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Wednesday, December 18, 2002

12/21/02 - Rethinking the town's FAR regulations

EDITORIALS


Rethinking the town's FAR regulations
December 18, 2002

The drumbeat of anti-FAR sentiment in town has been constant for several years. Even so, the Planning and Zoning Commission has been working to reinstate a modified form of the floor area ratio rules that were adopted in part to regulate the size of houses built in town. Now the Representative Town Meeting has weighed in with a resolution asking for another look at the situation.

Foes say the FAR regulations didn't work when they were in effect between 1998 and earlier this year. A court decision tossed them out because of problems in notifying the town about the rules when they were adopted.

While the commission's initial reaction was to simply vote anew on the FAR regulations -- with a few alterations to deal with conservation zones and other nuances -- townspeople opposing this house-sizing strategy have pointedly questioned whether other approaches wouldn't be more effective.

The genesis of the Planning and Zoning Commission's FAR strategy was a resolution approved by the RTM back in 1998 seeking an initiative to control the development of oversized houses within our town. Now the matter has come full circle, with the RTM's sense-of-the-meeting vote Dec. 10 that urges a new examination of how best to implement appropriate controls.

While some RTM members told staff writer Ryan Jockers the 2-1 vote doesn't rule out the use of floor area ratios as a tool for controlling construction, it is plain to us that community sentiment supports different tactics. Failure to get this message could pose problems for the Planning and Zoning Commission, which sometimes has seemed out of touch with town residents.

We've been critical in the past of the unwieldy way the RTM can sometimes conduct its business. But in this case, the 229-member town legislature showed its value as a democratic institution, conveying a message from the public to another branch of town government. The vote -- 119 to 54, with 13 abstentions -- to us reflects enough of a consensus for the Planning and Zoning Commission to re-think its plans.

In the past we've suggested that pinning all the town's efforts at controlling the size of new residences on the floor-area-ratio calculations approved by the commission didn't reflect the best use of available zoning tools. Now that the RTM has suggested a review of the problem, we hope the commission will look at other measures, such as setbacks and side-yard limits, that combined with floor-area regulations might better address the needs of our town.

We also agree with some of the FAR critics that whatever regulations are adopted in an effort to prevent the spread of so-called McMansions, the rules should not unduly penalize people by preventing them from building houses consistent in size to their neighborhood. Fairness in this matter is particularly important, because it involves people's homes and their families.

One way the commission might deal with this challenge -- and enlighten some tough critics -- could involve enlisting their help in looking into how other municipalities in Connecticut and elsewhere have addressed the same problem. Greenwich isn't the only place where huge houses have marred the landscape.

In the meantime, now that the RTM vote is on the record, it wouldn't hurt for the Planning and Zoning Commission to openly discuss where it stands and where it will be going as it tries to address the issue. Candor would be better than consistency in building support for the tough task the commission is facing.



Tuesday, December 17, 2002

12/17/02 Enforcement is key on teen drinking

EDITORIALS

Enforcement is key on teen drinking
December 17, 2002

The arrests of a mother and daughter who hosted a party at which police allege alcohol was served to Greenwich High School students signal a new interest by authorities in dealing with a problem that has been discussed for years: teen drinking. Those in Greenwich who have spoken out about the issue should support stricter enforcement, as well as the stalled community substance abuse program that seems to be gathering fresh momentum.


Our town sometimes needs to be shocked into action. The problems with underage drinking that occurred during the GHS homecoming celebration may have provided townspeople with the equivalent of a slap in the face. Six girls and one boy, all of them freshmen or sophomores, were suspended by school officials for drinking. Two of the girls, who allegedly attended the party in question, were taken to Greenwich Hospital, where one was treated and released and the other spent three days being treated.

The ages of those suspended are 14 and 15. If that is shocking to readers, consider that experts in town say children younger than 10 are among those who abuse alcohol in Greenwich.

Nonetheless, the situation apparently was so troubling that Greenwich police were able to bring charges against Mary P. Pool, 47, and her daughter, Mary B. Pool, 17, who held a party at their North Street home. They were charged with risk of injury to a minor. The Mrs. Pool's husband, Harry, who was out of town at the time of the party, has said he is sure no alcohol was served at the event and has hired an attorney. Both mother and daughter are to appear in court Friday in Stamford.

Regardless of the outcome, this case raises questions about where the teens got alcoholic beverages and who should be responsible for underage drinking. Police note that too often they lack evidence to charge adults who own the houses where drinking parties take place, even though state laws can make the owners subject to arrest. That's why we have suggested that state officials look into laws prohibiting possession of alcoholic beverages by youngsters, as well as more thorough enforcement of existing statutes.

Making it illegal for people under 21 to have alcohol could have a chilling effect on young people who are asked on college applications whether they have ever been arrested. Colleges around the country are also caught up in efforts to eliminate binge drinking, which has become a dangerous way of life on many campuses.

