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A Closer Look at Some of Santa Clara’s Well-Paid New Hires

A closer look at some members of City Manager Deanna Santana’s alumni club tells a story that’s hard to dismiss as being simply the results a high cost-of-living area — most of these employees were already living in the Bay Area or comparably expensive Manhattan Beach.

Chief Electric Utility Officer Manuel Pineda has the distinction of being the highest paid City employee next to Santana herself. He worked with Santana in San José and Sunnyvale and was hired as Assistant City Manager in 2017 at the top of the pay scale ($310,000).

He was then promoted to the top job at Silicon Valley Power, with a salary again close to the top of the pay scale, $363,000. Previous SVP CEO John Roukema earned $324,000. In two years Pineda received a total raise of $134,000 (59%) over his Sunnyvale salary of $228,000.

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Fire Chief Ruben Torres worked with Santana in San José and was hired in 2019 at close to the top of the pay scale, 320,000. His previous salary in Pleasanton was $219,000. The previous fire chief Bill Kelly earned $279,000. Torres’ total raise of 46% is $101,000.*

Assistant City Manager Cynthia Bojorquez worked with Santana in Sunnyvale. She was hired into a newly created Assistant City Manager position in June of 2019 at a top-of-the-scale salary of $335,000. Her Sunnyvale salary was $236,000, making her raise almost $100,000.

Assistant City Manager Nadine Nader Kayali worked with Santana in San José and with Danaj in Fremont and Manhattan Beach. Her previous salary was $224,000. She was hired in 2018 at a salary of $310,000, at the top of the pay scale, adding up to an $86,000 raise.

Another new employee getting an $86,000 raise is Public Works Director Craig Mobeck, who worked with Santana in San José and Sunnyvale. He too was hired at a salary of $264,000. Mobeck’s previous salary was $178,000.

Former Chief Operating Officer Walter Rossmann worked with Santana in San José and Sunnyvale. His previous Sunnyvale salary was $240,000. When he was hired into a newly created job, Rossmann got a $75,000 raise to $315,000. Rossmann has since left the City to become Milpitas Finance Director at a salary of $165,000.

Finance Director Kenn Lee worked with Santana in San José and Sunnyvale. He was first hired as Assistant Finance Director in 2017 at a salary of $224,000, at the top of the pay scale. Lee was recently promoted to the top finance spot at a salary of  $268,000. His previous Sunnyvale salary was $171,000 — making his total increase 57%,  $97,000.

Recently retired Human Resources Teresia Zadroga-Haase worked with Danaj and Nader Kayali in Manhattan Beach. She was hired last year at a salary of $262,000, a 33% increase over her Manhattan Beach salary of $197,000.

New Human Resources Director Aracely Azevedo worked with Santana in San José and was hired as Santa Clara’s Assistant HR Director in August 2018, with a salary of $200,000, and increase of $59,000 from her $141,000 San José salary. She was promoted to HR Director in October, but remains at the same salary currently.

The only promoted City employee coming close to these levels of increases is Kathleen Hughes, a 20+ year veteran of Silicon Valley Power, who received a $63,000 raise to $197,000.

* Torres is also collecting a City of San José pension of $196,265.

 

Editor’s Note: This is a follow-up to a previous article. Read the original here.

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5 Comments
  1. Bonnie T, resident of San Jose 8 months ago
    Reply

    As a resident.of San Jose, this is shocking and disgusting when we have some many crisis and people are living on the streets. Please, what could we do to correct this situation??

  2. Linda Johnston 8 months ago
    Reply

    Sounds like Santana has a posse being well taken care of. This is a dangerous person to have in charge…must be closely watched.

  3. John Slos 8 months ago
    Reply

    Hello,

    The City manager is graciously giving up her housing allowance and getting a 11.5% raise. WTF is going on here! She will be making a base pay of $448,491.84. She will do this but wont budge past 3% on the employees who have to actually work.

    https://santaclara.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=4314989&GUID=B24F261D-9292-420B-92AC-2D0DA6D12F6C

  4. Kat Cat 8 months ago
    Reply

    This is RIDICULOUS!!! How do they get away with this?? Do any of these city workers actually live in Santa Clara?? How do they sleep at night…..?? When you add the benefits on top of salaries….they’re really making a good profit off the city. I think they should be taking money from their overpaid pockets and put it towards more police patrol, given the amount of home robbery’s and car break-in’s in the area. Another case of government corruption if you ask me…

  5. John Employee 8 months ago
    Reply

    Matt is spot on:

    “Lastly, it is not the higher incomes or larger benefit packages that should alarm the residents of Santa Clara. It is the fact that a disproportionate number of the City’s recent recipients of higher incomes and larger benefit packages are former associates of the current City Manager. I say this because I find it hard to believe that in a region with roughly 10 million people, the current City Manager already knew the best of the best and they were all poised to make the move to the City of Santa Clara.”

    Using Transparentcalifornia.com and creating a spreadsheet we can see that 138 Managers made 32% of the base pay for the entire City leaving the other 68% to almost 1,000 employees. (I have left out Police and Fire employees because I cannot put a price on saving a life.) When you look at 138 people making over $25 million annually in 2018, those numbers rose due to raises and such in 2019, you have to wonder what their ACTUAL worth is. They manage people, people who actually work tirelessly for, as stated by the City Manager, crap benefits and terrible pay compared to similar agencies.

    When people speak of inequality they usually cant put a face to it. Luckily for us all of these paychecks are visible to the public so we can see what is going on and do not have to listen to lies. The city tells the employees it is constantly broke and cant help them with benefits, then turns and spends ridiculous amounts of money on the people who say we have to save money. Due to CalPERS these people will continue to drain massive checks from the City for years to come.

    No wonder for the first time in 10 years more people quit than retired.

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