As Westport prepares to honor its war heroes, the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce has something else on its mind:
Don’t drink and drive.
But if you do — and you get caught — here’s a number to call.
The Chamber sends out more emails than Nigerian oil ministers’ widows. Most hype upcoming events. Some spotlight members — the restaurants, small businesses and solo practitioners that make up Chambers of Commerce like ours.
This afternoon’s message was blunter. Something about it — okay, almost everything — rubbed me the wrong way.
The big, bold headline read:
Please be smart and safe this holiday weekend while celebrating the unofficial start of summer.
Then it cut to the chase:
Should you find yourself in trouble, whether it be for suspicion of driving while under the influence, underage drinking parties, drug charges or any other offense, you have the absolute right to contact an attorney. DO NOT waive this right!
Next came advice:
If you have been arrested for DWI and are asked to submit to a breath test, you should always take the tests, unless you have been in an accident or unless you have any previous DWI convictions.
That was followed by info about Attorney John P. Thygerson: his phone number. The helpful reminder “24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
And this seal-the-deal sweetener:
A courtesy discount will be given to Chamber members and their families.
Attorney Thygerson has spent the last fifteen years representing thousands of juveniles and adults charged with the commission of criminal offenses. You pay an attorney not only for what they know, but also for who they know, such as the judges and the prosecutors, and to navigate through the criminal justice system towards a successful resolution.
Maybe I’m in a contemplative mood because, this morning, every Staples student and staff member viewed an insightful, thought-provoking video about the wartime experiences of assistant principal Rich Franzis (Iraq) and long-time Westport Bruce Allen (World War II).
An hour later, “06880” reader Tom Allen emailed me his own Memorial Day reflections. He mentioned Staples ’66 classmate Tim Barmer (killed in action at Khe Sanh), and his friend’s father, George Hopkins (a World War II POW).
Tom also included the 1990 obituary of Sigfried Schreiner, who survived the Battle of Bataan and the infamous Bataan Death March to become chairman of the industrial arts department at Staples (and later owned a group travel business for educators and students).
Thinking of all those men, then reading that crass Chamber email, I couldn’t help wonder why it couldn’t have said:
Attorney John P. Thygerson joins the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce in wishing everyone a safe Memorial Day weekend, as we honor the memories of the many Westporters and Westonites who for generations have so honorably served their country, and us.
Don’t drink and drive use Safe Rides
Thanks for this post Dan. Lance Corporal Tim Barmmer attended Assumption grammar school before Staples. He died a hero at age 20; sacrificed himself to protect his fellow Marines.
Nice contrast to Attorney Thygerson who gets compensated, at least in part, based on “who he knows”.
If you are drunk, don’t take the breathlizer!!
As a former attorney, I am embarrassed about the flagrant commercialism of a sacred holiday.
It is no wonder that attorneys have a bad name and I concur with the “Former Prosecutor” that it is not even good advice. Memorial Day was/is a special day in Westport for the parade is a very much a special event here and involves the entire community. As always, I thank Mr. Allen for his thoughtful insight and wondeful memory. My father’s birthday was May 30th and he would become irritated when Memorial Day was celebrated on days other than the 30th. He raised the huge flag we owned across the circular drive and it was a fond tradition. Nice job Wooger of putting the proper perspective on a day meant to be one of honor ands special memories rather than our continued too-common culturiological display of greed.
