Clearly and sadly, this is politically motivated

23 Jun

No, not the rumors about Mayor Brown supposedly being investigated by the FBI or considered for an Albany post with Governor Paterson.

The unceremonious firing of Commissioner of Economic Development, Permits and Inspection Services, and all-around smart guy Richard Tobe.

Tobe didn’t get along with Byron’s Thing One, Steve Casey. End of discussion.

19 Responses to “Clearly and sadly, this is politically motivated”

  1. Chris Smith June 23, 2008 at 3:11 pm #

    Tobe was a good guy, but if this leads to a clearer delineation of job duties in the economic development, planning, and inspections department, it could be a good thing.

    Brian Reilly is Chief of Economic Development, so what was Tobe’s role in economic development as “commissioner”? How about a head of planning, a director of code enforcement and inspections, and an economic development officer? Three people performing specialized jobs rather than an amalgam of people stepping on each others toes.

    For fucks sake, there are 25 people employed at BERC, doing what, I’m not sure.

  2. Becky June 23, 2008 at 3:36 pm #

    Maybe it’s a matter of looking at it in reverse – sacrificial goat, rumors of resignation, corrupt housing official.

  3. Mike June 23, 2008 at 4:00 pm #

    Sad day, but just another instance of the rats jumping off (or being pushed off) the sinking ship!

    Byron Brown could start a entire new and improved administration with all the people Steve Casey drove out.

  4. RaChaCha June 23, 2008 at 7:22 pm #

    This is very disappointing – I’ve been a fan of Tobe.

    Pundit, I can’t wait to see your take on the Joe Bruno decision. I bet it was your recent article showing him driving the “B.S. Express” that pushed him over the edge.

  5. "anonymous" June 23, 2008 at 7:58 pm #

    tobe tried his best… even after being fired on friday, he was at city hall this weekend working on the livery building on jersey st. whether you agree or disagree w/ tobe’s style, one thing is clear: this guy is a workaholic.

    maybe casey will submit some more “anonymous” issues at city stat next time he wants someone out ’cause he doesn’t have the stones to put his name on anything.

    the taxpayer funded rolling mayoral campaign on public access (aka citistat) rolls along while buffalo looses another dedicated public servant. casey will continue his agenda v. the inspections dept. by continuing to sling mud anonymously and not fill vacant positions setting up the dept. for failure. he will find someone to fill tobe’s spot who will push his agenda and lie, if necessary, to get it done.


  6. Michele Johnson June 23, 2008 at 8:37 pm #

    Rich is a very nice guy ..He never seemed to me to be in the “clique” and that obviously worked against him.

  7. Starbuck June 23, 2008 at 9:44 pm #

    I’m puzzled by the reaction.

    – Pundit and others complained that the Permits and Inspections function was incompetent in the case of the Niagara St fire next door to the future nightclub.

    – Many people complained that the Permits and Inspections function was incompetent regarding the Jersey St livery.

    – Many people, the Fix Buffalo blogger included, have complained that Tobe’s dept frequently chooses the “wrong” houses to demolish. Frequently as in “almost always” chooses the wrong buildings. Demos houses with great potential which the critics say should be left standing, and leaves standing what should be demoed (including that house with the big hole about which Pundit asked people to please call City Hall).

    – Many people complained that the Permits and Inspections function was incompetent regarding that old former tavern in the Cobblestone area that was demoed a few months ago.

    – Many people complained that the City Hall Real Estate office (also under Tobe’s command) is ridiculously slow and difficult when someone wants to purchase a city-owned property.

    – On and on.

    Yet the firing is a great outrage? Why? Can anyone explain? I have no first-hand knowledge about whether the above complaints are legitimate. Maybe most or all of them are. But what’s your point – that you want to see big big changes in that department and also you demand that the guy in charge must be kept?

  8. Starbuck June 23, 2008 at 9:50 pm #

    I should be clearer about the Niagara St house. The complaint about the Niagara St house might not have been about Permits and Inspections, but as I recall it was about faster wanting demolition of the house eventually arsoned. Demolition selection and prioritizing were also under Tobe’s command, right?

