For months, District political gossips have been obsessed with City Administrator Robert C. Bobb.
First they said he was returning to Oakland, Calif., to run for mayor. Then they said he was decamping to Richmond to work for newly elected Mayor L. Douglas Wilder. Before, after and in between, they claimed to see signs in the tea leaves that Bobb might try to replace his boss, Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D).
Now comes the latest revolution of the Bobb rumor mill: According to Saturday's Oakland Tribune, Washington's dynamic city administrator may indeed be headed back to Oakland, where he served as city manager under Mayor Jerry Brown (D). But this time, the paper said, Bobb could serve as schools administrator.
"Bobb could end up heading the Oakland school system in just a few months," wrote Tribune columnist Peggy Stinnett, citing Bobb's enrollment as a fellow in the Los Angeles-based Broad Superintendents Academy, a 10-month executive management program designed to prepare senior executives to lead urban public school systems.
Stinnett included in her column a quote from Bobb posted on the academy's Web site: "Throughout my 35-year career as a city administrator, I have managed large cities that face the challenges of complex infrastructures, social problems and at-risk educational systems. The talents and resources of all facets of community, government and business must come together for the success of education. After a career serving the broader needs of the public today, I am ready to focus my expertise on the needs of tomorrow."
"And why not in Oakland," Stinnett asks, "where his family lives in a home they own and where Bobb is still well-connected with the community as president of the African American Chamber of Commerce?"
Sure enough, Bobb was in Oakland over the Easter weekend. But, in a telephone interview, he called the Tribune column "totally manufactured."
"It's not true," Bobb said of the notion that he might run Oakland's schools. He confirmed that he is a Broad fellow but said he has no immediate plans to make use of the training.
As for the other rumors, Bobb said he has no immediate plans to do anything except work for Williams.
"Let me just do my job," he pleaded. "I plan on doing it really well."
So, Mrs. Williams . . .
Speaking of Williams, Bobb said he hopes the mayor runs for a third term. One positive omen: Williams did not delete the now-famous line that Bobb and others added to his State of the District speech saying the mayor is "not done."
"When we inserted that little statement in the speech, he didn't take it out," Bobb said. "It never left the draft. And it was in bold, too."
Bobb claims to have no inside information about the mayor's intentions.
He said he tried to do some political reconnaissance last week on the bus ride down to Newport News, Va., for the burial of slain cabinet member Wanda R. Alston.