Of course, heavy drinking isn't only confined to colleges, as the GHS homecoming dance debacle indicates. That's why we're glad to see concerned parents and officials from social service agencies and the Police Department rekindling discussions about the problem. A Dec. 11 meeting to begin to form a townwide coalition could be the first step toward putting initiatives to counter teen drinking back on the community's radar screen.

Over the years, the problem has remained important for some individuals, including many teenagers. Young people who support events at the Arch Street teen center, those involved with the Safe Rides program and members of Students Against Drunk Driving have made clear their concerns. So have the parents who make it a point to know where their teenage children are going and when they will be home.

But too many parents not only turn a blind eye to underage drinking but encourage it. Serving alcohol at a teen party on the theory having them home can ensure their safety is fallacious reasoning, for when the young party-goers leave, any control lapses.

That is why we are glad police are taking harsh steps in the pending case. We would like to think other communities would do the same, for this is a widespread problem. But unless our town, other municipalities and the state begin to address underage drinking with stricter measures, we fear a bad situation will only get tragically worse.

Monday, September 9, 2002

Sunday, June 9, 2002 - Henry J. Fisher Sends A Letter To The Greenwich Time Editor

To the editor:

The proposal to build a labyrinth was a good idea before Sept. 11, and it got better after. It is supported by a diverse group of citizens and town employees, including members of all three emergency services, at least two garden clubs, the YWCA and the Junior League. To date, it has been opposed by essentially one group of citizens.

First, I am not a member of the committee shepherding this proposal through the town approval process, although they kindly informed me of it in the fall. In fact, this is the only proposed recognition of the events of Sept. 11 on which I have been consulted. As I saw the opposition mount, I decided to go public with my support.

Many residents were hit very hard by the events of Sept. 11, many more than those of us who lost a relative. However, the issue of stress in our town goes way beyond that tragedy. The quiet little town I thought I grew up in is no longer -- and may never have been. However, the feelings evoked by that concept need to be nurtured by something as simple as a labyrinth.

There are precious few places to go in Greenwich to find solace; most are invaded by crowds and noise. Greenwich Point, in particular its western end, is a special place to find a quiet spot. I believe it is an excellent choice for a labyrinth.

As for access, it is not the problem it is made out to be. If one were to say that every public facility required convenient access, they all would be built in the center of town. There are no legal barriers to access at Greenwich Point; the courts took care of that. As for physical access to the site, the road needs minor repairs at the bottom of the hill; once those are made, a car can carry a handicapped person up to gain full access to the site.

It is important to note that this does not involve structures above the present landscape. It simply involves laying flat stones into the ground to create grass paths. I find that appealing, as it will be a very minor intrusion on the landscape, certainly less than many other structures placed at the Point over the years.

It will not interfere with other activities at the site. Nor does it involve clearing a 250-foot area. Incorporated in the proposal is an offer by the committee to make modest renovations to compensate for years of neglect. These involve repairs to nearby paths and walls, cleaning up the wooded border of the site and planting indigenous plants along the edge. That will prevent people from entering the site by walking up the slope to it, as they do now. Paths created by those walkers are contributing to erosion.

Funds to install and maintain the labyrinth will come from private donations of money, materials and labor.

Alternate sites have been examined and rejected. The site at the Point is the most appropriate because of its proximity to the most accessible view of New York City. I hope some who say they like the idea but oppose the site at the Point will propose a labyrinth at the sites they favor.

The purpose of the labyrinth has been consistently presented. It is in memoriam, not a memorial. It is recognition of the event, not of the people lost. There may come a time when the town decides to erect a memorial. Those are usually erected many years after the events that justify them. The purpose of this proposal is to facilitate healing from our wounds, whatever the source. The associated plaque will read: Dedicated as a sacred, meditative place for healing, solace and contemplation, in remembrance of September 11, 2001.

I ask all who support this proposal to call your Representative Town Meeting delegates. They are listed on the Web site: http://www.greenwichct.org/

RTM

Henry J. Fisher

Greenwich

Sunday, June 9, 2002 - Claudia "Dolly" Powers Letter To The Editors Of The Greenwich Time

To the editor:

So many people volunteer for and support TAG and the Bruce Museum as very special assets to our community that I would like to assure the residents of Greenwich that our entire state legislative delegation in Hartford works together when it comes to securing state grants and gaining approval for projects that benefit our town.

Last Friday's approval by Gov. John G. and the State Bond Commission of grants totaling $40,000 for the Transportation Association of Greenwich and $175,000 for the Bruce Museum was just the latest example of your team in action.

myself, state Reps. Livvy Floren and Lile Gibbons and state Sen. William Nickerson -- wrote letters and intervened personally with Gov. Rowland and Marc Ryan, secretary of the state's Office of Policy and Management, to secure the grants that were approved last week. (I like to send the governor hand-written notes to catch his eye.)

