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Curwen Cuts Loose In Pol Pod, Plus: High Five For Himes And Tracking City Vehicles

January 7th, 2009 · 25 Comments · City Budget, City Council, Interviews

City Councilman Bob Curwen steps into the Pol Pod to discuss the budget mess, police overtime and the tri-town proposal to connect a sewer line from Monroe to Trumbull that’s connected to the waste-water mothership in Bridgeport. (He’s not happy with that.)

This 12-year member of the city’s legislative body serves as co-chair of the Budget and Appropriations Committee which means he has a lot to say about the city’s budget-making process, although as you will hear, Curwen isn’t enamored with the “spoon-fed” communication he receives from the executive branch considering the close working relationship he had under former Mayor John Fabrizi. Still, he gives Mayor Bill Finch his due for coming to grips with a budget in an awful economic environment.

As budget chair, Curwen puts in extra-long hours during financial deliberations and addressing department head budget requests. While the city is trying to close a budget hole that’s at least $10 million, Curwen is also looking ahead to the next budget and working through and voting on a spending package that begins July 1.

Curwen, who represents the Upper East Side 138th Council District, is aligned politically with Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa. He said one administration proposal that’s unacceptable in its current form is the offer from Monroe to tie into the city’s sewage treatment system via Trumbull. Listen to the interview here: {running time: 10:56}

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Our New Congressman

Congrats to Congressman Jim Himes who received the oath of office on Tuesday, and his campaign friends who helped deliver him against a 21-year incumbent. Last spring I gave Gent Jim a tour of the city that covered all neighborhoods and the Harvard-educated Rhodes Scholar, with his mom and OIB friend Maura Keaney (then his campaign manager) along for the ride, was eager to learn about the diversity of the city and discuss the political juggling required of a successful pol.

Let’s hope he can deliver for Bridgeport. The city needs him.

Speaking of oath of office, the state legislature convenes today. Cross your fingers.

News release from Mayor Finch

City Uses GPS Technology to Track Routes, Increase Efficiency

Global Positioning Satellite System units have been installed in city public works vehicles, another step in the effort to professionalize city government, increase efficiency, and ultimately, save city taxpayers money. Eighty-five units have been installed, mostly in city sanitation, snowplows and recycling vehicles, in addition to health and building code inspector vehicles.

“These GPS units will help the city to better track the most efficient routes, and be more accountable to constituents’ concerns, for example, whether and when their street has been plowed,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “When I took office, one of my goals was to professionalize city government, increase accountability, and realize cost-savings, in conjunction with the creation of CitiStat. The installation of GPS units is one more step in that process,” the Mayor added.

Each unit costs approximately $299, with an additional $30 a month monitoring fee. Public Facilities budgeted for the cost of the GPS units. The goal is to have 100 percent of the city vehicle fleet monitored with GPS, but due to the cost, this program will be phased in over the next few years.

It is too early to estimate the savings, but the monitoring of routes and accountability measures will help the Department of Public Facilities be even more responsive to residents’ concerns, whether it is snowplowing or garbage pickup. “This new technology will help us to examine the efficiency of our routing and allow us to make adjustments as necessary to respond to residents’ concerns,” said Charles M. Carroll, Director of Public Facilities. The GPS units also will enhance the city’s safety network, for example, by allowing the city to locate stranded vehicles.

“It is our goal to significantly reduce the city take-home vehicle fleet, and the recent success in police contract negotiations limiting the number of take-home vehicles is one indicator of the work we will continue to do to cut costs and deliver savings to the taxpayers,” said Mayor Finch.

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25 Comments so far ↓

  • Bruce Lee

    In response to a question raised on last night’s blog–why is Deborah Caviness’ position being hidden in the Police dept. budget and why did she receive a raise this year when everyone else is taking 0% plus furloughs? Two words–Tom … Sherwood. That’s why Finch won’t let Tom go. He has positions and slush funds hidden all over the budget and you wouldn’t know unless you knew where to look. How do you think Fabrizi made his weekly trips to Port Jeff and Carmines with his best buds? Who do you think paid for it? We did and Sherwood hid the payment.

  • 1junkyarddog

    Lennie, I have listened to Councilman Curwen and yourself on the Pol Pod. I am curious to learn the identity of the 7 unions that have signed agreements with the City which were mentioned in the conversation. Would you be kind enough to list them?

  • independent soul

    Just got through listening to Curwen on the pol pod. The man needs some elocution lessons, firstly; and then needs to retire.

    He believes our fiscal woes will be with us until downtown is developed. DAH! I guess we’re doomed. I don’t hear about any running into town to save us. This guy has been around long enough to be seriously considered part of the problem. He was a leader in reducing the fund balance over the years and needs to do a mea culpa.

    Can we add him to the list of people like Feeney and Sherwood, and at least a couple of the Mayor’s executive staff who should be taking bullets?

    BTW, how did Mrs. Curwen slip through the layoffs?

