NEWBURYPORT — Bob Armstrong has resigned as the city's building commissioner, just weeks after his Twitter account was exposed for a series of lewd tweets, and now the city is trying to fill his position along with others in the Building Department.
In September, The Daily News received an email with several pages of Armstrong's now-deleted tweets, several of which contained suggestive comments made toward television news reporters and other female Twitter users. The Daily News staff reviewed the tweets online before they were deleted.
Most of the tweets were made from Armstrong's personal account @bostsox since early 2019, and many were within the past several months.
When asked Thursday whether Armstrong's resignation Oct. 5 was related to his Twitter activity, Mayor Donna Holaday said she is "not going to talk about a personnel issue."
After Armstrong's resignation, Holaday said the city suddenly had "nobody to do inspections" while permits continued to pile up in the Building Department office.
Holaday said the city is receiving assistance from the inspectional services staff from West Newbury, Merrimac and Newbury. She also said former Building Commissioner Peter Binette is now working part time to fill in, and retired Commissioner Gary Calderwood is helping the department deal with a "backlog of permits."
"Gary heard that permits are piling up and that we're in trouble, he called and asked if he could assist," Holaday said. "It was quite concerning because as of last Monday, we had nobody to do inspections. We have so many projects out there, and we really needed an alternative plan to pull it all together."
Holaday said the city is accepting applications for the full-time building commissioner and the building inspector.
The Massachusetts Municipal Association job board includes a Sept. 30 listing for the building commissioner and an Oct. 5 opening for a building inspector. No salary is listed for the commissioner but the building inspector job description lists an annual salary range starting at $71,045.
The job posting for building commissioner says the position requires a college degree "comparable to a Master Apprentice knowledge of construction trades with at least five years of experience in the supervision of building construction or design," and state certification as a local building inspector.
The job listing for a building inspector says the 35-hours-per-week union position requires a high school diploma plus five years of experience "in the supervision of building construction or an equivalent combination of education/experience" and current or pending certification by Massachusetts Board of Building Regulations and Standards.
Holaday said because the Building Department's administrative assistant, Barbara Pulaski, is retiring at the end of the month, her position will need to be filled soon as well.
The mayor said all of these personnel changes have delayed the Building Department's transition to an online permitting system but she believes the department will be in good shape once the positions are filled.
"We're scrambling as quickly as possible to get this office back up to 100%, but we're moving in a positive way," Holaday said.
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.