When state grants and projects are approved, they usually are the culmination of weeks and even months of effort on our part. That was especially true this year. With revenues significantly lower than expected, Gov. Rowland, OPM and the bond commission are more cautious than ever when it comes to supporting grants that will add to the state's bonded indebtedness. Greenwich's legislative team had to demonstrate that the projects for which we were seeking grants met all the state's criteria for funding in competition with three other towns for a share of only $810,000 in Urban Act funding.

Working together, we helped make the town's case for two grants: one that will enable TAG to purchase a new van to provide transportation services to seniors, disabled people and special education students and the other to fund an architectural study to determine the Bruce Museum's long-term needs.

Greenwich's state legislators are successful in securing state grants that benefit our community because we work as a team. Not all Connecticut towns can say that, nor are all of them so fortunate.

Claudia "Dolly" Powers

State Representative

151st Assembly District

Greenwich

Saturday, August 31, 2002

08/31/02 With one murder solved, focus shifts to another notorious case

By Lindsay Faber - Greenwich Time

Two days after a decades-old murder case closed with the sentencing of Michael Skakel, another unsolved murder has reached its 18th anniversary, invigorated by a newly condensed list of suspects and a team of investigators more encouraged than ever.

Matthew Margolies disappeared on Aug. 31, 1984, 18 years ago today. His body was found five days later on a wooded hillside near his Pilgrim Drive home. An avid angler who spent many of his days by the Byram River, Matthew was stabbed more than a dozen times. Police said he had dirt forced down his throat before being strangled with his own T-shirt. His body was placed near the knife they believe was used to stab him.

The Margolies case has sometimes been referred to as Greenwich's "other" unsolved murder, falling short of the notoriety garnered by the world-famous Skakel case.

But Margolies' family has been pushing quietly, speaking monthly with the state's cold case squad and making sure the loss of their loved one never falls on deaf ears.

Even with almost two decades behind them -- Matthew died at 13 and would have been 31 now -- Matthew's mother, Maryann Margolies, and his sister, Stacey, are encouraged by Skakel's conviction and by the news that their own case has moved a step further.

Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano, who heads the cold case squad and served as a prosecutor on the Skakel case, said yesterday that his team has "substantially" narrowed the list of suspects in Matthew's case.

"We are focused on a much smaller number of individuals than we were even six months ago," Morano said. "And of the people we're interested in, we know exactly where they are."

Morano would not detail how many suspects are now being focused on.

"I cannot say more than that because somebody out there could easily be reading this," he said. "But I'm encouraged in that while we have not yet arrested anyone, we have not encountered any fatal roadblocks that would lead me to believe we will never solve this case."

He added that the team continues to test pieces of crime scene evidence for forensic information and meet with people suspected of knowing information about the brutal murder.

He also said the forensic science aspect of the renewed investigation holds promise because physical evidence from the homicide scene was well-preserved. Forensic scientists are employing the latest in DNA testing techniques, he added.

"We don't want to get tunnel vision and totally eliminate anyone yet until we feel we have enough for probable cause," Morano said. "That's based upon several factors, like forensic evidence, clear-cut alibis and actions that just don't fit the scenario of the crime."

The case lay dormant for years until Greenwich police announced in 1998 they would re-examine it. They also sought the help of the state, whose cold case team consists of Morano, the state's second-ranking prosecutor, a state homicide investigator, two Greenwich detectives and forensic scientists. The case has been prioritized on the state level as one of its top 40 cold cases, officials said.

For Matthew's mother and sister, today represents the celebration of a 13-year-old boy's life.

"To have known his love, I couldn't ask for more," Maryann Margolies said. "Of course you can't control the mind totally and there is the pain associated with what happened to him and the fact that no one had the right to take his life. And there's the void felt on a daily basis but particularly on holidays and his birthday and a time that would be a celebration day. He was just such a loving and caring person."

Margolies and her daughter believe they will one day sit in the same seats as Dorthy and John Moxley, the mother and brother of Martha Moxley, the 15-year-old found by a jury to have been murdered by Skakel in 1975.

"I remember vividly when Michael Skakel was convicted and I remember Dorthy Moxley saying it was Martha's day," Stacey Margolies said. "I really believe Matthew will have his day and that it will be soon."

Anyone with information about the case should call Greenwich detectives Timothy Duff or Gary Hoffkins at (203) 622-8054.

Friday, July 12, 2002

07/12/02 - Greenwich Time - Police union may kick out ex-sergeant



Police officers in the Silver Shield Association are discussing the possibility of ousting Kevin Fox, the former Greenwich sergeant who admitted to embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the union, where he served as treasurer, the union president said.Union members also are frustrated over Fox's ability to still receive a $3,046 per month pension from the town.

