Category Archives: Politics

Jeff Pegues Talks Politics And Sports

If you’ve never been to one of Jeff Pegues’ “Newsmakers” events at (or, virtually, via) the Westport Library, you’ve missed something special.

Last January the CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent, author — and 1988 Staples High School graduate — kicked off the series by interviewing (live) Mo Rocca, fellow CBS News correspondent, podcaster and TV personality.

In June (via cyberspace) Pegues chatted with billionaire businessman, hedge fund manager, major Democratic Party donor, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner (and Westport resident) Marc Lasry.

Up next: a pair of conversations about 2 American obsessions: politics and sports.

Both are virtually free. By that I mean: they are online (virtual), and there is absolutely no charge.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, November 11, 7:30 p.m.), Pegues hosts a intriguing conversation with Major Garrett and Nancy Cordes. (Click here to register.)

Major Garrett and Nancy Cordes

They’re 2 of America’s most insightful political reporters. And they just got through covering one of the most compelling, challenging and consequential elections in history.

What was it like in the newsroom this past week? Pegues will help them tell you.

Cordes is CBS News’ chief congressional correspondent. Based in Washington, she contributes to all of the network’s broadcasts and platforms.

Garrett is White House correspondent for CBS News, and  a contributor to National Journal. He previously served as chief White House correspondent for Fox News.

Next month (Tuesday, December 1, 7 p.m.). Pegues will be joined by Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, Los Angeles Sparks Forward Candace Parker, and former NBA star Charles Smith. (Click here to register.)

This is not just jock talk. Topics include how George Floyd’s death sparked a social justice movement in sports, and the ways in which athletes are using their power and influence to mobilize fans.

Jeff Pegues

Since joining CBS News, Pegues has led coverage of some of the biggest stories of the last decade. He reported on the conflict between the Black community and police, and wrote a book: “Black and Blue: Inside the Divide Between Police and the Black Community.”

Pegues has received 3 Emmy Awards, the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and in 2017 was part of the CBS News team that earned an Edward R. Murrow Award.

And he know sports as well as politics. At Staples, he was an All-State sprinter, and an All-FCIAC football running back.

Winfield is one of 7 players in MLB history with over 3,000 hits and 450 home runs. The 12-time All-Star was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001 — his first year of eligibility.

Smith is a retired NBA power forward in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers selected him as the 3rd overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft. He was named to the All-Rookie first team, and played nearly 10 years in the league.

Parker is one of the most decorated female basketball players ever. The first overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft, she is a league champion, 2-time MVP, and Rookie of the Year. She is now a broadcaster, and role model for young athletes.

Roundup: COVID Testing, VOTE!, Dentists, Kart Racing, More


As the number of COVID cases rises in Connecticut, so does testing demand.

This was the scene today before 7 a.m., at the St. Vincent’s Health Center site. The line of cars stretched far down Long Lots Road.

(Photo/Adam Stolpen)


Remember that “VOTE” sculpture that went up right before Election Day on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge?

It was created by Westporter Mark Yurkiw.

On Tuesday morning — as voters headed to the polls — this was all that remained:

Mark collected the pieces. He realized the damage did not come from the wind. If that was the culprit, they’d be scattered on the river. Instead, Mark says, all the letters were there on the ground.

He collected them, brought them home, and took this photo:

(Photos/Mark Yurkiw)

He calls this tryptic “Battered Not Broken.”


“Rock Paper Scissors” — the sculpture, not the game — was officially dedicated yesterday on Jesup Green. now that the official ribbon cutting has taken place.

Ann Sheffer — who with her husband Bill Scheffler dedicated the work — eloquently described how the influence of her Westport family encouraged her longtime support of the Westport Library, and how her desire to keep the arts thriving in Westport led to the establishment of the Arts Advisory Committee and the position of town curator (now filled by Kathie Motes Bennewitz.)

Dedicating “Rock Paper Scissors” yesterday (from left): Westport Library director Bill Harmer, town arts curator Kathie Motes Bennewitz, Westport Arts Advisory committee co-chair Nancy Diamond, donors Bill Scheffler and Ann Sheffer, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe. (Photo/Randa Trivisonno)

And one more election-related photo…

Anne Lowrie sent this along. The flag is in her back yard. It struck her as “appropriate for the current times: beat up but still flying.”

(Photo/Anne Lowrie)


The other day my dentist emailed me, requesting confirmation of an upcoming appointment. It prominently noted I’d be charged $50 if I canceled less than 24 hours in advance.

Then — less than 24 hours before my appointment — he emailed again. He had to cancel; his hygienist would not be in the next day.

I assume I’ll get $50 off my next visit. Right?


In early March, “06880” profiled Vivek Kanthan. The 10-year-old Westporter had just launched his (very successful) kart racing career.

