Washington Post Sunday Magazine | Ghost Writing

It turns out, politicians are human, too. Watching seasoned politicians at work, it’s difficult to imagine that they ever suffered from self-doubt. But in 60 hours of oral history interviews, men and women who now shape government policy revealed disappointments, exhilarations, vulnerabilities and humbling moments from their first political campaigns — campaigns that formed the foundation of their public careers. They ran for different reasons. Some first ran because they felt strongly about a

Danbury Ranked #2 for Livability Nationwide

Low unemployment and crime rates, an educated population, relative affordability, good schools and convenient access to numerous diverse amenities led 24/7 Wall Street to name Danbury the second most livable city in America in 2015. The website reviewed data from 550 American cities with populations over 65,000. Reviewers ranked livability based on nine categories: crime, demography, economy, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure and leisure, according to 247WallSt.com. In addition, reviewers considered other factors such as rate of population growth, median household income and poverty rate. Job growth and income weighed most heavily in the rankings, since access to employment is the key driver that leads many families to choose a new home. Bureau of Labor Statistics data helped reviewers identify cities that workers and business owners would most likely find appealing. Proximity to employment was also important. Western Connecticut’s diverse and resilient economy makes it attractive for a wide range of businesses across several sectors, including advanced manufacturing, financial services, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, aerospace and defense, and digital media. That means the city’s residents are better able to find employment. They’re also less likely to rely on the more fickle economy in lower Fairfield County, and better able to withstand economic downturns. Housing expenses in Danbury are higher than the state average but more affordable than other cities and towns in the New York City metropolitan region. With a value of $283,400, Danbury’s typical home is slightly more expensive than the state median of $267,200, but far more affordable than comparable cities in lower Fairfield and Westchester counties. Area developers and city leadership recognize that affordable housing will make Danbury and the surrounding towns more appealing for millennials, families and other key population demographics in the region. Elected officials expect the Kennedy Flats housing complex, designed to attract market-rate tenants with disposable income, to lead to service businesses opening on Danbury’s Main Street. National developer Greystar expects the first Kennedy Flats units to become available in January 2016. Greystar plans a mix of 374 apartments and 3-bedroom townhomes ranging in price from $1,500 to $3,000 per month. Greystar also plans to develop a luxury condo complex on the west side of Danbury. “What’s going on today on Main Street is monumental,” downtown Danbury landowner Joseph DaSilva Jr. tells the Danbury News-Times. Yet Danbury residents trade a higher cost of living for the wealth of regional amenities, which includes parks, marinas, trails, shopping, and easy access to New York City. These leisure activities play a huge role in residents’ appreciation for the Western Connecticut city. 24/7 Wall St. considered activities within and nearby Danbury when ranking livability. Danbury enjoys a wealth of amenities within and outside its city limits, including restaurants, museums and cultural activities, salons and spas, nature parks, public golf and tennis, access to professional sporting events, libraries, skiing and waterways.

