Friends In High Places, Plus: Neat Eats

9:30 a.m. update: Monday morning gossip: City Councilman Bob Curwen, one of several whose legislative efforts led to the departure of Bridgeport Port Authority Director Joe Riccio, is lobbying to be his replacement.

Not according to Curwen, however; although he wouldn’t necessarily say no if the job were offered. Curwen, who knocked on doors July 4th weekend in anticipation of a September primary challenge by Andy Fardy and Ann Barney, told OIB he has not positioned himself for the job.

Curwen, a retired state corrections officer, is employed as a property manager by developer Sal DiNardo. In the past several days Sal hasn’t been bashful about telling folks he’d like to see Curwen as director of the port authority. (Always nice to have friends in high places.) Riccio’s position paid him $119,000  a year when he agreed to a separation settlement of roughly half that 10 days ago.

The port authority board leaned on Riccio to leave after he lobbied, without board approval, state legislation that placed the quasi city agency under control of the state Department of Transportation. In response, the City Council voted to abolish the port authority. Late last week Governor Jodi Rell vetoed the state legislation and Mayor Bill Finch followed with his first veto as mayor of the City Council ordinance. The port authority lives.

The port authority has not announced a timeline for Riccio’s replacement, although a special meeting is expected to take place this work to discuss process. It could be that Chief Administrative Officer Andy Second-To Nunn will step in temporarily until a permanent replacement is found.

The mayor holds significant influence over the selection process by virtue of his appointment power to the port authority board.

Curwen laughed when OIB asked him about his interest in the job, although he acknowledged that the port authority job pays four times more than what Sal pays him. Sal, a former client of mine, is always an interesting negotiation.

In related news, Nancy Hadley, former city economic development director and former commissioner for the state Department of Motor Vehicles, has sent a letter to three state senators urging them not to push an override of Gov. Jodi Rell’s veto of legislation that would have stripped the city of home rule. See her letter below:

Dear Senators Stillman, Duff, and McDonald,

I am writing to you regarding your comments in yesterday’s Connecticut Post concerning the Governor’s veto of the CDOT bill. The article references your surprise at the Governor’s veto action. The article goes on to suggest that members of the Senate are discussing a veto override action. I believe that an override would not be in the best interests of the State and the three deep water port cities. Please know that due to unauthorized action by the Executive Director of the Bridgeport Port Authority (BPA) and their lobbyist, a ‘rat’ was put in the CDOT bill at the very last minute challenging the home rule authority over the three deep water ports, New London, New Haven and Bridgeport. The language inserting CDOT consent over Port Authorities did not come to light until after the legislature voted in the affirmative. The entire Bridgeport delegation was left unaware as well. The BPA Executive Director has been terminated for orchestrating this legislative end run to seek CDOT oversight and ultimately save his job.

As you know home rule is the very foundation of Connecticut governmental structure. In desperation, the Bridgeport City Council voted to dissolve the Bridgeport Port Authority before the Governor signed the bill. That put Mayor Finch and the City in a very difficult position with unknown liabilities that would result from the immediate dissolution of the 15 year old public benefit corporation.

I live in Bridgeport’s historic downtown City Trust building and am a member of Bridgeport’s Downtown Task Force. The Task Force is composed of all of the major stakeholders devoted to downtown’s growth and connection to the Ferry terminal. The Task Force tried to convince the City Council to put the home rule issue aside and focus only on the liabilities of sudden termination of the BPA. However, the City Council could not ignore the frontal attack on home rule. Upon learning that the Governor vetoed the CDOT legislation, Mayor Finch immediately vetoed the Council’s resolution to dissolve the Port Authority. Now the City can focus on restructuring and improving the effectiveness of our important Port Authority.

Please know that neither the Governor nor the CDOT Commissioner had any knowledge of the sneaky action of the former BPA Executive Director and lobbyist. I recognize that a gubernatorial veto of a CDOT cleanup bill is highly unusual. However, New Haven, New London and Bridgeport would have been negatively affected by the action of one rogue employee. Port Authorities are important to the three cities. If stronger oversight by the CDOT is warranted, the debate and vote should be had in the full light of day. Please do not move to override the Governor’s veto. In my opinion, Governor Rell did the right thing for the State, the three deep water port cities and Bridgeport’s downtown.

Nancy Hadley

Former CDOT Deputy Transportation Commissioner and DMV Commissioner under Governor Weicker

Former Director, Planning and Economic Development, City of Bridgeport

Black Rock Library

Hey, the renovated Black Rock branch library is scheduled to reopen today. From Brad Durrell of the Bridgeport News.

City Librarian Scott Hughes said the Black Rock Branch initially will be open 37 hours a week this summer – from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; and from noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.

The hours are likely to change in the early fall, once school starts, as is the case with Bridgeport libraries. “We’ll see how things go and what we’re able to sustain,” Hughes said. “We’re going to try to be consistent.”

On Monday, July 6 the Black Rock Branch should open for its regular hours, following an evening after-hours reception for the public. “The community is welcome to come by to see the place,” Hughes said.