Thanks, Bob Grant, for the tidbit on Timmy. He was in my homeroom for three years at Staples. Very quiet, modest, humble guy. Among our guys serving in combat in Vietnam — Army grunts, paratroopers, special forces, Marines, aviators, medics, corpsmen — there were many very close calls. Timmy was the first death and we all shared in his loss. Carl Swanson ’66, then serving on an aviation ground crew at Da Nang, recalls seeing Dale Hopkins, a great Staples athete and a Marine who was at Khe Sanh with Timmy and wounded there, at the Da Nang enlisted man’s club. Dale was a long reconn specialst and had just returned from an extended, lethal patrol. Thin — a long way from his 195-pound high school football weight — drawn and exhausted, Dale was passed out at the bar before having even a sip of beer. Dale’s dad had been a WWII POW. My dad was a platooon commander in the 101st Airborne 1942-45; 8 battle stars, Bronze Star, French Legion of Honor, two Purple Hearts, etc. He was buried on Memorial Day 1991 at Assumption Cemetery. At the end of his life he showed me a photo of his Fort Bragg airborne infantry officers candidate school class circa 1942 which consisted of 60 young men. He pointed out three, including himself. “What do these three guys have in common?” he asked. I didn’t know. He replied, “We’re the only guys in this picture who came home alive.” I recall standing next to Lou Nistico on the sidelines during a pre-season football scrimmage in 1964. Lou said to me, “Tommy, you boys oughtta be proud to play for these men.” I didn’t know who Lou was referring to. He sensed my cluelessness. “Take a look,” he said, gesturing to the men standing along the sidelines. There was a man with no arm, another minus a hand, another (Dr. Bud Lynch, who won the Navy Cross) minus a foot. Lou was right. I still get a chill recalling that moment. Here’s to Memorial Day the way it was meant to be. Here’s to all who’ve served (and are serving), to all who somehow came back to us — and to those who didn’t. Bless’em all.
When I read this I thought this was surely a bad joke, like those possible answers on the NPR quiz show, “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.” At the very least, such an email is tone-deaf to the importance of the holiday.
When many people in this town are working hard to contain the dangers of under-age drinking, is this the sort of message (here’s what you do to minimize the consequences if you get caught breaking the law this holiday weekend) the Chamber of Commerce, a group of adults, really wants to be sending?
I disagree with the former prosecutor and the other gentleman who is a former attorney. If you drink and drive, take the breathalyzer. Go to jail and pay your debt to society. If getting drunk is so important to you that you can’t control yourself enough not to drive, you have a problem and anyone who is enabling you to continue to have that problem, is not doing you a favor. They are enabling you to continue to be miserable.
Don’t drive drunk and you won’t have to worry about any of this. But if you do, man up and take the breathalyzer and pay the price for your irresponsibility and immaturity. It’s not simply about driving drunk as a game of cat and mouse with the police and the legal system. When you do this you are a danger to society and your actions, if they go unpunished, will surely continue. You need the punishment to help you to stop! Take the breathalyzer!
Warren thank god we had parents that taught us not to drive drunk or even drink at all Hey how come we never got drunk in room1001 at brittany residence hall Robert
Sorry, Mr. Shapiro but I disagree. Having a DUI on your record or spending some time in jail is hardly educational or in mind, paying any debt to society nor a deterrent. Matter of fact, DUI offenders are very much habitual. MADD has done a wonderful job of creating legislation that is tough on drunk drivers. I certainly concur that drunks do not belong behind the wheel but I think the courts need to revoke driving privledges on the first offfense and mandate some form of counseling. Further, as I mentioned on this blog previously, we have the technology to implement preventative methods to keep drunks from even starting up an automobile when they are drunk. Auto manufacturers need to find an incentive to install such devices. In addition, in defense of my legal brethen, failure of a breathalyzer is a slam dunk for any prosecutor. Why would a defense attorney advocate such a confession? You are taking a moral stand (which I applaud) but the practicality of the legal system is not in tune with your protestations.
As usual, Mr. Woog has done a wonderful job of bringing reality back into the fray of the absurd. And the comments, however tangential, indicate our deep pride in those who have lost their lives serving this country. I think the town has done a wonderful job of memorialzing their sacrifice in the monuments on Jesup Green and its annual parade. My only complaint is that for some strange and often unexplained reasons, we will be memoralizing many new dead soldiers next year. What a shame.
Perhaps we need to get Attorney Thygerson’s number and give him a few calls at 3:00 a.m. each morning over the weekend?
