Tag Archives: Avi Kaner

COVID-19 Roundup: Call 211 For Test Questions; Small Business Loans Available; Takeout Restaurants Listed; New Transfer Station Rules; Fitness, Merchant News And More

COVID-19 testing is now available at several locations around Connecticut, and can be accessed through its 2-1-1 hotline — with certain caveats (see below).

The Westport Weston Health District’s initial contact trace testing is completed. They have one final round to test for those who were part of the initial investigation. It is only open to those already contacted directly by the WWHD.

Residents who feel symptoma of COVID-19 should stay home, and call or email their primary care provider with questions. Residents can call the state 2-1-1 line if instructed by their primary care provider to arrange testing, or if they have questions about being tested. A series of questions will be asked by a 2-1-1 representative to determine if testing is appropriate.

WWHD director Mark Cooper says, “It is no longer about parties, schools, religious institutions, employment, etc. Residents should assume that COVID-19 is everywhere and that anyone could have it. It has been shown that some people can have the virus with no symptoms at all. The number of COVID-19 cases in Westport and the state are going up, and they will continue to increase.”

Locally, the WWHD has contacted all those it became aware of who had contact with a COVID-19 positive person involved in the initial outbreak, and who it had tested.

Those who tested positive for COVID-19 are being advised to practice strict voluntary isolation. They are instructed not to go out, but to stay home. If they require something and must go out, they should do so during times there are fewer people out. Masks and gloves should be worn so as not to spread the virus.

Yesterday’s announcement about closing restaurants, bars, and theaters is a step towards implementing social distancing. Day care facilities continue to remain open. Day care facilities provide essential services, and the WWHD is working closely with them to reinforce the message that it is incumbent upon them to keep their staff and children safe. They have been requested to use thermometers and practice hygienic measures. If a staff member or child becomes infected by COVID-19, the WWHD will close that facility.  It is in the facilities’ and the parents’ best interest to keep sick children at home.


Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell just spoke with the director of the Connecticut Small Business Administration.

Mandell reports that loans of up to $2 million are now available. They can be used for most expenses: payroll, accounts payable, fixed costs. They do not cover business losses.

Interest is 3.25% (profit businesses) and 2.75% (non-profit businesses). Funds come directly from the US Treasury, not a bank.

All businesses with a physical presence in the state are available. Applicants must show a credit history and ability to pay back the loan.

Click here for an application, or call 800-659-2955, or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

The Connecticut Small Business Development Center can assist in filling out and filing applications. Click here for more information.


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has also updated its list of restaurants offering curbside and takeout delivery. Click here to see.


To facilitate social distancing at the transfer station, residents may no longer bring bulky waste items that require assistance.

While the transfer station remains open, personnel will refrain from coming into contact with individuals, or refuse brought there by residents. Thus, they will not assist residents with the removal or disposal of solid waste from vehicles.

Residents bringing smaller waste items to the transfer station must deposit their solid waste directly into the hopper, and discharge recycling directly in to the single stream bins. Plastic bags are not allowed in single stream recycling.

These protocols are in effect at least through March 31. During this time, all fees and collection of refuse tickets will be waived.

Bud Valiante is always helpful. But he can no longer help residents dispose of large items at the transfer station. (Photo/Cindy Mindell)


JoyRide is one of the many fitness centers closed by the coronavirus.

To fill the void, they offer free Instagram live classes all week at 10 a.m. Follow @joyridestudio, and click on in the morning.

Thanks to Forte.Fit, people can also take live 30-minute classes, or stream from a library of on-demand JoyRide cycling classes filmed over the past 2 years.

For those without a bike, there a number of JoyX boot camp classes, plus pilates, barre and yoga from other brands.

JoyRide offers Westporters a deeply discounted Forte.Fit membership (less than $8 a month). Use the code JOYRIDE89.

In addition, JoyRide has partnered with dietician Ilanit Blumenfeld to offer a 4-week nutrition and online fitness challenge. It starts March 23. Click here for info and sign-ups.