From OIB friend Caryn Kaufman

Calling All Film Buffs & Foodies

Check out Bridgeport’s North End – July 7th

Hello friends …

Tuesday nights are usually pretty run of the mill, but not THIS Tuesday … check out the free film at the North End Library and when you’re done, swing by the newest North End eatery, La Taberna.

Film details and New York Times restaurant review below …

What: showing of Bernardo Bertolucci’s masterpiece “The Conformist”

When: Tuesday, July 7, 2009, at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Bridgeport public library, north branch, 3455 Madison Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut

FREE and open to the public.

Refreshments served.

RSVP to:

Thanks to Nick Pasquariello, author, “Sounds of Movies: Interviews with the Creators of Feature Sound Tracks” for this info!

New Madison Avenue restaurant, review excerpt from The New York Times

La Taberna
1439 Madison Avenue
(203) 338-0203


THE SPACE Bottom floor of a two-story house; Spanish and Italian cookbooks in the windows. Bar with tables as you walk in, and two smallish dining rooms. Décor is spare (almost stark), clean and quiet: white tablecloths, cream-colored walls punctuated by little more than light fixtures shaped like martini glasses. Outdoor patio is now open. Wheelchair access by separate entrance on Madison Avenue.

THE CROWD Casual neighborhood crowd, well dressed, but not fancy. Service is impeccable.

THE BAR Full bar with impressive international wine list; wine by the glass, $6 to $9.

THE BILL Entrees, $16 to $28; tapas, $6 to $10.

WHAT WE LIKE Calamari a la plancha, calamari frito, Spanish wood-roasted piquillo peppers, boquerones (marinated white anchovies), Spanish omelet, codfish balls, grilled chorizo, seafood bisque, Caesar salad, house salad; cod with roasted potatoes, veal Milanese; mango flan, lemon meringue pie, chocolate mousse, Spanish rice pudding, tiramisù.

IF YOU GO Lunch: Monday to Friday, noon to 3 p.m. Dinner: Monday to Sunday, 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday brunch (featuring a different paella each week), noon to 3 p.m. Reservations recommended. Parking lot and entrance on the side of the building.

News release from Jodi Rell

Governor Rell: $600,000 in Stimulus Funds to Help Combat Internet Crimes Against Children

Grant Will Expand State and Local Efforts to Apprehend Sexual Predators

Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that Connecticut is receiving nearly $600,000 in federal stimulus funds to expand state and local efforts in apprehending sexual predators who use the Internet to victimize children.

“These funds will be a tremendous help in bringing these reprehensible individuals to justice and keeping our children safe,” Governor Rell said. “This money will help supply the tools and training state and local police needs to identify and apprehend Internet predators before they can harm another child.”

The Governor said the Department of Public Safety, the primary investigative and computer forensic agency in the state, applied in her name in April to the U.S. Department of Justice for $584,975 in Internet crime grants available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The agency was recently notified that its application was approved.

Connecticut’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is composed of state troopers, local officers and civilians. The stimulus funds will support comprehensive integrated efforts by state and local police departments through expanded training, forensic analysis, community awareness programs and upgraded technology.

Among other specifics, the funds will:

· Expand the Child Sexual Predator training program at the State Police Forensic Laboratory in Meriden for local first responders, such as police, paramedics and others
· Expand Internet service, training, equipment and personnel costs for the “Catch a Predator” initiative for 27 specially trained local officers in undercover investigations
· Fund efforts for more “knock-and-talks,” in which officer go into the neighborhoods of suspected predators, allowing them to canvass the area and gather information
· Expand Sexual Predator Safety education to 60 schools year, providing students and teachers with materials and training on Internet safety
· Purchase desktop and laptop computers, forensic hardware, cameras and other technology upgrades to track e-mails, chats and other communications from suspected pedophiles

“Our Internet Crimes Against Children Unit has one of the most important assignments in law enforcement,” said Public Safety Commissioner John Danaher III. “This grant will significantly enhance our ability to investigate and arrest pedophiles who use the Internet to prey on our children. We look forward to increased success in these investigations.”
To view the grant application and award notification and for all other comprehensive details of ARRA projects in Connecticut, visit the state’s official stimulus Web site by going to and clicking on the CT Recovery link.



  1. Make no mistake about it. This is a test for the Port Authority, the Mayor and the City. Does the Executive Director’s job get filled by a qualified professional or does it get filled by a political hack being rewarded for past or future service? If it is the former, the City may, just may, put the nonsense of the last few weeks behind it. If it is the later, Bridgeport will once again be a laughing stock.

    No my definition of “qualified professional” does NOT exclude anyone with a political background (I would exclude sitting Council members, but that is another issue). Some of the best people I ever worked with had great political credentials. But they also had the qualifications to do the job.

    There has been a lot of talk on this blog about insisting on quality appointments to leadership positions. Well, it is time to start holding folk’s feet to the fire.