I must add a great story about the Hopkins father and son. They used to conduct “Donkey Baseball” baseball games at Doubleday Field each year as a fundraiser. For those who don’t know, “Donkey Baseball”, it is when you play a regular game but are transported from base to base by a real donkey. Well one year, George Hopkins hit a long drive to left center and promptly picked up the donkey and carried it to first base. It was truly amazing. Dale was in my class of Staples ’66 and a great athlete. He would serve two tours in Vietnam and as Mr. Allen has aptly described above, was wounded in combat. When I hooked up briefly with him in DaNang in the fall of ’69, he was coming in from a two week recon mission. He was big like his father with fair skin and freckles. When he removed his helmet, half of his face was tan and the other white as a newborn. We shared one beer that day and he was exhausted. Both Hopkins father and son are dead now but their service should be remembered on Monday. Thankfully very few of us truly endure the horros of war (and I include myself) but those who do and sacrifice their lives are really the heroes of Monday. As far as I am concerned the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce can go straight to hell.
Lisa Thygerson, wife of Attorney John P. Thygerson is the Executive Director of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce. Her decision to promote her husband’s law practice and ignore the sanctity of the Memorial Day holiday is a serious lapse in judgement and should be grounds for her dismissal. Westport and its considerable population of veterans truly deserves somebody with class to represent our lovely town. Maybe it’s time the Chamber hires a member of our own community instead of someone from Stratford!
If the information in the Anonymous May 28 6:42 pm posting is correct, then I – without the cover of anonymity – wholeheartedly agree with her/his recommendation of (a) Lisa Thygerson’s dismissal and (b) appointing a Westporter to OUR Chamber of Commerce.
Mike Pettee, Major, USAF (OSI) 1951-1956.
Here is the link to Staples High: The Memorial Day video is located near the top of the homepage. http://blackboard.westport.k12.ct.us/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_id=_18_1&
Wow. I am not really sure how to respond since I have never entered the “blogoshphere.”
Let me first start by stating, without any equivocation whatsoever, that I consider myself to be an extremely patriotic citizen and one who embraces with the entire fiber of my being what it means to be an “American.” I have always thought of myself as being, if anything, ultrapatriotic. By way of background, my father served in the U.S. Navy as a sailor on board the aircraft carrier USS Independence and my grandfather served as a Chief Petty Officer in the Mediterranean on a troop transport ship during World War II. I myself took the armed services vocational array battery tests (asvab) in the anticipation of serving and hopefully qualifying for BUDS training to become a Navy Seal. I however, ultimately chose to finish college and pursue a law degree, but let there be no mistake about my love for my country or my respect for the men and women who wear the uniform in defense of our country and everything it stands for. As an attorney who’s practice is primarily dedicated to the representation of individuals charged with motor vehicle violations to criminal offenses, it has been an honor to represent veterans of conflicts ranging from Vietnam to Operation Iraqi Freedom. I will often represent these individuals free of charge and do so happily given the sacrifices they have made for all of us.
With respect to the advertisement I placed as a member of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce, no disrespect was ever intended towards any member, past or current, of the United States Armed Services. What I was simply trying to do was remind everyone, whether they realize it or not, that this weekend has historically been a weekend where a greater number of individuals choose to get behind the wheel of a car despite the fact that their ability to operate an automobile is impaired. It is due to this historical fact that most municipalities throughout the State of Connecticut choose to employ DWI checkpoints to combat the overwhelming number of drunk drivers on our roads.
Whether you like my profession or not, it is my job to represent good people who sometimes make mistakes. I had no intention whatsoever to minimize the solemnity of the Memorial Day weekend, but the fact of the matter is that people will choose to drive while under the influence and when these people, who have never been in trouble before, are asked by the arresting officer whether they wish to submit to a breath test they often do not know what to do. That is why they should call an attorney who can advise them properly.