Annette Norton of Savvy + Grace asks customers and friends to follow her store on Facebook or Instagram.

She’ll post new merchandise daily. Her website will be ready to take orders on Friday. And she offers curbside delivery as well as shipping.


The other day, “06880” posted a story on 3 Westport teenagers who offer to run errands for older folks, and anyone else homebound by the virus.

A woman who took them up on their offer writes:

“I contacted them last night and got a text back from one that he would do my shopping. What a lifesaver! He kept in constant touch with me by text, went to 3 different stores (!) and spent about 3 hours.

“He delivered it all outside my door. I left him a check in an envelope with a generous tip, and proceeded to stock my house (after wiping stuff down with alcohol). We appreciate hearing about him, and what he did, very much.”

(From left): Ty Chung, Jonathan Lorenz, Luke Lorenz. — 3 very helpful guys.


Former 2nd selectman Avi Kaner continues to be interviewed by national media about the effects of COVID-19 on retail outlets. As co-owner of New York’s Morton Williams supermarket chain, he spoke today on Fox News about “senior hours” for shoppers, and contingency plans. Click below to see:


 

Avi Kaner On CNN: Supermarket Sales “Very Intense”; New Yorkers “Resilient”; Worries About Supply Chain, Transportation

This morning, CNN Headline News viewers got a look at the coronavirus crisis from inside a New York supermarket.

Avi Kaner — known locally as a former Board of Finance chair and 2nd selectman — is co-owner of Morton Williams, the 16-store New York chain.

Speaking in front of an Upper West Side shelf stripped of toilet paper, he described the last 10 days as “very intense.” Yesterday, Morton Williams had a near-400% increase in sales.

However, Kaner said, customers — in lines all the way to the back of the store –were “resilient, polite, and disciplined.”

While Morton Williams is not rationing any goods, some distributors are.

Kaner’s 2 biggest concerns are the supply chain, and transportation. He worries that employees might not be able to get to work.

For the full interview, click below.

It’s In The Bag: Avi Kaner Says New York City Is Not Like The ‘Burbs

On March 1, New York state’s plastic bag ban takes effect.

Westport has had one since 2008.

Avi Kaner knows both places well. He served our town as 2nd Selectman and Board of Finance chair.

But it’s in his role as owner of New York City’s 16-store Morton Williams grocery store chain that he’s quoted in today’s New York Post.

Avi Kaner in a Bronx Morton Williams store. (Photo/Danny Ghitis for the New York Times)

The new state law allows retailers to charge 5 cents per paper bag. Morton Williams won’t do it.

They’d lose money, Kaner told the paper. Paper bags cost 13 cents each. Plastic bags are just 2.5 cents apiece.

Instead, his chain will stock up on the sturdy reusable bags that they already sell for 99 cents. They’ll also offer cotton and polyester bags for 15 to 20 cents — about what they cost.

But that wasn’t Kaner’s money quote.

Here’s what he told the Post about the difference between people in the town where he lives, and the city where he works:

“A lot of people don’t carry around reusable bags when they are commuting. It’s not like the suburbs where you have the bags in your car.”

(Click here for the full New York Post story. Hat tip: Peter Gold)

Avi Kaner with a different kind of environmental issue: plastic bottles. (Photo/Buck Ennis for Crain’s New York Business)

Avi Kaner Hopes To Kick This Can Down The Road

Avi Kaner is a poster boy for civic involvement.

He’s chaired Westport’s Board of Finance, and served as 2nd selectman. He and his wife Liz are active members of Chabad of Westport, and lead philanthropic efforts in this town and Israel.

Now, Avi Kaner is a poster boy — and cover subject — in a battle against expansion of a New York law.

When Crain’s New York Business ran a long story on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to expand the state’s nickel-deposit law to include plastic and glass bottles containing juice, coffee and tea concoctions, plus sports and energy drinks, they illustrated it in print and online with a photo of a less-than-pleased Kaner — holding plastic bottles.

