady saved more than $3,000, he returned to Canada for graduate school. But Ady couldn't get Nancy out of his head. He abandoned school, returned to Hartford to be with Nancy and got his cooking job back.

Ady Tong eventually opened his own restaurant. He received $5,000 from his parents in Hong Kong, who scraped it together from friends and relatives, and $2,000 from his future father-in-law.

A few weeks after the grand opening, an immigration officer inquired about his immigration status. The Tongs believed a competitor had reported him. The officer told Ady he couldn't work on a tourist visa and ordered him to leave within a couple of weeks.

"We were going to close the restaurant and lose everything," Ady Tong said.

"We didn't know where to turn," Nancy Tong, 57, recalled. "We thought we had to go to Canada and start over again."

Ady Tong made a last-ditch attempt at averting deportation. He wrote Nixon a five- or six-page handwritten letter detailing his journey to the United States "as a survivor, not as a criminal," he said. "I told him I wouldn't be able to survive if I was sent back to Hong Kong."

But William Tong's father didn't hold his breath. "I was ready to move back to Canada," he said. "I didn't expect anything."

One day before his government-imposed deadline to leave the country, the immigration officer informed Ady that Nixon had granted him permission to remain in the United States on the condition that he go through the proper channels of becoming a citizen.

"It was shocking," Ady Tong said. He received a formal letter from the U.S. attorney general's office that proved it wasn't a dream. Tong wrote Nixon a thank-you letter. He never received a response.

Nixon, of course, would go down in infamy when he became the only U.S. president to resign, as a result of the Watergate scandal in 1974. He died in 1994 at age 81.

Ady and Nancy Tong exchanged wedding vows shortly after Nixon's pardon and had five children - William Tong and four daughters. They sold the restaurant in 1988 and now manage real estate properties.

William Tong, who represents the 147th House District - portions of Stamford and New Canaan - said that despite his affection for Nixon, he became a Democrat because the Republican Party has changed.

"Richard Nixon may have a difficult legacy, but in a very important way he is responsible for the life I am privileged to have earned," he wrote in the blog. "Today, however, the men seeking to be the next Republican president would have denied my father the opportunity to work hard, build a business, raise a strong family, and make a lasting contribution to our state and our country."

Tong added, "I am grateful that at one time, in a different time, a Republican president named Richard Nixon chose instead to give my father, and my family, a chance."

Town Attorneys Face Review in Weston
By Don Casciato
Article Launched: 12/21/2007 10:31:26 AM EST

With the objective of prudent management of town government, the Board of Selectmen in Weston have approved a committee to review the performance of the town attorneys from the firm of Cohen and Wolf.
The committee will be appointed by just two of the board members because W. Glenn Major, the other selectman, decided to recuse himself because of a possible conflict of interest.

First Selectman Woody Bliss Monday said during a brief interview that earlier in December, the board re-appointed Ken Bernhard as town attorney as well as Patricia Sullivan, the assistant town attorney, who represents the town in land-use matters, while Bernhard is the attorney for the town in general matters.

However, the approvals are subject to the select committee review.

"I am very pleased with the service from Cohen and Wolf," said Bliss. "And most of the board and committee members [in Weston] are very satisfied with the firm, although several aren't happy with them."

Bliss set a timeline of the end of next June for the committee to complete the review.

Asked for a comment about the review, Bernhard said yesterday, "When a new administration comes in, and Gayle Weinstein [elected last November] is new to the Board of Selectmen, it is appropriate to want to get an evaluation of the services being provided to the town.

"I encouraged the board to take the time to make an evaluation even as I am confident that the services my firm provides to Weston are exceptionally high and well-received."

Bernhard also serves as town attorney in Wilton and has worked for Republican administrations in Westport from 1981 to 1985 and 1989 to 1993. In addition, he was hired on an interim basis at the start of the administration of Diane Farrell in 1997.

Asked why some Westonites might be unhappy with the law firm, Bliss theorized that "there is a nucleus of people Cohen and Wolf beat in court."

A typical scenario in the Bliss analysis goes as follows: resident is turned down on a zoning request, then takes other possible steps to no avail. Eventually the resident takes the case to court and loses. Next step: Blame the victorious law firm that in recent years has been Cohen and Wolf.

The first selectman also explained that some people in Weston believe the firm's contracts are not well-written.

"We take these things seriously," said Bliss in response to critics. He also pointed out that performance reviews are conducted contrary to charges of some residents.

In addition to Bliss and Bernhard, in general, those with a corporate or business background realize there is nothing wrong with going through a review process. Town counsel is one of the most crucial and one of the most costly positions within a town government.

Weston is paying the law firm a retainer of $85,300 for the current fiscal year, an average of about $7,000 a month, according to Tom Landry, the town administrator.

Bernhard said yesterday he charges the town half his usual billing rate.

To be decided is the issue of whether the committee should include all lawyers who reside in Weston or follow Bliss' wish of including some members who are not lawyers.

Weinstein said she has received calls from members of the public with questions and concerns about the town attorneys.

In addition, Bliss said two people contacted him and suggested the establishment of a committee to review the situation.

Cohen and Wolf was first appointed as the town's legal counsel in 2000. The firm also represents Wilton, Orange and Ridgefield.

Classmates Recall Bhutto's Intensity
Published: December 28, 2007
Filed at 4:11 p.m. ET

BOSTON (AP) -- Even at age 16, Benazir Bhutto was unafraid to express herself, a lesson one college classmate learned when she invited Bhutto home for Thanksgiving during their freshman year.

Linda Mottow-Lippa, who lived in Bhutto's dormitory at Harvard, had a Romanian cousin who was a staunch anti-Communist. During dinner, he and Bhutto had a loud argument about politics.

''I thought World War III was going to break out right then and there,'' Mottow-Lippa recalled.

Bhutto's intensity never faded during her time at Harvard, which she later recalled as some of the best years of her life.

The former Pakistani prime minister, who was assassinated Thursday during a campaign rally in her homeland, was remembered by classmates as a woman with a tragic destiny.

Bhutto ''knew she had a fate and knew she needed to move forward with it,'' classmate Marion Dry said.

Bhutto was younger than most of her classmates when she entered Harvard in 1969, but she had a poise that made her seem older, recalled Mottow-Lippa, a professor of opthamology at the University of California-Irvine.

She had been sheltered by her wealthy and powerful father, who had also been prime minister. But she seemed eager to experience things for herself. Before Harvard, the story went, the privileged Bhutto had never answered a ringing phone. At Harvard, she volunteered to answer the dorm's common phone on dreaded ''bells duty.''

''We were happy to let her do it,'' Mottow-Lippa said.

Bhutto's class at Harvard's Radcliffe College for women had about 400 students, many of whom knew each other by sight as they passed through a common area toward Harvard Yard.

''She was one of those people, even then, who you noticed because she did have a kind of charismatic presence,'' said Dry, an opera singer who now teaches at Wellesley College.

To others, she was no more than another Harvard student from a well-known family. Bhutto later said she relished getting lost in the crowd.

''Those years at Harvard were the happiest of my life, because I was completely anonymous,'' Bhutto told an interviewer in 1988.

Bruce E. H. Johnson, who was a year ahead of Bhutto, said his first inkling of Bhutto's connections came after she returned from a break and talked about meeting with Chairman Mao in Beijing.

Johnson, now a Seattle attorney, got to know Bhutto during regular meetings in their Eliot House dorm, when a group of about a dozen people would discuss politics and literature. Bhutto and her friends would hold forth at all hours in all places, particularly the dorm's dining room.

Bhutto vigorously defended her country, which was at war with the nation now known as Bangladesh, feeling her homeland had been wrongly portrayed in the U.S. media.

''The one word I would remember about her is intensity,'' Johnson said.

It wasn't all earnestness and early 1970s idealism, he added.

''She would joke, she wasn't all serious by any means,'' Johnson said.

Bhutto was known at Harvard as ''Pinkie,'' a nickname given by a British nurse because she was such a pink baby. She would bake for friends and watched a friend's cat when the friend was away. She often dressed like a typical Western college student and joined the Signet literary society.

Bhutto graduated cum laude in 1973 with a degree in government. Six years later, Bhutto's father was executed for the murder of a political opponent.

His daughter later spent five years imprisoned by her father's tormentors, mostly in solitary confinement. In a 1998 article in The Crimson, Harvard's daily newspaper, Bhutto said she was sustained during that time by memories of Harvard, including ''long summer nights that never seemed to end.''

Dry recalled a talk Bhutto's gave for the class's 30th reunion in 2003. It was clear she felt a tremendous sense of mission to return and bring democracy.

''This was something that she was going to do for them, if she could possibly do it,'' Dry said.

Waterford lops three days off of February vacation;  New superintendent acts on first day on the job
By Stephen Chupaska Day Staff Writer
Article published Feb 8, 2011

Waterford - On his first day on the job, Superintendent of Schools Jerome Belair made his first executive decision: canceling three days of the scheduled February vacation to provide a buffer against future snow days.

"Between the seven days of missed school and delays and early dismissals, Waterford hasn't had a full week of school since the new year," Belair said.

Waterford will not have school on Feb. 21 because of Presidents Day and will keep Feb. 22 as a vacation day, but will hold classes for the remainder of that week.  If there are no more cancellations, the last day of school will be June 22. The state-mandated last day of school is June 30.  Students whose families have made non-refundable travel plans during the week of the February break will be provided work packets to complete while away from school.

"We would expect them to be done when they return to school," Belair said.  Substitutes will fill in for teachers who have made non-refundable holiday plans.

"We are going to freeze a couple of (other) things in the substitute account," Belair said. "This is our highest priority."

Belair said he could make the decision without a vote of the Board of Education, but received the assent of each board member before canceling the vacation.  The school administration notified parents Monday about the schedule change through its automated phone system.

During a tour of Waterford High School Monday, Belair solicited opinions from students about which vacation they would rather do without, February or April.  Belair's informal poll indicated most Waterford High students preferred the school district lop off the Feb. 21-25 vacation rather than cut days out of the April 18-22 break.

"I'd say cancel the February break," Audrey Tripp, a junior, said. "We've already had so many days off because of snow."

Mike Strollo, a senior, also encouraged Belair to consider the February option.

"April vacation is the best one during the school year," Strollo said.

Accompanied by Principal Donald Macrino, Belair walked the high school hallways, noting some of the structural shortcomings that led to the planned three-year renovation project on the 52-year-old building. Work will start during the summer.

"(The current building) has 108 doors," Belair said. "That's a safety concern."

The doors, originally intended as fire exits, are not compatible with 21st-century school security measures.  Belair was, however, impressed with the state of the auditorium and field house, which will remain intact during the renovation.

The new superintendent also toured Quaker Hill Elementary School to introduce himself to students and staff.  Belair, 58, who comes to Waterford from Weston, will earn the same salary, $198,000, as his predecessor, Randall Collins.

And he's still training himself to say "Waterford" instead of "Weston."

"They are both Ws," Belair said.

Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 12:42 UK

Obituary: Edward Kennedy
Edward Kennedy, who has died following a battle with a brain tumour at the age of 77, possessed the full mixture of the virtues, and the vices, that defined America's most famous political dynasty.
Edward Kennedy in a photo from January 2009
Edward Kennedy - one of the most influential politicians of his generation

The assassination of his brothers, John and Robert, placed a massive burden of expectation on his shoulders which he found difficult to live up to.

Yet, despite the shadow of Chappaquiddick, he became a respected elder statesman of the Democratic Party, and a champion of liberal causes in the US Senate.

Edward Moore Kennedy was born in the Boston suburb of Brookline on 22 February 1932, the youngest of nine children of Joseph P Kennedy and his wife Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy.

His Irish American parents were both from wealthy political families and his father served as the US ambassador to the UK prior to World War II.

After attending private schools in Boston, Kennedy went on to Harvard in 1950, but was expelled a year later after it was discovered that he had cheated in a Spanish exam.

Edward, John & Robert Kennedy
He was the youngest of a political dynasty which fascinated America

He joined the army, serving at the SHAPE headquarters in Paris, before being readmitted to Harvard and graduating in 1956.

