Curwen Resigns From City Council, Served As Budget Chief

Bob Curwen
Bob Curwen.

Bob Curwen, one of the longest-serving City Council members who also co-chaired the Budget and Appropriations Committee for more than a decade, announced Monday night his resignation from the city’s legislative body to deal with some family health matters.

Curwen’s tenure on the council goes back to the Joe Ganim mayoral era. A retired state corrections officer, Curwen tried to position himself as City Council president when John Fabrizi became mayor after a conviction on federal corruption charges forced Ganim from office in April 2003. The majority of Curwen’s council peers lined up behind Andres Ayala with whom Curwen had a scratchy relationship. So much so it was Curwen who cast the deciding delegate vote at the Democratic Party convention for State Senate last May that gave the endorsement to former State Senator Ernie Newton who was arrested last week with violating state election laws involving public campaign funds. Ayala defeated Newton and incumbent Ed Gomes in a Democratic primary last August.

Curwen’s convention support for Newton created a strained relationship with Mayor Bill Finch who supported Ayala. Curwen, the past several years, had also tried to position himself for a city job and in fact two years ago Finch issued a news release announcing Curwen’s hiring in the construction management department, rescinded shortly after because Curwen wanted to maintain both his council seat and city position. Curwen had denied on several occasions that he was seeking a city job even the day before Finch had announced his hiring. Curwen, as city elected officials go, was fairly accessible to the media but what he shared was an exercise in decoding Curwen-speak such as the “I-onus is on him.”

Curwen, himself, had talked for years about running for mayor, but mostly it ended up being a lot of talk. As chief of the budget committee, he wielded clout, but rarely challenged mayors on substantial spending items. Generally, he went along with what the mayor submitted. The mayor submits his annual spending plan to the council budget committee that does the majority of the work reviewing department budgets, voting on the document before it goes to the full council for ratification.

Curwen represented the city’s Upper East Side in the northeast quadrant of the city, which features a diverse constituency of voters. Curwen and his council partner Rich Paoletto faced a primary in 2009 from long-time Democratic activist Andy Fardy and city educator Ann Barney. Finch et al. may not have had the greatest relationship with Curwen but the last thing they wanted was anti voices such as Fardy and Barney on the legislative body. Mayoral operatives weighed in hard. Curwen and Paoletto prevailed in a testy primary.

Curwen’s replacement will be decided by the City Council with a name recommended by the nine-member Democratic committee representing the 138th District.



  1. Andy Fardy and I have been watching (but not speaking at Budget & Appropriations meetings as it is not permitted at this time) for two years how Bob Curwen and Angel DePara have chaired the responsibilities of that group of seven City Councilpersons.

    Bob Curwen seemed happiest when he could recount an event, a situation, an action by the City in the past, especially if the incident preceded the service period of other B&A members. That provided some context for some issues discussed, but for the most part, his leadership did not dig deeply into the facts and figures relating to “ghost positions,” legislative expense budgets including stipend info disclosure, or departmental budgets, like Sikorsky Airport for one which is listed by the City as a non-essential service (while the City taxpayer expends $400,000 more than airport revenues that is a SUBSIDY for NON-ESSENTIAL.) Why are trends like that over the Finch years unchallenged? Why has the B&A leadership not publicly complained about the failure by Finance and OPM to provide monthly reports timely and narratives about significant variances? And why is there no question for the past six months recorded in their minutes on whether the City Operating budget is balanced, or rather running regular deficits?

    Who the Council will appoint from the District and the DTC considerations is important but that is not my expertise, if you assume I have any. But what I am curious to see is which Council member will step up to become Co-Chair with DePara? I am not a betting person ordinarily, but it is very likely to be a Finch supporter without formal financial training. So likely the Finch administration will continue to earn a pass on fiscal matters and the B&A will continue to operate like a blind, aged and toothless watchdog. No help for City taxpayers. Time will tell.

