City Council’s Moving Parts–Curwen “Optimistically Cautious” About Staying On Legislative Body

The musical chairs that is the Bridgeport City Council continued Monday night when Black Rock councilman Marty McCarthy announced his resignation and submitted a formal resignation letter today (Tuesday) while Bob Curwen announced he really didn’t mean to resign when he announced his resignation a few months ago. So he’s still technically a council member representing the Upper East Side.

In a statement to the Connecticut Post, the other council member representing the 138th District, Rich Paoletto, is not happy with how Curwen has handled things regarding his resignation, resignation withdrawn.

“Whether Bob is purposefully holding back his letter ‘playing games,’ I don’t know, but he is doing a disservice to the 138th District day by day without properly resigning.”

Curwen had announced in early January at a council meeting, “I am compelled to inform you that I will be retiring from politics very soon due to a family illness that requires immediate attention.”

He sold his house and moved to Virginia in the aid of his ill daughter. But now he says things are looking up and would like to keep his seat. Curwen, although announcing his resignation verbally never submitted a formal letter of resignation. He had served for more than a decade as co-chair of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, a key council body that revues the mayor’s budget proposal.

Curwen, the master of malapropisms, is quoted in the Post about his return to council meetings, “I am being optimistically cautious is the best way for me to put it to you.”

City Council President Tom McCarthy Monday night replaced Curwen as co-chair of the committee with Black Rock councilwoman Sue Brannelly. Angel DePara is the other co-chair. Mayor Bill Finch is scheduled to submit his spending plan to the council the first week of April.

Steven Stafstrom, a lawyer with Bridgeport-based Pullman & Comley, is expected to replace Marty McCarthy on the council. City Council members vote to fill vacancies.



  1. Curwen is slime. He is a self-serving prick. He sells his house, verbally resigns, makes his wife quit her city job. Now because things are looking up he wants back in.
    Bob, it doesn’t work that way.
    Doesn’t the council have any guidelines on how many meetings a council person can miss before being removed?
    There should be actions the council can take.
    Curwen before selling his house and moving to Virginia, never mentioned he was taking a leave of absence. He never indicated the move was temporary. His intent was to get the hell out.
    It is only since his adult son embarrassed the family and ruined his chance of sitting on the council that Bob is claiming he still wants his seat.
    His true intention was to resign. He would get his son appointed to his seat and thus still be in control. His son would be Bob’s mouthpiece and do exactly as daddy instructed him to do.
    All that blew up when Curwen Jr. couldn’t hold his liquor.
    Now slimebag senior is quickly going to plan B; he never resigned and will be back to faithfully serve the 138th.
    What a freaking circus!

    1. You’re a real POS … You obviously have no clue wtf you’re talking about. Sitting in your dark troll room bashing other people’s reputations. I wonder if your mom would be proud of the class act you’ve turned out not to be.

      1. How can you defend Curwen’s reputation? He pulled a really slimy act and got caught when his son couldn’t hold his liquor and revealed what we already knew … our city council is a rigged game.

        1. You’ll believe anything if it coincides with your narrow-minded view. Speaking of reputations, what have you done, BRG? Ever? … Luckily you’re like 90 and I see you fading away very very soon … just not soon enough!

    2. I couldn’t agree with you more. This arrogant incompetent has been a parasitic leech that is a puppet for the
      Administration. The only good thing is the royal line ends now.
      His son has successfully eliminated any chance of a political future, but this is Bridgeport.

  2. Ron,
    I take it you meant you DON’T like what he is doing.
    The fact he can do what he is doing and NOT be in violation of anything is what makes it a circus.
    There should be policy and procedure in place to deal with situations like this.
    Unfortunately we are reactive instead of proactive.

    1. Wth, tienes que tener mucho cuidado cuando hablas de cualquier persona que trabaja o este retirado del Departamento de Corrección del Estado de Connecticut. Ladrillo, (Brick en inglés) es muy sobreprotejido de ellos.

      1. I’ll translate: You have to be very careful when you talk to anyone who works or the Department of Correction retired Connecticut State. Brick (Brick in English) is very sobreprotejido of them.

        1. Close, Jimfox. You have to be careful when you talk about any person who works or is retired from the Connecticut Dept. of Corrections. Brick is overprotective of them.

  3. As far as Stafstrom and McCarthy are concerned, wouldn’t John Marshall Lee be a better appointee for Black Rock? I mean he understands finance, actually reads the budget, attends all the meetings, etc, etc. Why doesn’t Sue Brannelly nominate him if she really has the people of Bridgeport’s best interest in mind?

