Newly elected Mayor David Briley announced Tuesday that Metro Nashville Government Chief Operating Officer, Rich Riebeling will be leaving his administration.
As part of a reorganization of the Office of Mayor, Briley named Emily Passini as Chief of Staff, the administration’s senior official who will “organize the policy priorities of the office, manage staff and work with department heads to drive the Mayor’s agenda.”
The appointment of Passini displaces Riebeling as well as current Chief of Staff Debby Dale Mason.
Riebeling recently came under heavy fire for being the focal point of several financial scandals during his 11-year tenure in Metro Nashville Government which spanned three different mayors from gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean, to disgraced Megan Barry to a short stint with David Briley.
Much of the attention to Riebeling’s improprieties was drawn by Carol Swain, Briley’s chief rival in the May 24 special mayoral election and The Tennessee Star’s Culture of Corruption series.
Mayoral candidate Swain called for then Acting Mayor Briley to fire Riebeling when it became public in early May that Riebeling was involved with $7.4 million of federal relief funds for the 2010 flood being redirected away from victims to design the Ascend Amphitheater. Of that, $1.6 million was paid to a company, Commonwealth Management, that is owned by Riebeling’s friend Larry Atema.
Reibeling violated Metro’s policy for debt management through “negotiated” versus “competitive bid” deals done primarily with a financial firm that employed Riebeling’s son.
In March, Riebeling apologized for taking money managed by the Sports Authority, and without the appropriate authorization, to pay Atema’s company for pre-design work on the Major League Soccer stadium.
While Briley praised both Riebeling and Mason for their many years of dedicated service and recognized Riebeling for being “instrumental in improvements across Metro Nashville” in a variety of areas, he wisely focused on Passini.
Passini, who will begin her new role on July 16, is a partner with Greenlight Media Strategies, and is listed as an inaugural member of the Board of Directors member of Emerge Tennessee. There was no discussion as to whether Passini will keep these positions while serving in her new role as the Metro Nashville Mayor’s Chief of Staff.
Carol Brown Andrews, officer with Tennesseans for Common Sense PAC, which funded the fear mongering billboard against former Senator Mae Beavers and Senator Mark Pody, is listed along with Passini as an inaugural board member of Emerge Tennessee.