Friday, May 20, 2022

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Westport Country Playhouse 2003 Season Gets Lots of Press

The recent announcement of the 2003 Westport Country Playhouse season got lots of ink, thanks to local luminaries Joanne Woodward and James Naughton.

Playbill Online noted that the Playhouse had its biggest season in two decades last year when a revival of Our TownӔ starring Paul Newman transferred to Broadway.

Playbill said, It was the casting coup of Paul Newman, of course, that put Westport back on the theatrical map.Ӕ

Full details plus subscription information can be found on the Playhouse site.


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Washington Post: Westporter Strongly Supports Bush War Policy

The Iraq War continues to stir strong passions among Westporters, including Nitzy Cohen-Fitzgerald who made her views supporting the war known to the Washington Post in a call from Jerusalem.

The High Point Road resident was cited by the newspaper in a story headlined The Silent Majority Speaks Up; On Left and Right, Making a Cautious Case for War in Iraq.Ӕ

“I’m extremely in support of the war, she told the Post. ԓThe world is a different world. It’s not the Disneyland a lot of people want to believe it is.”

The newspaper said Cohen-Fitzgerald was in Jerusalem visiting her mother and teaching her nieces and nephews how to wear gas masks.

The Post account said Cohen-Fitzgerald, 44, grew up in Israel but has lived in America for the past 20 years. It continued:

She is the mother of three and she runs International Basics, a multimillion-dollar corporation, from her Westport home, which she says is an ӑoutrageous contemporary with a 32-foot living-room ceiling.

ғShe oversees projects abroad, such as food processing plants in Africa. Her husband, Tom, is the CEO of Educational and Institutional Cooperative Service, a gigantic purchasing co-op for colleges and universities.

Iraq under Hussein, Cohen-Fitzgerald says, ӑis a very real threat. In these instances, when you wait, you are just increasing the odds of some conflict that is tremendous in magnitude and style. A war five years from now would be a nuclear war. That’s not some kooky gut feeling.

ғShe says, People say, ‘Show me the smoking gun.’ If the smoking gun is a burning American city with 100,000 dead, nobody wants to see the smoking gun.ђ

She adds, ӑI trust the president. He’s made a very, very difficult decision.Ҕ

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

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

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

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

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

Steinkraus Cohen died last year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Westport on Alert: Object Found

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Westports Tauck Watching Iraq Developments

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Spotlight on Westports Freighter Travel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Papers: Greenwich Disses Westport

Newspaper stories that caught my eye:

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

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

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

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

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