    Same ole, same ole.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    How about all of the regular contributors get together to do something a little more constructive for the city of Bridgeport, like cleaning the streets, reporting broken street lamps, stop talking on your cellphone while driving, etc. Something above and beyond sitting around in the cozy chair your asses are parked in while you blog. There is so much chatter about who should lose their municipal job, who’s working off the books, etc. Really, WHO GIVES A SHIT?!

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    ARE ANY OF YOU REALLY DOING ANYTHING TANGIBLE FOR BRIDGEPORT, SOMETHING THAT IMPROVES THE QUALITY OF LIFE HERE?

    I didn’t think so.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Same old, same old … ad nauseum.

  • independent soul

    Bridgeport Kid:

    Why don’t you stop acting so childlike? People have the right to express their feelings. You are not obligated to respond or even read opinions. And what makes you think the people on this blog are not contributing to the City? In a democracy, the right to speak your mind is the first rule.

    The people that espouse positions on how they think things can be improved have the same rights as you. Giving a shit over who is being let go and NOT being let go IS important. If this is nauseum, leave the room.

  • Mojo

    *** Bpt. Kid- Whose cozy chair is your ass in while you’re blogging? Do you really feel that you give a good 8 hrs. a day of work for a good day’s pay? What makes you so different from us on likes & dislikes, your city job? I didn’t think so either! *** It’s only opinions, not a pink slip. ***

  • Local Eyes

    THE BRIDGEPORT KID is SO COOL! This blog’s reputation would soar if OIB people were held responsible for a tangible improvement in town and let’s be clear: there’s lots to be done. Deeds & Words: what a combo!

    Let’s OUTPERFORM certain groups (wink) to claim bragging rights and in the process make OIB a national headline and make Lennie a, uh, er, gee golly … a multimillionaire (gulp) so he can buy us lunch; give The Park City $40 million (she’s done so much for you) and single-handedly balance Bridgeport’s budget!

    Are you with me so far?

  • LennieGrimaldi

    I wonder what a Pol Pod interview with the Bridgeport Kid would be like!

    To: JYD, I have a request in to the city for a list of union agreements. As soon as it’s provided I will post.

  • yahooy

    BRIDGEPORT KID and LOCAL EYES …

    Thbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbt!!!

  • Mojo

    *** Nice to see that Curwen is “not” in favor so far on the ill-thought-out panic move to come up with quick revenue for the city. If all parties involved equally contributed “$” towards a new larger modern sewage treatment plant, and took a little time to really examine the + and – aspects of the plan, then maybe it would be beneficial to all now & in the future! Also, who knows what other quick revenue ideas the Admin. has in mind before budget time? *** Not wanting to sound so negative, but seems things will get worse before they get better. ***

  • Bruce Lee

    Bob Curwen is a hypocrite. His wife Cathy was one of those who benefitted from the Sherwood-Fabrizi illegal civil service scam 1-1/2 years ago. She was one of the 40 people illegally put into civil service (without passing a test) with a hefty raise and annual merit increases. A friend of mine in civil sevice told me that Cathy was overpaid as a clerk making $51,000 back in 2007. Now she’s up to over $58,000. An increase of over 12% in a year and a half. All this while the rest of us are getting pink slips and taking furloughs with no increases. I have no respect whatsoever for Bob Curwen. He is part of the problem and he needs to go.

  • Mojo

    *** I believe that “most but not all” that have any type of “inside” benefit like senority, union steward, husband or wife has an elected legislative position or some type of corporate higher position also would, if the situation presented itself, make some type of request within reason to the powers that be for either some type of job “$” advancement or to save their spouse’s job all together! It’s only human to try and look out for someone you love & care for. So to those that really have a big problem with all that goes on with Bpt. city jobs, etc. “take a # and get in line”! Plus, if you would have not crossed the picket line @ the supermarket you wouldn’t have been stuck with those “SOUR GRAPES”! ***

  • Grin Reaper

    Mojo got his metaphors mixed up. The problem with the city of Bridgeport is that there is too much of this incestuous business going on to begin with. That is why no elected official should have any relative on the city payroll to begin with. To excuse them for getting friends and relatives jobs and pay raises by saying everyone would do it is the root of the problem. Get them off the payroll now and never let them back on.

  • Grin Reaper

    Curwen and McCarthy were the masterminds behind adding the Steel Point money into the budget. That is a quarter of the city’s problem. And he is busy thinking of ways to fix it? Please; no más, no más.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    On Curwen cuts loose on pol pod:

    From 6:39 to 6:56:

    “Well let me tell you this much. For the last five years I had the luxury–and it is a luxury–of going into the mayor’s office and sitting with his OPM and Finance people and helping to craft a budget that was digestible to the citizens of the city of Bridgeport.”

