Tag Archives: Police Chief Foti Koskinas

Auto Theft Audience Applauds Police, Demands Legislative Action

Westporters respect, admire, even love their police department.

Westporters hate laws that hamper law enforcement, attract criminals, and allow juvenile car thieves to return here again and again, sometimes even taunting officers.

Both themes emerged strongly last night, at a Town Hall forum with the Westport Police command staff, a representative of the Bridgeport Auto Theft Task Force, and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker.

The event was scheduled in the wake of a Bayberry Lane carjacking Sunday afternoon. Two people were arrested within 72 hours — but the incident highlighted the ongoing problem of auto thefts.

The panel at last night’s forum (from right): 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, Westport Police command staff David Farrell, Ryan Paulsson, David Wolf, Anthony Prezioso, Jillian Cabana, and Bridgeport Auto Theft Task force officer David Scinto. Not pictured: Eric Woods. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Police Chief Foti Koskinas and his top aides told the crowd of over 150 — including his counterparts from neighboring towns, and several TV crews — that several factors contribute to the thefts, which so far this year number 50.

One is the number of expensive cars owned by Westporters. Unfortunately — despite repeated warnings — residents continue to leave their cars unlocked, with the keys in the ignition or fobs inside, and valuables in plain sight.

One of the 2 BMWs driven by the pair to the Bayberry Lane carjacking had been stolen the night before on Church Lane. A resident left his car running, while he went into a restaurant to pick up a takeout order.

Residents can take precautions to make it harder for thieves to spot and steal vehicles, Koskinas and the officers noted.

But another element in the rash of thefts stems from laws passed several years ago by state legislators, severely limiting consequences for juvenile offenders. They know exactly how quickly they can be released; how hard it is for police to find out if they’ve committed prior crimes; how insignificantly they’ll be punished; even how constrained officers now are to give chase following a property crime.

(The carjacking was different– it was a crime against a person, as the driver was still in his vehicle. However, police must still consider many factors like traffic, weather and road conditions when giving chase — things that people in stolen cars never consider.)

Two people confront a car owner in his garage on Sunday.

Koskinas and his department received several strong rounds of applause, with most speakers beginning their remarks by thanking them for all they do despite the challenging circumstances.

But applause was even more sustained for speakers who demanded that the General Assembly revisit, and revise, legislation that hamstrings police at many levels of their work, particularly with juvenile offenders.

Police are also impacted by a “Police Accountability Law,” which make them more responsible for decisions made in the heat of the moment, including during a crime and while trying to apprehend a criminal.

“We are not inept,” Lieutenant Anthony Prezioso said. “But criminals know what we can and cannot do. They know what lines to cross, and what the system offers them at their age. They flaunt it.”

“This is not a partisan issue. It’s a safety issue,” said Westport Representative Town Meeting member Jimmy Izzo.

Though different municipalities have different priorities, Koskinas noted that car thefts have ramifications beyond taking property, and violating trust. Stolen cars are often used in other crimes, including burglaries, robberies, drug deals and drive-by shootings, in cities like Bridgeport, Waterbury, Hartford, even Newark.

The juvenile justice system works for “98 or 99%” of youths arrested, Prezioso said. He supports the move toward restorative justice — with accountability to parents and themselves — rather than punishment.

But for “the other 1 or 2%,” the loopholes are wide. And widely exploited.

Prezioso described the pandemic’s impact on juvenile justice. When courthouses were shut, it created a backlog of cases that continues today.

“The same 50 to 75 kids across the state are responsible for most of the crimes,” Deputy Chief Ryan Paulsson said.

“We know exactly who they are. But our hands are tied.”

When the public spoke, several asked about personal safety. Beyond the oft-repeated advice — lock cars always; keep them in a garage, with keys, fobs and valuables removed — officers recommended lights all around a property, including the back; being aware at all times; making sure vehicles have tracking devices, and calling police for any suspicious activity.

Knowing your neighbors, and working together, also helps.

Diane Lowman was among 2 dozen people who spoke at last night’s forum. (Photo/Dan Woog)

Yet the loudest applause came from residents who castigated politicians who promoted, and passed, legislation that has led to the current situation.

Koskinas agreed. While praising support he’s received from Westport officials, who provide him with the tools and personnel he needs — along with the regional cooperation of many law enforcement agencies — he made the “not great analogy” with the current debate on gun safety.

“Cars are bullets too,” he said. “An unsecured car can become as dangerous as an unsecured gun.”

In the aftermath of the carjacking, Koskinas said, all of Westport’s legislators reached out to him.

“Our state legislature needs input from police departments — and everyone here” to change the current laws, he said, to robust applause.

“I hope they’re as tenacious about this as they were when they passed the Police Accountability bill.”

(Hat tip: Bill Dedman) 

Roundup: Carjacking Forum, Car Theft Podcast, Lyman Apartments …

Tonight’s special forum on car thefts, vehicle break-ins and Sunday’s carjacking (Wednesday, September 20, 7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) will also be livestreamed. Click here to access that page, on the town’s website.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas will lead a discussion on safety concerns voiced by residents. He and members of his command staff will describe the work of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, formed in response to increased car thefts and vehicle break-ins in the area.

The discussion will also include police practices utilized to combat vehicle thefts.

Yesterday, Koskinas and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker taped a special edition of “What’s Happening … Westport.” They discussed the escalation in incidents, and what residents can do. Click below to listen to the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston podcast.


Meanwhile, Westport Police made one custodial arrest between September 13 nd 20. A woman was charged with disorderly conduct, following a domestic dispute.

Police also issued these citations:

  • Failure to comply with state traffic commission regulations 6 citations
  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 4
  • Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 3
  • Operating a motor vehicle without minimum insurance: 3
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 2
  • Failure to obey traffic control signs: 2
  • Evading responsibility: 1
  • Following too closely: 1
  • Distracted driving: 1
  • Distracted driving (2nd offense): 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle using a handheld phone: 1
  • Failure to grant right of way: 1
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 1
  • Improper use of license plates: 1


As winter nears, Westport’s sister city of Lyman is in a race against time.

52 apartment buildings need repairs, so they can survive the cold weather and be fully restored in the spring.

Ukraine Aid International co-founder Brian Mayer — the Westporter who helped create the sister city relationship, and has made many trips to Lyman on our behalf — sends a video that shows how much our town has helped.

And how much remains to be done.

(Donations through Ukrainian Aid International will help rebuild the many heavily damaged apartments. Click here to help. Under “Designation,” click the dropdown menu and select “Westport — Lyman Sister City.”)


This Friday’s Westport Country Playhouse show is called “I’ll Drink to That! A Broadway Cocktail Party.”

Fittingly, it will feature Broadway stars.

Joe Delafield, Kristen Hahn and Maggie Lacey will perform cocktail-themed tunes and scenes from Broadway productions, while author Laurence Maslon recounts tales of actors, shows, and cocktail concoctions from his recently published book, “I’ll Drink to That!”

The event (September 22, 6 p.m., Playhouse courtyard and barn) begins with cocktails that pay homage to Broadway. The 70-minute program concludes with a second cocktail and book signing. Cocktails are included with $50 ticket.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

From left: Joe Delafield, Kristen Hahn, Maggie Lacy.


STAR Inc. and Voices Center for Resilience present a special program: “A 22-Year Journey from 9/11 to Today: Helping Families and Communities Prepare for Emergencies” (October 18, 7 p.m., Westport Library).

Mary Fetchet — founding Director of Voices Center for Resilience — lives in New Canaan. Her son Brad died in the September 11 attacks.

She will share her personal experience and perspective on preparing communities in advance of a tragedy. The presentations also includes representatives of local and state emergency management, highlighting their efforts to prepare communities.

For more information and to register,  click here.

Mary Fetchet, with a photo of her son Brad.


When kids go to the doctor, they may be nervous.

Like many offices, Village Pediatrics provides distractions to calm their nerves.

Their latest surprise, for patients big and small: an outer space room.

Huck (in the rocket control center) and Lola Shipman, with their mother.


Speaking of doctors: BD²: Breakthrough Discoveries for Thriving with Bipolar Disorder today announced an $18 million first round of grants, focusing on research in bipolar disorder.

Among the recipients: Westport resident Dr. Hilary Blumberg. She will lead a Yale University team in an investigation of mitochondrial-related genes, metabolic changes, and the central importance of energy- and activity-related symptoms at the onset of bipolar-related episodes. These studies w may translate that into pharmacological therapeutics and behavioral interventions. (Hat tip: Sherri Peyser)

Dr. Hilary Blumberg


The bar for “06880” Entitled Parking photos has been set incredibly high.

Drivers must now show breathtaking acts of selfishness to be featured here.

This one does:

(Photo/David Meth)

That’s not one, but two handicap spots taken up at Stop & Shop.

Plus, the car is taking up space in the drivers’ part of the lot too.

And — of course! — there is no handicap placard inside the car.


Johanna Keyser Rossi reports for “Westport … Naturally” from Sherwood Island State Park:

“There were lots of monarch butterflies yesterday, all around the milkweeds and bees. Unfortunately, lanternflies were everywhere too.”

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)


Roger Whittaker — described by the New York Times as “a British singer whose easy-listening ballads and folk songs caught the sentiments of perfect summer days and last farewells, touching the hearts of mainly older fans across Europe and America for four decades” — died last week in France. He was 87.

Click here for a full obituary.

(By contributing to”06880,” you support local news coverage. Please click here to help your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)

Townwide Forum On Wednesday Will Address Auto Thefts, Carjacking

Yesterday’s carjacking — and the recent spike in car thefts — has rattled many Westporters.

This Wednesday (September 20, 7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) Westport Police Department and 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker will host a town forum on public safety. It will focus on car thefts, vehicle break-ins, and Sunday’s carjacking.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas will lead a discussion on safety concerns voiced by residents. He and members of his command staff will describe the work of the Regional Auto Theft Task Force, formed in response to increased car thefts and vehicle break-ins in the area.

The discussion will also include police practices utilized to combat vehicle thefts.

All Westporters are invited to Wednesday’s event.

Meanwhile, Westport Police have released Ring videos of the carjacking. Portions of the video have been redacted, to protect the victim’s identity.


Koskinas On Carjacking, Car Thefts, What Cops Can And Can’t Do

Yesterday’s daylight carjacking in the garage of a Bayberry Lane home surprised and shook many Westporters.

One man was not surprised: Police Chief Foti Koskinas.

With the rise in car thefts and break-ins around town — always of unlocked vehicles — he’s feared an escalation like this was coming.

He’s also frustrated. He followed the stolen vehicle from I-95 exit 19 to Route 8 exit 27, where he had to stop.

Two carjackers surround the driver of an Aston Martin in his Bayberry Lane garage yesterday.

The carjacking — with an assault on the driver, in his vehicle in his own garage — is different from the “property crimes” of break-ins and thefts.

Early this morning — after being up all night — Koskinas discussed both with “06880.”

“There is a level of frustration, as a department,” the chief said. “There’s not much we can do initially,” when officers respond to a break-in or theft.

“We do all the follow-up. We try to get DNA, and lift fingerprints. We have an officer on an Auto Theft Task Force with area towns. They’ve recovered cars, and guns.”

But the problem starts with cars that are left unlocked in driveways, or open garages — often with the keys, fobs and/or valuables in plain sight.

None of the car thefts have involved jump starts or punched ignitions, Koskinas said.

The carjacking was different. Two men followed the victim — driving an Aston Martin — home, then assaulted him and stole his car.

They followed him in 2 vehicles that they had stolen previously.

When Koskinas saw the Aston Martin, he followed it on and off the highway.

The drivers “were taunting me — baiting me,” Koskinas said. “They were not afraid.” Eventually — due to heavy traffic, and the potential for an accident — the chief had to back off.

Westport Police Chief Fotios Koskinas (Photo/Dan Woog)

Those were legitimate concerns after a carjacking. Connecticut laws on pursuit following a property theft — an unlocked car, for example — are even more restrictive.

“It makes sense. You don’t want to injure or kill someone — the car thief or anyone else — after a property crime.”

But to not give officers the latitude to make that decision in the middle of the night, when there is very light traffic, for example, is frustrating.

So is the knowledge that catching car thieves — many of whom are juveniles — is almost fruitless.

The official age of “juveniles” was raised years ago, from 16 to 18. Juveniles caught now are released within hours, Koskinas said — even if they have multiple charges already pending. It’s almost like fishermen’s “catch and release.”

“The court system is overwhelmed,” Koskinas said. “They’re still backlogged with pre-COVID cases. And young people know what the police can and can’t do.”

He noted that the consequences for yesterday’s crime — if the carjackers are caught — are much more serious than a simple car theft.

“I try not to do politics,” Koskinas said. “But every time I hear a politician touting that jails are empty and crime is down — well, it’s not true. The hands of the police are tied.

“People talk about holding police accountable for their actions. They should. In Westport, we hold ourselves to the highest standard. But society has to be held accountable too. There’s a balance.

“Its extremely frustrating,” Koskinas continued. “These guys know if they come to Westport, they’ll be successful. So they come, the word gets out, and they come back and bring others. They have a high rate of success here, stealing very nice cars.”

Westport police recover almost 100% of cars — often with extensive damage. The stolen cars don’t go to chop shops, or overseas, the chief says.

They’re used to commit other crimes: robberies, street crimes, gang-related shootings in other cities.

Koskinas has increased patrols at times when crimes happen. He’ll continue to do so.

Koskinas is heartened that every town official — from “the selectwoman’s office to the newest RTM member” — has supported his requests. “My hands have never been tied,” he said.

But, he noted, “we have 10,000 or 11,000 homes in town. Yesterday, 2 people followed someone home. Having another 10 officers might have helped after this happened, but it wouldn’t have stopped it before.”

So what can Westporters do? Be very careful of your surroundings. Call the police — any time — when something looks or feels suspicious.

And park your cars in locked garages. If they must be outdoors, put them in well-lit areas, with keys, fobs and all valuables safely inside your home.

Thieves go where they’ll be most successful. The harder we make it for them in Westport, the less chance they’ll keep coming back.

Roundup: School Security, Spotted Lanternflies, Slice of Saugatuck …

Today’s “Westport … What’s Happening” podcast is timely and important.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas joins 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker to discuss why, how and where additional school security personnel will be added soon.

Click below to hear their conversation. The podcast is sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.


Spotted lanternflies are a highly invasive species.

And they thrive on another invasive pest: trees of heaven.

Infestations have been reported around Westport, including Winslow and Grace Salmon Parks.

The Connecticut Agricultural Experimental Station says:

The spotted lanternfly Lycorma delicatula, (SLF) was first found in North America in Pennsylvania in late 2014. It is an exotic, invasive sap-feeding planthopper that has the potential to severely impact Connecticut’s agricultural crops, particularly apples, grapes, and hops, and ornamental trees. Spotted lanternfly adults feed on more than 70 species of plants. Its preferred host tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is highly invasive and is abundant along highways, in urban areas, and along the edges of agricultural and industrial areas, where the spotted lanternfly could easily become established.

Approximately half of Connecticut’s trees are threatened by spotted lanternfly invasion according to data from Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). As spotted lanternfly nymphs and adults feed on the sap from trees and vines, the entire plant can become weakened because it cannot conduct photosynthesis as effectively. The excretions from these leaf-hopping insects encourage the growth of black sooty mold, thereby reducing photosynthesis. Agricultural crops will have reduced yields due to SLF feeding on fruit and generally weakening plants, if not completely destroying them.

To learn more about the pest, click here. Sightings (including, if possible, photos) should be reported to state environmental authorities, using this form(Hat tip: Tracy Porosoff)

(Photo/Stacie Weiser Waldman)


Speaking of nature: Paul Rohan writes, “The other morning on my morning walk on Hillspoint Road ner Valley Road, I spotted 2 young deer eating grass at the edge of the road.

“I then saw a coyote run up Lookout Lane and enter Hillspoint to approach the deer. As he was halfway across the road he spotted me. He did an about face, ran back down the lane, and quickly disappeared in the underbrush.

“Over the years I have seen a few coyotes in the area, but only before daybreak.  This was around 8 a.m. Please alert readers with small dogs or other pets who might be in the area in the early morning to be aware of this coyote situation.”

Not the Hillspoint Road coyote.


If it’s late summer/early fall, it must be time for the Slice of Saugatuck.

The 11th annual event — a fun food/merchant experience in Westport’s most walkable neighborhood — is set for Saturday, September 9 (2 to 5 p.m.).

This year, over 40 businesses will participate in the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event.

Over 2 dozen venues will offer tastes from their menus. Live music will play at 7 locations, with favorite bands like Otis & the Hurricanes, Silver Steel, Mill River Band, the Howling Barncats, Elana Zarabi and Accidental Breakdown.

Bouncy houses are back. New this year: a face painter for the kids.

Beer Gardens (with wine) on Bridge Square and Railroad Place will be complemented by restaurants offering specialty drinks. Many venues will continued the festivities with happy hour offerings after the Slice ends.

The price is again $15 for adults, $5 for children under 13, free for age 5 and under. Tickets are sold on-site only, beginning at 1:50 p.m.

Slice of Saugatuck is one of the best events on the local calendar. It’s also a great cause. Over the years, the Chamber has donated more than $44,000 to the Gillespie Center’s food pantry .

For more information — including a map of participants —  click here.

Lining up for samples, on Railroad Place


Mike Ronemus and a few friends have been thinking about it for, oh, only 25 years or so.

On Monday, they finally did it: They swam from Compo Beach to Cokenoe Island.

And back.

They began at 6 a.m. A kayak, stand-up paddleboard and 2 boats escorted them through the channel.

It took between 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 hours to cover the 2 1/2 miles.

Congratulations to Mike, and fellow adventure swimmers Tom Bottini, Chris Coffin, Kevin Huelster, Bruce Koffsky, Andy Ludel, Mary Money, Ric Nadel, Leila Shields, Clay Tebbits.

And welcome back to land!

Halfway there! There swimmers at Cockenoe Island.


A pair of local realtors recently sent out a newsletter, touting — among other things — a popular Westport restaurant.

Next time, they (or their proofreader) might want to do a more thorough job. (Hat tip: Francoise Jaffe)


Of course there’s lobster at the Friends of Sherwood Island State Park’s annual Shorefest celebration.

But there’s also salmon and steak (with catering by Westfair Fish & Chips). Plus music by Westport Jenny Ong’s classical trio. And as always, a chance to party with fellow park-lovers.

This year’s event is September 8 (6 to 9 p.m., main pavilion). A silent auction includes tours of Prospect Gardens and Aspetuck brew lab, a fishing charter with Westport captain Blake Smith, and gift certificates to local restaurants.

Proceeds help fund 140 feet of new dunes, with 3,600 American beach grass plants; invasive species eradication; an owl habitat restoration project; fall and spring tree plantings; the Nature Center intern program, and speakers on raptors, horseshoe crabs, turtles and insects.

Click here for tickets, and more information.


The Tennis Channel is listed on the NASDAQ. For the past 12 years, they’ve celebrated the start the US Open by ringing the morning bell.

Yesterday morning, the ringers included Cayne Mandell. The 2017 Staples High School and 2021 Syracuse University sports management graduate is an ad sales marketing coordinator for TC.

The NASDAQ bell was not his only perk. He’ll be in the Tennis Channel corporate suite during the event too.

Cayne Mandell, larger than life.


Allan Friedman has led bike trips for a decade — ever since his first Backroads journey to Tuscany in 2013. He then biked through California and Canada, and now leads urban tours in areas like New York, New Haven and Washington.

On September 12 (Saugatuck Congregational Church; 6:15 p.m. dinner; 7:30 p.m. presentation), he’s the Appalachian Mountain Club’s dinner guest speaker. His topic: ”Adventures Abound — Ride and Explore!”

The cost is $10 for members, $15 for non-members (payable at the door). Bring a dessert to share. For more information, email easasso7@icloud.com.


Allan Friedman


Eagle-eyed photographer Steve Halstead snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo — at the same moment his subject looked, equally intently, for a fish.

(Photo/Steve Halstead)


And finally … Bob Mummert, the drummer on Roy Orbison’s last tour, died Saturday.

Known for his appearance on the “You Got It” music video, he was also a drummer for the Grand Ole Opry, and a session musician who toured with many famous artists and bands.

(From school security to spotted lanternflies, “06880” is your connection between Westport and the world. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Lyman Library Talk Video, Kindergarten Change, Paul Newman’s Projectors …

Earlier today, Russian artillery killed 8 civilians and injured 13, in Westport’s sister city of Lyman, Ukraine.

Just 2 days ago, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and CNN’s Alisyn Camerota drew a large crowd, for their discussion of the town officials’ recent trip to the Donetsk region.

Plenty of others could not make the 2 p.m. event.

Fortunately, the Westport Library and Y’s Men of Westport and Weston taped it all. Click below, for a very important hour.


A little-publicized state law change may have big implications for Westport’s littlest residents.

And their parents.

Governor Lamont signed bill HB 06880 (a total coincidence; nothing to do with the name of this blog) into law on June 27.

It covers a variety of education topics. But one significant change is that beginning with the 2024-25 school year, the kindergarten age cutoff changes from December 31 that school year to September 1, so that any student entering kindergarten must already be 5 years old.

Because enrollment in private “5s” programs generally begins in early fall, families with students who will now be ineligible for kindergarten for the 2024-25 school year may need to think about private options.

Click here for the full bill. The relevant section begins on page 3. (Hat tip: Caroline Ferson)


Ever wanted to go inside Paul Newman’s projection room?

Now you can. It will just cost you at least $700.

Liveauctioneers.com posted this listing for “The Projection Room, Westport, CT”:

“Simplex 35 mm Projectors PR-1003 with Kowa Company Ltd. and other lenses; Kni-tron Xenon Lamp Houses L-100-3 (5134, 5138) with Simplex Electric Changes Overs SA5 (188C, 182C) …” — and 8 other lines of similar technical stuff.

Then came the money shot: “The Newman’s [sic] Westport, CT barn housed a full projection room for screening movies. The above-listed equipment is being sold as-is, to be de-installed and picked up by the buyer in Westport, CT at their expense.” Click here for more information, and to bid. (Hundreds of other Newman items are listed too.)

The projection equipment’s estimated worth is $1,500 to $3,000. The cost of de-installing it yourself in the late actor’s barn: priceless. (Hat tip: Frank Rosen)

A small part of Paul Newman’s projection equipment.


The teardown of 254 Hillspoint Road has been followed by demolition of a rock ledge.

The work has been followed closely, by the hundreds of people who walk daily between Compo and Old Mill Beach.

(Photo/Nathan Greenbaum)


David Bigelow — who lived most of his life in Westport, and with his wife Eunice helped turn Fairfield-based Bigelow Tea company. and its “Constant Comment,” into a national leader in flavored tea — died last month. He was 96.

A celebration of his life is set for August 25 (11 a.m., Greenfield Hill Congregational Church, Fairfield). Memorial contributions to the David and Eunice Bigelow Foundation can be made online, or to 201 Black Rock Turnpike, Fairfield, CT 06825.

Click here for a full CT Insider story. Click here for the full obituary.

David and Eunice Bigelow


Longtime Westporter Gerald “Jerry” Minsky died Thursday at Yale New Haven Hospital. He was 78.

A graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School of Coney Island, New York and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he earned an MBA from the University of Buffalo.

Jerry was an executive and mentor in the finance industry for many years. He was an innovator of computer leases and tax shelters, and was involved with the program that put the first camera on the moon.

His family says, “He was a world traveler, who always knew the best places to eat. He loved jazz and blues, and enjoyed cigars in the backyard. He played basketball, and was the first Ben Franklin Mascot.

“Jerry was also an avid tennis and pickleball player, and a late believer in the game of golf. He was an extremely intellectual person who loved reality TV, and family was the center of his world.”

Jerry is survived by his wife Lynne Minsky of Westport; sons Greg and Geoff;  grandchildren Jack, Maddie and Sadie Minsky; nephews Richard (Som) Stein and Daniel (Wannarawee) Stein; great-nephew Tankhun Stein, and his cherished dog, Mickey. He was predeceased by his sister Arlene.

A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Sunday, July 9, 3 p.m., Temple). To join a live stream and share a condolence message, click here. Shiva will be observed at the Minsky residence on Sunday following the service, and on Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to Mozaic Senior Life (formerly Jewish Senior Services), 4200 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604.


Milkweed comes in many forms — all vital for monarch butterflies Here’s one, courtesy of Werner Liepolt, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.


And finally … on this date in 1889, the Wall Street Journal published its first edition.

(Hey, Mr. Businessman: “06880” is a great investment! If you appreciate what we do every day — and have done for 14 years — please consider a tax-deductible contribution. Please click here. Thank you!

8 Civilians Killed, 13 Injured In Attack On Lyman

8 civilians were killed, and 13 injured, earlier today (10 a.m. local time), when Russian artillery struck Westport’s sister city of Lyman, Ukraine.

An apartment building, business and 3 cars were set on fire by multiple rocket launchers. No other details were available.

Russian forces occupied the town in the spring and summer of 2022. Ukraine’s army retook Lyman in October. But the Donetsk region continues to be the site of fierce battles.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas — who traveled to the Lyman and eastern Ukraine in May — have been communicating with their counterparts in Lyman this morning.

“Our support for our sister city Lyman is more important than ever,” Tooker said today. “We have stood with them, and while mourning together, we will continue to do so.”

Today’s attack makes tomorrow’s LymanAID event honoring our sister city more important too (Sunday, July 9; 1 p.m. to dusk; Ukrainian-American Club, Post Road in Southport just past the I-95 northbound Exit 19 on-ramp).

It is one more way for our town to show solidarity with, and support for, our war-weary friends halfway around the world.

Tomorrow’s event is free. Though pre-registration is not required, a couple of hundred people have already done so. (Click here to register, and for more information.)

The day includes free food, beer, wine and soft drinks, and music from the Mike McGovern Band. Fundraising opportunities will be available through a raffle with many items (including a gorgeous Ukrainian quilt); a treasure sale, Yankee auction, coffee table book pull, plant sale, “LymanADE” stand and more.

Lyman Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov is scheduled to speak on a big screen. Senator Richard Blumenthal will be there, in person. So will Tooker, Koskinas — and many, many caring, concerned Westporters.

Alisyn Camerota Anchors “Bridge To Ukraine”

Tomorrow afternoon (Thursday, July 6, 2 p.m), the Westport Library hosts 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas. They’ll describe the sights, sounds and smells of their recent trip to our sister city: Lyman, Ukraine.

There’s a lot to talk about. And the discussion will be led by a true pro: CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.

She looks forward to the event — called “A Bridge to Ukraine” — as both a journalist and a Westporter.

“We cover the war in Ukraine every week on my program, ‘CNN Tonight,’ with our stellar team of international correspondents who are often in the danger zones,” Alisyn says.

“I also interview generals about war strategy and politicians about funding for Ukraine. But I don’t often get a chance to talk to regular Americans, our neighbors, about their impressions of the war after seeing it with their own eyes.  There’s no substitute for the perspective Jen and Foti can share with us.”

Police Chief Foti Koskinas, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.

The CNN anchor will ask about life in Lyman. Are people working? Do kids go to school?

And, Alisyn wonders, “how can we explain the Herculean strength and determination of the Ukrainian people? What does that look like up close?”

Doing this interview in Westport “makes it more intimate and relatable for all of us,” Alisyn says.

“There’s something wonderful about having a conversation without worrying about satellites going down, or being up against a commercial break. I also love moderating discussions that include a Q & A portion for our audience. Those are often the best questions.”

The event is sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport & Weston.

(For more information on “Bridge to Ukraine,” click here.)

“06880” Podcast: Jen Tooker, Foti Koskinas And Ukraine

A month after Jen Tooker and Foti Koskinas visited Lyman, Ukraine, the sights, sounds and smells of our sister city remain vivid.

Westport’s 1st selectwoman and police chief’s journey to the Donetsk region — the first trip by Americans to the eastern part of the war-torn nation — was an enormous morale-booster, for regional officials as well as other citizens.

Last week, Tooker and Koskinas recorded a special “06880” podcast at the Westport Library.

They grew emotional as they described the men and women of Lyman wearing their best clothes, thanking representatives of the American town that cared. “You gave me bread!” one woman said.

One purpose of the trip — paid for entirely by private funds — was to ensure that the $252,000 raised by Westporters through Ukraine Aid International is actually helping.

It is. The trash trucks we purchased are in constant use. Apartment blocks have been rebuilt. Communications equipment enables the police force to function.

But Tooker and Koskinas were not prepared for so much else on the journey: the app that warns of incoming missiles. The smell of burning flesh, still lingering around the hundreds of abandoned tanks.

Also unexpected: the one school still open, where despite no electricity or running water, their Lyman hosts offered a meal. And where the Westporters delivered over 200 cards and letters, created by Bedford Middle and Kings Highway Elementary School students.

Last month, Tooker and Koskinas solidified Westport’s bonds with our sister city. Click below to hear what that relationship means now — and in the future.

Tooker, Koskinas Reflect On Historic Ukraine Trip

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Police Chief Foti Koskinas will long remember many of the sights, sounds and smells of their recent trip to Westport’s sister city: Lyman, Ukraine.

Bombed-out buildings, charred tanks, artillery fire, an app alerting them to incoming missiles — those are seared in the memories of the first Americans to travel to the Donetsk Oblast since the Russian invasion more than a year ago.

But even more meaningful are their encounters with the Ukrainian people: the governor and head of the national police force, who traveled for hours to meet them. The mayor and police chief, finally in person after countless Zoom calls.

Most of all, the residents of Lyman: the people who put on the best clothes they could find, to greet the Westporters. The few children in the lone classroom still open.

And the man who skirted land mines to hike to a lake, bring back three fish, smoke them, and proudly present them as a traditional gesture of thanks.

Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov presents 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker with a smoked fish: a Ukrainian gesture of friendship.

Tooker and Koskinas are still processing all that they saw and did, on their 4-day journey from the Polish border to far east of Kyiv. They took a circuitous route on pock-marked roads and over pontoon bridges, doubling back around destroyed bridges and other obstacles.

In armored vehicles and with a police escort, they sped through every traffic light and stop sign. “It’s harder to hit a moving target,” Koskinas explains.

Yet the tight security was comforting. Tooker always felt safe, under the watchful eyes of the police and military.

US and Connecticut flags, at the Donetsk Oblast border. From left: Brian Mayer of Ukraine Aid International; Police Chief Foti Koskinas; 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker; Easton 1st Selectman David Bindelglass; a police officer, and Liz Olegov of UAI.

Still, it was not until they crossed — on foot — into Poland for the return leg that they felt out of complete danger.

The trip — privately financed, with no town funds — was a chance for the 2 officials to see how the $252,000 raised by residents over the holidays for our sister city had been spent.

Police chief Foti Koskinas, with 1 of 2 trash trucks bought by Ukraine Aid International, with funds donated by Westporers. When all such vehicles were destroyed by Russians, there was no way too remove tons of debris. 

Ukraine Aid International — the organization founded by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer — handled ground arrangements. Tooker and Koskinas got an up close look at their personnel and logistics.

“Their model is unbelievably effective,” the 1st selectwoman reports. “They go where no other group goes. They even deliver goods for other groups.”

“They’ve developed incredible relationships. When they drive in, the military recognizes their vehicles and waves them through roadblocks.”

Westpor donors have funded an array of initiatives: building materials for apartments; water purification systems; home heating devices; police and trash vehicles; communication equipment; bulletproof vests for utility workers; vegetable and fruit seeds, and more.

Tooker and Koskinas saw that all those goods and materials had been delivered efficiently. “That’s not always the case with humanitarian aid,” Tooker notes. “But Ukraine Aid International gets the job done.”

Utility workers repair equipment near the front lines. Westporters’ contributions paid for protective and other equipment.

A second reason for the trip was to cement personal relationships. Since the holidays, Koskinas has spoken almost daily to his counterpart, Police Chief Igor Ugnevenko. Tooker has been in frequent contact with Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov.

Spending time with those officials underlined the importance of Westport’s sister city relationship. “Foti and I are more committed than ever to do everything we can to help,” Tooker says.

They’re spurred by a cascade of images. In the one functioning classroom, in the only school left standing. students of all ages come on a rotating schedule. Despite the challenges, “it’s as warm and welcoming as our classrooms here,” Tooker says.

There is no running water or electricity in the building. But in a makeshift cafeteria, educators proudly set out a lunch of homemade food for their guests.

The school is like the rest of Lyman. As they toured the town, Tooker and Koskinas were allowed to walk in only a few areas — and only on asphalt. Land mines are buried everywhere.

“Picture the most graphic World War II documentary,” Koskinas says. “We saw it. There’s a ‘graveyard’ of Russian military artifacts. You can still smell the burning flesh.”

The perseverance and warmth of the Lyman people was “astonishing,” says Tooker. They found the best clothes they could, ironed them, and greeted the Westporters with smiles and hugs.

A Lyman resident hugs 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, as thanks for Westport’s help rebuilding her apartment.

A ceremony for the signing of the official sister city relationship was held in a remote area. The governor, and the heads of the national police (the equivalent of our FBI) and patrol police traveled for hours to be there. It was important for them to see the Americans who had traveled so far, Tooker says.

“They kept calling us ‘heroes.’ It was embarrassing. We were horrified,” she adds.

The chasm between the US and Ukraine was brought home in sharp relief minutes after their arrival at Newark Airport.

“People were fighting over taxis. I mean, really?” Koskinas says.

They came home a few days before Memorial Day. This year’s holiday “had a whole new meaning for me,” the police chief says. “You know the saying: ‘Freedom is not free.’ That’s so true. They’re giving up all they have to be free.”

“My respect for the armed services was always high. Now it’s higher than ever,” Tooker adds.

The officials are eager to share all that they saw, felt and did. They are filled with respect for the Ukrainian people — and for the help that Ukrainian Aid International delivers.

Discussing clean-up operations, amid the remains of Russian tanks.

“Brian and Marshall Mayer told us that going there would make a difference to Lyman,” Koskinas says. “It did. That’s my biggest takeaway.

“Foti and I made a professional and personal commitment to our counterparts,” Tooker says.

“We will communicate regularly. They face a generation of rebuilding. We will be there for them.”

(The second round of donations for Lyman has begun. Click here, then select “Westport” from the “Where it is needed most” dropdown menu. And mark your calendar for July 9: A town-wide “Lyman-AID”  celebration with food, music and more. It’s free — but there are also many ways to contribute to help our sister city. Click here for details.)

Connecticut and Ukrainian officials, after a meeting in Sviatohirsk .