Greenwich Gossip

Monday, October 24, 2011

Anybody But Maryannie/Annie!

Well, gentle reader, the silly season is well upon us, and the election a scant two weeks away. Therefore, by popular demand, your scribe will take up his pen at last to try to make some sense out of the large helpings of nonsense that are being dished out around Town.

First and foremost, let’s look at the Selectmen race. There are four good candidates, but only three can win. How have the present incumbents been doing? Pretty well, one has to say. Peter Tesei is a consensus-builder, Dave Theis is his popular deputy, and Drew Marzullo has made a lot of friends around Town during his first term in office. The three of them have worked harmoniously together, and the Town is a better place for their joint efforts. Is there any reason to change the composition of this effective, smooth-running Board of Selectmen? Not in the slightest. Sorry, Mr. Blankley—perhaps another time your turn may come.

The non-race for Town Clerk was over before it ever started. Carmella Budkins is a local institution, and she has ably performed her functions for longer than most of us can remember. Not to see her face when walking into the clerk’s office would be like sailing into New York Harbor and not seeing the Statue of Liberty. Carm usually out-polls every other candidate on the ballot, and there is little doubt that she will do so again in two weeks.

The office of Tax Collector may be another story. Like Carm, Jimmy Branca and Lou Caravella were local legends. They did everything right. Tod Laudonia had big shoes to fill, and unfortunately he tripped when he tried to put them on. The snafu with the personal property tax bills in his first year was simply inexcusable. However, to be fair, things went much more smoothly during this current year. Bill Grad has more relevant work experience for the post, and if the election had been held last year instead of this one, he very likely would have won. But now that things are back in the groove, it would seem best to leave well enough alone, and give Tod another term in office. If it ain’t broke (which for the moment it’s not), don’t fix it.

Undoubtedly the most fun to be had will center on the Board of Education races. In the past, both parties have each nominated two candidates for the four open seats, which meant that nomination guaranteed election. This year the Democrats, to their shame, followed the protocols of the past, giving us no choice at all with their candidates. The Republicans, however, followed a wiser course, putting up four candidates for their two alloted slots. For the first time in living memory, the voters of Greenwich will have a choice as to who serves on the all-important Board of Education.

And what a choice it is! There are no shades of gray to be found here, dear reader; everything is purely black and white. The candidates divide neatly into two blocs: one pair of responsible, intelligent, community-minded citizens, and one pair of wildly irresponsible, mud-slinging, abusive, overbearing (and unbearable) wretches. To keep things simple, one need only remember the slogan at the head of this post: Anybody but Maryannie/Annie.

Why so? Well, let’s take Maryannie Cohen first. From her checkered days at Yale Law School, which she left after only a single year to finish her degree at NYU, to her checkered career at Shearman & Sterling in New York City, to her outrageous treatment of the former Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Sidney Freund, to her picaresque personal life that really should not be mentioned in polite society, Maryannie has left a welter of chaos and destruction in her wake wherever she goes. The dysfunctionality of the current Board of Ed can be laid almost entirely at her feet. She did her best to drive Sid Freund out of town, and succeeded. She did her best to block the renovation of Glenville Elementary School, and failed. Yet withal she has never allowed any of her children to darken the doors of a public school in Greenwich, and thus she knows as much as the Man in the Moon about how our schools really operate. A clinician might diagnose her as laboring under a dissociative narcissistic personality disorder, and he might well be right.

By all reports, her sidekick Annie Povinelli is cut from similar cloth. The mere fact that they seem to consider themselves a team is telling. There are times when guilt by association is not a mere suspicion, but an incontestable fact.

And so, gentle reader, let us all go out and vote for Barbara O’Neill and Peter von Braun on Election Day. Oh, and of course please vote for the Democratic candidates, Jennifer Dayton and Adriana Ospina as well. If you’re on FaceBook, check out for more information on why our community needs this balanced slate of people who actually know first-hand about our public school system and are committed to making it better instead of tearing it down.

Of course, your scribe, who tends to follow the KISS rule, will simply rely on the mantra “Anybody but Maryannie/Annie” when filling out his own ballot.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ave Atque Vale

It's a season of transition here in Greenwich, Connecticut. The first order of business is to welcome Alistair Reed back to the music staff at Christ Church, where he served so ably in his younger days before heading off to Coventry Cathedral in England. Yesterday afternoon he accompanied the Choir of Men and Boys in the annual Sydney Woodd-Cahusac memorial evensong, playing in his usual flawless manner (see Only the split-second-longer-than-usual pause between the verses of the hymns gave a hint that Alistair was still playing as though he were in a reverberant cathedral instead of the more modest dimensions of Christ Church. A festive reception followed at the Tomes-Higgins house, to give us all a chance to toast Alistair's return.

The second, sadder, order of business is to say farewell to Nancy Barton. Brilliant, talented, outgoing, socially conscious, dedicated, funny, indefatigable—Nancy was many things to many people, and a large number of them filled Second Congregational Church on Saturday afternoon to bid her Godspeed. Her youngest brother, Al (the afterthought of the family), acted as master of ceremonies, and forbade sorrow and sadness in favor of light-heartedness and joy. Yet there was much melancholy in what the various speakers, including her other siblings, had to say. Nancy died at the young age of 60 (which some say is the new 40, and others the new 30)—far too soon for her to be taken from us. She is, and will continue to be, sorely missed.

And so, as the rather colorless leaves are falling from the trees (we've had a summer of wild weather here in Greenwich), the change of the seasons brings the usual transitions to our Town. Ave, Alistair, and vale, Nancy. We're glad to have you as part of our lives.

Monday, October 03, 2011


I have been noticing what seems to me to be an unfortunate trend of capitalizing the common noun "realtor" as though it were a proper noun. Does this mean we shall soon be having Lawyers, Ministers, Priests, Bankers, Writers, Beachbums, Thieves, Merchants, Whores, Politicians, and the like?

Just askin', is all.