In 1960 his brother John was elected US president, vacating his Massachusetts seat in the Senate.

Edward was unable to stand for the seat until he was 30, so his brother asked the state governor to allow a Kennedy family friend to see out the end of John's term.

Although perfectly legal under the constitution, it gave rise to the accusation that Ted Kennedy had been gifted his Senate seat.

Edward was duly elected senator for Massachusetts in a special election in 1962, a post to which he would be consistently re-elected until the end of his career.

Tragedy stalked the Kennedy family; Edward's oldest brother Joe was killed during the war and, in 1963, John was assassinated as he drove through Dallas.

The following year Ted Kennedy himself was badly injured in a plane crash, leaving a legacy of back problems which dogged the rest of his life.

In 1968, Ted's brother, Robert, to whom he was particularly close, was assassinated in Los Angeles in the middle of his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.


There were expectations that Ted would take on his brother's mantle as a presidential candidate but his political career was about to be dealt a major blow.

Chappaquiddick ended his hopes of the White House

On July 18 1969, he was at a party on the small Massachusetts island of Chappaquiddick with a group, including six women known as the boiler room girls, who had worked in his brother Robert's presidential campaign.

Kennedy left the party, supposedly to drive his brother's former secretary, Mary Jo Kopechene, to catch the last ferry back to the mainland but, instead, the car turned onto a side road and crashed off a bridge into a tidal creek.

Kennedy pulled himself from the upturned car and, after swimming across a narrow creek, returned to his hotel without reporting the accident.

It was the following morning before local fishermen found the sunken car and discovered the body of Mary Jo Kopechne still inside.

Evidence given at the subsequent inquest suggested that she had probably remained alive in an air pocket for several hours and might well have been saved had the alarm been raised at the time.

Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, claiming that he had been in shock, and was given a two-month suspended jail sentence.

Kennedy on Chappaquiddick

An inquest, held in secret at the request of Kennedy family lawyers, cast serious doubts on Kennedy's story, but no further action was taken.

This led to suspicions of a cover-up and the incident effectively ended any hopes Kennedy had of attaining the White House.

Chappaquiddick did not prevent his supporters urging him to run for both the 1972 and 1976 presidential nominations but he refused, citing family concerns about his personal safety.

Democratic candidate

He finally took the plunge in 1980, standing for the Democratic nomination against the incumbent president, and fellow Democrat, Jimmy Carter.

Kennedy's presidential bid

Kennedy hoped to capitalise on the country's economic woes, which had seen Carter's approval ratings slide.

But a poorly-managed campaign and a lacklustre appearance in a major TV interview ended Kennedy's hopes.

His refusal to concede the contest led to the divisive 1980 Democratic Convention where Kennedy tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade delegates committed to Carter to swap sides.

With his presidential hopes over, Kennedy began to rebuild his political career as a champion of liberal causes.

His mastery of senate procedure and his growing status in the Democratic Party made him a formidable voice in any debate, and his support was sought by political friends and opponents alike.

This is the cause of my life... Now the issue has more meaning for me - and more urgency - than ever before, but it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of healthcare has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years
Edward Kennedy

He became a master of coalitions, a pragmatist who would often work with his Republican opponents to get legislation through Congress, for example, the Quayle-Kennedy Training for Jobs Bill.

Despite his Catholic background, he abandoned his previous opposition to abortion and advocated a woman's right to choose.

He was also one of a handful of senators who supported the concept of same-sex marriages, his own state of Massachusetts becoming the first to give a legal framework to such unions.

He campaigned in support of better rights for immigrants to the US and was a consistent advocate of tighter gun control.

Mindful of his strong base of Irish American support, he originally backed the concept of a united Ireland and, in 1971, called for the withdrawal of British troops.

However his views had moderated by 2005, when he publicly snubbed the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams following the murder of Robert McCartney, and hosted a visit to Washington by the sisters of the dead man.

In 2006, Time magazine named him as one of America's "Ten Best Senators", saying that he had "amassed a titanic record of legislation affecting the lives of virtually every man, woman and child in the country".

Edward Kennedy in the Senate
He was a master of senate procedure

Such was his standing as the elder statesman of the Democratic Party that his endorsement was eagerly sought by aspiring presidential candidates.

In 2004 he supported his fellow Massachusetts senator, John Kerry, who went on to lose to Republican George W Bush.

Kennedy cited Barack Obama's opposition to the invasion of Iraq as one of the main reasons he endorsed the young senator from Illinois for the 2008 nomination, a statement seen as a direct snub to Mr Obama's chief rival, Hillary Clinton.

He was also reported to have been angry at some of the more outspoken comments by former President Bill Clinton in support of his wife Hillary's campaign, and he ignored pleas from the Clinton camp to remain neutral.

Kennedy said that he had always planned to support the candidate "who inspires me, who inspires all of us, who can lift our vision and summon our hopes and renew our belief that our country's best days are still to come."

Kennedy saw the young senator he backed triumph in the presidential election and was present on 20 January 2009 when Mr Obama was sworn in as the 44th US president.

Under the new administration, one of his most cherished causes took centre stage. The senator was seen as a key dealmaker in Mr Obama's efforts to push through his flagship healthcare reform plan.

The issue had become especially poignant for Kennedy, who was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour in May 2008.

A week before his death, he wrote to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick asking him to change the law so that a replacement could be found for him immediately after his death.

Analysts suggest that he feared a lengthy gap could deny Democrats a crucial vote on the reforms.

Edward Kennedy sometimes failed to meet the huge expectations placed upon him following the deaths of his older brothers.

But his commitment to what he called their "justice, excellence and courage" ensured he guarded their memory fiercely and, despite his flaws, he left a substantial political legacy.

Read comment by one of "About Town's" medical team from 1977...
Kennedy Has Surgery for Brain Tumor
Published: June 3, 2008

Senator Edward M. Kennedy was at Duke University Medical Center on Monday to undergo a six-hour operation for his malignant brain tumor, his office said.

The operation on Mr. Kennedy, 76, who was diagnosed two weeks ago with a malignant glioma in the upper left portion of his brain, was to begin at around 9 a.m. He was to be operated on by Dr. Allan Friedman, chief of the division of neurosurgery in the surgical department at Duke in Durham, N.C.

Mr. Kennedy’s office issued a statement at around 6:30 a.m. on Monday saying that he expects to remain in the hospital at Duke for about a week and then return to Massachusetts, where he will undergo chemotherapy and radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital, where his tumor was diagnosed after he suffered a seizure at his home on Cape Cod.

Mr. Kennedy said in the statement that he and his wife Vicki, “along with my outstanding team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital, have consulted with experts from around the country and have decided that the best course of action for my brain tumor is targeted surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation.”

He said that, “after completing treatment, I look forward to returning to the United States Senate and to doing everything I can to help elect Barack Obama as our next president.”

It was not clear from the statement how long his course of chemotherapy and radiation treatment would take.

In a statement issued at the time of Mr. Kennedy’s diagnosis, doctors at Massachusetts General mentioned chemotherapy and radiation but did not mention surgery. Experts not involved in Mr. Kennedy’s case, including Alain Charest, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Tufts Medical Center, said at the time that if the tumor could be removed surgically, doctors would do so. But he said that gliomas are difficult to remove because cells from the tumor tend to travel to other parts of the brain.

“They’re very aggressive,” Professor Charest said. “They migrate quite extensively away from the bulk tumor. Single tumor cells take off and go a certain distance away from the main mass, and these are the ones that are hard to get at.”

Malignant glioma, the most common form of brain cancer, accounts for about 9,000 cases diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute. The prognosis varies depending on the type and severity of the tumor, and the patient’s age, but in general, experts said that patients can be expected to live between one to four years.

That Mr. Kennedy is undergoing surgery suggests that doctors believe they can reduce the size of the tumor by removing part of it, said Dr. Eugene S. Flamm, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who is not involved in the senator’s care.

Dr. Flamm said that this kind of surgery poses the risk of affecting a patient’s speech, cognition, reading, memory and movement on the right side of the body.

“What you have to balance is the risk of creating a neurological deficit,” he said. “I’m sure Dr. Friedman would not operate if it was going to have that effect.”

Dr. Flamm said that such surgery is usually followed by radiation for five days a week for about four to six weeks. Patients then usually receive one or more types of chemotherapy, either intravenously or orally, and those courses may be repeated depending on the patient’s condition. Treatment, he said, can cause side effects such as fatigue or swelling around the tumor that require treatment with steroids.

Asked about Mr. Kennedy’s plans to go back to the Senate, Dr. Flamm said, "I wouldn’t recommend somebody go back into a cognitively demanding activity at a time when they’re still distracted by radiation and chemo."

But, he added, “If he’s feeling up do it, he should do it.”

Regardless of the surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, the prognosis for such tumors is usually grim, Dr. Flamm said.

“Even with treatment, the prognosis is about a year, plus or minus,” he said. “This is what happens to most people with this, in spite of the best efforts, which he is certainly getting. It’s a terribly frustrating tumor to deal with."

Mr. Kennedy is known for taking an aggressive and deeply researched approach to medical treatment when advising family members and friends who have suffered from serious diseases. After his diagnosis, friends and associates suggested that he would take a similar approach to his own cancer.

“I’m quite confident that Ted is going to find every expert and every available new approach or other approach and he will consider it very carefully and thoroughly,” Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts said at the time. “This is a guy who has been asking questions for 40 years. He knows how to ask questions.”

In the days after his diagnosis, Mr. Kennedy has been projecting an image of optimism and energetic activity, sailing near his Hyannisport home and participating in a sailing race from Nantucket to Cape Cod.

The Boston Globe reported on Monday that before leaving for North Carolina, Kennedy telephoned Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to tell him of his plans and to highlight two significant pieces of legislation that Kennedy has in the works: higher education reauthorization and mental health parity, Kennedy aides said. The senator also called Senators Christopher Dodd and Barbara Mikulski to ask their help in shepherding the bills through their respective conference committees, The Globe reported.

I remember when this happened (an "assembly" at P.S. 56), and feeling that official profession of piety or patriotism provided cover for scoundrels.
Pastor Who Helped Get ''under God'' in Pledge Dies

Filed at 11:27 a.m. ET
November 29, 2008

ALEXANDRIA, Pa. (AP) -- A church official says the clergyman credited with helping to push Congress to insert the phrase ''under God'' into the Pledge of Allegiance has died in Alexandria, Pa. The Rev. George M. Docherty was 97.

Nancy Taylor, historian for the Huntingdon Presbyterian Church, says Docherty died on Thanksgiving at his home in Alexandria, with his wife, Sue, by his side.

Docherty delivered a sermon saying the pledge should acknowledge God in 1952 at Washington's New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, just blocks from the White House.

On Feb. 7, 1954, he delivered it again after learning that President Dwight Eisenhower would be at the church.

Congress inserted the words a few months later.

Weston connection here:  Alice De Lamar longtime resident and owner of...Cobb's Mill Inn!

Streetscapes | De Lamar Mansion
Still an Eye-Popper After All These Years
December 14, 2008

IN its purdah of construction netting, Joseph De Lamar’s ebullient Parisian palace of 1905, at Madison Avenue and 37th Street, is essentially invisible. Now occupied by the Polish Consulate, this architectural explosion, one of the most opulent mansions surviving in New York, was designed by C. P. H. Gilbert.

Mr. De Lamar, born in Holland around 1843, left home and served on a ship until the 1860s, acquiring in the process the “Captain” that often precedes De Lamar. He settled in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where he had a marine salvage business. In the 1870s he went West in search of nickel and other metals, making his fortune within a few years.

Mr. De Lamar came to New York in the early 1890s, and first lived in a modest apartment building at 217 West 115th Street. Around 1893 he married Nellie Sands, the daughter of an apothecary, and according to The Boston Daily Globe in 1897, “for two seasons the De Lamars spent money like water at Newport,” but made no social progress. The same newspaper called him a “grim eccentric” in 1919. Their only child, Alice, was born in 1895, and the De Lamars soon divorced.

