Councilman Don Rocha is calling for a management review that could reveal more details about more information about recent dysfunction in the city manager’s office. He also wants to open up a discussion on the forced resignation of ex-City Manager Ed Shikada, which would require approval to disclose what took place in closed session meetings.
Shikada fired deputy City Manager Alex Gurza on Dec. 11. A little more than a week later, he announced he, too, would leave the city, setting off a flurry of gossip and press leaks that provided a window into the power struggle that has engulfed City Hall. The situation merits a closer look, Rocha wrote in a memo submitted to Wednesday’s Rules and Open Government Committee meeting.
“If we are made aware of dysfunction at the highest levels of the organization involving the city manager, we have an obligation to take an interest in the matter, ask questions, and take steps to ensure that the problem does not arise again,” he said. “If we were simply to ignore and forget the incident, I don’t believe we would be living up to our duty as leaders of the organization.”
A review would reveal whether the city needs to change its management structure, Rocha continues. It would also give the next city manager insight into his or her new role.
Early last month, San Jose’s City Council gave Shikada a performance evaluation in closed session. The 11-year city employee who held the city manager post for all of a year was informed a day later by incoming Mayor Sam Liccardo that a search for his replacement would begin and he would be relieved of executive power.
But because the decision to axe the city’s top appointed official was made in closed session meetings, council members can’t talk about what happened. Now, Rocha wants the city to waive closed session privilege in this case, to free up his colleagues to comment on the matter, if they so choose.
“The abrupt departure of City Manager Shikada late last year has prompted much public speculation and engendered considerable ill-will among some of the city’s employee bargaining units,” Rocha wrote in another memo. “Although state law allows the City Council to discuss personnel matters concerning its appointees in closed session, I believe that in this instance it may be appropriate to waive our closed session privilege, to provide the mayor and council members the opportunity to explain the reasoning for their decision if they wish to do so.”
He’s asked that the Rules Committee place the item on an upcoming council agenda for consideration.
There’s a slim chance the motion for a closed session waiver will pass. Even if it did, no meeting minutes are taken during closed session, so people who want to know what happened during that meeting would have to take each council member at their word.
- City critic David Wall calls Margie Matthews’ interim appointment to the District 4 seat “a putrefying stench.”
- More of Communications Hill was annexed into San Jose. On a related note, the city is seeking a sponsor for state legislation that would re-classify the neighborhood’s grand staircases as something other than a pedestrian right-of-way. As a right-of-way, the city can’t enforce a curfew and can’t control the throngs of visitors who flock to the stairway to exercise.
- Rocha has asked for a study session on Measure B, to give new council members an idea of the intricacies of the pension reform measure and how they could work toward more productive negotiations in the future.
WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260