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Milestones: Santa Clara’s Money Manager! – Opinion

Why is City Manager Deanna Santana still employed by Santa Clara?

Residents need to ask their City Council Members this question.

Santana’s nepotism, displayed by hiring former associates to replace long term knowledgeable Santa Clara employees, is outrageous.


For 25 years former City Manager Jennifer Sparacino operated Santa Clara with commendable success. She was a visionary who saw what was needed in Santa Clara and made it happen.

Her accomplishments included Santa Clara’s Convention Center, Golf and Tennis Club, and Youth Activity Center; a dozen new City parks including the Skate and Youth Soccer Parks, rebuilding five fire stations; a new police headquarters, the Rivermark substation, the Central Park Library used by 1.5 million patrons annually; and the Don Von Raesfeld power plant, which produces one-third of the City’s electricity.

What is Deanna Santana known for? Only one thing comes to mind.

Santana has garnered for herself the second largest compensation package (nearly $800,000) in the municipal employee sector of California! This is her major “achievement.”

In addition, Santana hired three cronies as Assistant City Managers at $325,000 each. Do you think these payouts have anything to do with Santa Clara’s 30-million-dollar deficit?

At this point you would have to ask, “Hey, I see the pork, but where’s the beef?”

Can you name one project completed in Santa Clara that Santana has accomplished or would be remembered for? No, neither can anyone else.

Even after she had a few Santa Clara streets repaved, the streetlights are now out of sync, and they have been that way for months.

When the Grand Jury put Santa Clara on their radar, they were met with delays and redirection by Santana’s office. The Grand Jury could not obtain the documents they requested. However, Santana erroneously reported to the City Council the Grand Jury was satisfied with her report and “cooperation.”

No question, Santa Clara residents could see the warning signs early on. Remember when Santana and Mayor Lisa Gillmor conspired to decimate the Chamber of Commerce? Santana hired a former colleague and “auditor” who produced a manufactured audit filled with erroneous allegations which made the Chamber of Commerce look like it was run by Al Capone’s associates. This “auditor’s” history with Santana includes undercutting a highly critical San Jose independent police auditor’s report about police misconduct complaint handling by changing the definition of “complaint” to “inquiry.”

The respect and treatment Santana has given long-term Santa Clara employees and organizations has been appalling. She has moved employees aside, out, or forced them into secondary positions, recruiting cronies to take their place at fat salaries.

Public service in Santa Clara has been reduced to a name only. Even obtaining a simple permit can take hours, days or even weeks. Frankly, the Santa Clara Way has been replaced by Santana’s  “golden rule” of self above service.

It is time for City Manager Deanna Santana to depart Santa Clara.


  1. CSC 3 years ago

    The auditor this article alludes to is Denise Callahan who has an abysmal reputation for producing inadequate reports that are mere hit-pieces instead of independent evaluations.

    Deanna Santana needs to be terminated ASAP. I believe the problem with the current city council is identifying the appropriate termination process and learning how to navigate through it. To benefit residents and their tax dollars, at the very least the city council should immediately move to separate management of Silicon Valley Power and Levi’s Stadium Authority from the City Manager and reduce Santana’s compensation accordingly. In parallel, the city council should act to outsource important investigations like police complaints to independent entities like OIR Group who the County of Santa Clara has retained.

    There is undeniable evidence and testimony that Wahid Kazem destroyed Use of Force Report(s) and Derek Rush emailed supervisors directing them not to approve police reports, he would ratify and approve them instead. Both Kazem and Rush, respectively, testified under oath that they allowed the destruction of a UoF and allowed officers to sit together and collude police reports. Neither the City of Santa Clara or the police department will respond to official requests to produce investigation documents of substantiated claims and open complaints specifically naming Kazem and Rush among others. Patrick Nicolai, a political ally of Mayor Gillmor and Deanna Santana, named both Kazem and Rush as assistant police chiefs despite their under oath testimony – by the way destroying a UoF is a criminal act (CA Penal Code 135).

    Deanna Santana might be just as guilty as Denise Callahan was in “reclassifying” police complaints to hide them from SB1421 laws. Newly signed SB16 allows record of complaints to be released even in there was no official finding against an officer. We know for a fact that numerous complaints have been filed against Santa Clara PD officers but both Deanna Santana and Patrick Nikolai refuse to confirming an investigation under PC 832.5(a)(1).

    SJ Merc:
    SCC Grand Jury – City of Santa Clara Public Records Access:

    Again, Santana needs to be terminated. Santa Clara also needs to amend the city charter to eliminate politics from the role of police chief by appointing a police chief, not voting for one.

  2. Phu Tan 3 years ago

    I hear SCU is hiring. Sounds like Ms Santana would be a perfect fit.

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