In 1902, Mr. De Lamar retained Mr. Gilbert, the mansion specialist, to build him a house in the heart of Murray Hill. The area had been at the top of the heap in the 1860s but was by then in its declining years.

The De Lamar house was quite different from Mr. Gilbert’s light and lacy French Gothic houses — for instance, the residence at 79th and Fifth Avenue, now the Ukrainian Institute of America. Mr. Gilbert’s mansion for Mr. De Lamar was robustly Beaux-Arts, heavy with rusticated stonework, balconies and a colossal mansard roof.

The 1910 census taker found Mr. De Lamar in residence with Alice, by then 15, and nine servants, a typical ratio. He died in 1918, and his obituary in The Boston Daily Globe described him as a “man of mystery” and an accomplished organist. He left an estate worth $29 million.

Alice De Lamar soon deserted her father’s house for a Park Avenue apartment, and went on to become a volunteer driver and mechanic for the Red Cross and an advocate of housing for working women.

In the 1920s the house became the National Democratic Club; in October 1940 Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr. told an audience there that the controversy over his father’s proposed third term was “a dead issue.”

The Polish government acquired the house in 1973 for $900,000. Its exterior is now being cleaned, and miscellaneous repairs are being made.

Few New Yorkers have ever been inside, but the public can now wander through the ornate second floor during lectures and concerts listed at On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., the pianist Roman Markowicz will give a recital, and on Jan. 4 the Angelus Choir will perform traditional Polish carols.

Visitors may have trouble paying attention to the music: If the Grucci brothers ever put on fireworks displays in ivory and gold, this is what they would look like. The central room is dominated by a bow-front musicians’ gallery, through which is threaded an oval stairway with a velvet-topped balustrade.

On the east side, what is now a bar and reception area is ringed by painted panels with figures representing, art, drawing and sculpture, as well as scenes from classical literature, with titles like “Ulysses Defying Circe.”

The most remarkable room is on the Madison Avenue side, an ornate high space with gold lattice work and similar decoration under a huge ceiling painting, “Passing of the Season.”

Out of sight, but visible in photographs posted on the Web site, are rooms with elaborate ceiling murals of smiling putti, angels, undraped women and carefree people in 18th-century dress. Although open to the charge of over-the-top flamboyance, these opulent interiors rival those of the Frick Collection and the Carnegie mansion, now the Cooper-Hewitt museum.

But those much larger buildings lack a De Lamar touch: At the far right edge of the property, a large metal plate flush with the sidewalk is actually the roof of his automobile elevator, which goes down to the basement.

A passer-by on a day when freight is being delivered — or trash is being taken out — may find it raised, as if ready to take in an automobile. Concealed under a modern metal plate is the original iron sidewalk grate with glass inserts to admit sunlight below.

Przemyslaw Balcerzyk, one of the consuls, says that repairs should be finished in the spring, and then the consulate will begin illuminating this ebullient building at night just in case anyone misses it.

W. Mark Felt, Watergate Deep Throat, Dies at 95
December 19, 2008

W. Mark Felt, who was the No. 2 official at the F.B.I. when he helped bring down President Richard M. Nixon by resisting the Watergate cover-up and becoming Deep Throat, the most famous anonymous source in American history, died Thursday. He was 95 and lived in Santa Rosa, Calif.

His death was confirmed by Rob Jones, his grandson.

In 2005, Mr. Felt revealed that he was the one who had secretly supplied Bob Woodward of The Washington Post with crucial leads in the Watergate affair in the early 1970s. His decision to unmask himself, in an article in Vanity Fair, ended a guessing game that had gone on for more than 30 years.

The disclosure even surprised Mr. Woodward and his partner on the Watergate story, Carl Bernstein. They had kept their promise not to reveal his identity until after his death. Indeed, Mr. Woodward was so scrupulous about shielding Mr. Felt that he did not introduce him to Mr. Bernstein until this year, 36 years after they cracked the scandal. The three met for two hours one afternoon last month in Santa Rosa, where Mr. Felt had retired. The reporters likened it to a family reunion.

Mr. Felt played a dual role in the fall of Nixon. As a secret informant, he kept the story alive in the press. As associate director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, he fought the president’s efforts to obstruct the F.B.I.’s investigation of the Watergate break-in.

Without Mr. Felt, there might not have been a Watergate — shorthand for the revealed abuses of presidential powers in the Nixon White House, including illegal wiretapping, burglaries and money laundering. Americans might never have seen a president as a criminal conspirator, or reporters as cultural heroes, or anonymous sources like Mr. Felt as a necessary if undesired tool in the pursuit of truth.

Like Nixon, Mr. Felt authorized illegal break-ins in the name of national security and then received the absolution of a presidential pardon. Their lives were intertwined in ways only they and a few others knew.

Nixon cursed his name when he learned early on that Mr. Felt was providing aid to the enemy in the wars of Watergate. The conversation was recorded in the Oval Office and later made public.

“We know what’s leaked, and we know who leaked it,” Nixon’s chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, told the president on Oct. 19, 1972, four months after a team of washed-up Central Intelligence Agency personnel hired by the White House was caught trying to wiretap the Democratic Party’s national offices at the Watergate complex.

“Somebody in the F.B.I.?” Nixon asked.

“Yes, sir,” Mr. Haldeman replied. Who? the president asked. “Mark Felt,” Mr. Haldeman said. “Now why the hell would he do that?” the president asked in a wounded tone.

No one, including Mr. Felt, ever answered that question in full. Mr. Felt later said he believed that the president had been misusing the F.B.I. for political advantage. He knew that Nixon wanted the Watergate affair to vanish. He knew that the White House had ordered the C.I.A. to tell the bureau, on grounds of national security, to stand down in its felony investigation of the June 1972 break-in. He saw that order as an effort to obstruct justice, and he rejected it. That resistance led indirectly to Nixon’s resignation.

Mr. Felt had expected to be named to succeed J. Edgar Hoover, who had run the bureau for 48 years and died in May 1972. The president instead chose a politically loyal Justice Department official, L. Patrick Gray III, who later followed orders from the White House to destroy documents in the case.

The choice infuriated Mr. Felt. He later wrote that the president “wanted a politician in J. Edgar Hoover’s position who would convert the bureau into an adjunct of the White House machine.”

Hoover had sworn off break-ins without warrants — “black bag jobs,” he called them — in 1966, after carrying them out at the F.B.I. for four decades. The Nixon White House hired its own operatives to steal information, plant eavesdropping equipment and hunt down the sources of leaks. The Watergate break-in took place six weeks after Hoover died.

While Watergate was seething, Mr. Felt authorized nine illegal break-ins at the homes of friends and relatives of members of the Weather Underground, a violent left-wing splinter group. The people he chose as targets had committed no crimes. The F.B.I. had no search warrants. He later said he ordered the break-ins because national security required it.

In a criminal trial, Mr. Felt was convicted in November 1980 of conspiring to violate the constitutional rights of Americans. Nixon, who had denounced him in private for leaking Watergate secrets, testified on his behalf. Called by the prosecution, he told the jury that presidents and by extension their officers had an inherent right to conduct illegal searches in the name of national security.

“As Deep Throat, Felt helped establish the principle that our highest government officials are subject to the Constitution and the laws of the land,” the prosecutor, John W. Nields, wrote in The Washington Post in 2005. “Yet when it came to the Weather Underground bag jobs, he seems not to have been aware that this same principle applied to him.”

Seven months after the conviction, President Ronald Reagan pardoned Mr. Felt. Then 67, Mr. Felt celebrated the decision as one of great symbolic value. “This is going to be the biggest shot in the arm for the intelligence community for a long time,” he said. After the pardon, Nixon sent him a congratulatory bottle of Champagne.

Mr. Felt then disappeared from public view for a quarter of a century, denying unequivocally, time and again, that he had been Deep Throat. It was a lie he told to serve what he believed to be a higher truth.

William Mark Felt was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, on Aug. 17, 1913. After graduating from the University of Idaho, he was drawn to public service in Washington and went to work for Senator James P. Pope, a Democrat.

In 1938, he married his college sweetheart, Audrey Robinson, in Washington. They were wed by the chaplain of the House of Representatives. She died in 1984. The couple had a daughter, Joan, and a son, Mark. They and four grandsons survive Mr. Felt.

Days before Pearl Harbor, after earning a law degree in night classes at George Washington University, Mr. Felt applied to the F.B.I. and joined it in January 1942. He spent most of World War II hunting German spies.

After stints in Seattle, New Orleans and Los Angeles, Hoover named him special agent in charge of the Salt Lake City and Kansas City offices in the late 1950s. Rising to high positions at the headquarters in the 1960s, he oversaw the training of F.B.I. agents and conducted internal investigations as chief of the inspection division.

In early 1970, while waiting in an anteroom of the West Wing of the White House, Mr. Felt chanced to meet a Navy lieutenant delivering classified messages to the National Security Council staff. The young man in dress blues was Bob Woodward. By his own description fiercely ambitious and in need of adult guidance, Mr. Woodward tried to wring career counseling from his elder. He left the White House with the number to Mr. Felt’s direct line at the F.B.I.

On July 1, 1971, Hoover promoted Mr. Felt to deputy associate director, the third in command at the headquarters, beneath Hoover’s right-hand man and longtime companion, Clyde A. Tolson. With both of his superiors in poor health, Mr. Felt increasingly took effective command of the daily work of the F.B.I. When Mr. Hoover died and Mr. Tolson retired, he saw his path to power cleared.

But Nixon denied him, and he seethed with frustrated ambition in the summer of 1972.

One evening that summer, a few weeks after the Watergate break-in, Mr. Woodward, then a neophyte newspaperman, knocked on Mr. Felt’s door in pursuit of the story. Mr. Felt decided to co-operate with him and set up an elaborate system of espionage techniques for clandestine meetings with Mr. Woodward.

If Mr. Woodward needed to talk, he would move a flowerpot planted with a red flag on the balcony of his apartment on P Street in Washington. If Mr. Felt had a message, Mr. Woodward’s home-delivered New York Times would arrive with an inked circle on Page 20. Mr. Woodward would leave his apartment by the back alley that night and take one taxi to a downtown hotel, then a second to an underground parking garage in the Rosslyn section of Arlington, Va.

Within weeks, Mr. Felt steered The Post to a story establishing that the Watergate break-in was part of “a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage” directed by the White House. For the next eight months, he did his best to keep the newspaper on the trail, largely by providing, on “deep background,” anonymous confirmation of facts reporters had gathered from others. The Post’s managing editor, Howard Simons, gave him his famous pseudonym, taken from the pornographic movie then in vogue.

By June 1973, Mr. Felt was forced out of the F.B.I. Soon he came under investigation by some of the same agents he had supervised, suspected of leaking information not to The Post but to The New York Times. He spent much of the mid-1970s testifying in secret to Congress about abuses of power at the F.B.I. Millions of Americans knew him only as a shadowy figure in the 1976 movie made from the Watergate saga, “All the President’s Men,” which made “Woodward and Bernstein” legends of American journalism. In the movie, Deep Throat (Hal Holbrook) gives Mr. Woodward (Robert Redford) probably the most famous bit of free advice in the history of investigative journalism. It was a three-word road map to the heart of the matter: “Follow the money.”

Mr. Felt never said it. It was part of the myth that surrounded Deep Throat.

Resided at Crystal Lake ("Lake Lomazzo")
Angela Carella: Death of a 'diva' who didn't like the crown
Westport  News
Updated 07:21 a.m., Friday, May 18, 2012

In the dance-crazed 1970s, when polyester was the fashion fabric of choice and disco ruled, Donna Summer was queen.

You could not turn on the radio without hearing her strong, sultry vocals in hit after hit -- "Last Dance," "Hot Stuff," "Bad Girls."

Summer, who died Thursday of lung cancer at 63, won five Grammy awards, was the only artist to have three consecutive double albums hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard chart, was the first female artist with four No. 1 singles in a 13-month period, and had 19 No. 1 dance hits between 1975 and 2008.

They called her disco diva.

