Category Archives: Politics

Friday Flashback #17

Today’s Friday Flashback is different from most. There’s a reason.

(Photo courtesy of Ray and Patricia Donovan)

(Photo courtesy of Ray and Patricia Donovan)

The 1969 photo shows Jean Donovan on her horse Apple, at Fiddle Horse Farm. The farm was located the west side of Bayberry Lane, midway between Long Lots Road and Cross Highway.

Sam and Bernice Friedson owned it, as well as the Tack Room — a horseback riding supply store on the Post Road, opposite the old post office.

So why is this today’s Friday Flashback? It’s the 36th anniversary of the beating, rape and murder of 4 lay missionaries, by Salvadoran military men. Donovan — a 1971 Staples High School graduate — was one of those women.

Growing up in Westport, there was little evidence she’d become an internationally known martyr. She had a fairly secular upbringing here. She was introduced to horseback riding when she was young, and spent some of her teenage years riding and working at Fiddle Horse Farm. It was one of several working horse farms in Westport.

To share memories of those farms — or of Jean Donovan — click “Comments” below.

(Hat tip: John Suggs)

Theo Koskoff: “Welcome, Refugees!”

Theo Koskoff is too young to vote.

But the Staples High School junior knows how to make his voice heard.

And he knows how social media can amplify that voice, loudly and powerfully.

Using Facebook, Theo organized a peaceful protest. It took place today in New York — at Trump Tower on 5th Avenue.

Theo set up a page — #RefugeesWelcomeSit-In — and posted:

Trump just won, and many of us will end up okay. But many will not. He has complete control over the amount of refugees coming into our country. Right now there are more than 65.3 million refugees around the world, more than half of whom are children. If you care about humanity, come to this peaceful sit-in at Trump Tower in NYC. This is not an anti-Trump protest, it’s a pro-refugee message to the President-Elect of the United States. We will show love, not hatred. #NYCsayswelcome #welcomerefugees

It was more of a positive message to refugees than a protest against the president-elect. Passersby joined in, and tons of people took photos.

Theo Koskoff (right), at the protest he organized today at Trump Tower.

Theo Koskoff (right), at the protest he organized today at Trump Tower.

Feedback was largely positive.

No word on what the target of the event — enjoying Thanksgiving in Palm Beach — thought.

People old and young joined Theo Koskoff's protest.

People old and young joined Theo Koskoff’s protest…

... Some were very young...

… Some were very young…

... but all had a welcoming message for refugees.

… but all had a welcoming message for refugees.

Marpe’s Message: “Treat Each Other With Respect And Civility”

A few moments ago, First Selectman Jim Marpe issued his annual Thanksgiving message. It includes a response to an open letter sent last night by Westport’s Democratic Town Committee, asking him to stand up to the rhetoric unleashed by the 2016 presidential campaign.

Marpe says:

Westport has always been and will continue to be a place where we live by and teach our children the values that we cherish — values that embrace equality, inclusiveness, open-mindedness, respect for each other as well as the law, and of course, education. We hold fast to these ideals regardless of political party, religious affiliation, social strata, gender, or age.  This Thanksgiving, we thoughtfully and respectfully reflect upon these qualities in light of recent events that have transported our nation into divisiveness and turmoil.

A recent “open letter” to me as the first selectman of this great community called for a response to the events in our nation related to the 2016 presidential election.  I believed that it was appropriate to do so in the context of my annual Thanksgiving message to all 27,000 Westport residents.

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe.

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe.

I want to start with my reflections expressed to those gathered in the Town Hall auditorium on Veterans Day this past November 11; that ceremony occurring merely days after the tumultuous election.  I confidently assured those present that the rights and freedoms for which veterans fought so valiantly are alive and well in this great nation, and in the town of Westport.

The political events of the past year have tested our collective understanding of democracy, creating conflict nationwide and anxiety at many a dinner table and social gathering throughout Westport and the rest of the country. While the outrage and despair over the problems that our nation and our community need to address remains, it is our democracy which makes this such an extraordinary country.

The 2016 election has stirred us all to reconsider our core values and our rights as Americans; rights which many in Westport may have taken for granted because we thought we had the luxury of doing so.  However, with recent events fresh in our minds, we must be cognizant that with the freedoms we cherish come certain personal obligations.

Despite differences, Westporters must treat each other with mutual respect and civility. We are no strangers to making our world, country, and our community a better place.  The town’s municipal, civic, religious and volunteer institutions operate under the mantle of these values. Our laws and our values don’t change because of the most recent political winds.