    1. In Black Rock, they all serve at the mercy of Danny Roach. Danny sees an opportunity to make a deal with John Stafstrom. About three years ago, Danny Roach tried to become the Democratic Party Chairman. Danny Roach, John Stafstrom and Mario Testa were the three leading contenders. Roach needed Stafstrom’s support to beat Testa for the nomination–it didn’t happen. This puts Danny Roach in a better position to take the party chairmanship (that Stafstrom technically holds) during the Democratic Party chairmanship fight next year. John Staftstrom’s main goal is to protect and secure the Town Committee nomination for Dan Malloy.

    2. I’m surprised Pullman & Comley LLC, the largest law firm in CT would jeopardize the work they perform for the City of Bridgeport by having one of their associates (from Black Rock) sit on the City Council.
      Talk about a conflict of interest.

    3. In a perfect world you would be correct. I am a huge fan of JML, but this is still BPT. The administration fears what it can’t fully control. John would be more hated than Bob Walsh.

  4. hope I can sell my house, come on man, John Marshall Lee, your drugs must have just kicked in. There is no way in hell Mayor Finch, Mario Testa and the entire DTC would select, elect or support Mr. John Marshall Lee.

    1. Mr. Ron Mackey,
      Again, I agree with you. But perhaps this is one of those teachable moments that present themselves occasionally. For the sake of the audience (and I look forward to the absurd humor of the moment) will you share your thoughts as to why “there is no way in hell” the Bridgeport Democrats in power “would select, elect or support Mr. John Marshall Lee.” That be me!

      To step away from the absurd for a moment perhaps, I have appeared at the BOE and the City Council meetings the past two weeks on Monday night, using the public speaking portion of each for a few comments. At each meeting I invited the members to frame and set out a REPORT CARD format to the public for their behavior while representing voters and taxpayers. Such a REPORT CARD could be helpful to voters on election day. It might cover topics like Attendance/Absence, Conduct, Effort, and one or more subject areas representing sub-committee participation. What do you think? If they do not step up to this positive invitation, we can always create such a card and do the scoring ourselves. Time will tell.

  5. While it would appear adherence to City Charter is always open to various opinions as to what is binding or not, here is the Council Rules regarding where the council member must reside.

    Section 1. Selection.

    (a) The legislative body of the City shall be a city council consisting of twenty council members to be elected at each municipal election.

    (b) At the city election in the odd-numbered years, two council members shall be elected from each aldermanic district by the electors of the city residing in such district and council members shall be residents and electors in the district which they represent. No resident of one council district shall vote for a council person of any district other than that in which he/she is registered.

    (c) Council members shall serve for a term of two years from the first day of December next succeeding their election and until their successors are elected and have qualified.

    (d) Whenever a vacancy occurs, for any reason, in the membership of the city council, such vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term by a majority vote of the city council members from the same political party as the council member vacating such office. If there are no other members from the same political party as the member vacating such office, the vacancy shall be filled by majority vote of the whole number of council members. No person shall be elected to fill a vacancy on the city council unless he/she is a resident and registered voter of the city and is a member of the same political party as the person vacating such office. No person shall be elected to fill a vacancy in the office of any council member unless he/she is also a resident and registered voter in the same council district as the person vacating such office.

  6. Let me get this straight. Curwen is an elected member of the City Council. He sells his house and moves to Virginia along with his wife who resigned a city teaching job. Sounds like the Curwens have relocated permanently to another state. What kind of freaking city do we live in that allows a council member to retain his seat AFTER HE HAS RELOCATED TO ANOTHER STATE? The citizenry should file an Amicus Suit … No … Time will tell.

  7. This seems to be a completely ridiculous situation and given everything, it is time for CC President McCarthy to step up!

    If Jennifer Buchanan’s post is correct, then Bob Curwen has no legal standing to come back as a Councilman. He verbally noticed everybody he had to leave, he and wife quit their jobs, sold their house and are in Virginia.

    McCarthy should not go to Anastasi for a legal opinion … Just have the vote for the new councilperson.

    (Although I did hear a rumor that is equally troubling, ex-Councilperson Mike Marella is going to rent a sham apartment and be appointed back in his old district to serve with his nephew Paoletto.)

    1. The fix is already in. Mario is going to back Marella because he is already a trained puppet. Business as usual, the
      games go on. May God have pity on the 138th.

  8. Sometimes people who are “optimistically cautious” have played their best card even though they doubt it’s part of a winning hand. Virginians rarely get a break in Bridgeport, irregardless of their CC background. As in politics; as in poker.