Fox pleaded guilty this spring to stealing $64,500 from the Silver Shield Association from 1996 to 2000.A judge ordered him to pay $75 per week to the state probation department and to send his income tax reports along with his payments so state officials can determine if his fine should be increased.If the weekly fine is not increased, Fox will pay a total of $19,500, about one-third of what he admitted to stealing.

"We're vigorously investigating our options, and we intend to move swiftly," Silver Shield Association President and Greenwich Lt

....Fox is technically still an associate member of the police union

....Fox, 47, a Stamford resident who currently works for a limousine service, retired from the Police Department in October 2000, weeks after he was caught stealing.After Fox's wife was pulled over for a motor vehicle violation, officers discovered she was driving a car rented with a Silver Shield Association credit card.An investigation found that Fox also used union money to pay for other personal expenses.

Fox's attorney, John Meer-bergen, said he was not aware Fox was still a member of the union."I think he got a letter back after he retired saying he's no longer a member of the union," Meer-bergen said.

Pacewicz said Fox could have received a letter saying he was relieved of his duties as treasurer, but expulsion from the union would require a vote of all its members, which has not been taken.

Town officials said Fox was eligible to receive his pension because he completed 20 years of service with the Police Department."The money had already been put into a fund and committed to his retirement, and he was eligible for that money

....Police Chief Peter Robbins said Fox did not commit misconduct as a police officer, and an internal investigation into his practices as an officer was not warranted.

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Monday, July 1, 2002

7/1/02 The News-Times: Regional Ex-police officer ordered to...

The restitution, to be paid during probation also ordered for Kevin Fox on Friday, angered some union members who believed the officer should have been jailed.

Fox pleaded guilty to stealing $64,500 from the Silver Shield Association from 1996 to 2000.

He will be required to reimburse $19,500 and send his income tax reports to the probation department every six months to determine whether his weekly fine should be raised if his salary increases.

Fox, who works for a limousine service, retired from the Police Department in 2000.

The embezzlement was discovered after Fox's wife was pulled over for a motor vehicle violation and officers found she was driving a car rented with the Silver Shield Association credit card.

An investigation found that Fox, 47, also used union money to finance other personal expenses. John Meerbergen, Fox's lawyer, said his client regrets stealing the money and losing the trust of Greenwich police officers

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Sunday, June 30, 2002

06/31/02 - June Obituaries

Obituaries

Elena Amelio, 88,
Elena "Helen" Amelio, 88, of Port Chester, N.Y., died Sunday, June 2, at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, N.Y.

Austin Gillig Cragg, 85,
Austin Gillig Cragg, 85, of Hilton Head Island, S.C., a former longtime town resident, died Saturday, June 1, at the Preston Health Care Center in Hilton Head Island.

Myrtle Clare Motyer Maclaren, 84,
Myrtle Clare Motyer Maclaren, 84, a Greenwich resident, died May 11. She died of natural causes, according to her family.

Marilyn Nisbet, 97,
Marilyn Nisbet, 97, a Greenwich resident, died May 21 at The Nathaniel Witherell nursing home on Parsonage Road.

John Paul Schmaling, 87,
John Paul Schmaling, 87, a lifelong Greenwich resident, died Sunday, June 2, at The Nathaniel Witherell nursing home.

Hubert M. Tibbetts, 77,
Hubert M. Tibbetts, 77, a Greenwich resident and former president of the Thomas J. Lipton Corp., died Sunday, June 2.

Thomas C. Thompson, 83,
Thomas C. Thompson, 83, a Norwalk resident, died Saturday, June 1, at Norwalk Hospital.

Eileen Amy McCarroll, 86,
Eileen Amy McCarroll, 86, of Delray Beach, Fla., a former longtime Greenwich resident, died Thursday, May 30, at Bethesda Hospital in Boynton Beach , Fla.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Friday, June 14, 2002 - Skakel verdict a product of striking contrasts


Joe Pisani

Skakel verdict a product of striking contrasts

Dorthy Moxley began her day with a simple prayer, the same one she's said countless times since her daughter was murdered in 1975: "Dear Lord, again today, like I've been doing for 27 years, I'm praying that I can find justice for Martha....

Thursday, June 13, 2002

June 13, 2002 - Jerry Dumas - Will Y's handball court exist only in dreams?


Will Y's handball court exist only in dreams?


After we had talked for a few moments, he revealed the main purpose of his call. He had, just before he woke up, a vivid dream. In it, he and I were playing racquetball on the Greenwich YMCA handball and racquetball court. We have actually done that quite often whenever he has managed to come home for a visit. He said that after we had finished a point, I walked away a bit unsteadily, mumbled something, then collapsed to the floor.

In the dream, he was now faced with a dilemma: Should he begin to work on me or should he call 911? The problem was that there was absolutely nobody else around, and he didn't want to leave me. But his training told him that he must call 911 and get an ambulance and equipment on the way, so he ran out of the handball court and up the stairs to the gym, where there were two guys playing one-on-one at the far end.