    I wonder how this quote would sound to the citizens of the city of Bridgeport in the event this quote was used in campaign lits during the ’09 City Council race.
    We are facing the result of those five years of luxury in being able to sit down with officials of the Finance Department. The citizens of Bridgeport don’t deserve budgets that are simply “digestible”. Bridgeport needs budgets that are transparent, realistic and acceptable. Elected officials must stop expecting and looking for luxury from their elected positions–this is the greatest problem facing our country. As an elected official, I looked for solutions and luxury was only acceptable if it involved a luxurious solution. As an example I’ll point to the Mutual Housing Development on Fairfield Avenue. This was the site of the Fruitrich Cadillac building owned at the time by the city. The land was sold for $400,000 of which I kept $200,000 (not for me Lennie) to start a fund for the Wentfield Park Project. Both projects were completed and more than a decade later both projects maintain their luxurious appeal.

  • Grin Reaper

    Independent Soul,
    You are as much on the money as Curwen is off. He brags about being chairman of B & A for a decade and doesn’t think he shares any blame for the fiscal mess the city is in today. The onus is on us to do something about!

  • MEATBALL

    Charlie Carroll should have GPS installed in his vehicle. The one the taxpayers own. The one he had the City of Bridgeport plates removed from. Why would he do that? Be the stand-up guy people say you are Charlie. How about setting an example for the rest of your Dept! Not! Let’s just put the screws to all the Bottom Feeders. Same shit different day! See Ya Bye!

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Paging Bob Walsh!

    The City promised that it would release monthly financial reports. It’s been almost 5 months since and as I recall the City had lost $400,000 on its return on investment.
    How’re our investments so far? What is the total loss or gain in the return on investments so far? I heard we’ve lost about $1.5 Million which is not bad when compared to the Town of Fairfield’s loss of $43 million. He sure Madeoff with some serious loot.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    On topic’s title:

    When I first read the first part of the topic, I thought I read: Curwen lets one loose in pool.
    Jim Himes will have to settle for a “High Four.”
    The GPS tracking may be a good thing. Now the City may be able to notice that for every time my neighborhood gets sweeping service, the North End gets 5 times the sweeping service. Now, if the city puts GPS technology on every $500 it shells out, we can follow the money trail.

  • Mojo

    *** #17- Hook line & sinker! *** I love thee, “thou how I used to do it stories” Joel. *** #16- Remember guys that the last Fabrizi city budget passed by the Budgets & full City Council was also reviewed by an indepentant accountant’s firm hired by the Co-chairs @ that time & approved by the full council to help, get advice, and give a final evaluation on the budget process. ***

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Up yours, Mr./Ms. Mojo & independent soul. I’m excercising MY 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech. Got some thin skin? The first reaction of the guilty is anger.

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Mojo:

    How I used to do it Story? It’s not a story, just look out your window and tell me if you see the old Exmet factory or the old bathroom house used by junkies and vagrants still standing. Take a walk to Fairfield Avenue, Yale Street and Seeley and tell me that the Fruitrich Cadillac site with its garbage-strewn lot is still there.
    Do you know what a set precedent is? When I was elected, the Ganim administration would always tell me that there is no money to pay for the improvemensts needed in my district at the time. Not too long after hearing those excuses, Ganim wanted to sell the Days Inn Hotel on Lafayette St. to the Linocis to build the Bob’s Discount Furniture Store. I told the Mayor that since there is never any money for projects in my district, I want half of the proceeds from the sale from all property sold in my district to be set aside for projects in the district. “I can’t do that” was his answer and I responded by saying that I would not support anything in his agenda either, especially if it involved something in my district. When the Mutual Housing approached me regarding the Cadillac property, I met plenty of resistance from Ganim and others. Eventually, we agreed that what the councilmen wanted for their districts would be given priority over what others wanted.
    The precedent (Do you know the meaning?) that I set was as follows: Whenever a city-owned property was sold in my district, some of the proceeds of the sale was to be set aside for projects in the district. I did not need to hear the same old we don’t have money bullshit anymore. When I decided to step down, I sat down with Mitch Robles and told him of my intention not to seek re-election. I was concerned that there were any really qualified persons to replace me and Mitch mentioned Ralph Mojica. I figure that since Mojica was one of the biggest complainers of the Wentfield Park conditions, he would make sure that the bathrooms at Wentfield would be built. Instead, Wentfield has two portable toilets encased in a wood storage shack. Fabrizi sells the City Trust Building (among other properties in the district) and not a dime stays in the district for projects in the district.
    When I left the Council, there was $51 Million in the rainy day fund. We never (during my 6 years) had the need to have the City budget reviewed by any hired outside accounting firm. That’s what Pat Crossin was there for and by the time Bill Finch, Pat Crossin and I stepped down, there WAS $51 million in the rainy day fund.
    So what were your accomplishments? You had $51 million in savings, hired accountants helping you and left behind a $16 Million deficit, two portable toilets in a wooden shack at Wentfield Park and to make matters worse you pushed for DiNardo’s $400,000 tax break, with only a rusted, steel skeleton structure standing to remind us of this. Hook, line and sinker! Fried fish anyone?

  • Mojo

    *** No, Mitch might have said that Mary Bruce was your replacement, not me. I was a last-minute replacement after she had a stroke & was not able to run! Don’t make up stories to build yourself up. You were replaced because you were incompetent @ your position, period. ***

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