  2. No we don’t. Bridgeport needs people on the Council who can bring something positive to the table. People with fresh, new ideas of significance and no personal agenda. STOP recycling! Out with the old, in with the new.

  3. I’m sure the puppet master in the 138th district will recruit a candidate with good morals and a stellar reputation. They might even find someone who actually lives in the district …

  4. Don’t be surprised if Curwen’s son is appointed. A year or so ago when Bob thought he would get a city job and would have to resign his seat, that was the deal being made. Or maybe Mike and Judy will move back to town.

  5. You screwballs in Black Rock are clueless! Constantly acting like your district is somehow superior.

    How about having some class, you old ornery armchair politicians! Give the man a fond farewell … because unlike you fools, at least he got involved and did the best he could for the city for nearly 20 years.

    1. Pardon me, Brick. I’m not an armchair politician, just a cynical observer. “Health problems” is the old standby bullshit excuse for leaving office. No one gives up power and privilege for that reason.

  6. Brick,
    You are correct, the Council membership from Black Rock has its problems also. Sue Brannelly sits on the B&A and though she has placed the MONTHLY FINANCIAL REPORT as a standard agenda item for that group, when they fail to get the report in time she does not complain in a public manner and provides no answer to those in her District, like me, who question. (I am told she just rolls her eyes when my name is mentioned. Maybe she did it only once, but she fails to answer questions I ask of her that she should know about.)

    Class does not indicate you provide ‘fond farewells’ without reason. You have not provided a reason other than he got involved. You then say he did his best for the city for nearly 20 years. Is the City better off today than 20 years ago, especially around the financial issues Bob headed? According to Bill Finch in his first year as Mayor, the answer is NO. Because the debt is higher, the City unrestricted fund balance is much lower, internal controls are less in evidence and the Council members think they are IMPORTANT. Really they have become IMPOTENT. Just what is Bob Curwen handing off to a successor of value to the taxpayer/homeowner? Time will tell.

  7. JML? AKA Walter from the Jeff Dunham comedy show? hahaha

    Him and BRG … a bunch of grumpy, old, ornery black-rockers who do nada but complain about the work others do.

    Is the city better off now than it was in 1993? Absolutely, no thanks to anything either of you did.

    Is the city better off with the work either of you black rockers have done in the last 80 years, or however long you’ve been around trolling the council chambers? No …

    1. Brick,
      I complain when others should be working and they fail to provide results.
      So let’s look at 1993 relative to today on Open Accountable and Transparent Governance:
      ** How is the Ganim/Stafstrom “solution” to the Public Safety pay-as-you-go pension plan working out today with $31 Million of debt repayments and a benefits fund that is very underfunded and a change of investment manager this past year?
      ** What type of financial watchdog setup did we have 20 years ago that is history today? (Remember the Board of Taxation & Apportionment–GONE; remember when we had internal auditor on City payroll–GONE (without announcement); remember when the Financial Review Board knew where every City account was, what the balances were and what the liabilities amounted to–ALSO LONG GONE
      ** And Bill Finch publicly told a meeting of interested Black Rockers in his first year how compromised the City unrestricted fund balance had become over those years decreasing from a high of $55 Million down to the range of $10 Million or so today. And you call that good!

      When you use the word ABSOLUTELY, the only thing that comes to my mind is you are drinking that stuff and it is affecting your mind. Is that why you become belligerent when someone tosses facts at you that are totally unpleasant to your cause and which you cannot or choose not to refute? And my record of “working” for years at a time on local and regional activities is why I can use my name and stand by my statements. And your reason for calling yourself Brick is? (Other than the fact a Brick has no brainpower or energy to exhibit?) Time will tell.

      1. I’d rather look at 1993 to now and see what your long-winded soapbox speeches have accomplished or how it has helped the city of Bridgeport. Based on your list, you were just as inept back then as you are now in having any effect whatsoever.

        The funny thing is, I’m not saying you are wrong about the need for a proper accounting of expenditures or to be more transparent. My problem is you being a heckler sitting in the cheap seats. I don’t think you’re wrong, I just dislike your approach.

