Durham's press office released the news today that City/County Planning director Frank Duke would be leaving his office on September 21 to accept the same post in Norfolk, Va.'s city government. Interim leadership for the Durham department is to be named by city manager Patrick Baker and county manager Mike Ruffin later this week.
From what I've gleaned in talking to stakeholders who've interacted with the department, this represents a real loss for the city from a leadership perspective. Planning has had at times an uneven reputation relative to peer departments in the Triangle, but Frank Duke always has stood out as a capable head of the area. His most notable public accomplishment was guiding the city and county through the Unified Development Ordinance process several years back.
To others, though, Frank Duke has also been the responsible and responsive go-to person when issues got stuck somewhere in the bureaucracy -- a human WD-40 for the cogs and gears of government. One can ask the question as to whether new leadership can affect a change or improvement in department through and through, not just at the 'boxtop' level.