I stand by my advice. I ask everyone, whether they have ever found themselves in the position of going to a social function, having maybe too much too drink, driving home, and then waking up the next morning saying to themselves “I can’t believe I drove last night, what was I thinking”. It happens. And when it does, and when you get caught you will hopefully remember that in America you can contact an attorney for advice upon arrest. It is a right not often found elsewhere in the world and it is a hallmark of our criminal justice system. Why would I recommend that someone takes the breath test for a first offense? Simple, it will possibly shorten the period of your license suspension which will be levied by the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you choose to refuse to take a breath, blood or urine test your license will be suspended for at least six months and you will not be eligible for a work permit for three months. And regardless of whether you refuse to take the test, the State of Connecticut can and will prosecute you based upon the officer’s observations following his detention of you. The officer will claim a distinct odor of alcohol, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and failure to satisfactorily perform field sobriety tests. The field sobriety tests are administered and graded by the officer and imagine how difficult it is to “pass” the tests when you have never taken them before, your heart is racing because you are being scrutinized by law enforcement and you are simply scared to death about what will happen if the officer claims that you failed the tests. They don’t need the breath tests to prosecute and failure to take them, as a first offender, will only subject the individual to a greater suspension period of driving privileges. Moreover, by statute, prosecutors cannot reduce or dismiss a DWI charge without stating in open court the reasons for doing so. Since you have already been arrested by the police prior to being asked to take a breath test it would behoove you to take the test to show that your blood alcohol level may be under the legal threshold for “intoxication” and now you have a basis to possibly have the charges dismissed. By refusing the test you have effectively eliminated any possibility of getting the charges dismissed.
The American Express company used to use the slogan “membership has its privileges”. My offer to provide my services, if needed to another chamber member was consistent with that philosophy. Why else join the Chamber if not to help others. My offer to provide discounted services is probably not something most service establishments or retailers would offer Chamber members. I, however, am happy to be able to offer this, but if a chamber member wants to retain my services to represent themselves or a family member and pay the regular fees associated with the case than I am certainly not going to stop them from doing so. I was simply offering a courtesy to my fellow members of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce.
It was not my intention whatsoever to diminish the meaning of our nationwide celebration of our veterans. I merely wanted to remind people that they do have rights and they should not hesitate to contact an attorney, even if it is at 3 a.m. That is why myself and my colleagues do what we do. Is the attorney who helped complete the closing on your house willing to give out his private cell number for emergency purposes? I think not. The fact is, I am on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That is my profession, I don’t complain about the fact that I get called calls from parents whose children have been arrested at all hours of the night. I believe in our system of laws and am willing to do whatever I can to help those who need me.
The fact that my wife and I currently live in Stratford is a nonsensical point. We lived in Westport for a number of years and Lisa worked at Commerce/TD Bank in Westport. Despite the fact that she operates the chamber without any support staff she has managed to increase membership dramatically during her short tenure, she exhibits a work ethic second to none and has maintained a level of professionalism, and class in her tireless efforts to promote the Chamber and all of its members, but then again I am probably biased. The numbers, however, speak for themselves.
Finally, please know that my advertisement was meant with the best of intentions and if there was any confusion regarding the ad, the responsibility rests solely on my shoulders.
Here is a news flash for all of you overzealous, P.C . nit wits, the mission of any Chamber of Commerce is to promote and support the business community it serves. It is responsible for supporting any member of its organization, whether it’s a flower shop, bank, bail bondsman, funeral home, criminal defense attorney, or pest control company.
If ANY member wishes to pay a fee to the Chamber to promote its business, the Chamber’s mission is to do just that. Whether the paying member of the Chamber is related to the President of the Chamber does not matter and in no way should it be considered a conflict. From what I have seen the Westport Chamber has done a fantastic job of supporting the business community under Lisa Thygerson’s tenure and Westport is extremely fortunate to have someone as dedicated to our Town as she is.
All mumble jumble. The Chamber of Commerce screwed up as did any attorney lending himself to such commecialism of a sacred holiday. We “nit wits” don’t need a legal treatise and/or a 6th grade tutorial of what an entity does. I would have had more respect (and foregiveness) if you had just said: “Sorry, we messed up” but it appears your egos are too grand for such simplicity.
Sure are a whole helleva lot of wanna-be Navy Seals around these days. I think we got one running for the Senate. Those who walked the walk, don’t find the need to talk.
I think we all know who the “nit-wits” are here!
Wow, free legal advice. Worth every penny!
I’m not really sure what the big deal is. I saw the ad and was grateful for the free advice. If Mr. Thygerson had to pay for the advertisement why should he have been obligated to say anything unrelated to his business. To me, this whole “controversy” is much ado about nothing. An attorney, who I assume is a chamber member, advertised his services on the Chamber website. Why shouldn’t he? It would appear to be timely advice since alot of our kids are now home for the summer from college. And I wonder if any of the individuals who have been venting their spleen over this will heed or pass along his advice to their friends or family if they get arrested for DWI? Hmm, just a thought.
