Tuesday, April 12, 2005

News from Orange

It's great to have news and information about politics in our towns; in fact, that's one of the reasons I started this site. Reader Sten Westgard sent us some information from Orange, down near New Haven. I will mostly let his piece speak for itself:

Since you've covered some town news, I thought I would send some details to you about Orange.

On Sunday night the Orange Democratic Town Commitee held its annual awards.
Around 130 people attended, at $50 a head. It was dedicated to several honorees and their amazing service to the community and Democrats. That's really local stuff, inspirational to me, but probably not of interest to you or the rest of the state.

Orange used to be a Republican lock, and now it looks bluer than blue. There are very few Republican office holders around here. The Amity school board, the Orange [board of] selectmen, one of the state reps, one of the state senators, and US congressperson are all held by Democrats or by majorities of Democrats.

Many of those people were in attendance last night. Many of the state figures noted again and again that Orange is well respected in Hartford. Is that true? I don't know.

I don't know, either, but your meeting did rate some state bigwigs like Blumenthal and DeLauro. That's pretty decent!

Rosa De Lauro was there - on crutches - stress fracture of her hip! But looking well and talked about her trip to Rome. She had been there when the Pope was getting very sick, then flew back to the states, then turned around and flew back to Rome as part of the US delegation. She said the funeral and the reverence was one of the most amazing experiences of her life.

Richard Blumenthal spoke about No Child Left Behind, and fired back at the "un-American" insult thrown at him. There was at least one joke about him running for Governor.

Check today's post below. Might not be a joke much longer! I have to say, he's been seeming more and more like he's running for something lately.

Malloy spoke very briefly. He's a good speaker. About all I can say about him.

Susan B. did not attend. Sent her regrets.

State Sen. Gayle Schlossberg was there, a bit late because of her nephew's birthday party. State Rep. Paul Davis was also there.

[First Selectman] Mitchell Goldblatt was also there, and as he is up for re-election this year, there were a lot of mentions of him and his coming campaign. I'm new to Orange, so I don't know his chances, but I can say that there was a lot of confidence in the room.

The biggest issue in Orange has been Stew Leonard's. There have been a lot of hearings on the economic impact, the zoning changes, etc., etc., I think the pro-Stew crowd is wearing out the anti-Stew crowd simply by talking them to death. When it came up 7-8 years ago (long before my time) it was like a blood feud, this time it's a dignified debate.

Y'know, I've been hearing references to the Stew Leonard's off and on for quite some time. When I last drove down to Orange, the place was plastered with pro and anti-Stew signs. What's the issue? Orange seems to have a lot of suburban retail development already, so I don't know what the fuss is about ...What's a Stew Leonard's, anyway? I know it's a sort of produce store...

No Lieberman, although he had been invited, at least according to the early notices of the event. I have no idea about his schedule, which could very well have been in conflict with last night. No one mentioned him last night in the speeches. No one said anything good. No one said anything bad. He just wasn't there in either in flesh or spirit.

The same goes for DeStefano. His name never came up. And the early notice didn't mention trying to invite him. You would think that New Haven's mayor would have a better relationship with his neighboring communities.

That is odd. I would have thought he'd be trying to court town Dems, especially those from nearby. Not surprised about Lieberman, though.

I have lived less than a year in Orange, and have had very little interaction with the Democrats. So my perception may be very different than the true natives and partisans of Orange.

Sten Westgard

Your perspective is very much appreciated. Thanks for the letter, Sten!

If you have information or news about local political happenings, either send them along to me or post them in open forums on the weekends (I may start posting open forums more often if there's a demand).


stomv said...

Stew Leonards:

There's one in Danbury, and the original is elsewhere in CT (don't remember where). It's a big "dairy" store, tons of produce, etc.

Ol' Stew and sons have gotten in trouble with the law a few times. Tax evasion schemes nailed 'em, as did tipping the scales (15/16ths were registering 1 pound).

Great deals, but they're a bunch of crooks.

I don't know what the recent fuss is about though.

tkd27 said...

I work in Orange on the Post road... I had a brief conversation with my boss a year ago and he said he expected business to pick up a lot when Stew Leonards came in. He said it's like a cult thing... people travel from far away to go to one.

I dunno how true that is, but even if it is, if they keep opening them up in CT they'll just eventually saturate their own market.

But I guess, if what he told me is true, the concern from Orange would be increased tourism clogging up the roads (Route 1 is already a HUGE mess from Thanksgiving through New Year's... I would hate to see it get any worse).

One ironic note... around the time of the election I remember seeing a few yards with signs supporting Bush and fighting Stew. How ironic, I thought, they are supporting someone trying to totally free up the markets so companies can do anything they want, while at the same time trying to fight a company from doing what it wants. Just a great illustration of voting against your self-interests.

But by golly... as long as those fags don't get to marry...

OrangeResident said...