(Photo/Buck Ennis for Crain’s New York Business)

This issue has nothing to do with the Westporter’s civic work. His day job is co-owner of Morton Williams. That’s the family-owned chain of supermarkets, primarily in Manhattan, focused on fresh, organic, specialty and international foods.

Crain’s says Kaner “isn’t relishing the thought of folks bringing in a lot more bottles and cans” to his West 57th Street location. Morton Williams recently spent $10 million, turning the ground floor and lower level into retail space.

“We keep this place nice and clean, in fitting with the neighborhood,” Kaner told Crain’s. “The last thing we need is people bringing more of their garbage here.”

Customers can return up to 240 items a day. They are first stored near a street-facing window, then in the basement.

“It’s not an optimal use of space in a store where rent is $200 per square foot and every inch of shelving counts,” Crain’s says. Workers who sort the returnables earn $15 an hour.

Kaner is not anti-environment.

“Anything that can be done to prevent waste and help the planet is a good thing,” he told Crain’s. “But the economics of recycling don’t work for a business like ours.”

To read the full story — including its possible impact on curbside recycling — click here.

(Hat tip: John Karrel)

Challah On The Merritt

Lea Kaner leads an active life.

The retired Bi-Cultural Day School teacher returned to her Stamford home a few days ago, after a summer in Israel.

Last night, she got on the Merritt Parkway. She headed to Westport, to celebrate Shabbat with her children — former 2nd Selectman Avi Kaner and Celia Offir — and their families.

But her active life ground to a halt. A multi-car accident closed all northbound lanes for almost 2 hours.

On the front seat was Lea’s freshly baked, homemade challah. (As I said, she is very active.)

Lea Kaner (2nd from left) and her 3 children.

After an hour not moving at all, she got out of her car. Soon, she offered her challah to fellow stranded drivers.

They were a diverse group. Only one woman knew what challah is — and she wasn’t Jewish.

So Lea went into teacher mode. She educated them.

A young man in his 20s who runs a gas station was worried about waking up early this morning. He particularly enjoyed the soothing challah.

Everyone else did too. All said it was delicious.

Eventually Lea made it to Westport. They had a late — but treasured — Sabbath meal.

There was no challah. But the chocolate cake Lea baked — and which remained in her car during the long traffic jam — was wonderful.

Lea Kaner’s chocolate cake.

Avi Kaner Does Bloomberg

Westport knows Avi Kaner as our 2nd selectman.

Yesterday, the rest of America knew him as a grocery store expert.

Kaner was interviewed by Bloomberg TV. The subject was Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, and how rival businesses can compete on price.

The owner of Morton Williams — a 15-store New York supermarket chain — could not see the graphics being shown. If he’d been able to, Kaner says, he would have responded specifically to them.

Avi Kaner on TV.

Nonetheless, he did a great job answering questions like how responsive suppliers will be to Kaner compared to Jeff Bezos, and how to avoid a price war when Amazon/Whole Foods doesn’t mind one.

For Kaner’s deep dive into all things avocado, guacamole and banana, click here.

Selectmen Sign ADL Pledge

All 3 Westport selectmen — Jim Marpe, Avi Kaner and Helen Garten — have signed an Anti-Defamation League petition. It requests that President Trump “publicly and unequivocally disavow white supremacy.”

The statement reads:

The White House’s repeated failure to stand up to white supremacy and other forms of domestic extremism emboldens and allows its perpetrators to increase their visibility.

Now is the time for President Trump to name the hate and acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes.

The White House’s refusal to disavow white supremacist ideology as a growing source of extremist violence empowers and abets its perpetrators.

President Trump must personally and unequivocally disavow white supremacy and end the White House’s enabling and tolerating its rise.

To truly take a stand, we urge President Trump to also terminate all staff with any ties to these extremists. There is no rationale for employing people who excuse hateful rhetoric and ugly incitement.