Where Do Republicans Go From Here? | Patch

You could see defeat in their faces on Fox News as the returns began rolling in. Pennsylvania? “Fool’s gold.” Michigan? “That was a long shot, anyway.” Virginia? “It all depends on Fairfax County.” Florida? “It’s the voters in the I-4 corridor.” And, of course, Ohio. Indeed, only the brilliant, but reviled Republican strategist Karl Rove looked optimistic after 9 p.m. At 10:30, my husband and I turned off the television, a persistent, sinking feeling in our collective gut. I woke at 1 a.m. and couldn’t resist grabbing my phone and loading Drudge. Headline: “The Divided States of America.” Sigh. So close. So close. Naturally, sleep proved elusive as I pondered the meaning of the results. Although exit poll voters gave the edge on the economy to Romney, Obama still won. Women and minorities supported the president roundly, while white men, upper income voters, the religious right and other traditional conservative stalwarts supported Romney. Of course, defeating an incumbent president is nearly impossible. But the fact that Republicans didn’t win in a landslide last Tuesday indicates the party of Lincoln has an elephant-sized case of head-in-the-sanditis. Republican strategists will no doubt spend a lot more time analyzing this past election than I will. While I’m sure we’ll all hear tons about how GOP candidates need to do a better job getting their message out to Hispanics and middle-income moms, the problem isn’t the breadth of communication; it’s the communication itself. More from Darien Patch Lying Politicians: Why They Do It, And Why We Let Them Darien Homes for Sale Darien Man Makes Forbes Billionaire List Darien Selectman Stevenson: 8-30g Points Discriminatory Toward Elderly I think Washington has a habit of underestimating the man (or woman) in the street. Voters get what the Republicans are saying. They just don’t like it. That doesn’t mean they embrace the liberal agenda, either, as evidenced by the halfhearted endorsement of the Obama mandate. It just means that they found the reality of another Obama administration more tolerable than the idea of a Romney administration. The long-held assumption that America is a center-right country is false. We’re center-center. We want compromise. And nobody, from the single mom waitress in Cuyahoga County to the hedge fund manager in New Canaan, wants to see the government waste taxpayer money. Let’s not forget, the fact of the matter is George W. Bush spent money like a drunken sailor and left Obama with a big fat mess. It’s not as if the economy was plugging along nicely and Obama wrecked it. The ugly truth is the country has still not recovered from the Bush years. Voters recognized it. Republican leadership should, too. But the common thread between all of the reasons voters chose Obama is the Republicans’ insistence on not accepting the reality of the shifting priorities of the American electorate. When Romney shifted to the right on immigration that was a big mistake. Why? Although rounding up illegal immigrants and shipping them back home sounds great on paper, it is not a practical solution to our border problem. Developing a sensible amnesty program is and Hispanic voters noticed. Maintaining a pro-life platform was an even bigger mistake and the right wing needs to accept America is never going to outlaw abortion. Women noticed and they're tired of it. Yes, I know no one even talked about overturning Roe v. Wade. If you don’t want an abortion, don’t get an abortion—but let others make their own choices. Voters believe that is the American way. Romney also would have been better off taking credit for the truth of being the ideological father of Obamacare (and also for being pro-choice while leading Massachusetts). Standing up to the noisy far right, with whom northeastern and west coast voters do not identify, would have demonstrated courageous leadership. And though it would have made the GOP faithful red-faced in anger, it would have garnered the respect of voters. Finally, how refreshing would it have been to hear Romney say, “I think we should keep the Bush tax cuts. But healing a divided nation and making real progress will only be achieved through bipartisan legislation. That’s why I cannot release specific details now. “I need the American people to give me a chance to sit down with our Democratic friends and work out a compromise that every party can be proud of. It may include entitlement cuts and higher revenues. But we won’t know how great our nation could be unless you elect me to prove it.” Alas, it was not to be.

