San Jose Inside has confirmed with multiple sources that Ed Shikada will resign from his post as city manager, the top appointed position in the city.
While no announcement has been made officially, sources at City Hall say Shikada has been calling top directors on staff to personally notify them of his departure. Many top-level staffers expected an announcement to be made Tuesday, when the City Council met twice in closed session to discuss Shikada’s recent performance evaluation. At least a few council members were irritated that Shikada fired Alex Gurza, a deputy city manager and director of the Office of Employee Relations, without informing them beforehand.
The issues of dysfunction in the city manager’s office, however, appear to be much larger than one—and now a second—employee being let go. A “hostile environment” has been growing worse since the summer, according to sources.
Shikada’s decision to resign is being forced by the council, according to one source. It would be a more graceful exit than being fired, which the council has the power to do because the city manager position is classified as “at-will.” Shikada took the job a year ago and there has been speculation that the next mayor, Sam Liccardo, wants someone new in the position.
Top managers within the city who are being floated as possible interim replacements include: Kim Walesh, who recently became a deputy city manager in October after overseeing the Office of Economic Development and Norberto Dueñas, also a deputy city manager. There’s even a suggestion—and hold on to your hat—that former City Manager Debra Figone could be considered.
UPDATE 9:04pm: San Jose’s public safety unions are not happy with the resignation of City Manager Ed Shikada, and Mayor-elect Sam Liccardo is getting the bulk of the blame. Norberto Dueñas will take over the role of city manager on an interim basis, city officials announced earlier in the day. Below is a joint release from the San Jose Police Officers Association and Local 230, which represents the city’s firefighters.
“San Jose Police Officers and Fire Fighters hope for a new direction from San Jose City Hall has been squashed as Ed Shikada was forced to resign as City Manager by Mayor-elect Sam Liccardo and several outgoing members of the city council that want to continue the disharmony and discord with city workers. Mr. Shikada attempted to find common ground to resolve the many contentious issues that have crippled San Jose and its ability to adequately staff its police department, respond to emergency medical calls on time, and recruit and retain an educated workforce to deliver critical neighborhood services.
“Mayor-elect Liccardo has spoken of ‘reaching out’ to city workers and finding a compromise to the legally flawed Measure B and other issues, unfortunately his actions speak volumes about his true intent; securing power and continuing the divisive policies of his predecessor.
“The removal of Ed Shikada and the rush to appoint a city council replacement to fill the vacant District 4 seat leave us with no alternative but to await the appointment of a new city manager and the seating of an elected city council representative for District 4 prior to entertaining any discussion or negotiation with the Mayor-elect, or his representatives, on any topics other than those we are legally required to conduct.
“This is a sad time for San Jose and those of us who were looking to move our city forward. We wish Mr. Shikada the best of luck in his future endeavors and appreciate his honesty, collaborative approach and strong character.”
UPDATE 2:20pm: City Manager Ed Shikada announced his resignation in an email to staff at 2:14pm. Below is the full message:Dear San José Employees,Earlier this afternoon I officially informed Mayor Reed and the City Council of my decision to resign as San José City Manager, effective January 1, 2015.Serving as your City Manager has been a truly rewarding experience and extraordinary journey for me. Over the last year, I’ve had the privilege to lead an extraordinary team of dedicated employees who demonstrate their innovation and dedication to serving the best interests of the people of our community. Together we’ve made tremendous progress, and I am proud of the achievements we’ve made together.Through the past year we have demonstrated that our workforce has the spark to define its own destiny. We made incremental and increasingly ambitious improvements, and demonstrated the willingness to make a difference wherever possible. We built momentum toward resilience. If people appreciate what we were able to accomplish, the tools are now in place to continue and build on this engagement into the future.I want to thank all of you for the work you do every day during my time with the City, both as City Manager and over the past twelve years I have been in San José. I am confident that you will continue your outstanding professionalism and commitment to serving our community.Sincerely,Ed ShikadaCity Manager