        My original post was a response to that bum BRG, who I wholly disdain and think is a spineless, shadow lurking low life.

        Brick is short for brick wall … It’s a nickname I was given being a hockey goalie.

        1. “problem is you being a heckler sitting in the cheap seats. I don’t think you’re wrong, I just dislike your approach.”

          I played hockey as a kid and enjoyed getting to the pond as soon as the sun shined and playing as long as the ice held up and there was any daylight. Shin guards, gloves and elbow pads were it. Lost two teeth I wouldn’t have were I as protected as my grandson is today. So I am used to middle-of-the-pack speed, in a contact sport and managing to occasionally score a goal, because goalies are not perfect either. So much for humility on either side.

          I lived in Black Rock for 15 years before I realized unless you are third generation there are certain people who will consider you a newcomer. Sponsored a couple of local activities but my son was in college and my church was elsewhere though I continued in regional non-profit service. I do not sit on the sidelines. I continue to work and serve to dig out information (just like a puck) when someone is trying to rest and not let play go forward. We have no honest governance referees in Bridgeport. That is part of the reason why the rules on ethics, the training and observance of Charter and Ordinance requirements and the info flowing from recent administrations has decreased to such an extent. My approach is to “blow the proverbial whistle” and hope to get play stopped enough for a face off on one of these issues. I have no power to send someone to the penalty box.

          During the past 10 years I have been active in the City with Black Rock Homeowners Association (bringing info on revaluation to taxpayers in January 2009), with Black Rock NRZ and Citywide NRZ, on the Citizens Union for two years (but not reappointed perhaps because of questions asked), and for the past four years an officer and volunteer of the Black Rock Food Pantry. Along with Andy Fardy and a handful of others we have pursued Budget Oversight Bridgeport for the third year now. Taxes go up. Budget and Appropriations has no response to our accusations of “ghost positions” last May and in September the administration drops over $3,600,000 from Line Item 51000 Full Time Earned Pay in over 40 departments and NO ONE OFFERS AN EXPLANATION! And the September report shows up in December with no narrative explaining this huge variance. And where will that money get spent this year? Aren’t the people who are failing to answer these questions more like your descriptive, “shadow lurking low life?” I read public materials. I complain when public information is not available where and when it should be. I attend public meetings and speak when that is “permitted,” far less frequently than the public is allowed to express themselves in neighboring towns. I write for OIB. And I also write to the CT Post who have editorially referenced me as a “financial watchdog.” What parts of my approach do you dislike, or did you mean something else? Time will tell.

          1. JML: Without people like you, democracy will never work. We as a people have an obligation to get involved and to speak up and you are the best role model. Whoever wants to to along with the Thugocracy of Bridgeport, shame on them!

  8. Who’s the district leader in the 138th? Don’t tell me, let me guess: Martha Santiago, AKA Lydia’s absentee ballot comadre at the Spanish senior center. Martha will do as she’s told. She’ll endorse another Finch puppet and then she’ll get a big fat salary increase. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  9. “Lt. Columbo: Very simple case. Not that I’m particularly bright, sir. I must say I found you disappointing, I mean your incompetence. You left enough clues to sink a ship.”

  10. *** I wish Bobby & Family well during their difficult time with family medical issues and will say a prayer for them and ask God for a smooth transition to wherever the Lord’s Angels lead them! *** BLESSINGS BE UPON THEE AND FAMILY MY FRIEND ***

  11. Co-Chair Angel DePara presumably continues as one of two leaders of B&A. The departure of Bob Curwen might allow Angel to use some of his educational experience to shine in that department by allowing brief and number-limited public communication at each session. The BOE has been using two-minute statements from the public during the past year, on occasion even providing answers or at least responses that show the public is being heard. It is popular and is real evidence of an attempt at Open, Accountable and Transparent governance. What do you think of that idea, anyone? Time will tell.


Leave a Reply