A few days later, COVID-19 struck. Suddenly, his spring and summer plans were on hold.

When competition resumed, Vivek was ready. All told this year he competed in 16 races, and reached the podium 12 times.

Next year the young racer moves up a class, and faces even fiercer competition. it begins with 2 national events in Miami. Good luck, Vivek!

Vivek Kanthan, and his trophies.


Sharing a post-Halloween meal on Manitou Road:

(Photo/Francoise Jaffe)


And finally … speaking of dentists:

Lighting Up Joe Biden

Tens of millions of Americans raved about Joe Biden’s speech last night.

Many also raved about the music playlist, fireworks and drone display.

No one even mentioned the lighting.

But the reason all those people were able to see the president-elect — and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — so well, outside the hard-to-light Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, was Andrew Lott.

The view from Andrew Lott’s lighting board. (Photo/Andrew Lott, via Staples Players)

At Staples High School, the Class of 2009 alum served as lighting director for many Players shows. He continued his studies — and lighting — at the University of Michigan.

Andrew went on to work at the Spoleto Festival, Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Public Theatre, Shakespeare in the Park and Lincoln Center.

He spent 2 years as lighting director for “CNN Tonight.” He now works nationally on a wide variety of events.

Last year, he returned to Westport to run a lighting workshop for Staples Players.

No one notices a lighting director (unless he screws up). But last night, as many Americans envisioned a brighter future, they saw it — with perfect clarity — thanks to Westport’s own Andrew Lott.

(Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

Ridin’ With Biden In Westport

The Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Bridge is Westport’s go-to site for political demonstrations, rallies and we-need-to-be-together times.

A few days ago several Trump supporters gathered there, with signs and banners.

Yesterday it was filled with about 70 Joe Biden and Kamala Harris fans. Drivers jammed traffic, celebrating the president- and vice president-elect with cheers, car horns, thumbs-up and smiles.

Even kayakers on the river got into the fun.

Occasional dissent was heard. But it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the celebrants one bit.

Photographer J.C. Martin captured the day with these photos.

(All photos/J.C. Martin)

Unsung Heroes #164

This week’s Unsung Heroes selection is a no-brainer.

No matter what you thought of the election — and the months-that-seemed-like millennia run-up to it — you know one thing: We could not have voted without help.

I don’t mean help in choosing a candidate. If I never get another text saying “Daniel, this is Caroline from the xxxx campaign!” it will be too soon.

I mean the behind-the-scenes help. To the town clerk ‘s office; the League of Women Voters and other volunteers who compiled and disseminated information, and (of course!) the poll workers who braved COVID, closed-in indoor spaces and vague threats of disruption to ensure that democracy prevails: thank you. Many of those spending long hours are polling places were high school and college students. How great to get them involved — along with all the regulars, who have done it for decades. (Nice too how many people thanked them profusely.)

Staples High School senior Reed Caney volunteered as a poll worker yesterday, at Long Lots Elementary School.

And how about the registrars of voters? In a herculean effort this past Saturday, they opened approximately 8,000 returned absentee ballots. They rejected only 5 (!), because of issues like improper envelopes or missing signatures.

On Monday, they personally notified those 5 voters — and advised them to vote in person yesterday.

We’ve been through a lot this year. You helped bring a bit of normalcy into very uncertain times.

I know, I know. You don’t do it for the glory. (And certainly not for the pay.)

But that makes your work even more important, inspiring and incredible.

Roundup: Election Day, Cockenoe Poster, More


How did you spend election night?

I toggled back and forth between TV stations, Twitter and texts.

Some people headed to watch parties, at Wakeman Town Farm (Democrats) and Hudson Malone (Republicans).

A few folks gathered on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Memorial Bridge, to show support for their candidate:

(Photo/Marcy Sansolo)

Donald Trump lost Westport by a 3-to-1 margin: 12,775 to 4,184.

Nationally, of course, we will know the result — perhaps — by Inauguration Day.


Looking for a vintage 1967 “Save Cockenoe Now” poster? You can bid online for it here.

No idea what “Save Cockenoe Now” was all about? The quick answer: Back in the day, a nuclear power plant camethisclose to being built a mile off Compo Beach.

Want to know more? Click here(Hat tip: William Strittmatter)


And finally …

 

 

Unofficial Results: Westport Goes Blue

Unofficial results — but including in-person voting, and absentee and early drop-off ballots — show Westporters favoring Democrats in every contest yesterday.

The Biden-Harris presidential ticket outpolled Trump=Pence, 12,775 to 4,184.

Congressman Jim Himes was re-elected to his 7th term in the 4th District, helped by 11,968 Westport votes to challenger Jonathan Riddle’s 4,881.