We encourage thoughtful and constructive means to embrace each other’s differences. We denounce hatred, divisiveness and manipulation by words and deeds. We remember that in Westport, we are grateful and thankful for and continue to be committed to, the values we hold so dear in our cherished town. I can assure you that this town will continue to embrace and protect all its citizens and will stand firmly against hate and intolerance, now and always.

Hundreds of Westporters volunteer each year at the Interfaith Thanksgiving Feast.

Hundreds of Westporters volunteer each year at the Interfaith Thanksgiving Feast.

Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful for our freedoms and our good fortune.  We remain steadfast in our resolve to help those less fortunate, all the while remaining aware of the world events around us that may inhibit that resolve. We express our heartfelt thanks to those in our community that stand for the downtrodden or disenfranchised.

I am personally thankful for our extraordinary volunteers, teachers, civic leaders, clergy, and residents, young and old, of all races, creeds and ideals, who work tirelessly and diligently each and every day, at times with little or no recognition.  They share their time and talents without fanfare, so I want to acknowledge their contributions and let them know that they are valued and appreciated.

I wish all the citizens of Westport a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. I encourage you to take the opportunity to pause and reflect on how you may contribute to making our community a place where all are welcome and respected.

Thank you.

Westport Dems To Marpe: Stand Up Against Hate

Last night, the Democratic Town Committee says, a “record number” of Westporters attended the organization’s monthly meeting.

They discussed the 2016 presidential election — and voiced their concerns in an open letter to Republican First Selectman Jim Marpe. The DTC wrote:

Last Tuesday, over 10,000 Westporters went to the polls to vote for the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, as President of the United States. The town’s preference was clear, with nearly 70% of votes cast for the Democratic nominee. Those voters, along with countless young people not yet old enough to cast a vote, woke up Wednesday morning (if they even slept at all) in shock and disbelief at the election of Donald J. Trump.

westport-democratic-town-committee-logoSince Election Day, the Westport Democratic Town Committee has heard from many people in our community who are struggling to reconcile themselves to this result and what it means for our nation. Tuesday night, a week after Election Day, we had a record turnout at our monthly meeting. People who had never attended a DTC meeting before came to express their fear, their anger, and their worry about the future. They spoke of sleepless nights, of difficult conversations with their children, and of feeling like foreigners in their own country.

In the past week, incidents of racial intimidation and hate speech have sharply risen all around the nation. Sadly, our town has not been immune. Staples High School principal James D’Amico informed parents last Thursday of racially offensive memes circulating online among Staples students. Mr. D’Amico also noted that some students were so upset by the election result they requested counseling. Other post-election incidents of political or racial intimidation have been reported as well.

Regardless of whom you supported for President, now is a time when our town needs healing and leadership. We need our First Selectman to make a strong statement that Westport is a town that opens its arms to people of all backgrounds and identities, and where intimidation and bullying will never be tolerated. Now is the time to reassert our basic, shared values of civility, decency and compassion.

westport-republicansLet us be clear: the Westport Democratic Town Committee will not stand for any acts of hate or intimidation in our town, regardless of who is in the White House. Donald Trump will be our next President; as Americans we all must accept that. But we must never accept the xenophobia, misogyny, and intolerance that characterized so much of his campaign. We expect you, as our town leader, and the Republican Town Committee to take the same strong stand.

Westport has always stood as a bastion of openness and tolerance. We hope you will join us in reaffirming that essential character of our great town.

Sincerely yours,
Westport Democratic Town Committee
Executive Committee and Ex Officio Executive Committee Members

Democratic Women Ponder Polling Process

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, you, me — and anyone else in the world who reads polls — all were surprised by last week’s election.

That includes James Delorey. The Westport resident is senior vice president of research at the Global Strategy Group. They use tons of sophisticated tools to advise Fortune 500 companies, non-profits — and political campaigns. In other words: He analyzes data and trends for a living.

James Delorey

James Delorey

Like everyone else in the business, he’s moved past shock. Now he’s trying to figure out how so much polling could have been so wrong for so long.

Tomorrow night (Thursday, November 17, 7:30 p.m., 323 Restaurant) he shares his insights in a local forum.

“Why Data Failed Us: A Closer Look at Polling” is sponsored by the Democratic Women of Westport. Clearly, that’s a group groping for answers.