No big deal? I bet you never served in the military. And who is to say the counselor’s advice is sound? Attorneys are restricted on advice given via advertisement. Thygerson just found a new form of communication and potential clients through his wife’s job.
Just in case anyone does not know what a Chamber of Commerce is; it is an association of businesspersons and merchants that promote the commercial interests in the community. The Chamber was only doing it’s job; allowing one of its members the opportunity to promote their business and help the members and their families at a discounted rate, as that is another benefit of being a member of a Chamber – member to member discounts. As well, this is a service offered to every single one of the Chamber’s members for a fee, so just because Attorney Thygerson happens to be married to the Executive Director does not in any way mean he is given different treatment than any other members of the Chamber.
Who does this guy Thygerson think he is advertising his services before memorial day? Doesn’t he realize that men and women have given their lives defending America and its ideals. How dare he think he can say whatever he wants. And as for representing people charged with DWI or other crimes, shame on him. They shouldn’t have any rights whatsoever. They should be shot and their family given the bill for the bullet.
Wait a minute, what am I saying, in America you can say whatever you want, and if arrested you do have rights. Whoops. My bad. I just got swept up in the insanity of this blog thread
Why is it that the Westport Chamber of Commerce, which I think? is composed mostly of businesses in Westport? chose a person to be head of the organization who does not live in Westport? That is on par with whoever chose an out of country firm to do the Town Plan? This is a no brainer; even if Ms Thygerson spent some time here, she is not part of Westport now, and should be replaced by a candidate who lives in Westport, knows Westport, and is here on a regular basis. And to: “Anonymous’s May 29th 9:23 Am” reply, the fact that Ms. Thygerson’s husband blatantly used the blog as a very clear self-advertisement for his legal services should not be dismissed nor lauded by any business here in Westport.. If I knew what business you represent I would not patronize your venue.
I say this is a situation not to be passed over, and thanks to Dan Woog for exposing it, as usual he’s right on target. What can we do ? Well, I for one will NEVER recommend anyone who needs an attorney to call Mr. Thygerson. And if we could get a referendum to redo the Chamber of Commerce’s choice of leadership once the facts were known
she would be OUT. For shame, and on Memorial Day, for double shame.
In response to the comments posted by “Artist”, Lisa Thygerson was selected as the Executive Director because she was seen as the best candidate for the position. In my opinion, the choice to hire her was an excellent one based upon the Chamber’s membership retention, its increase in membership as well as the amazing turnout for Chamber sponsored events. Does your concern also extend to the fact that not all members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors are Westport residents? I think the work done by Mrs. Thygerson has been exemplary considering the fact that she does everything herself with no staff support. As for her husband, he, as far as I can tell, simply placed an ad on the chamber website, which all members are free to do so long as they pay for the advertisement. As for you comments thanking Dan Woog for “exposing it”, this isn’t Watergate for goodness sake and there is nothing to be “exposed” other than the fact there there exists a healthy difference of opinion on this subject.
P.S., if I knew who you were, I would still let you patronize my business, our difference of opinions notwithstanding.
While the beauty of this blog is revealed with a somewhat healthy discussion, I do believe that Mr. Woog’s cynicism toward the approach of the Chamber of Commerce and Mr. Thygerson’s advice is well deserved. Most of the comments agree with that position. However, I am not sure that the Chamber needs to be condemned to hell or that its director be canned because she lives in Stratford. My personal concern is that culturiologically, we seem to be drifting from America’s traditions to a business oriented “anything goes” approach. Recently, we have seen Wall Street and Big Oil run us amuck with misdirection. To me, this is the essence of the issue. Money over matter. If the Chamber or Attorney Thygerson want to promote themselves, fine. Let them sponsor a float at the parade.
To Outraged and Confused: Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit or in this case, nit-wit.
