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Rich Tobe Resigns

At the request of Mayor Byron Brown, Rich Tobe is resigning his post as commissioner of Economic Development, Permits and Inspection Services. According to Brian Meyer at the Buffalo News, Brown asked Tobe to resign on Friday. His last day will be July 4—exactly two weeks notice.

Tobe has earned a reputation as a sharp administrator who did good work with a short staff and a monumental workload. It’s not clear when he began to run afoul of Brown and Deputy Mayor Steve Casey, but the first time I heard of a rift was during the city’s negotiations with the Seneca Gaming Commission over Fulton Street. Tobe had been a part of the city’s negotiating team, we were told, and then was booted off. For Tobe, it’s been downhill with Casey and Brown ever since. Casey, in particular, seemed to single out Tobe and his department for sharp criticism during CitiStat hearings.

Whatever one made of Tobe’s policies and his department generally, he was certainly the most responsive public servant in the Brown administration. He responded to email. His voicemail was set up (seriously, not everyone in City Hall bothers) and he returned phone calls, even to tell you he wasn’t authorized to respond to your questions. In a mayoral administration that keeps a tight lid on communications, Tobe frequently was the only one who would answer questions. Once I introduced him to a friend as “the only person in City Hall who’s allowed to speak with me,” and he responded, “What makes you think I’m allowed to?”

The mayor is supposed to issue a statement this afternoon. Brian Meyer has the story at the News.


  • malcolm x

    Steve Casey is another micromanaging idiot who wanted Tobe to bend numbers, eseentially lie and Tobe, the good guy that he is refused. These guys are up to no good downtown, watch them, Casey is foaming at the mouth to take over when Byron walks. By the way, Sam Hoyt started the rumor mill about Brown’s departure, another do nothing nitwit. Good Job at getting rid of a good guy, maybe Crystal Barton could work for Steve Casey ? Liars, bullies, thieves.

  • TheWholeTruth

    This has been a long time coming. Tobe never was loyal to the Mayor, and the Seneca rift was the first real sign that he was taking marching orders from his friends in the anti-casino faction, as well as the Westside and Delaware Park Democratic fringe. As long as Tobe was around, economic development would have been held back by parochial politics and attempts to take the mayor’s authority and office away by groups that couldn’t openly win an election. Brown had mistakenly put Tobe in his position as part of misguided coalition building with the Delaware and Westside crowd. It is not surprising that Hoyt was behind the smears of Brown leading up to this, after all the dealmaking with the Delaware folks included behind doors negotiations to have Hoyt out of the last mauyorial race. Of course, Hoyt has his own skelectons that made that decision easy.

    Whether Tobe is a good guy or not is irrelevant. He answered to his masters outside of city hall, and eventually had to be yanked if the Mayor was going to keep the wolves at bay. Maybe Tobe will run for the Delaware District Common Council seat in the next election. Right now it is filled with a placemaker who had no qualifications for elected office (other than running smear campaigns against his opponents in order to hold his seat). Tobe wouldn’t be much better, but at least he has worked in government and could deliver more pork to his district than the bozo in that position now.

  • Mr. White

    Resigns, I think Fired is more like it. Tobe who? I’m sure he has rich friends to give him a new job.

  • Mr. Bumble

    When “TheWholeTruth” made his comment he must have had his fingers crossed.

    Although the reasons for Thursday’s rumor were incorrect; the investigation is very real.

    When TheWholeTruth stated; “the Seneca rift was the first real sign that he [Tobe]was taking marching orders from his friends in the anti-casino faction, as well as the Westside and Delaware Park Democratic fringe,” he could be correct.

    However, the investigation is not about that. The investigation is about the Mayor receiving money from the Seneca’s.

  • Pomeroy

    “Maybe Tobe will run for the Delaware District Common Council seat in the next election.”

    Mr. Casey, er ah, I mean Mr. TheWholeTruth, how stupid do you think Mr. Tobe is? The only people stupid enough to challenge Buffalo’s best councilman ever came from the second floor of city hall.

    You, er ah, I mean They, wasted time and money and would have wasted brain power, except for the lack of any.

    The city is coming close to surving the first 30 months of your 48. You only have 18 left and your administration will live up to its name; “One and Done!”

  • TheHalfTruth

    I think I know the “whole truth”… you’re Steve Casey, right?! Thank you for your fair and unbiased opinion on the subject!