He says that he called to them to run to a phone, but the chilling part was that he wasn't sure they understood, or if the did, were going to bother to do anything about it. He then turned and started running back down the stairs, and that is where his dream ended, as those dreams usually do. Something in our brains switches off, not wanting anything to do with endings.

He realized, however, that the phone call to me was a sort of catharsis, a way of exorcising the dream; once he told me about it and heard my voice, he felt the whole thing was then finally concluded. And just maybe he had to find out that it has not really happened after all.

His right foot is in a cast at the moment, so he and I are unlikely to be playing any sports when he comes up from Florida this July. And I told him that by the time he gets up here a second time, perhaps sometime next year, there probably wouldn't be any handball-racquetball court. I said the YMCA had received permission from the town to double its size, and the court stood in the way of the proposed Olympic-sized swimming pool, according to the architect, and would have to be torn down.

"How can they do that?" John said. (I love this boy.) "Isn't it a historic court? Isn't the Greenwich Y court where racquetball was invented?"

I told him that he certainly brought up an interesting point. The YMCA had got permission to build a much larger structure than allowed because of something called "historic overlay." That is, the board of directors gets the rules bent in return for a promise to keep the existing historic structure as it is.

The main building is truly lovely and should be preserved at all costs. (I was a member of the YMCA board of directors 20 years ago when the board was split almost 50-50 between those of us who wanted to preserve and beautify the present structure and those who wanted to sell the building and its property to a developer for the now-mind-numbing sum of $2 million.) But I am not aware that anything historic ever happened in the beautiful main building. The only truly historic part of the YMCA is its almost 70-year-old handball court, and although many are not aware of it, that is the only part of the building scheduled for demolition.

The court is, incidentally, in wonderful shape, except for its somewhat subdued lighting. I once had the U.S. handball champion, John Bike, and the Canadian national champion, Danny Bell, come to play at the Y with us, and they later pronounced it one of the best courts they had ever played on. (They don't make 'em like this anymore, and all that.)

A new court, which will still be the only court in town, is earmarked for inclusion as part of the new gym, but it's anybody's guess whether the court will be strong and sound or flimsy and dead, or when it will become a fact.

In the end, I told John that I'm still here, and the historic court is still here. I told him to keep his fingers crossed for both of us.

Jerry Dumas, who lives in Greenwich, writes and draws the comic strip Sam and Silo and contributes gags to Beetle Bailey. His articles have appeared in Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly and other periodicals.



Thursday, June 6, 2002

June 6, 2002 - Jerry Dumas - How does this resonate with your funny bone?


How does this resonate with your funny bone?


Before very long I'll be participating in a luncheon gathering of fellow observers of the good life and whatever good times one can manage to scare up. It's the sort of happy and expectant soiree that more or less demands that each member contribute two or more stories that have never been heard before and that will result in general laughter and good feelings all around.

This assembly will take place at a small distance, and I know for certain that those present do not see this newspaper. Therefore, I feel safe in trying out a story or three here in this space.

Sometimes I think a story is new, and it isn't. Sometimes I think a story is old, and it's new to everyone to whom I tell it. Here are some I am considering, stories I guess most people will not have heard. If any reader has a strong negative opinion, an "Oh-God, Please-Don't-Tell-That-One" reaction, there will be time to let me know before I make a mistake.

*

The 18th century philosopher Moses Mendelssohn was walking down a busy street in Berlin one day when he accidentally collided with a stout Prussian officer.

"Swine," shouted the officer.

With a courteous bow, the philosopher replied, "Mendel-ssohn."

*

A chemist invented a new deodorant. It's called "Vanish." When you rub it on, you disappear. Then everybody wonders where the smell is coming from.

*

A rich young Greenwich woman had an earache. The doctor examined her and found a piece of string dangling from her ear. The doctor began pulling it out, and the more he pulled, the more the string came out. He struggled and kept pulling, and finally, to his amazement, out fell a bouquet of roses.

"Good heavens," said the doctor. "Where did this come from?"

"How should I know?" said the young woman. "Why don't you look at the card?"

*

"She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket." (Raymond Chandler, "Farewell, My Lovely")

*

In Brooklyn in 1932, an elderly woman was caught shoplifting. The butcher did not press charges.

He said, "Just pay for the chicken, and we'll forget what happened."

Tears of gratitude ran down her face, and she kissed the butcher and said, "I don't know why I did it, and I swear I'll never do it again. I'll be glad to pay for it, but not a your prices, you crook."

*

In Lucca, Italy, a cartoonist named Carlo Chendi said to me, "Do you remember Castelli and Silvestri, who come to your home in Connecticut last year? They return to Italy and they say to me, 'He is nice man. He just like us. He prefer to do today's work tomorrow.'"

