06 October 2009

What about Bobb?

Over at the East Bay Express, Robert Gammon reports that former Oakland City Administrator Robert Bobb will not seek the Oakland mayoral job, as he's looking to extend his gig as the emergency financial manager for the troubled Detroit Public Schools system. However, Bobb may not be as clearly off limits as he appears to be.

Bobb's carved out a little fiefdom for himself in Detroit, and an extension to his contract - which ends in March - may be what he needs to stay in Detroit. He and the DPS board have engaged in a power struggle for weeks over Bobb's hiring authority and seemingly absolute power. The two parties are expected to iron out their differences via a mediator next month.

That's not to say Bobb has only gained enemies. In August, he went door to door with Bill Cosby to promote Detroit schools and convince parents to bring their kids back to the public school system.

November's election may more fully determine Bobb's fate. He's pushing a bond measure called "Proposal S," which would provide construction bonds to rebuild Detroit's many aging schools. Today there was an interesting exchange between Bobb and the Detroit City Council:

But Councilwoman Joann Watson pressed Bobb, saying she was on a similar panel for the 1994 bond and members' input was "thrown out when they started to steal the money."

She said the state should be held accountable for today's deficit that accumulated during the state takeover, saying "they should be sent an invoice."

Councilwoman Barbara Rose Collins agreed, but said the city would be foolish not to pass the bond, dubbed Proposal S, because it is tied to federal stimulus money. She said Bobb needs to say whether he will stay on to oversee the construction bond.

"The community needs assurances you can finish what you started," she said.

"I will definitely be here until March 2," Bobb said.

Gone? Not so fast, my friends. We can connect the dots and see that if Proposal S passes and he can maintain his authority at DPS, he'll have little reason to leave. He has the backing of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (who happens to be a Bay Area native). Then again, what if Proposal S doesn't pass? He's left himself a convenient out. He could easily get a new residence in Oakland early next year while continuing to do his DPS job, allowing him to beat the election filing deadline.