 

Despite Rain, Westport Honors Its Heroes

For the 2nd year in a row, Westport canceled its Memorial Day parade.

But the men and women who gave their lives for our country — and all who served it — were memorialized in a moving ceremony at Town Hall.

2nd selectman Avi Kaner live-streamed it on Facebook. If you missed it, you can watch the impassioned speeches — and hear the stirring music — by clicking here. (The ceremony starts at the 10:30 mark.)

Among the speakers was 1st selectman Jim Marpe. He wove together the past and present, linking yesterday’s heroes with today’s “turbulent and unprecedented” times.

And — continuing a wonderful Westport tradition — he gave a sad roll call of the veterans we’ve lost within the past year. Here is his speech:

Good morning. It is an honor and privilege to be here today. First, I must salute the great gentleman we all love to call Mr. Parade, Bill Vornkahl, president of the Westport Veterans Council. Bill has orchestrated this special event for the last 47 years, in a true demonstration of love and commitment to his town and country. And thank you to everyone who has a role in making this great parade and these ceremonies happen.

Grand marshal Ed Vebell.

In just a few moments, we will hear from this year’s grand marshal, Edward Vebell. Ed is a World War II veteran who joined the Air Force in 1942. He was a member of the 904thCamouflage Unit, dropped behind enemy lines to sketch enemy equipment and positions.

He was also with Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper. We honor and recognize you, Ed, for your bravery under fire and distinguished service to our country.

We gather here today in our cherished annual tradition, to recognize those who sacrificed their lives for our great nation. We also honor the men and women right here among us who have served our country, whether in battle or in support of those who chose to put their country before themselves.

The contrast between our beautiful and peaceful town and the battlegrounds our soldiers experienced seems unimaginable right now. Technological advances and our societal demand for instantaneous news has shaped our experience of war, world conflict and political upheaval through high definition televisions, computer screens, and abrupt notifications on cell phones. We look at world politics, radical terrorism, chemical warfare, revolution and military oppression through a vastly different lens than we did a generation ago.

So how do we manage to uphold traditions and honor our past, but keep up with the technology and fascination with newer and faster means to gather information? What is our responsibility as Westporters in this fast-paced, ever changing world in which we live?

My answer is simple.  Like we have done for decades, we take a breath on the last Monday in May, reflect on our country’s history of great sacrifice and we honor those who have served and continue to serve. We recognize the tradition of Memorial Day. We value the sacrifices made by others to preserve our history and our tradition of civil discourse, where we constantly witness democracy in action despite strong and sometimes opposing views.

This sign on the 2014 parade route said it all.

The issues of the day make it appear as if the divide grows ever greater. But if we look back on our history, and recognize just a few of the lessons of the past, we can see that our democracy has withstood the test of time, despite tremendous cost.

It is almost a cliché to say that the Civil War pitted North against South, brother against brother; that the country could never unite again. Before World War II,the US was stubbornly isolationist. Today, many believe the decision to fight was an easy one, but it was not…it took the attack on Pearl Harbor to hurtle the US into war.

The Vietnam War tore our nation apart, pitting a younger generation against an older one, liberals against conservatives, and those who served against those who objected. Our political climate today, which for many feels turbulent and unprecedented, has in fact mobilized many who are trying to effect change peacefully, through demonstrations and lawful means, which is the bedrock of our country.

As Westporters, we celebrate the ability to disagree in a civil manner, but when the time comes to defend our great nation and the liberties we cherish, our men and women continue to place service to our country above themselves. We honor and thank them all today.

And now, as we have done in years past, I will make special mention of those war veterans who lived in Westport who have passed away this past year, with apologies in advance for any we may have inadvertently omitted.