  9. Is it me or does Curwen’s sudden position shift smell curiously like a ploy to hold on to the Council Seat until the stench evaporates from Junior’s recent, albeit tainted, publicity?

  10. This whole council is a joke, not a pair amongst them. How do they justify keeping Curwen as the council person when he no longer lives in the city or the state? You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure this one out.
    McCarthy is full of shit and couldn’t lead a pack of lemmings … oops!!! Wait a minute, he is leading a pack of lemmings.
    This should be an easy one for the city attorney, he really doesn’t have to make up a ruling about Curwen.
    If I have a problem in my neighborhood does anyone have Curwen’s number in Virginia?
    Do you all believe 18 members of the council are silent on this issue? I am sorry, that was a dumb question.

    1. Andy, can you really believe the entire council are not hardworking sincere individuals? I know a few who give a lot of their time and really care about our city. I think maybe you’d make a great candidate to shake up the Beardsley Park area. Richie would appreciate a strong partner. I Have a lot of respect for many of the members. I cannot judge them based on their relationship with the DTC or Mr. Testa. I know Michelle Lyons works hard and cares about her constituents. I am one of them.

      1. Steve, I believe the council is made up of people more interested in keeping their seats on the council than they are in making the hard decisions.
        Michelle Lyons does do a lot of work for her district but she like most of the council do not seem to recognize they are council people for the whole city not just their district.
        The council votes on city budgets and the only person who questions the budget is Andre Baker, otherwise the council passes the budget not understanding what they are voting for. Did you know NOT ONE line item was reduced or eliminated from Finch’s budgets over the last two years? Tell me when one Finch proposal brought before the council was voted down. Steve, I like Michele a lot but she needs to think about the whole city.

  11. The Local Eyes Rumor Mill is in hyperdrive mode. There is much to report. Let’s get started:
    1. EVERYONE from the Harborview Market Coalition is being mentioned as a possible replacement. That means Mary-Jane Foster, David Walker, Jack Hennessy, Audin Grogins and Rick Torres have all received favorable nods from the fastest-growing grassroots org in Bridgeport history. Some have no interest while others do. But you know you’re winning when your options improve. I offer no insight into what CC members will decide but even the possibility a position needs to be filled increases the candidate pool.
    2. Curwen still lives here. New address, same city. He’s even found a way to convince folks he never left!

  12. This morning I had the pleasure of a 15 more or less minute impromptu talk with Steven Stafstrom at Harborview Market, at his invitation. My first meeting with Steven. Attorney Stafstrom is a reader of OIB and was aware of my comments. (For the record, I did not detect any lipstick …)
    My impression–I asked him about his position on HB-5724. His response, I would like to see the legal language of the bill rather than the proposed bill language he has seen, before he gives an opinion. Hmmm, same thing Senator Musto has said, it seems odd to me that Auden Grogins is an attorney; she co-sponsored and voted the bill to move forward without knowing what the end exact language of the bill will be. He did say he was concerned about teachers being excluded–hmmm again, had to educate him that BOE employees are almost always considered state employees by the state of CT and according to Auden Grogins per her recent discussion with the legal minds at our state capital. And he said with the Grandfather clause he would of course be completely on board. When I pointed out it was an issue of City Charter language and adhering to the City Charter, he pushed back with but those who are now city employees and elected have worked so hard. While this may be a true statement, what about the issue of adhering to the City Charter?
    He mentioned he thought long and hard about this, it was going to be a sacrifice for him with regard to his legal practice and family time. When I asked him why, he said he grew up in Orange, he had job opportunities in many other states and towns … I only remember St. Louis (sorry) and he chose Bridgeport because he loves Bridgeport and wants to raise his family here. He went on to say he wants to make a difference in Bridgeport, and started the list one would expect from someone who wants your vote–move forward, great opportunity for economic development … yes, I tuned out until … he then said and to … the conflict of inter … And his voice trailed off and to his credit, when he is looked at by a motherly type person (me) with raised eyebrows and that look of Did I just see your hand in the cookie jar? His cheeks developed bright red patches … I think this was the case, but I can only give you my side and impression of the meeting.
    When we discussed his law firm and their work with the city, he promised and swore (sans Bible, I left it at home today of all days!) he was going to recuse himself on any items that are related to his firm and city business, and he went on to explain he has very strict ethical duties to have an ethical firewall between him and any city business his office conducts. When I replied “Cute” to this statement he did take issue and said something to the effect he wished I would not say things like that, so I sincerely apologized for my flippant remark, I was being fresh and rude. I mentioned I was with a Trumbull legislator and he told me at their meetings people recuse themselves all over the place with comments like my cousin has a contract with that firm and I cannot vote on it. I asked him if he would be able to make sure any sitting council members were told they must recuse themselves if he knew they had the same type of connection as the Trumbull example. He said he was in hopes his example of recusing himself would cause the other members to do the same and he would perhaps discuss this issue with them in caucus meetings.
    He said he hoped I would give him a chance. I asked that he start holding Town Hall Meetings to let us know who he is and what he is about and that is the only way I am able to give anyone a chance, meet with those you represent on a regular basis, listen to us and what we want and or need, tell us what you plan to vote for and why and answer our questions when we have them.
    Right now, what his agenda is and plans are I cannot tell you. I did a lot of grilling of him in those 15 or so minutes, warned him I would be either his biggest advocate or pain in his asterisk. I so want to be his advocate! I really, really do.