But a couple of years after one of her biggest hits, "She Works Hard for the Money," hit the charts in 1983, Summer quietly moved to Weston and joined Bethany Assembly of God Church on Scofieldtown Road in Stamford.

There she sang regularly during services, filling the small church with her big, world-famous voice.

"The pastor would ask her and she would get up and sing `Amazing Grace' or something else off the top of her head," said Vito Colucci Jr. of Stamford, who played guitar in the church musical group. "The church fits only about 200 people and this huge voice would echo everywhere."

One year Summer had a Christmas album out and the pastor asked her to sing for a holiday service.

"She brought the musical accompaniment on tape and sang to it and blew everybody away. It was incredible," Colucci said.

He and his wife, Joanne, got to know Summer and her husband, Bruce Sudano, who was a keyboardist with Brooklyn Dreams, a successful singing group of the 1970s and `80s that collaborated with Summer.

"Bruce is the same age as me, we're both Italian, we both love music, we have a lot in common," said Colucci, a onetime Stamford police officer turned private investigator. "We became friends. And Joanne got to know Donna because Joanne's cousin was Donna's neighbor in Weston and her friend."

The cousin and her husband, the Coluccis, and Summer and Sudano spent a lot of time together.

"It was funny to go out to a restaurant with Donna because she was so recognizable," Vito Colucci said. "We'd be waiting to be seated and you'd see someone at a table do a double-take and nudge the person next to them. Next thing you'd have six people staring at her."

Colucci said a woman once approached Summer and asked, "Didn't you used to be Donna Summer?"

Summer replied, "Yes, back then I was," Colucci said. "She was always pleasant. She signed autographs. There was no entourage, no high-maintenance thing, no airs. She was very down-to-earth."

Summer was born LaDonna Adrian Gaines in a Boston suburb in 1948, one of seven children of devout Christian parents. She sang gospel music in her church, becoming the soloist when she was 10.

Inspired by 1960s singer Janis Joplin, Summer quit high school, joined a psychedelic rock group, Crow, and moved to New York. She auditioned for a part in the Broadway musical "Hair" and got a role when it moved to Germany, where she lived for several years, marrying Austrian actor Helmuth Sommer in 1972. They had a daughter, Mimi.

When the marriage broke up she kept his name, modifying it to Summer. She was working as a studio vocalist when she met producer Giorgio Moroder and recorded "Love to Love You Baby," an overtly sexual 17-minute single that became a major disco hit in 1975.

It catapulted a career that earned her the diva title. Summer reportedly was never comfortable with the song, the title or the fast life of stardom. She suffered with anxiety and depression, became addicted to prescription drugs and attempted suicide.

She recovered and married Sudano in 1980. They have two daughters, Brooklyn and Amanda. In the late 1980s Summer criticized her disco songs as "sinful."

It was about then that Colucci met her.

"She loved God a lot. She got to a point where she felt she had to get back to her roots," Colucci said. "She was one of the biggest stars of that era. All kinds of people were telling her, Donna, wear this, be more sexy, you got to say that, do this. She felt the pressure."

Critics, though, always agreed on one thing -- Summer could sing.

"So many disco singers were just OK. One-hit wonders, that kind of thing," Colucci said. "But Donna's voice had power. Listen to `MacArthur Park.' Listen to the high notes she could hit. I read something once, I think it was in Rolling Stone, that said there are divas, and then there's Donna Summer."

In the mid-1990s Summer and Sudano left Weston and moved to a home in Nashville, where the Coluccis visited them many times. They also visited the singer and her husband at their home in Florida, where Summer died.

"I was shocked when I heard the news. We didn't know Donna had cancer. She was a very private person and apparently didn't want people to know," Colucci said. "I was on the phone with a client and my wife came in and wrote on a piece of paper, `Donna Summer died.' It made me so sad. She was one of those caring people who's there to help anybody who's going through something rough."


Eartha Kitt came to dinner at our apartment in the Bronx in the late 1950's, arriving in a long Cadillac car.  She wanted to see what children were like, and asked my Dad, in public relations for State of Israel bonds, if she might meet his kids!  My taller, older brother and I must have impressed her favorably, because not soon after Eartha married a band leader and had a baby.

For my high school prom, a group of us went to the Persian Room at the Plaza (Eartha had us right up front).  When her baby came, my
Mom and I went down to the Plaza to take Kitt for a stroll in her carriage.

See below for obits. 

New Milford remembers Eartha Kitt
by Nanci G. Hutson, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/27/2008 02:47:17 AM EST

NEW MILFORD - To Patricia and Ted Hammer, Eartha Kitt was far more than the sex-kitten actress and singer the world knew.

Instead she was Eartha Mae, a Southern plantation-born employer and friend who loved to garden and searched their refrigerator for homemade snacks.

On Christmas Day, the 81-year-old performer, known to many as the purring Catwoman in the 1960s "Batman" television series, died of colon cancer.

The Eartha Kitt "dearest to our hearts," Patricia Hammer recalled, was down-to-earth and generous beyond anything one might suspect from her lusty performances.

Kitt moved into a converted 1773 barn on a secluded 80-acre property on North Road in the town in 1986. She lived there until about 2002, when she moved to Weston to be nearer her daughter, Kitt Shapiro, and two grandchildren.

In the Hammer living room remains an item the couple treasure, a needlepoint-covered chair with a metal plate on the back that reads, "Handmade with love by Eartha Kitt."

Her love and gracious giving will live on in their memories, Hammer said.

"The Eartha we knew and loved was very comfortable with us. She would come in and open the refrigerator door, saying, 'You always have something good to eat.' She would come to our wreath-making parties and be so proud to make one with her own hands. And she always spent Easter with us."

When Ted Hammer, who did landscaping work for Kitt, was burned on more than 40 percent of his body in a chain-saw explosion elsewhere, Kitt arranged a 1986 benefit performance for him at the Merryall Center for the Arts in New Milford.  Patricia Hammer said she spoke to Kitt a couple of months ago.

Merryall resident and conservationist Mary Jane Peterson said she cried Friday morning when she heard of Kitt's death.

"She was a dear friend," Peterson said of the woman who invited her to Thanksgiving dinner as solace after Peterson's father died in 1991. "I can hear that voice ringing in my ears right now."

On stage, Kitt projected a glamorous and sexy image, yet in reality, she was "so down-to-earth, with a very strong set of values and a desire to give back to the community," Peterson said.

The benefit Kitt organized for the Hammers was the epitome of her "generosity of spirit," she added. "I was always so touched that she did this lovely thing for Ted."

In Kitt's obituary in The New York Times, Peterson said, she read something that rang true: Kitt reportedly said she "trusted dirt" more than diamonds or gold.

"She was connected to the soil in a very elemental way," Peterson said. "She was so supportive and instrumental in all of our conservation efforts in the community.''

Peterson said he cherishes seeing her son, Tigger Peterson, perform with Kitt in a benefit cabaret-style performance at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville.

For a skit where Kitt was to fall into the arms of a young waiter after sipping too much champagne, Peterson's son, then a junior at Kent School, was chosen to fill in for the actor originally slated to be the waiter.

"Here's this young kid with the diva on stage, and he was trembling. But it worked," Peterson said.

"She was one of a kind," said Ruth Henderson, whose late husband, New York Pops conductor Skitch Henderson, worked with Kitt. "You could never compare her with anybody." Skitch Henderson led the Stamford Symphony Orchestra as music director and conductor for five years in the 1970s.

As with many actresses, Kitt was not immune from celebrity gossip.

Local clinical psychologist and film critic David Begelman remembered reports of an alleged affair Kitt had with the late Orson Welles.

Welles, who in 1950 cast Kitt in her first starring role - Helen of Troy in his staging of "Dr. Faustus" - was repeatedly quoted describing Kitt as "the most exciting woman in the world."

"She was a hot kitten, let me tell you," Begelman said. "She was quite a lady."

And more from the NYTIMES...

Sultry 'Santa Baby' Singer Eartha Kitt Dies at 81
Filed at 1:54 p.m. ET
December 26, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) -- Eartha Kitt, the self-proclaimed ''sex kitten'' whose sultry voice and catlike purr attracted fans even as she neared 80, has died. The singer, dancer and actress was 81.

Family spokesman Andrew Freedman said Kitt, who was recently treated at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, died Thursday in Connecticut of colon cancer.

Dubbed the ''most exciting woman in the world'' by Orson Welles, Kitt's career spanned six decades, from her start as a dancer with the famed Katherine Dunham troupe to cabarets and acting and singing on stage, in movies and on television.

She won two Emmys, and was also nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys.

Kitt was featured on the cover of her 2001 book, ''Rejuvenate,'' a guide to staying physically fit, in a long, curve-hugging black dress with a figure that some 20-year-old women would envy. She also wrote three autobiographies.

She persevered through an unhappy childhood as a mixed-race daughter of the South, and made headlines in the 1960s for denouncing the Vietnam War during a visit to the White House.

''I remember when I was visiting my aunt in Chicago in 1955, and she took me to see Eartha Kitt, who was one of the first black performers allowed to perform at the Chicago Theater,'' the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Friday.

''Eartha Kitt was a pioneer, whose talents were so immense and strong that the walls of segregation began to come down when people watched her perform,'' Jackson said. ''Many places she performed, she was the first African-American allowed to perform.''

Kitt's first album, ''RCA Victor Presents Eartha Kitt,'' was released in 1954. It featured songs such as ''I Want to Be Evil,'' ''C'est Si Bon'' and the saucy gold digger's theme song, ''Santa Baby,'' which is revived on radio each Christmas.

The following year, the record company released ''That Bad Eartha,'' which featured ''Let's Do It,'' ''Smoke Gets in Your Eyes'' and ''My Heart Belongs to Daddy.''

After becoming a hit singing ''Monotonous'' in the Broadway revue ''New Faces of 1952,'' Kitt appeared in ''Mrs. Patterson'' in 1954-55. (Some references say she earned a Tony nomination for ''Mrs. Patterson,'' but only winners were publicly announced at that time.) She also made appearances in ''Shinbone Alley'' and ''The Owl and the Pussycat.''

Kitt was the sexy Catwoman on the popular ''Batman'' TV series in 1967-68, replacing Julie Newmar, who originated the role. A guest appearance on an episode of ''I Spy'' brought her an Emmy nomination in 1966.

In 1996, Kitt was nominated for a Grammy in the category of traditional pop vocal performance for her album ''Back in Business.'' She also had been nominated in the children's recording category for the 1969 record, ''Folk Tales of the Tribes of Africa.''

Kitt also acted in movies, playing the lead female role opposite Nat King Cole in ''St. Louis Blues'' in 1958. She more recently appeared in ''Boomerang'' and ''Harriet the Spy'' in the 1990s.

''Generally the whole entertainment business now is bland,'' she said in a 1996 Associated Press interview. ''It depends so much on gadgetry and flash now. You don't have to have talent to be in the business today.

''I think we had to have something to offer, if you wanted to be recognized as worth paying for.''

Kitt was plainspoken about causes she believed in. Her anti-war comments at the White House came as she attended a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson.

''You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed,'' she told the group of about 50 women. ''They rebel in the street. They don't want to go to school because they're going to be snatched off from their mothers to be shot in Vietnam.''

For four years afterward, Kitt performed almost exclusively overseas. She was investigated by the FBI and CIA, which allegedly found her to be foul-mouthed and promiscuous.

In 1978, Kitt returned to Broadway in the musical ''Timbuktu!'' -- which brought her a Tony nomination -- and was invited back to the White House by President Jimmy Carter.

''We are a better people and a better world because of her audacity, and her protest at the White House brought a message of dignity and peace to high places,'' Jackson said. ''It created temporary discomfort to some, but peace-loving people around the world rejoiced.''

In 2000, Kitt earned another Tony nomination for ''The Wild Party.'' She played the fairy godmother in Rodgers and Hammerstein's ''Cinderella'' in 2002.

As recently as October 2003, she was on Broadway after replacing Chita Rivera in a revival of ''Nine.''

She also gained new fans as the voice of Yzma in the 2000 Disney animated feature ''The Emperor's New Groove,'' and won two Emmys for her voice work in ''The Emperor's New School.''