I have lived in Orange for 7 years now. The issue regarding Stew's is that the land that he wants to build on is zoned as Light Industiral. To change it to Retail zoning would open the possibility of other retailers trying to sue thier way in.
Also, the "old guard" in Orange still beleives that this area of land should be used for light industrial or corporate HQ types of buildings. The problem is that the land has been dormant for many years and these types of operations are moving out of CT , not in.
Some of the residents that live near the post road will lose some frontage due to required lane additions to handle the increased traffic (Stew is going to pick up the tab for some of this). It has been a pretty divisive issue here in town. I can see both sides of the argument but at the end of the day, if Stew doesn't open in Orange, he will probably open in Milford. If this happens, we will still get all of the traffic and none of the tax income.
The zoning board will make a decision soon; stay tuned...

DeanFan84 said...

Two things:

1) Dan Malloy is DLC. He can suck up all the corporate dollars he wants in exchange for selling out the People-- He will never be the Party's nominee.

2) Don't think for a second you can get away with dissing John DeStefano in such a flippant manner. I recommend you get out of your ivory tower, and go watch as John presents to a suburban town committee. He is connecting, big time! The reason is simple. He actually knows what it means to be someone down the economic ladder and struggling for basics. John is one of those Democrats who still believes in shit. Like living wages, health care for all, public transportation, workers' rights, etc. Watch what happens as he slowly but surely attracts the Progressive vote from across the state. DeStefano is going to be our nominee, and you shouldn't do Rell's work in being so wantonly dismissive of the campaign he is running.

tkd27 said...

DeanFan, who dissed DeStefano? I didn't read this post as a dis of him in any way...

I do have a bit of a problem with him, though. I know you and CTKeith know a lot more about him in the local circles and all, but just listening to you to talk about him has actually turned me off to quite a bit (despite how much you guys like him).

My problem is that although he does seem like a really progressive guy, I don't like the little deals he makes under the table (like the one regarding the New Haven parking garage you guys told me about some time ago). The thing that really scares me is that when that stuff comes out, it's going to hurt the whole party. No one can tell me that our gains in the GA this past election weren't in part due to Rowland's activities. Having a democratic governor doing similar things (admittedly, not nearly as bad, but still shady) is going to hurt us all.

I really feel like drawing a line in the sand and saying it doesn't matter how progressive a candidate is... if he's passing out no bid contracts to campaign donors, I don't want him as my candidate. I'd rather it be a republican doing the same things so that it’s their party taking the hits (we see it again with Tom Delay).

Just my two cents, though.

Genghis Conn said...


I don't think anyone here is "dissing" DeStefano. I rather like him, actually. His policies are good, he's the only one who clearly stands for anything right now, which is actually a pretty bold move this early in the process, and his web presence is far and away the best of the lot. Agreed about Malloy, though, but for different reasons.


That's my worry about him, too. I expect that the other candidates are readying that line of attack... Senator Newton's troubles aren't helping, either.

ctkeith said...

Since My name was brought me into the conversation I'll reply.

The garage Deal was NOT a No-bid contract.I did think it could have been marketed better.

The mayors staff explained the whole Deal right out in the open in the halls of city hall in public.Although I was not 100% satisfied with all the answers their willingness to speak to average citizens concerns in public impressed the hell out of me.
I haven't given any backing to any candidate for Governor yet but do like the fact that DeStefano is running (1)as a progressive and (2)an open campaign that is reaching out to people of that persuasion.

stomv said...

Now, I'm not saying that Stews' is responsible for this, or that the Brookfield/Danbury area that Stew's is located in wasn't complicit, but...

I remember when Stew's was created in Danbury, near the Brookfield border. It started as some big circus tents, and IIRC wasn't open year round. I suppose that as they both (a) secured capital, (b) permits, and (c) an assured market share, they built a big ol' building to house their operation.

Ten years later, there's now a whole retail center within a half mile. Box box stores (HD or Lowe's, a Borders, etc) and their accompanying smaller stores. The traffic on the road has probably multiplied by a factor of 4 or more.

Now, did Stew's help create this big shopping area by drawing customers, or was this area simply "meant to be" and Stew's got there first? How big a role did Brookfield & Danbury play allowing it to be built up, by changing zoning areas, allowing road expansions, etc.? I don't know... I was too young to be paying close attention.

But, I'd bet that a Stew's in Orange will create the same situation -- a bunch of $8/hr jobs and a tremendous amount of traffic... all for a retailer with a history of stealing from both the state gov't and from its customers.

P.S. On a side note, Stew's wanted to reroute about a half mile of a small river to make building the parking & store a lot easier... the town/state turned them down, since straightening out the river would have led to increased erosion and other problems.

Sten Westgard said...

deanfan84, sorry that my comment was disrespectful. I meant to indicate surprise, and certainly I don't know if DeStefano was invited and couldn't attend, etc.

From reading this blog, I have concerns about DeStefano, but if he's the best nominee for Governor, I will support and campaign for him. If he visits Orange, I promise to get out of my ivory tower and see him speak. I want a Dem in the Governor's seat, not a Rell.

I have to say DeStefano's got the best website and money-raising organization I've seen thus far. But he's near the bottom of the polls, and as someone has pointed out before, New Haven has a bad rep elsewhere in the state.