In Connecticut’s 26th Senatorial district, Will Haskell won a 2nd term, aided by 10,230 Westport votes to 4,721 for Republican Kim Healy.

Democrat Michelle McCabe outpolled Republican incumbent Tony Hwang 1,198 to 843 in Westport. But results in the rest of the State Senate District 28 came in slowly, and as of 5 a.m. today, McCabe’s lead in the entire district was less than 100 votes. That outcome is uncertain.

Six-term state Representative Jonathan Steinberg beat back a challenge from fellow Staples High School graduate Chip Stephens, with 10,446 Westport votes compared to 5,266 in the 136th District.

Democrat Stephanie Thomas led Patricia Zukaro , 753 to 480, in Westport. Final results from the entire District 143 are not yet in.

Overall, more than 85 percent of Westport’s registered voters participated in the 2020 election, either by mail, drop-off or in person.

 

 

Pics Of The Day #1296

As Westporters — and all Americans — bite their nails, hold their breath and say a prayer that their candidate will win tonight, here’s a reminder that we are all in this together.

LandTech principal Pete Romano put this sign outside his Saugatuck office this morning. Amen!

(Photo/Jeff Seaver)

In a similar vein, Amanda Doyle sends along her 8-year-old daughter Niamh’s homework for today.

Turnout Steady Throughout The Day

Steady turnout continued throughout the day, at Westport’s 5 polling places.

At 3 p.m., 7,010 voters had cast ballots in person. That’s on top of approximately 8,000 absentee ballots collected earlier.

Greens Farms Elementary School saw the highest turnout: 1,597 voters. Following closely behind were Saugatuck Elementary (1,569), Long Lots Elementary (1,542) and Coleytown Elementary (1,534). All 4 sites include 2 RTM districts.

The Westport Library — where only District 9 votes — saw 768 voters.

Polls close at 8 p.m. To find your polling place, click here.

Coleytown Elementary School, early today.2020  (Photo/Dan Donovan)

Roundup: Election Day, Fall Cleanup, First Graders, More


They’re running for the same Connecticut House of Representatives District 136 seat.

But incumbent Jonathan Steinberg and challenger Chip Stephens — both Staples High School graduates, a year apart (1974 and ’73, respectively) — gladly posed for a COVID-compliant fist bump this morning, at the Coleytown Elementary School polling place.

That’s the type of politics everyone can agree on!

Jonathan Steinberg (left) and Chip Stephens. (Photo/Jack Whittle)


Meanwhile, as the nation votes, 10 Westporters are spending their 2nd day in Pennsylvania.

Part of the Biden Voter Protection Team, they found an “energized” electorate yesterday. First-time voters were excited; others said they planned their whole day around voting today.

The group fanned out in Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County.

Bottom row (from left): Catherine Lewis, Zoe Tarrant, Nicole Gerber. Top: Lauren Cohen, Ana Johnson, Candace Banks, Kevin McLaughlin, Danielle Dobin, Jenny Perlman, Ariana Napier.


With fall yard cleanups at hand, Aspetuck Land Trust advises:

Tell your landscaping companies to make changes. You’re paying them; you don’t have to do 100% of what they recommend. Do what’s right for your yard and our environment.

For example:

Tuck in your beds. Rake leaves into your garden beds or under trees. Up to 3 inches of leaves can be stored here — and you’ll save on mulch in spring.

Mow, don’t blow. To promote biodiversity, don’t use leaf blowers. Mulched leaves are decomposed by earthworms and microorganisms,and turned into plant-usable organic matter. You can either remove the mower bag and simply go over a thin layer of leaves with your mower, or invest in a mulching lawn mower. Mulched leaves will put nutrients back into the soil.

Procrastinate: Sure, procrastinating gets a bad rap. But there are residents in your dead stalks. Little sweat bees survive the winter in hollow flower stalks, and birds shelter between dead branches. Put cutting off until the spring, to let them rest in peace.

For more information on fall clean up, click here for an article by Liz Craig from the Pollinator Pathway. And Healthy Yards of Westchester has great information about the many benefits of mulch.


Normally at this time of year, the Westport Library would be hosting 1st graders on tours, reading them stories, helping them select books and giving them their first library cards.

To cope with COVID, the Library created a “Virtual Field Trip.” First take a brief tour, see a Maker demonstration, and have a story read to them. The tour includes a link for parents to request a Westport Library card for their child.

This month, librarians will deliver the cards to each elementary school, plus a special gift: kids’ own copies of It’s Snowing by Gail Gibbons. The Library has asked administration to help them contact elementary school age virtual learners.

Questions? Email kids@westportlibrary.org.

The view from the Children’s Library. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)


And finally … with not much going on today, I just picked a totally random song, completely out of thin air. Go figure.