Kitt was born in North, S.C., and her road to fame was the stuff of storybooks. In her autobiography, she wrote that her mother was black and Cherokee while her father was white, and she was left to live with relatives after her mother's new husband objected to taking in a mixed-race girl.

An aunt eventually brought her to live in New York, where she attended the High School of Performing Arts, later dropping out to take various odd jobs.

By chance, she dropped by an audition for the dance group run by Dunham, a pioneering African-American dancer. In 1946, Kitt was one of the Sans-Souci Singers in Dunham's Broadway production ''Bal Negre.''

Kitt's travels with the Dunham troupe landed her a gig in a Paris nightclub in the early 1950s. Kitt was spotted by Welles, who cast her in his Paris stage production of ''Faust.'' That led to a role in ''New Faces of 1952,'' which featured such other stars-to-be as Carol Lawrence, Paul Lynde and, as a writer, Mel Brooks.

In 1960, she married Bill McDonald but divorced him after the birth of their daughter, Kitt.

While on stage, she was daringly sexy and always flirtatious. Offstage, however, Kitt described herself as shy and almost reclusive, remnants of feeling unwanted and unloved as a child. She referred to herself as ''that little urchin cotton-picker from the South, Eartha Mae.''

Eartha Kitt, Sultry 'Santa Baby' Singer, Dies
Staff and Wire Reports
December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt, a sultry singer, dancer and actress who rose from South Carolina cotton fields to become an international symbol of elegance and sensuality, has died, a family spokesman said. She was 81.

Andrew Freedman said Kitt, who was recently treated at New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, died in Connecticut of colon cancer. She lived in Weston in recent years but it was uncertain if that was where she died.

Kitt, a self-proclaimed "sex kitten" famous for her catlike purr, was one of America's most versatile performers, winning two Emmys and nabbing a third nomination. She also was nominated for several Tonys and two Grammys.

Her career spanned six decades, from her start as a dancer with the famed Katherine Dunham troupe to cabarets and acting and singing on stage, in movies and on television. She persevered through an unhappy childhood as a mixed-race daughter of the South.

Through the years, Kitt remained a picture of vitality and attracted fans less than half her age even as she neared 80.

She appeared many times in Connecticut, in recent years at Foxwoods Resort Casino and the Westport Country Playhouse. In April 2007, when she appeared in the musical "All About Us" in Westport Country Playhouse, The Courant's review said Kitt "purrs, struts and magnetizes as the fortune telling Esmerelda, a woman who predicts disaster in 'Rain,' her voice dropping to milk the comic potential."

Last December she was at Hartford's XL Center, not performing, but getting singer Miley Cyrus' autograph for her granddaughters.

She told The Courant that in Connecticut, "the people were wonderful. But I think people take you as you are, if you're not the kind of person who is snobbish about anything. Which I'm not. I'm very down to earth. Very much what my name says. Earthy."

When her book "Rejuvenate," a guide to staying fit, was published in 2001, Kitt was featured on the cover in a long, curve-hugging black dress with a figure that some 20-year-old women would envy. Kitt also wrote three autobiographies.

Once dubbed the "most exciting woman in the world" by Orson Welles, she spent much of her life single, though brief romances with the rich and famous peppered her younger years.

After becoming a hit singing "Monotonous" in the Broadway revue "New Faces of 1952," Kitt appeared in "Mrs. Patterson" in 1954 and 1955.

Her first album, "RCA Victor Presents Eartha Kitt," came out in 1954, featuring such songs as "I Want To Be Evil," "C'est Si Bon" and the saucy gold digger's theme song "Santa Baby," revived on radio each Christmas.

In 1996, she was nominated for a Grammy for her album "Back in Business." She also had been nominated for the 1969 children's record "Folk Tales of the Tribes of Africa."

In movies, Kitt starred opposite Nat King Cole in 1958's " St. Louis Blues" and appeared in "Boomerang" and "Harriet the Spy" in the 1990s.

On television, she was the sexy Catwoman on the popular " Batman" series in 1967-68, replacing Julie Newmar, who originated the role. A guest appearance on "I Spy" brought Kitt an Emmy nomination in 1966.

The "Batman" series came to an end about the same time as Kitt's TV career. In an incident greatly publicized at the time, Kitt mentioned to Lady Bird Johnson at a White House luncheon that she was not pleased with how things were going in Vietnam. For four years afterward, Kitt performed almost exclusively overseas. She was investigated by the FBI and CIA, which allegedly found her to be foul-mouthed and promiscuous.

"I would not like to think my political stance kept me out of work, even though I know that is what happened," she told The Courant in 1995. " President Johnson called the network and said, 'I don't want to see that woman's face anywhere!' That's according to my CIA dossier."

Kitt earned Tony nominations for the musical "Timbuktu!" in 1978 and "The Wild Party" in 2000.

As recently as October 2003, she was on Broadway in a revival of "Nine."

25 December 2008 I-BBC
Obituary: Eartha Kitt
Once described by Orson Welles as the most exciting woman in the world, Kitt's smouldering, feline drawl in memorable hits, such as Santa Baby, Old Fashioned Millionaire and I Wanna Be Evil conveyed a wealth of innuendo.

Ostracized at an early age for her mixed race heritage, international star Eartha Kitt defied criticism of her illegitimate past and conquered the entertainment world with finesse.

Born in 1927, she endured a tough childhood. Kitt's mother, who worked on a cotton plantation, was just 14 when she gave birth, the white father thought to have been the son of the plantation owner.

Kitt's features, neither black nor white, led to her being accepted by neither community. She was given away by her mother at the age of eight to live with an aunt in Harlem, New York City. Little did she know that this would be the start of a long showbiz career.

With a flair for the dramatic, Kitt, aged 15, auditioned for the famed Katherine Dunham Dance Troupe and won a spot as a featured dancer.

The work took her worldwide, and her unique style was enhanced as she became fluent in French during the European tour. It was during a performance in Paris that she caught a certain director's eye, and was cast as Helen of Troy in Orson Welles' production of Dr Faust.

Eartha Kitt in 1956
Eartha Kitt had a tough upbringing
Kitt made her name back in New York in the 'New Faces of 1952' revue. Her show-stopping performances, which ran for a year, led to a national tour and a follow up feature film with the same title.

Other films followed, such as St Louis Blues with Nat King Cole, and she played the title role in Anna Lucasta alongside Sammy Davis.

For her succession of best-selling records Kitt earned a Grammy nomination, she received her first Tony nomination for her acting, and also managed to complete her first volume of autobiography Thursday's Child.

One of Kitt's more recognisable roles was her part as Catwoman, in succession to Julie Newmar, in the late 1960s television series Batman. She excelled in the part, and her trademark growl became a part of pop culture.

In the late sixties, however, Kitt's career encountered a substantial setback after she made her anti-Vietnam war views explicit during a White House luncheon.

The CIA put together a dossier on her and she became professionally exiled from the US. She worked abroad for 11 years, where her reputation remained unscathed, but returned triumphantly to New York in 1974 to star in a Broadway spectacle of Timbuktu!

One-woman show

Kitt became a firm fixture on the Manhattan cabaret scene. Live theatre was always her passion and, in 2001, Broadway critics singled her out for praise for her role in The Wild Party.

More recently, she starred in US tours of The Wizard of Oz, and Cinderella, and appeared as the Fairy Godmother in The New York City Opera production.

Her distinctive voice and great versatility enthralled an entirely new generation of fans when she lent her services to the role of Yzma, the villain, in Disney's animated feature The Emperor's New Groove.
Eartha Kitt in 2002
Sophisticated: Kitt's exotic style kept her at the top for decades

In 1994 she also was part of BBC Radio's adaptation of The Jungle Book, where her role as Kaa the python was performed with a ferocity and bite.

She visited England many times throughout her career, firstly in the early 1950s and, most recently, for Follies in 1988, which she followed with a one-woman show in March 1989.

Eartha Kitt will be remembered as a distinguished and charismatic performer who, up to her death, could boast she had worked in more than 100 countries.

Alongside her cabaret performances, her singing career and her roles in film and television, Kitt was also a prominent jazz singer to which the "sex kitten" in her voice seemed aptly suited.

She appeared at legendary venues, such as The Cafe Carlyle, Detroit's Music Hall and Seattle's Jazz Alley, where she became the epitome of chic. Her strong onscreen independence was mirrored off screen, since Kitt spent most of her life alone.

She was married briefly, from 1960 to 1965, from which a daughter, Kitt McDonald, was born in 1961. She became her mother's manager.

Up to the end of her life, Eartha Kitt was the national spokeswoman for Project On Growing, a programme which teaches homeless families to grow their own food and feed themselves.

Eartha, 2006, left;  Eartha, 1960, right.
Eartha Kitt, a Seductive Legend of Stage and Screen, Dies at 81

December 26, 2008

Eartha Kitt, who purred and pounced her way across Broadway stages, recordings and movie and television screens in a show-business career that lasted more than six decades, died on Thursday. She was 81 and lived in Connecticut.

The cause was colon cancer, said her longtime publicist Andrew E. Freedman.

Ms. Kitt, who began performing as a dancer in New York in the late ’40s, went on to achieve success and acclaim on Broadway, recordings, film and television, long before other entertainment multitaskers like Julie Andrews, Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler. With her curvaceous frame and unabashed vocal come-ons, she was also, along with Lena Horne, among the first widely known African-American sex symbols. Orson Welles famously proclaimed her “the most exciting woman alive” in the early ’50s, apparently just after that excitement prompted him to bite her onstage during a performance of “Time Runs,” an adaptation of “Faust” in which Ms. Kitt played Helen of Troy.

Ms. Kitt’s career-long persona, that of the seen-it-all sybarite, was set when she performed in Paris cabarets in her early 20s, singing songs that became her signatures like “C’est Ci Bon” and “Love for Sale.” Returning to New York, she was cast on Broadway in “New Faces of 1952” and added another jewel to her vocal crown, “Monotonous” (“Traffic has been known to stop for me/Prices even rise and drop for me/Harry S. Truman plays bop for me/Monotonous, monotonous”). Brooks Atkinson wrote in The Times in May 1952, “Eartha Kitt not only looks incendiary but can make a song burst into flame.”

Shortly after that run, Ms. Kitt had her first best-selling albums and recorded her biggest hit, “Santa Baby,” whose precise, come-hither diction and vaguely foreign inflections (Ms. Kitt, a native of South Carolina, spoke four languages and sang in seven) proved that a vocal sizzle could be just as powerful as a bonfire.

Though her record sales fell off after the rise of rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll in the mid- and late ’50s, her singing style would later be the template for other singers with small-but-sensual voices like Diana Ross (who has said she patterned her Supremes sound and look largely after Ms. Kitt), Janet Jackson and Madonna, who recorded a cover version of “Santa Baby” in 1987. Ms. Kitt would later call herself “the original material girl,” a reference not only to her stage creation but also to her string of romances with rich or famous men, including Welles, the cosmetics magnate Charles Revson and the banking heir John Barry Ryan 3rd. She was married to her one husband, Bill McDonald, a real-estate developer, from 1960 to 1965; their daughter, Kitt Shapiro, survives her, as do two grandchildren.

From practically the beginning of her career, as critics gushed over Ms. Kitt they also began to describe her in every feline term imaginable: her voice “purred” or “was like catnip”; she was a “sex kitten” who “slinked” or was “on the prowl” across the stage, sometimes “flashing her claws.” Her career has often been said to have had “nine lives.” Appropriately enough, she was tapped to play Catwoman in the 1960s TV series “Batman,” taking over the role from Julie Newmar and bringing to it a more feral, compact energy.

Yet for all the camp appeal and sexually-charged hauteur of Ms. Kitt’s cabaret act, she also played serious roles, appearing in the films “The Mark of the Hawk” with Sidney Poitier (1957) and “Anna Lucasta” (1959) with Sammy Davis Jr. She made numerous TV appearances, including a guest spot on “I Spy” in 1965, which brought her her first Emmy nomination.