Tempest in a Teapot: Candidates’ Uneasy Courtship of Women

Microphone on, insert foot. Sleep, rinse, repeat. So began the latest tempest in a teapot, with Democratic adviser and President Obama administration supporter Hilary Rosen proclaiming that Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, hadn’t worked a day in her life. Never mind that any reasonable adult knows that raising five children and keeping a home is tiring labor, requiring endless reserves of energy, mental stamina and resourcefulness, regardless of income. Never mind that extraordinarily successful men often point to their wives—employed or not—as the biggest reason they were able to achieve that success in the first place. And never mind that unlike what the media and politicians would have us believe, the reality of public opinion is far more nuanced than the views expressed by Rosen, former Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum or anyone else whose future depends on soundbites and headline journalism. What’s more interesting—and discouraging—is the amount of time that media outlets and politicians spend defining and assigning the values and priorities they think “women” want. And the more time they spend pandering to what they assume are women’s attitudes toward working, family life, reproductive rights, the ethics of medical research techniques and a host of other issues, the more foolish they look. These latest transparent attempts to drum up enthusiasm for a supposed “war on women” are absurd. Feminists want to stay relevant in an era when women are achieving more than any other time in human history (in the United States … we’re not talking about Afghanistan). And Democrats, experts at the backhanded compliment and anxious to carry over the Occupy Wall Street wave of populism into the election, are using women as pawns in a nasty election year class warfare battle. As a lifelong Republican and hybrid stay-home-cum-working mom, I find that insulting. Women have already defined their own unique roles because of the feminist’s favorite word: choice. How much longer are we going to allow our political parties to hijack common sense? For example, I challenge you to find anyone who disagrees with the following statements: The government shouldn’t spend more money than it takes in. What goes on in your neighbor’s bedroom is their own business. Our tax laws are unfair, labyrinthine and punitive. The sooner we rid ourselves of our dependence on oil, the safer we will be. The U.S. Congress should subject itself to the same rules as those they govern. Welfare is a not a reasonable lifestyle choice, and it's sometimes abused. Set goals and work hard. And if you fail, work harder. When we let Hilary Rosen’s ill-considered comment become a national conversation, we are losing focus on the issues that really matter, and not just to women. Newsflash: Women have already decided for themselves how they feel about the issues of the day. We don’t need Hilary Rosen or Rick Santorum or anyone else to elucidate our own private views. As many Fairfield County women already know, finance is a demanding career and that's why financial executives earn more on average than most other professionals. Why aren’t we celebrating the fact that Mitt and Ann Romney made sacrifices early on in their lives so that she could stay home full time and raise their family? Regardless of income, staying home by yourself at night with five kids while your husband is traveling, finishing up a big deal or entertaining a client is isolating, hard work. Successful families—such as the Romneys and the Obamas—work as a team. We should be pointing to them as examples of what can go right when hard work and personal choice meet in the greatest country in the world. We should not be whining that Ann never worked and Mitt is a child of privilege and oh my God, Republicans are going to make abortion illegal and put women back in 1955! Spare us the rhetoric, please. The women I know don’t have time for this nonsense. They're figuring out how they can get themselves and their families ahead. They spend their free time encouraging their kids to study, volunteer, play sports and develop relationships in the communities in which they live, so they can earn the respect of others and become high achieving adults. It doesn’t matter if you live in Weston or Detroit or East Podunk, Arkansas. Kids, spend your time doing worthwhile activities instead of partying and perhaps one day it will be you that’s part of the 1 percent. It’s just that simple. Let’s keep the discussion focused on how we can help kids become successful, productive adults, as opposed to how we can maintain an unproductive class warfare battle. Because that’s why people hate politics. And if you read this and you’re a woman, I bet you knew that already. And you’ll move on with your day, because you have miles to go before you sleep.

Last Minute Lachat Glitch Concerns Weston | Patch

A last minute glitch in concerning the Lachat property is forcing the town to renegotiate an important provision, according to an announcement made at Thursday’s Board of Selectmen meeting. Selectman Dennis Tracey informed the board that that wants to amend terms pertaining to the endowment fund; the Nature Conservancy controls the Lachat endowment, where it is part of a large fund worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Connecticut Attorney General would not approve the separation agreement unless the endowment funds stayed within the control of the Nature Conservancy. Currently, Weston may draw down five percent per year for Lachat property maintenance. The proposed terms would allow the Nature Conservancy to raise or lower the draw down amount, causing concern among residents. Tracey felt that there is a “very low risk” that the conservancy might decide to lower the drawdown amount. “If they increase it, we get that, too,” he added. Nevertheless, residents who attended the meeting questioned what the town would do in the event the maintenance costs exceeded the permitted drawdown, prompting one to suggest that the town ask for a provision limiting the downside. “Put a lower bound on it,” said Selectman David Muller. “A ‘not less than,’” he added. First Selectman Gayle Weinstein suggested that Tracey continue to negotiate with the Conservancy on behalf of the board, a motion the board approved. Tracey abstained from the vote. Oak Lane, Revisited The board also discussed business hearkening back to retired First Selectman George Guidera’s era. In the mid-1990s, three property owners on Oak Lane purchased land on the street for the purpose of increasing their lot sizes to two acres each. One of the owners, Austin Ganz, appeared at the meeting along with Ken Whitman, Weston’s tax assessor. According to town and bank records, a land transfer was supposed to take place that would have increased the property sizes and lengthened the road. A letter that was produced at the meeting from Peoples Bank indicated that a land transfer was supposed to take place, but Weinstein was not able to find a record of the proposed transaction in town records. Weinstein indicated that she would speak to Guidera for additional background information and find out the process for completing the transfer. “One of the things we do in government is catch up,” said Muller. “It’s up to us to remedy that."