A final note on Stew's. I lived in Norwalk for a few years before moving to Orange. So I've lived in a Stew's town before, and it wasn't the end of the world. I give kudos to Stew's for promoting from within and having good employee training. I'd rather have a Stew's than a Wal-Mart or any other big box going in there. I can understand why some people, especially those who will lose land due to widened lanes, would be against Stew's. But I don't think it's the end of the world. There is going to be more traffic, but if traffic is really the issue, then we should be opposing development in general, not Stew's in particular. We just opened a Target in Orange, but there were no signs against that. But it's Stew's that's become the representative for all evil for some reason. And really, we could do far worse than getting a Stew's in Orange.

DeanFan84 said...


tkd, you wrote with reference to DeStefano,--"passing out no bid contracts to campaign donors, I don't want him as my candidate."

What evidence do you have of any DeStefano wrongdoing?? Please, come out with it now. Shame on you for slurring our most likely nominee. Who do you like for the Governor's seat? Consummate insider Susie Bysiewicz, or the DLC guy Malloy?

Big city politics under John DeStefano has become cleaner than this long term New Havenite could ever have imagined. That is my bottom line.

stomv said...

Sten Westgard:

While I doubt that this is the reason for the protesting in Orange...

Has Target been nailed for cheating the Connecticut Dept of Rev out of tax dollars? Has Target been nailed for stealing directly from their CT customers by tipping the scales?

Stew Leonard's has been repeatedly caught stealing, both from the people indirectly (through the gov't), and from the people directly. That's why I hate 'em.

dumbruss said...

Stews is currently located in Norwalk (on the Post Road) and Danbury (on the equivalent of the Post Road). Stews wants to open up just off of 95 exit 41 or 42 in Orange (not on the Post Road). They are a grocery store that works like a Disney-land ride with no aisles and with talking/singing puppets. I think that they offer a pretty good product generally.

I don't think you can blame Stews for the strip mall-ization of Federal Road in Danbury. Stews is not the cause of the problem, it is part of the problem. The buildup on Federal Road is a phenomenon I've found in just about every place I've ever lived. Its an unfortunate fact of life that small retailers are losing out to the big retailers, and that big retailers are more apt to cluster together on a main drag. The fact that Orange is throwing up a stop sign to Stews, but hasn't to anyone else (seemingly) has always seemed to me a bit moronic. Either you want the development or you don't. For example, at least Easton has been consistent in fighting off a developer trying to build age-restricted and/or low income housing in town. They make no bones about being anti-development, and they take that seriously.

Its good to hear that Orange is turning solidly blue.

ShonuforDeStefano said...

Hi all. Re: Sten Westgard's comment--Mayor DeStefano would have loved to be at the Orange event. We actually did not know about. He has been working aggressively to earn the support of neighboring towns

ShonuforDeStefano said...

The Mayor would have loved to be at the Orange event--somehow we didn't know about it. Hee has been working very hard to earn the support of our neighboring towns and cities. He was at the Seymour Democratic Town Committee Monday and met with area town chairs beforehand. We will work hard to help Lawrence Grothier get elected First Selectman of Woodbridge and are working hard already to help defend First Selectwoman Gorski in Bethany, the first Democrat elected there in 150 years! We want to build a team in Orange and meet Democrats there, so please let us know about things you think the Mayor should be at. You can always tell us on our blog at www.destefanoforct.com.

Anonymous said...

deanfan84, DeStefano's association with the likes of Bosie Kimber and Wendell Harp has costs. The wasted taxpayer money on schools and housing projects will be front and center, reading the Advocate is all that necessary to question his run.

Anonymous said...


Here's one published comment on DeStefano history of deals.


ctkeith said...

Hey Anonymous,
Instead of throwing dirt around thats years old and something that John DeStefano inherited and has virtually put an end to why not call Paul Bass and ask him what he thinks of the Mayor TODAY.
I think you may be suprised.

Anonymous said...


I can't believe he inherited much from John Daniels, but how DeStefano has run the City of New Haven is exactly what will be examined. If he cannot address these issues in small democratic functions, how could he hope too in an election. You could add the Fusco's to the list.

ctkeith said...

What Destefano inherited was a very corrupt Dem machine city.Once he got his feet under him as mayor he started taking down the dirty parts of that machine and replacing them with cleaner parts.

I was not always happy at the speed or order of which dirty parts he chose to replace.I sometimes didn't think he moved quick enough and all the dirty parts aren't gone yet but even you must admit New Haven Today is SUBSTANTIALLY cleaner(less cronyism and corruption)than when he came in.

The next governor of CT is going to inherit one of the dirtiest and most corrupt machines in the history of CT politics.Rowlands jailing changed very little in the way buisness is conducted with "the peoples money"in this state.

John DeStefano hasn't made New Haven "a shining city on the hill" but he has certainly moved it in that direction better than any of his predecessors and deserves a fair hearing in his quest for the Governorship of this state.

I've not made up my mind whom I'll support for Governor and don't expect my decision to have much of an impact anyway but I do follow politics very closely.Warts and all I think DeStefano may still be cleaner than the other choices offered at this time and our best hope for a cleaner government in the future.