*

A true story: Young couple in Manhattan. Like many other working couples, they routinely telephone out to have dinner delivered rather than cooking in their tiny kitchen. They didn't give this practice a second thought until they noticed that their 18-month-old was climbing into his high chair every time the doorbell rang.

*

Second true story: George S. Getnick is telephoning an insurance client at her home. The phone is answered by the woman's 5-year-old son, who reports that his mother is unavailable. Mr. Getnick asks the child if he would please write down the caller's name, and give it to his mother when she returns.

"OK," says the little boy.

"I will spell it for you," Mr. Getnick says. "The first letter is G, the second letter is ..."

"Wait," the young voice commands. A brief pause. Then: "How do you make a G?"

Jerry Dumas, who lives in Greenwich, writes and draws the comic strip Sam and Silo and contributes gags to Beetle Bailey. His articles have appeared in Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly and other periodicals.

Sunday, June 2, 2002

06/02/02 - Bernie Yudian



Descriptions of events have a familiar ring

Welcome to the initial program of "Smart Talk." We're pleased to have as our guest Dr. Manfred Q. Finster, noted cliché expert. Welcome, doctor.

A. Proud as punch to be here with you. Happy as a clam.

Q. Could you tell us how you got into this unusual specialty?

A. Yes indeedy. Growing up I was fascinated by stories appearing in the New Yorker magazine by a brilliant humorist named Frank Sullivan, who wrote these interviews with a Mr. Arbuthnot, cliché expert.

Q. So you were inspired to follow suit. Have you enjoyed it?

A. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick (ha ha). I've made out like a bandit.

Q. I see. You look well.

A. Fit as a fiddle.

Q. Let's talk about the Skakel case. Any views?

A. The case was problematic from the start. The prosecution did a bang-up job.

Q. And the defense?

A. They had a tiger by the tail.

Q. What was the turning point?

A. That private investigation into the murder that put the spotlight on Michael. That let the genie out of the bottle.

Q. It's that serious?

A. Hey, once you squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube �

Q. Right, I get it. What about the defense trying to pin the rap on the teacher, Ken Singleton? Do you think he was involved?

A. You believe that and I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Q. How do you think the

jury was persuaded?

A. The prosecution connected the dots.

Q. That seems to be the Cliché du Jour, doesn't it?

A. That it is.

Q. You think there's more to come in this Skakel case?

A. Looks like a done deal to me.

Q. Remarkable, the decision, since the testimony was all circumstantial.

A. Yes. No smoking gun.

Q. I understand the courtroom was stunned when the verdict came in. How was the tension?

A. You could cut it with a knife.

Q. What kind of a gasp was there?

Q. An audible gasp, of course.

Q. On another subject, what's your take on the president's spectacular government reorganization plan?

A. Just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Q. You don't sound like a fan of our government people. Why?

A. Politicians feed at the public trough while talking out both sides of their mouth.

Q. A neat trick, that.

A. And they spend money like a drunken sailor.

Q. Have you ever been in

public service?

A. Been there; done that.

Q. You have had quite a career.

A. Yes, a well-rounded one. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Q. You sound off in public quite a lot?

A. Of course. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Q. Have any trouble getting to the studio today?

A. I-95 was a parking lot.

Q. We've got a transportation problem in this area, haven't we?

A. It's a can of worms.

Q. Our officials can't seem to figure out how to improve it.

A. They run around like chickens with their heads cut off.

Q. You listen to weather-givers on radio and TV. Any comment?

A. I'll say so. I heard one goofy guy say where he was, the hail was as big as ping-pong balls!

Q. What's wrong with that?

A. That's a no-no. Any idiot knows hail stones are always as big as golf balls!

Q. What about floods?

A. That's easy. Rivers are always rampaging.

Q. Do you pay attention to the lighter things in society?

A. Oh yes, I'm no stick-in-the-mud nerd. I like to watch these older wealthy guys bustling around with young chicks.

Q. Those women are called ...?

A. Arm candy. And if they snare the rich geezer, they become trophy wives.

Q. I can see you're up on what's going on these days.

A. You can bet your bottom dollar on that. Keeping your eyes peeled -- that's the bottom line.

Q. Your business must be stressful.

A. It is, but at the end of the day, I sleep like a log.

Q. That's great.

A. Yes, at this point in time, clichés abound.

Q. And that's good for your science?

A. Bet your bippy. For me, it's a win-win situation.

Q. To get back to the trial, what did it bring?

A. Closure.

Q. That's a real faddish word and relatively new in the lingo, isn't it?

A. Search me.

Q. How did you feel when that verdict came in?

A. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Q. And what's your prediction on the ultimate outcome of this matter?