Three Out of Two Children Have Trouble With Fractions | Patch

Is there anything more frustrating or saddening than watching a child struggle? If there is, then I'm not aware of it. My daughter is an endangered species in . She isn't a "TAG kid." (Yes, I know they don't call it TAG anymore.) Participating in the school play interests her not at all. (She was horrified when I suggested it.) Chorus? Thanks, but no thanks. ("Really? Mom, I am a terrible singer.") She doesn't play chess. Her grades are respectable, mostly 3s, scattered 4s, and the odd 2. Rather, The Girl's interests focus on her cat, soccer, art, reading and writing -- but not necessarily in that order. She loves listening to music, and is slowly embracing her choice of instrument, the flute. She has a million friends, and an astonishing sense of humor cushioned in a zesty belly laugh and bedroom eyes. Anyone lucky enough to catch this girl will have to meet pretty high familial expectations. They'll also have to scale a pretty big electric fence, which my husband swears he is building soon. She's the whole world to her family. To everyone else, she's just your average kid. It took me almost ten minutes to bring myself to write that sentence. Math, to my great sadness, has become her mortal enemy. She struggles at home and performs "fair" at school. For a while it seemed like she was improving, but this year we are back to square one. One year, I pushed insistently for extra help from school, and got it -- for a little while. Then the help disappeared, and her brief progress receded, like a bathtub slowly losing water. More from Weston-Redding-Easton Patch Lying Politicians: Why They Do It, And Why We Let Them Proposed 99-Unit Townhouse Development Near Reservoir Denied Residents Encouraged to Testify for 'Zero-Tolerance Safe School Environment' Bill Hearing Wednesday Weston, Redding, Easton's Top Democratic Presidential Campaign Contributors After she recently handed me a blank sheet of homework with tears in her eyes, I could no longer stand watching her struggle. I fired off a pretty angry email to anyone I thought would have an interest in reading it -- six people, in my estimation. I have faith that something will come of it. The average child, not unlike the middle class, is becoming an endangered species in this country. Neither "special enough" for advanced schoolwork nor extra tutelage, these children coast along because everything's "fine." It's my firm belief that these children need the strongest advocation of all, lest they pass by unnoticed. Behavior problems? Nope. Academic issues? Well, maybe they could practice their "math facts" more. Social problems? Well, maybe that one bullying problem a few years back. But otherwise, nothing. No red flags, no "issues," nothing that would appear on a progress report as a leading indicator of future trouble. But you know, don't you? Can't you feel it inside when the grades don't match the child? In our case, it definitely doesn't help that I am the worst tutor of all time, but that also means I can tell quickly when a problem becomes chronic. Listen to your little voice. When you know something isn't right, speak up. Don't let teachers or administrators assuage your fears when you know in your gut there's an issue. Be your child's squeaky wheel. Demand to be heard. And don't stop until your child gets the help he or she needs. Mostly, remember that the "3" is the most dangerous, overlooked grade of all.