For these performances Ms. Kitt very likely drew on the hardship of her early life. She was born Eartha Mae Keith in North, South Carolina, on Jan. 17, 1927, a date she did not know until about 10 years ago, when she challenged students at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., to find her birth certificate, and they did. She was the illegitimate child of a black Cherokee sharecropper mother and a white man about whom Ms. Kitt knew little.

She worked in cotton fields and lived with a black family who, she said, abused her because she looked too white. “They called me yella gal,” Ms. Kitt said.

When she was 8 she was sent to live in Harlem with an aunt, Marnie Kitt, whom Ms. Kitt came to believe was really her biological mother, and though she was given piano and dance lessons, a pattern of abuse developed there as well: Ms. Kitt would be beaten, run away and return.

By her early teenage years Ms. Kitt was working in a factory and sleeping in subways and on the roofs of unlocked buildings. (She would later become an advocate, through Unicef, for homeless children.) Her show-business break came on a lark, when a friend dared her to audition for the Katherine Dunham Dance Company.

She passed the audition and permanently escaped the cycle of poverty and abuse that defined her life till then.

Still in the Limelight, on Her Own Terms
December 2, 2006

“If I had any regrets, it would mean I had not learned anything,” Eartha Kitt said, sitting in the empty New World Stages theater on 50th Street. Between performances as Madame Vallet in the Off Broadway musical “Mimi le Duck,” Ms. Kitt, who will turn 80 in January, talked about a busy year in which she was featured in the musical, appeared at the Café Carlyle and released a new album of live songs. And now, on Thursday, she will be at the White House’s Christmas tree lighting and will sing “Santa Baby” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” all while battling colon cancer.

Snuggled in a plush blue seat, Ms. Kitt, wearing a flowing red print robe and a pixie haircut that showcased her huge eyes, gave a short preview of one of the songs she intends to sing. For those with long memories, the invitation might seem surprising. Her most famous visit to the White House was nearly 40 years ago during another unpopular war (Vietnam); her unexpectedly pointed comments about American involvement reportedly made Lady Bird Johnson cry and nearly derailed her stage, film and singing career.

“When I was against Vietnam I was asked in the White House itself, by Mrs. Johnson, what the problem was among our young people,” Ms. Kitt explained, saying that she responded based on what she was told by youths. She had no regrets about speaking honestly, she added, even after being forced to work abroad for a number of years afterward.

So does Ms. Kitt plan on commenting on current policy? It depends on who is asking what, she replied. She does not believe in setting up a soapbox: “I think now it’s gotten somewhat out of hand, because I don’t believe in blurting out whatever you feel,” she said, referring to celebrities who have recently expressed antiwar sentiments. “Whether you believe in the war or not, we still have to support our boys.”

If she’s worried about anything concerning the visit, it’s probably stage fright. Even after all these years, she admits.

“I get so nervous,” she said. Ms. Kitt traces her anxiety back to her upbringing as a biracial child in South Carolina, rejected by both blacks and whites: “I am always afraid of being rejected. You never get away from it. I am very glad the public has made me who I am because I can feel I’m worthwhile when I hear the applause and I’m still wanted.”

She added, “I am extremely lucky to be in show business and have earned my own way with the help of the public without having to feel that I want a man to take care of me for the rest of my life.”

Does that mean she considers herself a feminist? She roared in response. “No, I don’t believe in all that nonsense,” said Ms. Kitt, who was married once and has been linked to famous men like Porfirio Rubirosa, Charles Revson and Arthur Loew Jr. “When they started that nonsense, nobody sent me roses anymore, let alone the diamond rings. I used to get furs and diamonds from men, and they’d open doors for me, lay out the red carpet. Now, I don’t even get a petal.”

Still, Ms. Kitt, whom Orson Welles once called “the most exciting woman in the world,” says she is content to be without a man. Ms. Kitt said she would probably spend her birthday quietly with her only child, Kitt Shapiro, and her two grandchildren.

“Aging is a natural process, so enjoy it,” she said, adding that she has never resorted to anything other than exercising, eating right and keeping a positive attitude to look good. “I don’t believe in chopping up my face in order to look like something I might have looked like when I was 30.”

The diagnosis of cancer in the lower part of her colon this spring came as a surprise. She found out as she prepared for surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands from constant needlepoint and boxing (which she said she had taken up for fun and exercise). When the doctors did blood work, they found she was dangerously anemic and bleeding internally.

“I advise everybody to get a colonoscopy,” Ms. Kitt said. “I was walking around with no pain at all, and I felt weak from time to time.” When the doctor told her that she had to go to the hospital right away, she recalls responding, “ ‘No, I’ve got two concerts to do.’ I only canceled one thing, and that was a private party.”

Ms. Kitt said she was not afraid of the operation to remove the cancer. “It’s like five bullet holes in my stomach,” she said and laughed. She took an oral chemotherapy medication and described herself as being at the end of her treatment. “They said you can be on this pill, and it can give you three more years of your life, and it may not; we don’t know. In three weeks time I’ll get another examination and find out if I’m O.K.”

In any case, retirement is not a word in her vocabulary, she said. “In many ways I’m still playing Catwoman,” she said, referring to her famous stint on the 1960s television series “Batman,” “no matter how old I get.”

Ms. Kitt and the cast of “Mimi le Duck,” which closes tomorrow, are recording the songs from the musical. On June 25 she is planning to appear at Carnegie Hall, singing some old standards and new tunes.

“If there’s one seat empty, I’m going to feel ‘O.K., it’s time for me to go home now,’ ” she said, gracing the empty theater with one of her familiar and long Catwoman laughs.

Participated in "Speak Up" this year or last...
Weston 13-Year-Old Is Billionth Apple App Store Customer
By LYNN DOAN, The Hartford Courant
April 25, 2009

Thirteen-year-old Connor Mulcahey hit the iPhone lottery Friday.

The eighth-grader at Weston Middle School downloaded an application to his iPhone and, in return, got a MacBook laptop, an iPod Touch, an Apple Time Capsule backup system and a $10,000 iTunes gift card.

That's because Connor was the billionth customer to download an application from Apple Inc.'s App Store, making him the grand prize winner of Apple's "one billion app countdown contest."

Connor said he learned he won through an e-mail sent to his iPhone on Thursday as he was on the way home from baseball practice. The vice president of iTunes had written him personally to congratulate him.

Apple had apparently tried to call his home first, Connor said, "But my mom pretty much said, 'I don't believe you,' and hung up.

"I was pretty surprised, but I felt sorry for all those other people who tried hard to win."

Connor tried pretty hard, too.

"I had my iPhone. I had my brother's iPhone. I had my sister's. I just kept downloading," he said.

Connor is keeping the MacBook for himself, but he's giving the one he bought a few weeks ago to his brother and sister. His iPod Touch is going to his mom. And he's going to try to sell his $10,000 worth of iTunes songs on eBay — unless the money is directly deposited into his iTunes account. "Then I guess that's pretty much unlimited downloads for life," he said.

The winning application download was Bump, which allows users to send contact information between iPhones.


Memorial Day 2009: Edward (Everett) Flodeen serves as Weston parade grand marshal       
Weston FORUM
Written by Peter Reid    
Wednesday, May 20, 2009 

Everett Flodeen, the grand marshal of this year’s Weston Memorial Day parade, grew up in the Weston of the 1940s. He fondly remembers apple fights in the Kramer orchard (opposite today’s Kramer Lane in the northern part of town), and occasionally catching a lift on the Squires family wagon to Georgetown.

 “Mr. Squires would make us get off when we got to that hill by the Midtown service station, because it was too much work for the horse,” Mr. Flodeen recalled. “In those days, we could walk all the way to Georgetown without seeing one car, and if you did see one, you were glad, because everyone knew everyone else, and they would give you a lift.”

In November 1950, Mr. Flodeen was 19 years old, and working in the Gilbert & Bennett wire mill in Georgetown. Though he was aware that the U.S. was fighting a war in Korea, he hadn’t given the matter a lot of thought. But one day his friend Walt Zeim stopped over. Walt had already decided he didn’t want to end up as a draftee infantryman, and had decided to enlist in the Navy. He wanted Mr. Flodeen to enlist, too — immediately.

“I asked him when, and he said, ‘tomorrow’,” Mr. Flodeen said. “I thought that was pretty quick, but next day, we drove down to the Norwalk post office in Walt’s Model A. They sent us on to Bridgeport, and, as Walt was driving down State Street, he sideswiped a Bridgeport city bus. The bus driver was yelling and honking his horn. I said we ought to stop, but Walt thought if he stopped, he’d get arrested, and end up in the Army after all.”

The next day, Mr. Zeim and Mr. Flodeen were sent to New York City for their physicals, and when they passed the physical, they were put on a train headed for the Great Lakes Naval Training Center for basic training.

Mr. Zeim’s plan worked. Instead of ending up in Korea, he was assigned to a naval air station in Florida, where he spent the duration of war.

At sea

But Mr. Flodeen was bound for the blue water Navy. He was sent to San Diego to join his ship, DE-534, a destroyer escort called the USS Silverstein.

The Silverstein was a World War II vintage destroyer escort (DE), built in 1943, named after a decorated Annapolis graduate, Lt. Max Silverstein, who was killed during the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.

DEs were small, versatile ships (300 feet and about 1,500-ton displacement) built to defend merchant convoys against U-boat attacks.

The Silverstein had operated in the Pacific during the latter years of the war against Japan. After the Japanese surrender, the Silverstein had been swiftly decommissioned and put into mothballs, along with hundreds of other U.S. Navy vessels.

At the close of World War II, the process of “mothballing” a ship involved covering everything that might rust with heavy grease, sealing the hatches, and mooring the ship in some out-of-the-way spot.

“San Diego was loaded with mothballed ships,” Mr. Flodeen said. “There were rows and rows of cruisers, destroyers, destroyer escorts and minesweepers.”

When Mr. Flodeen joined the Silverstein, the crew was in the first stages of recommissioning the vessel.

“Everything was covered in Cosmoline,” Everett recalls. “We had to scrape it off with putty knives and diesel fuel. But once we cleaned it up, it turned out the ship was in very good shape.”

By July, the crew had completed their training and was headed for their new home port, Pearl Harbor.

Initially, Mr. Flodeen was assigned to man a 20mm cannon. “Recruits got the dirty jobs, and they put you on the guns,” he said. “I was on a 20, and after you fire one of those, you can’t hear anything for about an hour. They didn’t have any kind of hearing protection in those days. If you complained they just told you to put cotton in your ears.”

The Silverstein sailed for Japan in October 1950. Morale was high, and the crew functioned well. “Destroyer escorts are small ships, with a crew of about 125 to 135 men,” Mr. Flodeen said. “It’s not like being on an aircraft carrier with 5,000 guys. Being on a DE is like being part of a family. Everyone knows you and you know them.”

By then, Mr. Flodeen had been assigned to the number one fireroom. Unfortunately, the engine room was just as noisy as the gunnery stations, and the noise was constant.

“You can’t believe the noise in an engine room,” Mr. Flodeen said. “Every former sailor I’ve met who served in an engine room suffered hearing loss. The Navy knows this, so they give us hearing aids. You can go to a VA hospital and get them for free.”

While he was learning his engine room duties, the Silverstein was beginning combat operations. In November 1950, she was patrolling off the coast of Korea, and bombarding enemy positions.

Kittrell’s Raiders

The commander of the Silverstein was Lt. Cmdr. J.R. Kittrell.

“They called us ‘Kittrell’s Raiders’,” Mr. Flodeen said. “He was kind of crazy — he always wanted to be in the thick of it, so we did a lot of coastal raids. One book about the ship said we were ‘the most fired-upon ship of the Korean War.’ We were doing shore bombardment constantly. You’d get a headache from the sulphur smell of the gunpowder, because it got sucked in through the air vents. We must have fired thousands of five-inch shells.

“We also ran some missions at night, dropping off teams of frogmen (precursors to the Navy SEALs). They would go ashore in black rubber rafts to do sabotage or act as bombardment spotters. It was pretty dangerous work. We’d drop off five or six of them, and then pick them up two or three a few days later. A lot of them didn’t come back.”