  13. I made a mistake. John Marshall Lee, an outspoken member of the Harborview Market Coalition, has a shot at becoming a CC member. Who’s more qualified? Besides, he might be happy to replace that shovel with a gavel.

    Steven Stafstrom has his own chances, too. Read the above post to learn more.

  14. Two points about Bob Curwen’s council seat. First, what is Mario Testa and Mayor Finch’s position and second, Curwen can also rent a room or an apartment in the district.

  15. *** After a council member announces verbally at a meeting he will be resigning in the near future from continued city government service in representing their district, how long do they legally have before having to turn in a letter of resignation before being voted off by his peers or local town committee? Also, after being replaced by another city council member pertaining to the committees the departing member sits on, what’s the big hurry to replace him so quickly with a “possible” present admin. kool-aid drinking person who probably doesn’t even live in the 138th district? Curwen’s local town committee should have the first say in asking for a written resignation and then voting on who will take his place, not anyone else. Afterward it should go to the present city council for a final vote of acceptance, no? *** POLITICAL TIC-TAC-TOE ***

  16. The Curwen situation is just one more embarrassment in a long string for the City Council and the political machine in Bridgeport. The current Council members may select the temporary replacements for Bob and Marty but the voters will select their own in November. By the way, the good governance principle that underlies Hennessy’s legislation is people can’t serve on the top legislative/oversight body they are an employee for. As a result, teachers should be able to serve on the City Council in their town of residence but not on the BOE they work for. Rep. Hennessy’s legislation also is consistent with the concept of home rule as determined by the City Charter. The citizens of the entire City of Bridgeport ratified the current Charter provision that says City employees cannot be on the City Council.

  17. Dave Walker, let’s say Rep. Hennessy’s legislation becomes law. So what does that do to change things in Bridgeport? Six City council members who are employed by the City are no longer council members, so what. The DTC and Mario Testa will still run the Party and the candidates.

    Bridgeport needs a strong Republican Party to challenge and bring in ideas, nothing will change with one Party in control. Mr. Walker, that’s where you could help Bridgeport.

    1. Ron, always nice to have a two-party system, but the strongest challenges to the Democratic Party establishment the past 10 years have come from disaffected members of the party such as Chris Caruso and Mary-Jane Foster. Caruso would have been elected mayor but for some strategic campaign flaws and Foster first time out of the box ran a competitive primary race for mayor, having been outspent two to one by an incumbent. Yes, Bridgeport has a brain-dead electorate but it’s up to the challengers to inspire voters to make change, not an easy task. The Republicans have trouble electing their own to school board seats in a minority party representation system. This year is a good test for both disaffected Dems and GOP candidates in a school board/City Council cycle.

      1. Lennie, I understand exactly what you are saying but let’s look at the votes and the dirty tricks that were laid. Chris Caruso lost the primary by 270 votes and lies were being told in the black community that Chris was a racist but it was Caruso who lead the fight to block asphalt plants from being placed in the South End and East End which increase the number of children to get asthma. Well there were NO black leaders in Bridgeport fighting that health issue. The race card was played against Mary-Jane Foster. The Bridgeport DTC is not able to change and we all suffer.

  18. Ron,
    Thanks for your thoughts. I believe Republicans, Independents, reform-minded Democrats and others can join forces based on a reform framework and win in Bridgeport as well as statewide. Time will tell.

    1. Candidate boys. We need a candidate NOW. Then we need an infrastructure. This time it can be done. But it has to start now. Let’s start hearing some names.

  19. You know you’re a big shot when the former Comptroller General of the United States uses your closing words. When does opinion become fact? Ask JML, he’s an expert on when that arrives.

