Portland adds, loses City Hall staff

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PORTLAND — The city has named a replacement to lead its Planning Division, but will be searching for a new public services director.

Current Planning Board Chairman Stuart “Tuck” O’Brien will begin his new job leading the Planning Division the middle of next month, city spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said in a Sept. 24 press release. 

The same day Grondin also announced Public Services Director Mike Bobinsky will not return at the end of the two-month leave of absence he began Sept. 17.

“He has been exploring other employment opportunities, and will be resigning at the end of his leave period,” she said.

O’Brien said he is looking forward to the shift.

“I am really looking forward to working with the excellent staff in the Planning Department and all of the passionate folks who participate in the City’s planning process from this different capacity,” O’Brien said Sept. 25.

The Planning Division post is an appointed position. O’Brien is also a staff attorney for the Maine Public Utilities Commission, and once directed transportation and long-range planning in Somerville, Massachusetts.

A Deering-area resident who is married with two sons, O’Brien was educated at Bates, Tufts and Boston College.

Grondin said O’Brien, who has been on the Planning Board for the last five years, the last two as chairman, will lead a department of 11 “that manages and reviews comprehensive current and long-range planning processes as well as the development regulatory programs for the city.”

O’Brien will work directly for Planning & Urban Development Director Jeff Levine, who said he was pleased with the hire.

“He understands planning and the role it can play in shaping Portland’s future, and has a deep respect for the public process, ” Levine said. “We were particularly impressed with his experience in large-scale urban redevelopment projects.”

O’Brien will take over the position once held by Alex Jaegerman, who left at the end of June to become town planner in Yarmouth.

Bobinsky said Sept. 25 he is pleased with the work he has done in 12 1/2 years, but ready for new ventures.

“It is time for me professionally and personally to seek other opportunities. I had expressed this to (City Manager Jon Jennings) and I am glad we came to an amicable decision,” Bobinsky said.

Bobinsky said he was most pleased he and his staff addressed “a wide range of projects and direct services,” including improvements to the city’s stormwater system by separating storm and sewer water pipes, increasing the recycling rate in the city, and improvements that accommodate all modes of transportation, including by pedestrians and bicyclists.

During his leave of absence, Bobinsky said he will “be available to help fill gaps on various projects to ensure a seamless transition.”

Jennings said Bob Leeman, the city’s former facilities director and current Cruise Portland Maine executive, will be interim director of public services, while Steve Earley will head operations.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.


Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.