This is Anonymous @ 12:49 pm, not the other Anonymous posts. I have done my best to teach my kids right from wrong. I hope they understand that with privileges come responsibilities. I trust them to make the right choice and will be disappointed if they get arrested for DWI after being out in SONO or Dunvilles or The Black Duck or wherever. But if, god forbid, I do get a call from the police station I will consider the “advice” which prompted this blog. If asked by my kids what they should do I honestly wouldn’t know what to tell them. Now, I may contact another lawyer other than Mr. Thygerson to get another opinion in advance of a day I hope never arrives. And if that lawyer gives me the same advice than I will be glad that I followed this blog so that I can instruct my kids on what to do, other than the obvious: DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE! Call me or call a cab.
Well, damn, why don’t we just all get drunk and stay home and forget about Memorial Day!
Is the Anonymous of 12:49 p.m., the same person of 2:53 p.m. or the writer of 2:25 p.m.? If so, did you write the comment at 2:39 p.m. too? Whatever, I disagree, agree, don’t know.
It is all very interesting, though. Does Mr. Thygerson handle murder cases as well?
To “Artist”: Right on! And while we are sending Ms. Thygerson on her way, what is an out of town attorney doing handling our DUI cases?
We take care of our own drunks in this town dating way back to F. Scott. Stratford? Isn’t that where Shakespere lived? Get a rope!
To everyone who has participated and/or followed this blog. Please know that I truly meant no disrespect to our nation’s veterans. If by placing an ad for my services prior to the memorial day weekend caused any pain or offense than please accept my deepest and humblest apologies. To Gunney: yes I was a Seal wannabe. Took the ASVAB, worked out like a maniac in order to meet the physical fitness requirements (pull ups, push ups, sit ups, timed runs in boots, pool and ocean swims with and without fins, underwater distance swimming etc). I chose to finish college and truth be told, having not served in the military has been one of my biggest regrets in life. While attending law school in New York City I made it a point to always buy drinks for the sailors and marines I would encounter during Fleet Week. So please know that I am grateful for the contributions of the men and women who have served and only wish that my name was on the list of those that served.
I truly respect everyone’s opinion and harbor no ill feeling towards anyone who would choose not to recommend my services to a friend or colleague. I have a thick skin and there are a number of highly skilled and competent defense attorneys in our immediate area. To Anonymous: I think you have an excellent idea. call another attorney to see if that attorney has a different perspective. I don’t claim to be always right, all I wanted to do was to share with Chamber members the insights I have after spending my entire professional career in the criminal courts of the State of Connecticut. I did not mean to author a “legal treatise” in my earlier post, I simply wanted to explain why my advise was what it was.
Again, to any and all offended by my advertisement please accept my apologies.
You’re alright Tygerson. No grudges here on this blog. Woog runs a good show. But Marine Recon have it all over the Seals. Semper Fi counselor. Hope I don’t have to call you Sunday night but you never know?
Gunney, you can call me day or night and even if you are not a Chamber member you will still get the veteran’s discount.
Mrs. Thygerson, as Executive Director of the Chamber of Commerce, made the ultimate decision to run a distasteful advertisement in a distasteful fashion. While it is lovely that her husband has stepped up on her behalf, I have to question her silence. Is she not in charge?
As the director of the Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce, I stand by my decision to support all of my members and will always promote their fields of expertise. The ad was done tastefully and respectfully and with all good intentions. Its a shame that some people interpreted it otherwise and felt the need to create unrelated arguments and issues.
My apologies to those who misread the message and were offended in any way.
Attorney Thygerson and myself wish everybody a safe and wonderful Memorial Day weekend.
I think the Thygersons have been raked over the coals enough. Certainly Madame Thygerson may or may not choose to comment as she deems fit. She certainly is not the CEO of BP!
Taste is a relative judgemental call. We Westporters are a foregiving and compassionate lot. I suggest we move on and enjoy the parade, hot dogs, apple pie . . . ah BMW and most of all, have some fun!
Father’s Day is a day honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. It is celebrated on the third Sunday of June in 55 of the world’s countries and on other days elsewhere. It complements Mother’s Day, the celebration honoring mothers. It is a widely known celebration.