Rich Tobe Resigns
by Geoff Kelly - posted 12:00 pm, June 23, 2008
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.