    1. TBK–You want a political process that is mostly Hispanic, poor, has a high school education or less, does not vote and is un- or underemployed??? Although that would probably not be worse than what we have now, I do not think it would be better.

        1. I have no opinion. The demographics I posted do not all apply to the same person. They represent the largest single percentage in the city. Most of the people in the city are Hispanic. Most of the people in the city fall into the lower middle class or below. But they are not necessarily the same people. I did not make these demographics. This is just what they are.
          I was making sport of the idea city government should somehow fall into line with the city demographic. The idea only Hispanic representatives could represent Hispanic people. We currently have a bi-racial president. That would mean only a very small portion of the population is represented. Or a large portion of the population is only half represented. You cannot legislate who should serve. If you want a particular representative, hopefully not completely based on color, vote for one

          1. I can’t help but wonder what Ron and TBK would say if Westport or Greenwich wanted to enact a similar policy.

      1. *** BOE, it’s exactly what’s needed to get back to basics, real taxpaying urban city folk who not only “earn” their money in Bpt but “spend” some here too! Not suburbanites who live above their needs, spend elsewhere, don’t contribute to city revenue and hire more suburbanites for the better-paying jobs and leave the city folk with the shit jobs regardless of whether they qualify or not for something better. Just look at the race, ethnic backgrounds and places of residence of all the new hires since the start of the Finch Admin. back in 2007 ’til today 2013. Also the Bpt Census has quite a large voting ethnic melting pot of folk from all over the world who are not just Hispanic! You BOE SPY are probably from outside of Bpt no doubt! *** NO SPEAKY ENGLESS, HOMES? ***

  20. “If I quit my job, am I entitled to get it back if I change my mind?”

    Great question. Boils down to: Can I get a do-over?
    Curwen is getting little sympathy from most people, perhaps because they do not see what his legacy with Budget & Appropriations is for the taxpayers of the City. It’s clear he is a family man, ready to deal with family health issues by moving to another state. Wife leaves her City job and he has his State of CT pension as they sell their home. Son makes the newspaper for an “annual altercation?” Oh well, as they say you can’t make things like this up.

    However, what about the do-over at the City Council meeting Monday evening as Tom Sherwood appeared to request a budget modification in order to claw back about $1 Million from the BOE budget for this year, with only 90 days left in the year?
    It is hard to get all the facts on this one, perhaps because the City does not want you to know the facts but take a look:
    1) For the most part the funds that come for Bridgeport schools from the State, ECS (Educational Cost Sharing) funds are sent to the City and then moved over to the Public School budget. That is probably what OPM counts on.
    2) Sometime in January about $8.3 Million was transferred by the City to the Schools. Schools understood that $5 Million was the City commitment the Mayor has spoken about. Inquiries were extended to ascertain the reason for the $3.3 Million but it was not spent.
    3) Bridgeport qualified for special attention by being considered an Alliance District to the tune of $4.4 Million for this year. Initially a portion of this was considered for Charter Schools but then eliminated from the $4.4 grant.
    4) The $4.4 came into the Public Schools account rather than the City.
    5) The City wants the money.
    6) The difference is about one million dollars.
    7) With only 90 days left in the year, Superintendent Vallas wants the BOE budget to balance. If you lose $1 Million of revenue at this point, how do you lose $1 Million of expense to offset and stay balanced?
    8) BOE pays money for healthcare to the City Internal Service Fund which is the enterprise fund for worker’s compensation and healthcare self insurance. Perhaps that fund has caused the BOE to make excess payments in recent years? Perhaps that should be reviewed? In any case if the budget obligation is reduced at this moment, the BOE budget is balanced.
    9) What about the MBR (minimum budget requirement) the State of CT calls for from the City so some fair share relationship is established for receiving ECS state money? I am not sure, but that should be easy to discover, shouldn’t it?
    10) And will the ‘clawback’ of net $1 Million or so leave intact the claim that the budget added $5 Million for the current year? More research, I guess.
    11) And is anyone now curious about the status and operation of the Internal Service Fund? (Page 67 of the 2012 CAFR indicates a current fund deficit in the Internal Service Fund of $93,824,333. It then says, “The City anticipates eliminating the fund deficits through future grants and revenues.” Folks, that means if there are no grants for such debt, then property taxes are required. Were you aware? Is this an item reviewed by any City Council members? Where are the WATCHDOGS?

    So to return to the subject of the day, DO-OVERS, how do we voter taxpayers accomplish DO-OVERS? Join BOB this year. Get a grip on broken governance. Time will tell.


Leave a Reply