For the next six months, the Silverstein also conducted patrol and escort duty, and served as a rescue ship for the carrier USS Bataan.

She assumed patrol duty in the Formosa Strait in January 1952. “That’s a rough body of water,” Mr. Flodeen said, “and if you are going to get seasick, you will definitely get seasick on a DE. We used to joke that we should get submarine pay, because half the time we’d be under water; and flight pay, because the other half we’d be completely out of the water, surfing off a wave. I only got seasick once, right after we left San Diego on our first cruise. She was pitching and rolling, and I felt terrible. The cook told me to eat saltines and drink black coffee, and after awhile I got over it, and never got sick again.”

The Silverstein eventually joined a U.N. task group and participated in the siege of Hungnam.

“The Koreans had a railroad that ran along the east coast, and they’d run supplies down it,” Mr. Flodeen said. “One time, I heard the guns going, so I ran topside, and saw we were shelling this train. This steam locomotive was headed for a tunnel. The locomotive just got in, but then our shells hit the entrance of the tunnel, and the whole hillside collapsed onto the train. When I was giving a presentation at a school recently, one kid asked me if I had ever killed anyone. I said that I had never directly killed anyone, but indirectly, I really don’t know. Given the amount of shells we were throwing at Korea, I suspect we hit someone.”

On one occasion, Mr. Flodeen went ashore. “They say you should never volunteer, but I volunteered to drive a DUKW (amphibious truck) hauling ammunition from a transport onto the beach,” he said. “The Army and Marines were pushing their way up the peninsula, and the ship would follow along the coast to escort the supply ships and give fire support.”

During that period, the USS Silverstein’s duties were divided between bombardments, anti-mining duty, and patrolling against enemy fishing vessels.

“We were operating with minesweepers for awhile, and when we went back to Japan, the destroyer that replaced us hit a mine,” Mr. Flodeen said. “Their bow was blown off, and about 20 men were killed. They had to sail backwards all the way back to Japan.”

In April 1952, the ship was directed to patrol the coast of Korea. She destroyed a shore battery, guarded against North Korean submarines and mining operations, dueled with a shore battery, and rescued a South Korean raiding party.

Flodeen’s Fireroom

Mr. Flodeen was steadily promoted, becoming a third class petty officer, and then a second class petty officer.

“Once I had some authority, I had that fireroom looking like a jewelry shop,” he recalled. “I’m a fusspot. I had everything painted and color coded, and all the brass shined up. It was perfect. The captain would sometimes invite officers from other ships down to see it. They called it ‘Flodeen’s Fireroom’.”

In May 1952, the USS Silverstein returned to Japan, and then sailed for Pearl Harbor.

“I only got one month of leave in four years,” Mr. Flodeen said, “and I decided I’d like to go home to Connecticut.”

He flew out of Pearl Harbor. “The pilot looked about 18, and after a couple of hours, we had engine trouble, and had to return to Pearl,” Mr. Flodeen said. “So I got a ride on a freighter to San Francisco, but that took about six days. From there, I got on another plane, but an engine caught fire, so they had to land and replace the engine. Finally I got to Chicago, and onto a civilian airliner. It was a rough flight, and the lady behind me threw up all over me just before we landed at LaGuardia. It took me almost two weeks to get back to Connecticut. It was quite a trip.”

During the remainder of 1952, the DE operated out of Pearl Harbor, and visited San Francisco once.

In May 1953, the ship was assigned another patrol off Korea. During this deployment, the ship conducted routine patrols and escort operations. She returned to Pearl Harbor in December 1953.

In 1954, Mr. Flodeen left the ship.

“The captain asked me to extend my enlistment, but my mother was complaining that they hadn’t seen me but once in four years, so I decided to leave the Navy,” Mr. Flodeen said. “Before I left, I took the test for 1st class petty officer. I was waiting for a discharge in California, and a guy yells to me, ‘Hey, Flodeen, you made 1st Class.’ But I never officially held that rank, so I left the Navy as a petty officer 2nd class.”

After the Navy

After leaving the Navy, Mr. Flodeen worked in the gravel pit that is now Crystal Lake, running a dragline. He got a job driving a truck for an engineering company in Norwalk. While he was working as a truck driver, he took an employment test at Southern New England Telephone Company, and in 1956, they hired him.

He also married his wife Dot in 1956, and over the next few years built his own house on Maureen Drive, where the couple still live. “My father was a carpenter, and he gave me a big hand. I can look around this house, and remember building every single thing.”

Mr. Flodeen worked for SNET for 36 years. “I was a lineman for quite a few years, and then I was an installer, and then a repairman,” he said.

The Flodeens’ daughter, Cindy Flodeen Friedrichsen, is married and lives in Weston. Three of Mr. Flodeen’s grandchildren  go to Weston schools: Ryan, Elaine and Peter.

After retirement, Mr. Flodeen drove a school bus in Weston for 15 years, a job he held until just a couple of years ago. “I miss it,” he said. “I liked to drive the bus, and I liked the kids. I used to publish a little newsletter for the kids on the bus, with news about what they were doing. I must have a thousand thank-you notes from parents.”


Mr. Flodeen has seen many changes in Weston over the years. “I’m aware that progress doesn’t stop,” he said, “but I miss the way things were years ago. I hate to say that, because people will say, ‘he’s just old.’ But I’d like to see things go back. Weston was a great place to live.”

In his years since leaving the Navy, Mr. Flodeen has been an active member of the Destroyer Escort Sailors Association (DESA). He took part in a campaign some years ago to save the last U.S. Navy destroyer escort from the scrapyard.

The Greek Navy had an old DE, the USS Slater, in mothballs, and was planning to break it up. But the DE sailors banded together and started a successful campaign to save it. The Greek Navy ended up selling the ship to DESA for a dollar, and the former DE sailors hired a Russian tug to tow it through the Mediterranean and across the Atlantic.

“We all went to see it when it came into New York harbor,” Mr. Flodeen said. “It was exciting to see it arrive, but on board it was a filthy mess. One of the guys said, ‘the Greeks make good pizza, but they don’t know a damn thing about taking care of a ship.’ Old DE sailors worked faithfully on her for several years, even in the middle of the winter with no heat. Now it’s like brand new, inside and out.”

The USS Slater was moored next to the Intrepid in Manhattan for a couple of years, and is now moored up the Hudson in Albany, where it is a museum ship.

Mr. Flodeen still attends the DESA meetings. “We meet every year, and have a real nice time,” he said, “but unfortunately there are fewer and fewer guys each year.”

Mr. Flodeen said he is honored to be named grand marshal for the Weston parade, but had some reservations about accepting.

“I don’t consider myself a hero,” he said. “I think I did my job, and I think I did a good job. But when they asked me to be grand marshal, I told them I was sure there was someone more deserving.”

Mr. Flodeen will ride in a place of honor during this year’s Memorial Day parade on May 25, and will make remarks from the bandstand at the culmination of the parade.

Did You Hear the One About the Former Scientist?
December 15, 2009

A biologist walks into a comedy club...

Actually, the story begins earlier. A biologist who had abandoned academia and was working in San Francisco on contract as a computer programmer for Charles Schwab walked into a Laundromat ...

The former biologist was Tim Lee. After completing his undergraduate biology degree at the University of California, San Diego, he worked at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography for a while before he realized he needed a doctorate to do the interesting work. But by the time he finished his Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis, he had realized he hated academia.

“I just didn’t want to read any more papers,” Dr. Lee said. “I didn’t want to write any more papers.”

Dr. Lee then worked as a computer programmer, and he moved to San Francisco. During a vacation, he read memoirs of comedians like Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart and Jerry Seinfeld, and he wrote some jokes.

Then he walked into a Laundromat, which was holding an open microphone night for anyone who wanted to take a shot at being a comic. Dr. Lee told about a dozen jokes. Only four or five of them got laughs, but that was good enough for the host to offer some encouraging words.

Dr. Lee wrote more jokes. He went to more open mikes. He eventually got a paying gig — $35 from a comedy club in Santa Cruz, Calif. Along the way, he started telling science jokes, and he discovered that PowerPoint made a good comedy prop.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Brian Malow, who calls himself “earth’s premier science comedian,” and Norm Goldblatt, a physicist who performs standup as a side gig, have been telling science jokes for years.

“It’s not as limiting as it sounds,” Mr. Malow said. “Science is in everything.”

Even so, Mr. Malow finds he sometimes needs to add footnotes. One joke he tells is, “I used to be an astronomer, but then I got stuck on the day shift.”

“When I have a savvier audience,” Mr. Malow said, “I have to point out that joke could be offensive to solar or radio astronomers,” who do work during the day. And since many telescopes now can be operated remotely, even astronomers working with optical telescopes now do much of their work during the day shift.

“That joke is kind of weird that way,” Mr. Malow said. “We have that traditional image of an astronomer. Astronomers should work at night, theoretically. It’s fun to say that.”

Mr. Malow said that he expected the science comedy field to grow. “That won’t be a niche at all,” he said. “That’ll be too broad. It’ll be, ‘I just do humor about the spleen.’ ”

Still, linear regression and ocean acidification are rarely fodder for standup, as they were for Dr. Lee in his New York City debut at a small venue called the Monkey in Gramercy last Wednesday, seven years after walking into the Laundromat. (He returns to New York this week for two more nights of shows at the Monkey.)

“My act is a parody of a seminar,” he said. “I think my audience is everyone from age 14 who is kind of nerdy to age 65 who is kind of nerdy.”

He joked about linear regression (a rumination about what kind of people post cat videos on YouTube), period doubling in chaos (which he likens to the splitting of behaviors of people as they become more and more drunk) and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

He explained this fundamental concept of quantum physics — that the more precisely the position of a particle is measured, the less is known about the particle’s momentum, and vice versa — with a photograph of a men’s room with television screens above the urinals. The designer “clearly didn’t understand the uncertainty principle,” Dr. Lee said.

“The problem is the more I know what’s on TV,” he went on, “the less I know about where I’m aiming.”

Dr. Lee said his first priority was being funny, not teaching science, but “hopefully people get the kernel of something.”

If humor, as some say, is truth plus absurdity, and if science is about uncovering truth, he said, “all I have to do is add absurdity to that.”

Not all science, however, is equally absurd. “I was trying to do matrix algebra jokes,” Dr. Lee said. “It’s never worked.”

Stephen Bodi, who had encountered Dr. Lee’s comic videos on YouTube (which have found moderate success with about two million views), went to Manhattan from Long Island to see him in person for the first time. “It’s very cerebral comedy,” Mr. Bodi said, “but it’s also very down to earth.”

The science training also came into use Wednesday when an audience member became overly boisterous, and then, when the bouncer asked for quiet, another spectator complained and called the police.

“There is a lot of thinking on your feet,” Dr. Lee said, not unlike when he defended his doctoral thesis. “That was good training for comedy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t call in the police for my thesis defense.”

A biologist walks into a comedy club. How does the story end? That stumped Dr. Lee, and he said he would think about it.

A couple of days later, he sent an e-mail message with this response: “A biologist walks into a comedy club. The owner asks, ‘Why’d you select this club?’ Biologist says, ‘Well, it was the natural selection.’ ”

Jane is one of our favorite people - FORUM took a great photo, which we saved.
Jane Atkinson retires: Weston Public Library closes a chapter
Weston FORUM
Written by Patricia Gay
Wednesday, 18 August 2010 11:35

[Jane Atkinson is retiring after 30 years as the director of the Weston Public Library. —Kimberly Donnelly photo]

Jane Atkinson is retiring after 30 years as the director of the Weston Public Library. —Kimberly Donnelly photo
A town fixture known for her warm sense of humor and self-deprecating charm has decided to turn a page in her career.

After 35 years of service, Library Director Jane Atkinson announced this spring that she plans to retire.

“Jane will be sorely missed, she is a treasure to the town and community,” said First Selectman Gayle Weinstein when the announcement was made.

But don’t look for Ms. Atkinson to disappear too soon, because when she made her announcement, she also agreed to stay on until a successor could be found.

“The Library Board hasn’t hired anyone yet, so I guess I will be here for a while longer,” Ms. Atkinson said.