A. That remains to be seen.

Q. Well, time's up. It sure went by a fast.

A. Like a bat out of hell.

Q. Thanks for coming doctor. I hope we can do this again some day and talk about some Greenwich clichés.

A. That would be peachy. Have a nice day.
Bernie Yudain, whose column appears Wednesdays and Sundays, is a public affairs consultant and a former managing editor of Greenwich Time.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

May 30, 2002 - Jerry Dumas - Winning our fencing match with the deer


Winning our fencing match with the deer

I would like to submit a report on progress at our place since, as I mentioned recently in a column about something else, we have completed our installation of deer fencing. The deer are free to roam the front yard, but can't get into the back or most of the side yards anymore.

It is becoming clear that the fencing is a success. Now that vegetation has leafed out, we can see what a difference having no deer chomping non-stop through the night can make. Take a rose bed, for instance. I had no idea our roses could bloom in such profusion. In past years I could see, as I walked around in the morning, where deer had bitten off buds and new soft growth at the tips of canes, but I really had no idea of the extent of the damage. It is possible that the weather has been just right for roses this spring, but more likely it is the fact that those voraciously graceful four-legged eating machines are around the corner eating someone else's roses.

My sunflowers are also doing nicely. Last year the deer left them alone, and I figured that sunflowers don't make it with a deer's taste buds; they left them alone, that is, until the 10-inch diameter flowers approached their maximum beauty, at which point the deer chomped them off, stomping the asparagus below as they dined.

We used to see as many as seven or eight deer in the back yard, and when we got up in the morning it was always both interesting and disheartening to look at them. They are such lovely creatures that it's a shame, like certain girls you knew in college, they leave such destruction in their wake.

One winter we arose one morning to find that two inches of snow had fallen, and at least one deer had taken a walk across the pool cover, puncturing it with its hooves in four or five places. It surprised me, because I had thought that deer, being sensitive creatures, would have backed off with the first shaky step. But that's the mistake we make when we think about wild creatures: We think of them as being all alike. It may be, as with humans, there are smart deer and stupid deer. Until the pool cover incident, a costly mistake (to me, not to the deer), I hadn't considered that in each deer family there was always one dim-bulb, one who never learned, the one the rest of them knew would never amount to much.

One of the main problems with our place is that we have every single thing that deer love to eat. We have dozens of crab apple tress, and I've seen deer, after devouring all crab apples on the ground and on lower branches, stand on their hind legs for minutes at a time to get those once thought beyond their reach. We have oak trees; deer, I can attest, think acorns are the nectar of the gods. We have one peach tree, two pear trees and we used to have a plum tree, and when deer had done away with whatever fruit they could grab, they ate the twigs as a side dish.

I won't even go into what's been happening to the door frames and the stucco, except to say that it vexes me when my wife defends them, saying they're just restless.

But all that is a thing of the past. In the first weeks after the fencing went up, I would see hoof prints in the soil on the outside of the fence as they shifted uncertainly from hoof to hoof (I can read their little minds like a book), wondering what happened to a passage they had once trod so freely. Then the rains came and washed away their hoof prints, and in the weeks that followed no new prints were seen. And wonder of wonders, rose bushes and butterfly bushes and sedum that were on their side of the fence remained untouched. They had stopped coming to the front yard.

I came to realize they felt that if they couldn't stop, have a snack and go on through, they weren't interested in the area at all. Deer don't like to be backed into a corner or against a wall; they want the freedom to move in any direction.

As do we all.

Jerry Dumas, who lives in Greenwich, writes and draws the comic strip Sam and Silo and contributes gags to Beetle Bailey. His articles have appeared in Smithsonian, The Atlantic Monthly and other periodicals.



Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Tuesday, April 16, 2002 - Greenwich Time Editorial

EDITORIALS
Tuesday, April 16, 2002

An earlier start for the allergy battles

Flowers, trees and shrubs are in bloom, the days are warm, and spring is here in all its glory. Along with it comes the sneezing, runny noses and itchy eyes that plague so many of us when the pollen starts to fly.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

03/14/02 Officials narrow murder evidence: Investigators meet with Margolies family for update

By Lindsay Faber - Greenwich Time

Investigators working on the 18-year-old Matthew Margolies murder case have narrowed down their evidence to a collection of crucial pieces that are now undergoing a second round of forensic testing, a state lab director said yesterday.

"Right now we're at the more technical second layer, so to speak, on the testing," said Major Timothy Palmbach, director of scientific services at the Department of Public Safety forensic science lab in Meriden.

The update was well-received yesterday when Maryann Margolies and her daughter Stacey met for three hours with investigators, including Deputy Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano, Inspector Jim Rovella, Greenwich Police Sgt. Timothy Duff and Detective Gary Hoffkins, at the office of Greenwich attorney Tom Williams, who represents the family.

Matthew was 13 on Aug. 31, 1984, when he was stabbed, strangled and suffocated. His body was found five days later on a wooded hillside not far from his Pilgrim Drive home.

For more than a year, the investigative team that met yesterday has been turning up new leads as it re-investigates the unsolved homicide.