  2. Bob Curwen has been positioning himself for every policy making job that has been out there. He has wanted to be President of the Council, he has wanted to be the State Senator candidate. He has wanted to work in the mayor’s office of both Fabrizi & Finch. The one job he was offered Sealer of Weights & Measures he turned down.
    Bob has been meeting with the people from the Ferry Boat for over a year. He has had several working lunches with them. The topic of conversation has been the disbanding of the PA and moving the Ferry boat over to Seaview Ave. Once there the Ferry boat will build a mini Port Jefferson. I am not saying that this is a bad thing in fact it maybe a good thing. It’s the method that I question.
    Remember Curwen has led several proposals that granted DiNardo hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax relief. The city did get the United Rentals building on Housatonic Ave out of this but Curwen also got a job with DiNardo out of this also. Now that part is wrong.
    Curwen has certainly tried to position himself for the PA job and it would not surprise me if he took it for less than the $119K. What do you call introducing a call for disbanding the PA 13 months ago? What do you call leading the charge most recently under the guise of home rule to disband the PA? Mission accomplished. If you don’t think the RFP for PA land next to the proposed Ferry boat docking site is important I have a bridge for sale. I firmly believe this RFP fueled Curwen’s charge to disband the PA. Without this land the mini Port Jefferson dream is dead. Time will tell. BTW Lennie your column puts his name at the top of the list for this job. Key word here is DiNardo.

    1. *** For someone that spends a lot of time @ Testo’s, some of your info is a bit off! Talks on getting rid of the P/A go back 4yrs. and has been an item talked about by other Council members for different reasons like Mr. Walsh, etc. I can see already your fitting right in with the common negative projection of politics in general! ***

  3. If all this gossip re Curwen is true, and I have no reason to doubt that any council person wouldn’t maneuver to get himself or a relative a lucrative city job, then the people in Curwen’s district have no one to blame but themselves. If he gets the job will he hire his wife away from PF and make it a family affair on the waterfront?

    No matter how bad Riccio was, orchestrating his demise to your benefit leaves the ethical action door wide open.

    And working for DiNardo?!?!?! A man with power over the budget and working for one of the biggest tax scofflaws; well, all I can say is Only In Bridgeport.

    I’d love to see a complete exposé on the lives and loves of the B’port council. Oh what a tangled web we weave …

  4. I’ve really got to hope that the Port Authority and the Mayor have enough common sense to not put Bob Curwen, the Poster Boy for all that is wrong with this city, in charge of one of the few things in this City that’s in the black. It’d be an atrocity …

  5. TC

    You are sounding more and more Republican and Curwen is sounding more and more like (well, you can insert your own word). God! I may have to vote for you.

  6. Mojo: Let me bring you up to date. Other than the DTC dinner and 1 dinner with friends I have not been in Testo’s for the better part of 4 months. That being said, there may have been talks about the PA 4 years ago but budget request to take them out of the budget thus getting rid of the PA was put in about 13 months ago. I have not spoken to other members of the council about the PA until the past month so I did not comment about them as it relates to 13 months ago. Negative? I don’t think that’s the case but everyone has their own perception.

  7. For those who take the Only In Bridgeport slogan too literally, there was an interesting article in Saturday’s New Haven Register. The headlines read “City port eyed for import-export site.” Followed by “Italian logistics firms meet with New Haven, federal officials.”
    This is a proposal started by a New Haven based trucking company that is looking to get involved in import-export.
    All individuals involved point to a huge refrigerated warehouse as being the key to the plan. Doesn’t Bridgeport have an empty such facility? The one that Turbana used to use?
    So the B’port PA wastes time, energy and opportunities running around trying to put together this failed feeder barge system that was centered around having a favored developer build a warehouse with state money and forecasting generating $20,000 in fees a year while New Haven facilitates local businesses in developing relationships oversees and sets up a committee to look into importing/exporting green products, i.e. solar panels, wind turbines and bio-diesel plant components.
    Is it a wonder why New Haven dwarfs B’port in port productivity?
    As long as the local PA thinks small, thinks self-serving and simply looks to milk the one successful operation it has going for it, it is never going to be successful and self-sustaining.

    1. *** Well once again Bob demonstrates that doing your homework first & seeking out facts, rather than hometown gossip or what’s called outside the box rumors is important if you’re going to be a leader on the council & not a follower. “Thanks” for all you do Councilman Walsh! ***

    2. Sorry Bob, but I have to disagree. The fact is that the performance of the Bridgeport and New Haven ports has little to do with their respective port authorities. Indeed, New Haven’s port authority was only created a couple of years ago. The truth is that New Haven is, and has been for many years, the dominant state port for a number of reasons including a better location, a deeper harbor, a deeper, better maintained, channel and better access to highways and railroads. Like it or not (and I don’t) there is not a lot a port authority can do about those issues.

  8. I hope this councilman loses his seat–Bob Curwen shame on you!!! I’m not familiar with his district does anyone know the precincts he represents? I still can’t believe nobody is running a primary in the 130th aka Black Rock. By the way what do you guys think the turnout will be?


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