Bertram Aber
Bruno Arcudi
Ernest (Ernie) Arnow
George F. Avery, Jr.
Alexander (Al) Balas
Robert Brannigan
Russell Brenneman
Erwine T. Buckenmaier, Jr.
Donald Evans Casciato
Frank Clark
C. Steven Crosby
Daniel B. Driscoll
Mary T. Ferruccio
Edward B. Gill
Thelma Gordon
Brett Matthew Hauslaib
James R. Hurley
Robert Kochiss
Kenneth H. Lanouette, Jr.
John Lomartire
Henry R. Loomis
Delmor B. Markoff
George H. Marks, Sr.
James P. McCabe
Frederick Meier, Sr.
Durwood (Woody) C. Milone
Jonathan B. Morris
John Nazzaro, Sr.
H. Elliott Netherton, Jr.
John G. Petti, Jr.
Alan Phelan
Charles T. Raymond
Philip W. Reeves
Estelle Reitano
Warren Rossell
Jack Rotman
Harold Scher
Frank Scotti
John C. Skinner
Jerome T. Spinola
David S. Stein
George L. Sterling
William E. Surrette
Walter (Wally) J. Sutherland
Ronald J. Swenn
Hugh B. Sweeney, Jr.
Albert R. Tremonte
William G. Turner, Jr.
George W. Underhill
Lawrence N. Waterbury

Let us always remember the service that these veterans gave to our country.

When you return to your homes today, enjoy your holiday, and take the time to reflect onwhat the flags, the music, the traditions and the speeches mean, and what you want your children and grandchildren to remember about Westport’s Memorial Day. That it means placing service to your country above yourself, and that the price of democracy, of the ability to debate and disagree in a civil and respectful manner, may mean making the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation. Today, we honor those who made that sacrifice for us all.

Thank you, and best wishes for a wonderful Memorial Day.

On Myrtle Avenue the quintessential Memorial Day view.

Villa Del Sol Sequel: Land Swap Still Alive

This morning’s “06880,” on the travails of Villa Del Sol during the construction phase of Bedford Square, noted that “a proposed land swap — exchanging the restaurant and adjacent parking lot for a parcel across the street — has been scuttled.”

However, despite reports in local media, that land swap is still very much alive.

Second Selectman Avi Kaner said this afternoon that the town has continued negotiations with David Waldman, developer of Bedford Square. That retail/residential project — on the site of the former YMCA — stretches along Church Street, with an entrance on Elm Street.

Kaner says the town and Waldman are close to an agreement on a deal. Details are unavailable. However, the original plan would have traded 36 Elm Street — the site of Villa del Sol — for a section of the town-owned Baldwin parking lot across the street. Waldman hoped to build an 8,477-square foot building behind Lux Bond & Green, with small retail stores and 4 apartments.

Under the original plan the town would demolish the Villa del Sol building, creating additional parking, walkways and greenery.

A view looking south, with the Brooks Corner shopping center at bottom center.

A view of the original land swap looking south. Villa del Sol is the building outlined in yellow at the top. Brooks Corner shopping center is at bottom center. A new building would be built in the outlined lower yellow section.

Kaner presented a status report at a Board of Finance executive session last week, and solicited negotiating advice.

Based on that discussion, he says, it is likely that the Elm Street/Baldwin lot land exchange will be discussed and voted on in an open public session, at the finance board’s April meeting.

Any decision would be subject to approval by other town bodies. The Planning & Zoning Commission has already given the swap a positive 8-24 review.

In this artist's rendering, Here’s an artist’s rendering. The new parking lot (old 36 Elm Street) is at left; across Elm Street is the new building (white), with Serena & Lily next to it.

In this artist’s rendering, the new parking lot (old 36 Elm Street) is at left. Across Elm Street is the new building (white), with Serena & Lily next to it.

 

 

 

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

The scene tonight at Democratic headquarters …

(Photo/Eli Debenham)

(Photo/Eli Debenham)

… and Rizzuto’s, where Republican Town Committee treasurer Joe Sledge, First Selectman Jim Marpe, Second Selectman Avi Kaner and State Representative candidate Cathy Walsh peered at results:

republican-headquarters

(Photo/Chip Stephens)