Ms. Atkinson has worked at the Weston Public Library for 35 years, 30 of those spent as its director.

“I will miss everyone at the library. We are like a family,” Ms. Atkinson said about her staff.

Swamp Yankee

Originally from Middletown, Ms. Atkinson moved to Lords Highway East with her husband Bob in 1966.

“I’m a Swamp Yankee who married another Swamp Yankee,” she said referring to her rural Connecticut heritage.

The couple has two grown children, Jennifer and Jeffrey, and one granddaughter, Clare.

Ms. Atkinson’s father, Kossuth Williamson, was a well-known professor of economics at Wesleyan University in her hometown. Her brother Jeffrey Williamson is a recently retired professor of economics from Harvard.

But when Ms. Atkinson was thinking about college, economics weren’t on her mind. “I wanted to go somewhere where nobody ever heard of my father, and where I wouldn’t have anything to do with economics,” she said.

So Ms. Atkinson chose to attend Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., before making her way back to Connecticut.


In 1975, a friend of Ms. Atkinson’s recommended she apply for a job as an assistant at the Weston Public Library. The only problem was — there were no job openings.

“When a job eventually did open up, the good news was I was the only applicant,” Ms. Atkinson said.

In 1980, she succeeded Geraldine O’Connell to become the library’s director, a position she has held since.

During that time, Ms. Atkinson has overseen many changes to the library. In the 1980s, the Children’s Room was expanded, and in 1994, another expansion that added the Community Room nearly doubled the size of the facility.

“There is always something going on at the Community Room, whether it is an art exhibit or a school board meeting,” she said.

Ms. Atkinson also oversaw the automation of the library’s circulation department in 2002, the creation of the library’s Web site, and expansion and modernization of the library’s collection to include audio books and DVDs.

“I am thrilled with all the things we have available on our Web site, There is a full-text electronic edition of obituaries, editorials and news from The Weston Forum from 2003 to the present, as well as job assistance and SAT study aids,” she said.


Despite an impressive list of accomplishments, what many people will remember about Ms. Atkinson is her helpfulness behind the check-out desk, especially when it comes to book recommendations.

“When someone asks me if I can suggest a book for them to read, I just love it. What can be more fun than making people happy?” she said.

As if on cue, while Ms. Atkinson was talking about book suggestions, in walked Ken Whitman, the town’s tax assessor, wishing to thank Ms. Atkinson for recommending to him Death at La Fenice, a Guido Brunetti mystery written by Donna Leon.

“I want to thank you so much for recommending this book to me. I really loved it, it was so well written,” he said to her.

Ms. Atkinson smiled. Hearing things like that comment from Mr. Whitman is one of the things she likes best about her job.

“I’ve gotten to know so many people by their book choices that it makes it easier for me to recommend things to them,” she said.

She also likes helping students with research projects and reports for school.

While Ms. Atkinson will miss the people she works with and the patrons she serves, there is one thing about the library she will not miss.

Since her job includes purchasing new books for the library, Ms. Atkinson is deluged with book reviews sent by publishing houses trying to entice her to add their clients’ works to the library.

“I love to read. But I will never again read another book review, not a single one — no more,” she said.

Ms. Atkinson admits that after working at the library for 35 years, she’s a bit hesitant about leaving.

“It’s going to be difficult to turn my favorite building over to someone else. I hope it will be someone who is capable and happy,” she said.

Devoted volunteer, Mr. Bleifeld and his students, during George Guidera's administration,  restored the Laura Garden Frazier West Point Doors now in the Town Hall Meeting Room.

Stanley Bleifeld leaves a legacy as great artist and great person
Weston FORUM
Monday, 11 April 2011 00:00

While Stanley Bleifeld left behind an impressive body of sculpture and art work, he was an equally impressive man and human being, according to those who knew him.

Family, friends and colleagues were deeply saddened last week to learn of Mr. Bleifeld’s sudden death on Saturday, March 26, from medical complications after he fell in his Weston home.

Gwen Pier, executive director for the National Sculpture Society, called Mr. Bleifeld an “outstanding sculptor.”

“He was widely known for his prominent commissions, including his symbolic portrait of the Lone Sailor, the centerpiece of the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. Others include Christopher Columbus for the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven; the Robins Monument at the University of Richmond; Homecoming in Norfolk, Va.; Marine Relief for Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina; the Medal of Liberty for the American Civil Liberties Union; the Henry Singleton, Sr. monument in Key West, Fla.; and Baseball Players at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.,” Ms. Pier said.

She called Mr. Bleifeld and his wife Nicky lovely, interesting and warm people. “Everyone who knew them loved them. We’re so sorry to have lost Stanley,” Ms. Pier said.

Naomi “Nicky” Bleifeld said there were many different influences on her husband’s art, including the works of Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Donatello and Medardo Rosso.

The couple had a home in Pietrasanta, Italy, in addition to their home in Weston, and the culture, history and landscapes of Italy also influenced Mr. Bleifeld. “Italy turned him into a sculptor,” she said.

Although Mr. Bleifeld was not religious, he constructed a studio in Weston that looks like an Italian chapel. “Whatever Stanley did, it had to have meaning to him. He hoped it would have meaning to other people as well,” Ms. Bleifeld said.

Ann Chernow called Mr. Bleifeld “a world class talent who did not strut his stuff.”

She said he was “uniquely unselfish” because he started out as a teacher. When Mr. Bleifeld and his family moved to Weston in the 1950s, he initially taught art in the Weston schools and later at New Haven Teacher’s College and Western Connecticut State College in Danbury.

“He cared for people. I hope he knew what people thought of his talent. He felt for humanity and it showed in his work. That’s what made him a very special sculptor,” Ms. Chernow said.

She encouraged people to watch Mr. Bleifeld in the documentary film Years in the Making, about 50 Weston and Westport artists, to get a better idea of how Mr. Bleifeld worked creatively. The film is available at the Weston and Westport public libraries.

Pat Heifetz, founder and former editor of The Weston Forum, recalled having a charming time visiting the Bleifelds at their home in Italy, with her late husband, Paul Heifetz, who was also an artist.

When one of Mr. Bleifeld’s master works, The Lone Sailor, a seven-foot bronze composite, came out, Ms. Heifetz ran a front page story about it in The Forum. “He told me what he liked about that sculpture was that it had a casual effect, and wasn’t just a straight man — it had a warm feeling to it,” she said. The piece receives thousands of visitors every year in Washington, D.C..

Gracious and nurturing

Weston artist Ellin Spadone said Mr. Bleifeld was “gracious and nurturing” while he prepared for a solo exhibit of his art for the Weston Commission for the Arts in 2009. “He was open and friendly and had no pretensions of any kind,” she said.

As curator for that show, Christine Lomuscio visited Mr. Bleifeld’s studio to pick out pieces for the exhibit. “What a nice gentleman. He let me use 33 pieces. It was like being in a candy store. You couldn’t help but like Stanley,” she said.

While helping Ms. Lomuscio transport sculptures from the studio to the exhibit, Roy Marsh met Mr. Bleifeld for the first time. “That was the biggest piece of serendipity that ever happened to me,” Mr. Marsh said.

He became fascinated with Mr. Bleifeld’s works, and although he wasn’t an artist, Mr. Marsh was interested in trying his hand at sculpting.

“Stan let me work in his studio for the last year and a half. He was a wonderful teacher because of what he didn’t say to you. He let me work with clay and construction models and never said anything until he was asked — and then he might gently offer a suggestion,” Mr. Marsh said.

Mr. Bleifeld had more of an effect on him than any other teacher had, Mr. Marsh said. “We talked about a lot of things, not just art. I never felt he was looking over my shoulder. He was the most invisible of guides. I think he got a lot across to me, so effectively and gently.”

Mr. Bleifeld was guiding Mr. Marsh with a sculpture project called The Maelstrom, which features a whirlpool and a viking ship — before he died. Mr. Marsh continues to work on the piece at Mr. Bleifeld’s studio.

“We had a wonderful friendship. I think everyone who knew him probably felt like they were Stan’s best friend. He was an amazing person and not just because of his sculpting. Sculpting was a vehicle that just happened to sweep people up into his path. I’m still digesting all the experiences and things I’ve learned from him. This is going to take a long time,” Mr. Marsh said.

A memorial service for Mr. Bleifeld will be held April 15, at 2 p.m., at the Unitarian Church in Wesport.

From across the pond...

Mrs. Thatcher A Forceful Agent For Change
Hartford Courant
Kevin Rennie, NOW YOU KNOW
8:14 PM EDT, April 12, 2013

Margaret Thatcher's remarkable career teaches essential enduring lessons in freedom and the ordeal of change. They did not end with her death Monday at London's Ritz Hotel, a luxury departure lounge where since late last year she awaited for her trip to glory at age 87.

Three and a half decades have blurred memories of the dire state of Britain when Mrs. Thatcher — as she will always be known — swept into office. It was in 1979, three years after the International Monetary Fund intervened with its largest loan to date. Strikes crippled the nation in 1978's Winter of Discontent, shortening work weeks and disrupting transportation and the supply of fuel. Dread became the nation's constant companion.

The deadening hand of socialism infected both major political parties. The state controlled major industries: coal, communications, oil, automobile manufacturing, airlines, steel and utilities. They resisted innovation. It could take as long as a year to get a phone installed by the state-owned company, not a sign of a dynamic economy.

Mrs. Thatcher, who won a surprise victory for leader of the Conservative party in 1975, believed life could get better. Decline and misery were not inevitable where freedom reigned. From the start, she challenged Soviet domination of eastern Europe at a time when Western democracies were content to manage freedom's retreat.  As prime minister, Mrs. Thatcher presided over the successful denationalization of state-owned industries. A strike by coal miners over closing unproductive mines tested the nation's resolve. She was lucky in her enemies. Radical union leaders refused to let their members vote on the strike, showing their contempt for democracy. She broke them and restored a balance to labor relations that endures.

British victory in the Falklands in 1982 was not guaranteed when she sent an armada on its 8,000-mile mission to the south Atlantic to undo the Argentinian invasion. If Mrs. Thatcher had not defeated the military dictator, Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, the junta might have spent more years throwing domestic dissidents out of planes in the regime's dirty war. The British victory paved the way for the restoration of democracy in Argentina, though Mrs. Thatcher's contribution was not acknowledged in Buenos Aires last week.

She worked to gain the release of Nelson Mandela. In 1984, she survived an assassination attempt by Irish terrorists who planted a bomb in the hotel during a party conference. A year later, she signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement that gave Dublin a role in the affairs of Northern Ireland. She recognized before any other world leader that Mikhail Gorbachev possessed the potential to change the Soviet Union.

Great leaders are never demure. Mrs. Thatcher loved an argument and her taste for hectoring became a rallying point for detractors in her party. The toffee-nosed Conservative swells who wielded considerable influence in party affairs always resented her. Nevertheless, "She made the wind instead of being bent by it," John Major, her successor, said last week.

Until she no longer did. By happenstance, I was a guest in the visitors gallery of the House of Commons during the two days in November 1990 when her Tory colleagues ended her premiership. She won three general elections in a row but she fell four votes short of a super-majority in a vote of her fellow Conservative parliamentarians on the first ballot of a leadership contest.  No one gets everything right. In politics, enemies and the disappointed coalesce. Her instincts on domestic matters, often more cautious than her image suggested, failed her at the wrong time. There is little gratitude in politics. The timid and resentful took her down. What they could never do was diminish her achievement.

Twenty-three years after Mrs. Thatcher left office, the bitter left still howls at her success. She would have rejoiced that her death caused them to reveal they'd finally found something they thought the government should not fund: Lady Thatcher's ceremonial funeral that will be held on Wednesday.

She changed the world by defending and extending the blessings of freedom. We are all the beneficiaries of her extraordinary life.

"Power is like being a lady," she once said, famously. "If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." She never had to tell anyone about either.

Kevin Rennie is a lawyer and a former Republican state legislator. He can be reached at

Copyright © 2013, The Hartford Courant


Announcement of demise at 87

Falkland Islands war