    Please feel free to post the next time one of the few truly qualified workers at City Hall gets fired for disagreeing with your administration… I would expect nothing less.

  • nate

    I think he got fired because he won’t lie for Steve Casey, right? That’s the truth, the whole truth. Casey is another weasel lining his pockets and Tobe wouldn’t bend the numbers. I hope Casey gets caught up in his own web he is busily weaving down there with the spider webs in the mayors head.

  • we could be giants

    GO POM!

  • Mr. Bumble

    I’d like to second the “GO POM!” by We Could Be Giants.

    “One and Done!” is a brilliant title for this administration’s term in office!

  • ToBeOrNotToBe

    I don’t know if that guy is Casey or not, but a lot of the blogs acuse him or the mayor or some crimes. If Tobe has evidence of such crimes and is hiding them, then he should go to jail. That is called accessory to a crime. Is Tobe hiding something? As a lawyer, Tobe is ethically bound to report crimes.

    No, this is all a bunch of bunk to distract people from the simple truth. Tobe got canned because he was doing a bad job. The Mayor was nice enough to try to help Tobe save a little face, and then he got criticized for that.

    Can anyone list a single thing Tobe did that exemplifies a best practice in his field (not just routine holding down the fort stuff anyone could do, but truely best practices that are being replicated in other cities as state of the art). I don’t think anything will be cited that is Tobe’s work. Please refrain from saying Casey or Brown can’t point to any best practices either, after all, this is Buffalo. I would just like to see any example of why Tobe is essential to running Buffalo. My point is, Tobe is average at best, and could easily be replaced with anyone in a similar position without losing a step (and there is a clear upside to replacing him, since the odds are the next person could be better).

  • Pomeroy

    Thanks WeCouldBeGiants and Mr. Bumble, and to ToBeOrNotToBe who pointed out that “Casey or Brown can’t point to any best practices either.” The title of the Casey/Brown administration’s term “One and Done” was a prediction. Now it has become self-fulfilling. And we shouldn’t forget the fine police work of H. McCracken Gipson, I’m sure Marshawn Lynch is glad McCracken investigated his DWI and not Dennis Delano.

  • Mr. White

    Wha rock did Pomeroy crawl out from under. Brown, Gipson, Lynch, what do these three have in common. Race maybe. Casey, obviously discredited since he works for a black mayor. Buy a one-way bus ticket back to Idaho Pomeroy, your racist rants are not welcome in Buffalo. I don’t know who this Tobe character is, probably because he is a typical bureaucratic paper pusher who got fired for being marginal. Since Brown fired him, it is a big mistake, if Collins did the same he would be canonized. If you followed the Lynch thing you would see that he got exactly the same treatment anyone else would in the end. Equal treatment under the law. I guess in Idaho that isn’t the way it is done.

  • Pomeroy

    Sorry it seemed that way Mr. White, I’m not politically correct and you were kind enough to use the word maybe.
    I have been actively supporting Barack Obama for over a year now.
    When Brown and Casey went to Pennsylvania to campaign against Barrack, we went there to support him. The same in Ohio.
    To even up your black and white scale: McCracken goofed up when Cutler did a hit and run on a motorcyclist while DWI in 06.
    I don’t want to say you missed judged, but you miss guessed because of little info.
    One very interesting thing though; “How did you know I was from Idaho?”
    (p.s. We carried Idaho too!)
    Obama in 08′!!!!!!!

  • wastinfedtax$

    This is yet another move by the Administration to to the best they can in surrounding themselves with inexpireance and YES people. They do not want a person of integrity or hard work ethic because the Adminiustration does not want to follow the rules. Now all new hires seem to be on the old freinds and family plan. Case in point, HUD is not pleased at all with the amount of Federal Tax dollars that are going to salaries,however the City continues to hire inexpireanced, no work ethic, people that are getting the jobs because of realtionships with the Administration. Im sure HUD will be happy to see this. Also several people are given financial assistance for their businesses based on who they know ands some dont have to pay it back. It would not be a suprise if all HUD funding is stopped because of this Administration. I for one am sick of seeing our tax dollars wasted.

  • WNYMind

    No chance that HUD money will stop flowing to Buffalo. It is the second poorest city in the country and the Governor just approved a bunch of affordable housing funds that require HUD matches.

    It is too bad, but Buffalo is such a mess because the people in the city know they are getting money from the federal government no matter what they do with it.