Tuesday, December 07, 2021

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Early Voter Turnout

By Jarret Liotta

Hundreds of people began Election Day lined up to vote outside of Greens Farms Elementary—more than many people have ever seen before.

Suzanne Hermus, Westport CT, waiting to vote at Greens Farms Elementary, Nov. 3, 2020, by Jarret Liotta
Suzanne Hermus of Westport was among hundreds of voters who made up an incredibly long line this morning at Greens Farms Elementary when the polls opened. “When you see it it’s pretty incredible,” she said. “I’ve voted many years here in the past and I’ve never seen this before.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Jarret Liotta for WestportNow.com

“When you see it, it’s pretty incredible,” said Suzanne Hermus of Westport, who likewise wasn’t surprised by a queue that—even with social distancing—was remarkably long.

“I’ve voted many years here in the past and I’ve never seen this before,” she said, standing on a line that circled the parking lot and rolled partway down the driveway.

“This is what democracy should look like,” said Nancy Dodderidge of Westport, who was impressed with the civility and tangible commitment of volunteers and voters in attendance.

“People being respectful of one another, waiting patiently, volunteers out in the cold, all supporting democracy and hopefully the peaceful transition of power,” she said.

“It’s reassuring to see, especially in light of all the craziness they’re predicting after the results come out,” she said.

Inside it was business as usual as election officials prepared for a long day at the site that serves both Districts 4 and 5.

“We had some people here at five when we came in,” Moderator Ann Karrick noted, but couldn’t place a guess on what the turnout would be like owing to a large number of absentee ballots expected.

“Normally we have a steady trickle during the day, so we’ll see if it’s going to be similar,” she said.

“I’m just here to focus and be prepared for the influx that may or may not happen,” noted Nicole Klein, assistant registrar.

“There’s been a big number of absentees,” she said, but likewise concurred there was no way of knowing what that meant for the in-person turnout.

“It’s different because we don’t have commuters,” Karrick said of the traditional morning rush in the past 15 or so years she has worked the polls at Greens Farms.

Daphne Blackwell of Westport was second on line to vote at this location.

“It’s important to vote and to beat the long lines. We were here before five,” noting it was also cold having to wait outside.

“We didn’t want to do it by mail,” she said, echoing a sentiment expressed by several people. “We’ve always represented—going into the polls—and we’ll continue.”

“I wanted to beat the longer lines,” said Trema Voytek of Westport, “so I got here at 5:35 and there were already 20 people in front of me.”

She said she hadn’t had to stand in line to vote since the 1984 election, when incumbent Ronald Reagan was pitted against Walter Mondale.

Ironically there were no campaigners outside at Greens Farms touting respective candidates first thing in the morning as is customary, though several people volunteered a clue as to their choice this year in the presidential race.

“What brought me out is I want a good night’s sleep,” said one man who asked not to be identified but described himself as a “Reagan Republican” who was voting for Joseph Biden.

“There’s a lot of us,” he said.

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 – Election Day


Westport Town Offices are closed to the public. Westport Public Schools, Library, & Senior Center are closed for Election Day.
6 a.m. to 8 p.m. – various polling locations – Polling Places are Open
9:15 a.m. – Virtual Westport Library – Job Search Work Team
10 a.m. – Westport Library via Zoom – Book Chat with Nina Sankovitch

Westport Senior Center YouTube Channel
Westport Library Event Calendar
Westport Library YouTube Page
Earthplace YouTube Channel
Virtual Westport Museum for History & Culture
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar

Granger at the Movies: Best Movies About U.S. Politics & Elections

By Susan Granger
Special to WestportNow

While you’re waiting for ballots to be tabulated in all 50 states, here are some political movies to distract you from the polarizing pundits. Many are fact-based, some are inspirational, and others far more speculative and skeptical.

Let’s start with some classics:

“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (1939): Frank Capra captures America’s democratic ideal as James Stewart personifies a small-town patriot who battles self-serving politicians.

“Born Yesterday” (1950): Broderick Crawford visits Washington, D.C. to “buy” influence in Congress while his wife Billie Dawn (Judy Holliday) learns about democracy from an idealistic journalist (William Holden). (Forget about the tepid re-make with Melanie Griffith.)

“A Face in the Crowd” (1957): Imagine a TV-personality-turned-demagogue! Andy Griffith plays Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, a cracker-barrel philosopher who cons an entire nation in this edgy drama by Budd Schulberg and directed by Elia Kazan.

“The Manchurian Candidate” (1962): John Frankenheimer’s thriller tapped into 1960s and ‘70s Cold War paranoia, featuring Angela Lansbury, Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and Janet Leigh. (Forget about Jonathan Demme’s 2004 remake).

“Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” (1964): Stanley Kubrick created the Cold War’s most indelible comedy, starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, and Slim Pickens. The story revolves around an unhinged Air Force General who orders a first-strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union.

Moving into more contemporary themes:

“The Candidate” (1972): Robert Redford plays the idealistic son of a former California Governor who is tapped to run as a token candidate in a seemingly un-winnable race to unseat a powerful Senator.

“All the President’s Men” (1976): Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) expose a national scandal with the support of their editor Ben Bradlee (Jason Robards). Director Alan J. Pakula set the standard for journalistic clarity and precision.

“Malcolm X” (1992): Denzel Washington embodies one of the civil rights era’s most controversial leaders in Spike Lee’s sprawling chronicle.

“Bob Roberts” (1992): In Tim Robbins’ mockumentary, a right-wing celebrity millionaire, a charismatic folk-singer who preys on the resentments of white Pennsylvania voters during a Senate race, challenges the political establishment. It’s a wake-up call about the vulnerabilities of a polarized political system.

