- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2003

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams yesterday named Robert C. Bobb as city administrator at a annual salary of $185,000, a figure at least one D.C. Council member finds excessive.

Mr. Bobb, who recently ended a five-year stint as city manager for Oakland, Calif., was introduced at the mayor’s weekly press briefing. He said he is looking forward to the challenges he will face in the District, with its three-tiered government — mayor, council and Congress — and his immediate goal will be to “learn the city.”

But his first hurdle will be getting his salary approved.

“This is just like [Metropolitan Police] Chief [Charles H.] Ramsey. [Mr. Bobbs] salary has to be approved by the council, and I am not voting for a pay raise,” said council member Adrian M. Fenty, referring to the council’s long-running pay-raise dispute with the police chief that ended in July.

Outgoing City Administrator John A. Koskinen, who leaves office next week, earns $135,000 a year. Mr. Bobb, who officially takes office Oct. 6, earned more than $220,000 as Oakland’s city manager. His $185,000 will make him the city’s third-highest-paid government worker.

Mr. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, said he is aware of Mr. Bobb’s credentials as an “excellent” manager, but said the council has to draw the line on high salaries.

City law caps executive pay at $141,000. Mr. Fenty said the city already has exceeded the cap for several of Mr. Williams’ appointees.

“We do it all the time and it makes the law look meaningless,” he said.

However, council member Kathy Patterson said she hopes a higher salary than $141,000 is approved for Mr. Bobb. “I am open to it because it is a pivotal job in our government, and I think or hope we will get our money’s worth,” said the Ward 3 Democrat.

Council member Vincent B. Orange, the only member who has met the appointee, said his first impression is that Mr. Bobb is “viewed as the best city manager in the country and will be a good fit for the city.”

“I think the fact that he came down … from what he was making means we are getting a gem at a favorable cost,” said Mr. Orange, Ward 5 Democrat.

During yesterday’s press briefing, Mr. Bobb answered a barrage of questions — the most important of which, according to Mr. Fenty, is whether he will restructure the bureaucracy to his liking.

“We don’t have a city-manager form of government. The little that is in the D.C. Code about an administrator was done by the [financial] control board to get [former city administrator] Camille Barnett here,” he said.

“If we are bringing Mr. Bobb in to run the city, then are we switching to a city manager, strong form of government? And if so, what is the mayor’s job?” asked Mr. Fenty. “We need to have a debate about it.”

In an interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Bobb said he would have no problem fitting in and working with the District’s deputy-mayor form of government.

“City managers usually work with assistant city managers and that is what we have here with the deputy mayors,” he said.

Mr. Bobb, 58, has been described by City Council members in Oakland as an aggressive, hands-on manger. Mr. Bobb did not disagree with that assessment, saying he is a “tough guy to work with” but knows when to back off and let people work for him.

“I don’t expect anyone to work harder than I would, but if there are issues that require working 24/7 to fix, then that is what it takes and what needs to happen,” Mr. Bobb said.

He said he is looking forward to meeting with the entire council as a group or individually this month.

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