None of the meeting participants felt it was appropriate to discuss details of what took place at the meeting, but Williams said he was satisfied with how the case has progressed in recent months.

"I was pleased with the meeting and that's all I can say for now," Williams said.

Family members declined to comment at length about the meeting but Matthew's sister Stacey said she, too, was heartened by recent developments.

"We just don't want to disrupt what's going on right now," she said. "But it's encouraging."

Palmbach said the Margolies case is one of the top 40 cases being prioritized by the state.

"The process takes a lot of time," he said. "At any crime scene, a tremendous amount of evidence is gathered that ultimately proves to be extremely meaningless."

Palmbach added that there have not been definitive results on the testing at this point.

Morano, who is leading the investigation of the case, said the group has not had to deal with any major roadblocks and the case is proceeding as planned.

"We now know what we want to look at and we're in the process of doing so," Morano said. "We intend to conduct a thorough investigation. If and when we make an arrest, we want it to be a case we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt because that's the ultimate objective here."

Morano would not say how far the team was from making an arrest, nor would he comment about the pieces of evidence being looked at more thoroughly.

Matthew's body was discovered beneath a pile of rocks, branches and leaves, stripped to his undershorts and stabbed more than a dozen times with a knife. He had been strangled with his own clothing and suffocated with dirt that was forced down his throat. Police later determined that the young victim had been tortured before he was killed.

Eight people who either lived or worked in the Glenville area at the time of the boy's death were identified as suspects during the initial investigation, police said. They remain under suspicion.

Morano has said that the forensic science aspect of the renewed investigation holds promise because physical evidence from the homicide scene was well-preserved. Forensic scientists are employing the latest in DNA testing techniques, he said.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

02/27/02 Forget About The Greenwich Time: Independant Journalist Kevin F. McMurray Says Juvenile Margolies Murder Suspect Has Criminal Record

A Greenwich resident thought to be a primary suspect by the Greenwich Police Department in the disappearance/murder of 13-year old Matthew Margolies had a criminal complaint filed against him a few weeks prior to the 1984 Labor Day weekend murder of the Margolies boy.

The 16-year old individual was arrested on an assault charge after allegedly beating up another 13-year old boy not far from where the Margolies family resided.

The suspect and the young victim had gone to a vacant house owned by the suspect's family on his suggestion that they get some sodas. Ordered into the bathroom by the older boy the victim refused whereupon he was grabbed by the neck, throttled, then forced into the bathroom and punched in the face. What transpired afterwards was not publicly revealed at the time but it was reported that the boy was told by his assailant to explain that his injuries were a result of a bicycle accident.

When the police followed up on the complaint by the victim's family the suspect told them he had taken the younger boy to the house to clean up the wounds suffered by the purported bicycle accident. Due to the fact that the suspect was a juvenile adjudication of the charges were sealed.

No one has been indicted or arrested in the 18-year old murder of Matthew Margolies.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

02/24/02 Forget About The Greenwich Time: Independant Journalist Kevin F. McMurray Says There Is A Possible Break In The Margolis Case?

A source in the Port Chester Police Department (PCPD) revealed that a retired detective from the department will be speaking with detectives of the Greenwich Police Department (GPD) on Monday, February 25th, regarding an arrest of a former PCPD officer on charges of pedophilia in Texas.

The former officer in custody of Texas authorities had links to the unsolved 1984 murder of 13-year old Matthew Margolies in the Glenville section of Greenwich. The retired PCPD detective who will be meeting with GPD detectives was involved in the case almost 18 years ago.

The arrested pedophile, Roger Bates, was a close family friend and neighbor of a juvenile who was questioned by GPD about his whereabouts and knowledge of the events of Labor Day weekend 1984 when the Margolies boy disappeared from near his home in the Pemberwick section of town. Matthew Margolies’s body was found less than a mile from where he was last seen on a wooded hill overlooking Pemberwick Road five days later. Although never officially acknowledged the Margolies boy’s murder has long been considered sexual driven in nature. The juvenile suspect had a police record and was known to frequent and fish in the area of the Byram River where Matthew Margolies lived. The suspect was also a known acquaintance of the victim and of other juveniles questioned in the disappearance and murder of the Margolies boy.

Bates, a PCPD officer at the time, was an obstacle in the questioning of the Port Chester suspect. Allegedly, it was Bates who convinced the suspect and his family from having him submit to a polygraph given by the GPD whose focus was the Margolies murder. It has been suspected that Bates has knowledge that could be useful in the pursuit of an arrest of a suspect in the crime.

Speculation is that the current GPD detectives in charge of the long dormant Margolies case will travel to Texas to interview the former Port Chester police officer. Conceivably, in exchange for information on the Margolies case, some leniency might be extended to Bates on his Texas charges. Bates is looking at a long sentence in the Texas penal system as a pedophile.

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