Delorey will answer questions like:

  • Why did so much 2016 polling data miss the mark?
  • Is it possible to accurately poll the electorate in the current era?
  • Did media coverage of the polls impact the election outcome?
  • What was the impact of late-breaking news?
  • What issues drove the election outcome?
  • Could Clinton have done anything differently to ensure victory?

Delorey — who worked at the state level during this election cycle, and helped elect a Democratic governor in West Virginia, while the state went 69% for Trump — was not one of those presidential pollsters who so misread the presidential tea leaves.

But he knows he, his colleagues — and his industry — are in hot water right now.

[OPINION] After Election, Let Kids Be Kids

Many “06880” readers reacted viscerally on Sunday to Drew Coyne’s “06880” story. The beloved and talented Staples High School social studies teacher described his reaction to last week’s presidential election, adding insights into what it meant for teenagers in his classroom.

Jaime Bairaktaris

Jaime Bairaktaris

Among those reacting to Drew’s reaction was Jaime Bairaktaris. The community-minded 2016 Staples grad has been highlighted here before. Among other things, he was an Earthplace volunteer and EMT. Last spring he traveled to Italy to work with youngsters from a disadvantaged Naples neighborhood.

Now he’s a Sacred Heart University freshman. He’s still a Westport EMT, still works at Earthplace, and is also an EMT for Easton (working the midnight to 6 a.m. shift).

And Jaime helps supervise elementary school students during lunch in a nearby town. He passes along these insights into today’s kids, a few days after one of the most polarizing elections in American history.

  • Trump’s gonna build a huge wall and keep all the bad guys out!
  • Clinton lies too much. I don’t trust her. She killed too many people!
  • Trump’s gonna kick all of the immigrants out. Where will they go?
  • She’s kind of an old lady.
  • He looks like an angry orange.
  • Mr. B, you CAN’T vote for them. Promise me you won’t!

It’s confusing to hear these things come out of tiny mouths, on the playground or between bites of pizza.

I broke up verbal arguments between students. They climbed over tables or stood on their toes, trying to subdue their opponent.

But the aftermath does the real damage. When the argument is over students are left angry, anxious and frightened. Nothing upset me more than a crying child. One was legitimately fearful they would have to leave the country. Another cried because they could not understand why their classmate did not see what they saw in a candidate.

It’s eerily similar to what some adults feel now. But these are children.


The 2016 election was one of the most polarizing in history.

I know that children should have some exposure to the election process. In today’s world, we have no choice. But when they recite Fox or CNN sound bites, it’s time to stop and let them be kids.

Parents need to teach the process not as if 2 things are up against each other, but rather 2 people.

Kids understand that being mean to other people is wrong. But when a news outlet — or parent — bashes a candidate, a child becomes confused. After a while though, that bashing becomes normal and okay. After all, Mom, Dad or the TV did it.

A child can’t distinguish between a candidate on television or a book buddy in class. That’s where problems start.

I’ve seen what overexposure to “adult topics” can do to a child. I have not found anything good about it yet.

It’s our job to lead by example, be kind to all others, and personify anyone you speak about.

He is a father, a husband, a son. She is a mother, a wife, a daughter. Start there, and build up when talking about someone.

Just let kids be kids.


The 69 Percent Of Westporters Who Voted For Hillary Clinton React To Last Night’s Vote


Hooray For The Red, White And Blue!

As America — and Westport — vote, what better way to celebrate than with Pat Gold’s red-white-and-blue photo of a favorite subject.

(Photo/Pat Gold)

(Photo/Pat Gold)

Tomorrow, we’ll have a new president.

But Compo Beach will still be there.

I Voted!

The signs are ready…


The surrogates (like Mike Calise) are in place…


The coffee is hot…


The doors are open…


The instructions are clear…


Election 2016 is on…


May the best man — or woman — win!

I Thought I Could Get Through This Entire Mess Without A James Comey Post. I Can’t.

If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats agree on, it’s that James Comey has royally screwed up this election.

I figured he was getting enough attention in the national press. His hometown “Where Westport Meets the World” blog didn’t need to pile on.

But — thanks in part to regular “06880” commenter Chris Grimm — the embattled FBI director’s local ties are getting international attention.

Chris posted this online. It’s been picked up all over the world:


Yep, that’s Comey’s Greens Farms neighborhood home.

And I believe Chris that the sign was planted there in front.

But I simply can’t believe that Comey — or any family member — put it there. I’m sure someone else did.

It has to be a joke.

Kind of like Comey’s entire conduct since July.