  9. hank June 24, 2008 at 11:27 am #

    For those of you who supported and voted for Byron Brown…


    For everyone else, like Bob Dole, I feel your pain. Anyone who loves Buffalo feels it as the “Trendy” Black Mayor and his sidekick allow the city to continue to circle the bowl.

  10. bfloobserver June 24, 2008 at 11:54 am #

    “Mayor Casey” strikes again. Another competent public servant pushed out the door.Hey, has the new interim ‘commish” moved back into the city?

  11. bfloobserver June 24, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    Hey, has the new interim “commish” moved into the city yet ? Just curious. Nice work “Mayor” Casey.

  12. Starbuck June 24, 2008 at 1:22 pm #

    So suddenly now you all think over the past 2.5 years there’s been excellent management of how Buffalo handles permits, inspections, demolition choices, and sales of city-owned real estate?

    Interesting. Doesn’t sound consistent, but interesting.

  13. Colin June 24, 2008 at 1:28 pm #

    I think the consensus is that Tobe was a decent guy with the right motivations and a willingness to work with people, but he was in a dysfunctional situation without the juice to change it.

    I dunno how accurate that is, but it’s the sense I’ve gotten from others.

  14. Chris Smith June 24, 2008 at 2:21 pm #

    My reaction to this announcement was more of surprise than anything else. Having dealt with Tobe directly, I thought he had a tremendous work ethic but was handcuffed by a small budget, departmental infighting, and power struggles. His job wasn’t clearly defined, there are several other people working towards similar ends, and the inspections department has been gutted over the years. Seems to me that people saw Tobe as a good guy working within the confines of a rigged system that is set up to do nothing more than routinely fail.

    If things are to improve, they need to keep Reilly as head of Economic Development, and find someone to run BERC to build neighborhood business, and hire a dedicated head of inspections and code enforcement. They need to fund these departments at the expense of others…they are absolutely crucial right now.

    It’s easy to say “fund this rather than that” when I sit here with a keyboard and no access to the budget and funding streams, but inspections, code enforcement, and development absolutely deserve maximum resources and less politicization.

  15. Starbuck June 24, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    I understand points about his intelligence, knowledge, niceness, and good intentions. But if in 2+years he didn’t show the political skills/savy or political strength (or juice as Colin worded it) to make much improvements happen and to cut through the chaos Chris describes, then I don’t get how some can insist he should’ve been left in that position. Especially people who’ve been so critical of the ongoings. Sounds like they want their cake and to eat it to: Tobe must stay, but it’s an outrage unless everything changes.

    Saw this in today’s BN – brutal and rude, but maybe it’s a fair description:

    Ironically, one of Brown’s most acerbic critics defended Tobe’s firing. Developer Carl P. Paladino assailed Tobe’s tenure, accusing him of micromanaging, playing favorites and refusing to communicate.

    “It took them two years to figure out this guy couldn’t do his job,” Paladino said. “He’s not a manager type of person. He’s more of a theorist. He belongs in a think tank someplace.”

  16. eliz June 25, 2008 at 12:20 am #

    Was there some other powerhouse in this position who accomplished more in 2-plus years? If so, i’ve never heard of him or her. 2-plus seems like an alarmingly brief period of time in which to pronounce judgement and condemn a public official give the complex problems of Buffalo’s housing stock.

    All I know is that I dealt with Tobe directly and he addressed important issues in a thoughtful manner.

  17. mirrorball June 25, 2008 at 12:47 am #

    Casey wanted Tobe to lie. Tobe is Stand Up, he wouldn’t do it. Casey is a micromanaging waste, with no future of Buffalo in mind except his own retirment on the backs of the txpayer. Bend the numbers, Tobe is to be commended for being such a class act. The mayor should be ashamed of himself, maybe Casey wove too many webs in his empty brain and now he really is just a talking head that never says anything.

  18. Save Buffalo August 2, 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    Please consider signing the following petition

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