“Citizen Ruth” (1996): Skewering political polarization, writer/director Alexander Payne cast Laura Dern as Ruth Stoops, whose pregnancy inadvertently evokes the support of anti-abortion activists (Mary Kay Place, Burt Reynolds) who are opposed by liberal lesbians (Swoosie Kurtz, Kelly Preston).

“Wag the Dog” (1997): Barry Levinson’s satire in which a political fixer (Robert De Niro) and a movie producer (Dustin Hoffman) try to divert the public’s attention away from a sex scandal involving the President of the United States a few days before the election by creating a fake war against the nation of Albania.

“Bulworth” (1998): Warren Beatty wrote, directed, and stars in this zany comedy about a financially ruined Senator who is so disillusioned he hires his own assassin so his family can collect on his insurance policy. But when he falls in love with a savvy woman (Halle Berry), he’s forced to rethink his plans.

“The Contender” (2000):  Rod Lurie’s perceptive White House drama stars Joan Allen as a U.S. Senator who is considered for the Vice-Presidency until a past indiscretion threatens her future. Jeff Bridges and Gary Oldman co-star as provocative questions arise about gender, female sexuality, and the double-standard.

“Selma” (2014): Ava DuVernay directs David Oyelowo as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in her chronicle about the historic 1965 march in Alabama—with Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson.


Susan Granger

(Editor’s Note: Westport resident Susan Granger grew up in Hollywood, studied journalism with Pierre Salinger at Mills College, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. In addition to writing for newspapers and magazines, she has been on radio/television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic for many years. See her reviews at www.susangranger.com.)

Monday, Nov. 2, 2020


Westport Town Offices & Senior Center are closed to the public.
7 p.m. – Electronically – Board of Education: live streamed on http://www.westportps.org, Optimum ch. 78, Frontier ch. 6021

Westport Senior Center YouTube Channel
Westport Library Event Calendar
Westport Library YouTube Page
Earthplace YouTube Channel
Virtual Westport Museum for History & Culture
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar

Comings & Goings: Rejuvenating Fertility Center Opens on Main Street

Rejuvenating Fertility Center, 225 Main St., Westport CT, Ribbon Cutting, Nov. 1, 2020, by Dave Matlow
The Rejuvenating Fertility Center (RFC), which offers fertility services, opened its offices at 225 Main Street. Founded by Dr. Zaher Merhi, RFC operates two additional facilities in Manhattan. A ribbon-cutting was performed by (l-r) Lab Director Fayed Ghaemi, Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker,  Dr. Merhi, RFC Westport practice manager Jessica Haroun, State Senator Will Haskell, and Marjorie Ghaemi, RFC chief financial officer. Haroun and Haskell are Staples Class of 2014 graduates. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Superintendent Scarice: Positive COVID-19 Case at Coleytown Elementary

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice today issued the following update to school families:

Dear Westport Families and Staff,

This afternoon, Mrs. Janna Sirowich, Principal of Coleytown Elementary School, was made aware of an individual in the school who tested positive for COVID-19. The affected person will be excluded from the school environment and has been instructed to quarantine at home. 

Upon learning of the positive COVID-19 case, the administration began immediate contact tracing. Those determined to be “close contacts”, including the health office staff at Coleytown Elementary School, have been notified. These individuals spent a significant amount of time in the presence of the positive case, and as a result, were informed that they will be excluded from the school environment and recommended to quarantine for 14 days from the date of contact, October 30. Other nursing staff will be assigned to the Coleytown Elementary School health office during the quarantine period.

As I have shared in prior communications of a similar nature, working closely with the Westport/Weston Health District and our medical advisor, it has been confirmed that the staff and students have implemented our mitigating measures by maintaining distance to the maximum extent possible, and by wearing masks. However, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE)/Department of Public Health (DPH) guidance (Addendum 5 and Addendum 9) indicates that decisions for exclusion from school and quarantine will be based on the individual circumstances of each case, including those who have spent a significant amount of time (i.e. more than 15 minutes) in the presence of a positive case, regardless of mask wearing.

The school district administration is required to comply with all applicable laws and regulations regarding student and employee confidentiality and privacy. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) precludes sharing the identity of an individual, with the exception of sharing the individual’s identity with a public health agency (e.g., Westport/Weston Health District). In addition, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevents the school district from publicly sharing personally identifiable information derived from student education records.

In light of these confidentiality and privacy protections and our related legal obligations, as well as the need to protect the health and safety of the school community, we will continue to adhere to the appropriate means of notifying the school community of possible exposure to COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis.  Judgement will be used and each case might look a little different from another.

As we return to school tomorrow after the Halloween weekend, it is important that all students and staff continue to screen themselves daily prior to coming to school. As noted on the District’s Reopening Our Schools page:

Parents/guardians/staff will be asked to conduct daily screening of students or themselves each day prior to coming to school.  Per CDC, CT. State Department of Education and Department of Public Health interim guidance, this screening should include:

  • Temperature of 100.4 of higher when taken by mouth
  • Chills
  • New uncontrolled cough that causes difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste and smell
  • Sore throat
  • Diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain
  • Headache, especially with a fever

There are other more non-specific signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that can range from mild to severe and any person who feels ill should stay home.

Sincerely,
Thomas Scarice
Superintendent of Schools

Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020 – Daylight Saving Time Ends


Westport Senior Center & Library are closed.
2:15 a.m. – Turn clocks back one hour
Noon – 2 p.m. – MoCA Westport – “World Peace” exhibit

Westport Senior Center YouTube Channel
Westport Library Event Calendar
Westport Library YouTube Page
Earthplace YouTube Channel
Virtual Westport Museum for History & Culture
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar