We Can’t Encourage ‘Missing Middle’ Housing, and Fail to Interest Ourselves in Enforcement

We have been supportive of efforts to encourage a legal and relatively painless process for approving mother-in-law apartments — so-called ADUs. The benefits are many: ADUs typically cost less to build than a unit of affordable housing, can provide relatively inexpensive housing in settings and school districts — like rural Lyme, Southport or New Canaan — that are entirely unaffordable for most. They can provide a source of income and part-time labor that can help elderly homeowners on fixed incomes age in place. As a rule, we prefer a government, small and large, that is less burdensome. That said, it’s

More

Old Lyme Nonprofits Propose Formalizing Retail and Apartment Regulations on Lyme St.

OLD LYME — On Tuesday night at Town Hall, an Essex-based lawyer, Terrance Lomme, discussed a draft plan with members of the town’s zoning commission that he said would simply codify the existing uses of properties on Lyme St. currently owned by four of the town’s most prominent nonprofits. Lomme presented the plan on behalf of the Roger Tory Peterson Center, at the former Bee & Thistle, the Florence Griswold Museum, Lyme Art Association, and Lyme Academy of Fine Arts. The unusual gesture of organizational unity underscored the stakes of the proposal, which on the one hand could help ensure

More

Connecticut East This Week Takes Awards, Hits 100th Episode

On Saturday, Brian Smith releases the 100th episode of Connecticut East This Week, an award-winning weekly news podcast that Smith describes as an effort to bring back long-form storytelling and longer-form reporting to listeners in eastern Connecticut. The 30-minute episodes – which have included interviews recently with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the group Puppies Behind Bars, artist Bill Dougal, and a smattering of local politicos – are aired by the Hall Radio Group, and can be downloaded on Apple Podcasts. “I’m asking the questions that I think people would want to ask if they can have access to those people,” explained

More

Police Footage Remains Out of Reach, as Hartford Passes the Buck

I’d like to say, that over the last few years we’ve taken steps toward improving policing in Connecticut, catching criminals and reducing the use of excessive force during arrests, rethinking law enforcement training and demanding transparency – but so far, despite a far-reaching Police Accountability Bill passed in 2020, I’d say there’s little evidence of that. Perhaps it’s a hopeful sign that some of the public frustration clearly is shared by many members of the state and local police. Steve Jensen’s reporting for CT Examiner on a variety of alleged problems within the State Police force – including serious questions

More

‘Are You Ready to Close the U.N.?’

“Are you ready to close the U.N.?” Volodymyr Zelensky, asked members of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday. “Do you think that the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately.” But surely, if ever there was a time to recognize the value of multilateral organizations – the EU, NATO, the United Nations – it’s now that the United States finds itself confronting a direct challenge by Russia to the post-WWII settlement of Europe. No doubt the scale of sanctions and military aid in response to the Russian invasion of

More

One Week in, Port Of Call Shows Polish

MYSTIC – Blindfold me, sit me down at a bar, and serve me a drink, and 10 times out of 10 I guarantee you I can pick out the ones shaken, stirred or built by Port of Call Beverage Director Jade Ayala and Sebastian Guerrero, who heads up the bar program. Whether I am drinking boozy variations on a Manhattan or Negroni served ‘up,’ or jewel-toned Caribbean-inspired sweet-tart cocktails served on pebble ice, there is nothing loud, slick or perfunctory about the drinks here. The bar shows polish — classic formulas, sensitive subbing in of the oddball spirit or two,

More

Cocotte Turns Out Top-Notch French Cooking Without Pretense

Since Cocotte opened last June on Main Street in Old Saybrook, chef Jeffrey DeFrancesco has begun turning out some of the least pretentious, best food east of New Haven from a tiny kitchen with a young understudy, while his French wife Isabelle works the front of the house (apart from her other job) with a parttime staff of servers and an ethic that is as uncompromising as it is convivial. “The other side of French food is a very communal thing,” Isabelle, the more voluble of the two, explained to me the other day. “Your favorite restaurant – it’s usually

More

A Remarkable Showing Of Twenty-Something ‘Volcanic Wine’ at Mystic’s Shipwright’s Daughter

Even at elevation, 2019 must have been a scorching summer in Egra, the spiritual home of Bikaver, Bull’s Blood, a Hungarian red blend dating back to the 19th century or earlier, that leans heavily on Kékfrankos, a local variety of Blaufränkisch. Across central and southeastern Europe it was the hottest summer in more than a century. In the glass, the 2019 Gal-Tibor Bikaver was spicy, dried fig and raisin, with enough acidity to keep things lively – a bargain for around 22 bucks from Spencer and Lynn in Mystic, and by the glass at Shipwright’s Daughter, where Sommelier Kathleen Standridge

More

BIG NEWS FOR CT EXAMINER

I am excited to announce the hire of Angela Carella as senior reporter and deputy editor to lead our expanded coverage in Fairfield County. For 36 years, Carella has covered Stamford and surrounding towns in various roles at the Stamford Advocate — beat reporter, investigative reporter, editor and columnist. She has won numerous awards for her reporting, and holds a MA in journalism from NYU. Stayed tuned as we announce the hiring of additional staff in Fairfield County. I am also very happy to announce that we have hired the creative agency Julia Balfour LLC (pictured) to lead the redesign

More

All Smiles at Relaunch of The Essex in Old Saybrook

OLD SAYBROOK — The relaunch of Chef Colt Taylor’s The Essex at a new location on Main Street in Old Saybrook is good news for a town that appears poised to make a significant leap toward becoming a dining destination in the eastern half of the state. Taylor, who also owns Los Charros Cantina in the nearby town of Essex and is planning at least two other restaurants in the area, including an outdoor spot, Smoke on the Water, at Saybrook Point has a way of attracting talent and goodwill as was evident on Thursday night, when a few dozen

More

Halls Road Committee Must Address Due Process Concerns

With a meeting of the Halls Road Improvements Committee scheduled for tonight, I’ll keep this to the point. While it is true that the Connecticut General Assembly grants the Old Lyme Zoning Commission wide latitude to consider and approve changes to zoning regulations, that latitude is constrained by the public’s right to due process, including the right of the public to meaningfully comment on the substance of a hearing. Unfortunately for the committee, the courts do not care whether violations of the law involve Democrats or Republicans, the best or worst intentions. The reality is that the committee stumbled into

More

Mystic Seaport Pitches Big Leap Forward, and Venetian Show from the Smithsonian

MYSTIC — In five or ten years, what do you want to hang your hat on, I asked Peter Armstrong, what would you like to get done? His answer, stretching over an hour of conversation in early November, is quite a lot. “I think we hang our hat on being a kind of a maritime museum that is looking forward, not backwards,” Armstrong explained, sketching out a remarkable array of near-term projects and announcements – an upscale hotel, conference space, a new seafood restaurant to encourage evening visitors, a $2.4 Million Mellon grant, floating docks to welcome visiting boaters, and

More

Heyman Opens ‘Summons’ at Cade Tompkins Projects in Providence

PROVIDENCE — Tucked in toward the eastern extent of the Brown University campus, artist Daniel Heyman opens a concise series of work at Cade Tompkins Projects built around Summer Squall, a 28-foot scroll — part Torah, part Japanese woodblock print – further refining a decades-long interest in themes of witnessing. Heyman, a professor of printmaking at Rhode Island School of Design, whose work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Getty Museum, is perhaps best known for the drypoint etchings he completed over six days listening to the accounts of a dozen men and

More

Consultant-driven Planning in Old Lyme

The other day, I joked to a friend, that if the Declaration of Independence was signed yesterday, it would have been drafted by McKinsey – a silly way of making a serious point, that so much of contemporary public life, law and policy is written by outside consultants with little local knowledge and less at stake when their best laid plans go awry. In the case of the proposed regulations for Halls Road in Old Lyme, I don’t think members of the Halls Road Improvements Committee, and Economic Development Commission intended to mislead the public – in numerous comments on

More

Just Crickets in Connecticut as Court Takes Narrow View of Whistleblower Protections

Since early October, countless columnists, lawyers and elected officials – many in Connecticut – have voiced support for Frances Haugen, a former product manager at Facebook, who came forward with a variety of damning information about the conduct of the social media platform. But a state employee whistleblower case right here in Connecticut that I believe deserves similar attention has curiously drawn little reaction from those so vocal on the Facebook matter. As far as we are aware, Haugen has not alleged witnessing any crime or any conspiracy to commit a crime as a private employee of the company, but

More

Has Anyone Actually Read the New Rules for Halls Road (and Flo Gris)?

On Oct. 12, with little fanfare, Old Lyme’s Zoning Commission took up a petition to change the existing rules determining what owners of private parcels of land can and cannot do in a new “village district,” stretching from Huntley Rd. and the shopping center, clear across to the Florence Griswold Museum and the Krieble Gallery. Town officials are now ‘on the clock,’ through the election and into the holidays, to decide whether to approve or reject a 61-page plan that includes several dozen significant changes governing everything from the style guidelines for acceptable architecture and renovations to what sorts of

More

Regarding Clinton Schools — CT Examiner Responds

A number of claims have been made about our reporting, in an apparent effort to quash any serious outside inquiry or reporting on numerous teacher complaints alleging a toxic work environment in Clinton public schools. That these claims have been manufactured primarily by the Connecticut Education Association, a self-described “driving force in lobbying legislators for the resources public schools need and campaigning for high standards for teachers and students,” is ironic and disappointing. Hardnosed advocacy and sharp elbows are something we expect from organized labor in support of its members. And we understand and respect that role. But here we

More

David Spencer Pitches Beaujolais

It’s a cool fall day in Mystic, it’s raining, and I am sitting across a table from David Spencer – half of the husband-and-wife partnership, with Pamela Lynn, that opened Spencer & Lynn about a year ago.  I’m here to talk about fall wine, but more often than not it seems that our conversation pivots instead around people. “So, what we do is something that I think is a trend in New York, and a trend in the wine world right now — but it’s not a trend for us, it’s what we are passionate about – is sell wine

More

After 40 Years in the Media Business, on Tuesday Cameron Offers a Bit of Advice

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, Old Lyme’s Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library is hosting a free virtual talk with author Jim Cameron, whose book, Off the Record: Confessions of a Media Consultant, offers a lively behind-the-scenes look at the news business, drawing from 40 years as a news reporter, media trainer and public relations consultant. That’s one day after Cameron debuts his newly-independent syndicated column, “Talking Transportation,” after five years writing a column for Hearst. Cameron’s new column will be appear in CT Examiner, and other media outlets across the state. Cameron promises plenty of time for questions and comments, as well

More

On the Matter of Equity and East Lyme

As a practical matter, I see no reason to question the thrust of the recommendations made by the Equity Institute, which are, by and large, common sense.  Yes, East Lyme school officials should work to reduce bullying, and to make school settings a space for young people to learn and grow. Yes, school officials should try to construct a curriculum that is diverse and relevant, equally nurturing for young people who wish to learn a trade or to attend college. Yes, school officials should do their best to provide equal opportunity and discipline, if necessary, to every student. Classrooms should

More

On the Matter of Bordelon’s Comments

We neither favor nor endorse candidates for election. In the case of Portia Bordelon, who is running in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary for Groton Town Council, there are, no doubt, fair reasons to oppose her candidacy. But Bordelon’s vocal objections to the Groton Oral School project — in defiance of the legal advice of Groton Town Attorney Eric Callahan – should not be counted among them. We believe that Callahan, at best, spoke with a surfeit of caution when he advised members of the Groton Town Council to refrain from responding to public comments at a May 4 meeting on the

More

Fall Lecture Series Kicks off With Acclaimed Journalist of Contemporary Rwanda

On Tuesday, London-based journalist and author Michela Wrong leads off a fall speaker series for the Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council with a virtual talk on her latest work, Do Not Disturb: The Story of a Political Murder and an African Regime Gone Bad. Cambridge-educated Wrong has spent decades reporting on Africa, including stints with Reuters and the BBC, and with pieces published in the Observer, Financial Times, and Guardian. Paul Nugent, the council’s executive director, described Wrong as a compelling speaker, and a departure from the group’s more Western-oriented discussion of education and aid for Africa.  Do Not Disturb,

More

Nana’s… a Destination Doughnut

It’s been twenty years, at least, since I’ve had a doughnut as good as the cinnamon sugar sourdough at Nana’s Bakery & Pizza in Mystic. Made to order and served still too hot to eat in cinnamon sugar, chocolate, cardamom-Espresso or cacio e pepe, it might be the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning in Connecticut now that the tourist crowds have slackened off.  The 32 Williams St. waterfront location opens at 7 a.m., except on Wednesdays —  I wouldn’t blame you if you left off here and just drove over and tried one. What makes a doughnut that

More

About That Rail Route More Parallel to I-95

We’re not sure what to make of reported comments by Amtrak head William Flynn, who apparently reassured Charlestown, RI in a recent phone call that the multistate Northeast Corridor Commission is now leaning toward routing a new high-speed rail line between Providence and New Haven on a path “more parallel to Route 95.” If you don’t recall, the last attempt to finalize a route — a fiasco known as the Kenyon to Old Saybrook Bypass — went down in flames in 2017. That left unfinished business on the federal level, where the Federal Railroad Administration still needs (wants?) to complete

More

By the Numbers — COVID and the Return of School

In any given year, for every 100,000 people living in Connecticut about 200 are victims of potentially life-altering violent crime. 8 die in car crashes. 5 are killed by firearms. 1 drowns. Somewhat fewer are hit and killed by cars. About 20 are victims of forcible rape. And about 50 males for every 100,000 will die from accidental poisoning or exposure to chemicals and solvents. Over the last 18 months, based on CDC numbers, about 233 of every 100,000 people in Connecticut died of COVID-19. But in Connecticut, the odds of a young person, aged 19 and under, dying of

More

A New Hartford Station, Resolving High-Speed Rail Bypasses, Headline NEC Future Announcement

On Wednesday, the NEC Commission announced the launch of Phase 1 of the NEC Future vision for improving rail service along the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and Boston. Dubbed Connect NEC 2035, the plan calls for the completion of 150 significant projects over 15 years at an additional cost of $100 billion dollars. These plans include a new rail station for Hartford, the elimination of three at-grade crossings in Mystic, new rail stops along the Hartford Line for North Haven, Newington, West Hartford, and Enfield, and new rail platforms for Clinton and Madison. Service upgrades would include new direct

More

Why Won’t Metro-North Release Their Numbers?

On May 21, CT Examiner’s Brendan Crowley made a simple Freedom of Information request, asking Metro-North to document the number of citations or tickets the railroad has issued for mask-wearing violations since January 1, 2020. It’s the sort of straight-forward request that a well-functioning public agency can usually fill in a week, maybe two, often less. So, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that we have our answer, and that Metro-North is not a well-functioning agency. How far that dysfunction extends is less clear — but I see no reason to believe that transit officials are doing a better

More
1 2 3 5