It is amazing that Santa Clara’s new City Council has taken so long to locate where the pen, pencils, and erasers are located (especially the erasers).
What would make the most sense for this Council is to correct some egregious actions taken by Mayor Gillmor and her prior Council. Or, in some cases, not taken.
For the past number of decades, an unwritten tradition has been followed in the Santa Clara Police Department. Once the Council decides on the percentage of pay increase for the rank and file, that same percentage is used to calculate the benefits for higher ranking staff like lieutenants, captains, and the chief. The police chief is elected, which means his salary and benefits package, up until October 2018, was decided by the City Council. Traditionally he would receive the same percentage increase or decrease as his officers.
It was a deliberate act by Gillmor and her old Council when it came time to award Chief Mike Sellers his increase. Sellers was placed last on the agenda and, as the old Council wrapped up their meeting near midnight, they gave no raise to Sellers.
Sellers had just beaten the Gillmor’s candidate Pat Nicolai in a hotly contested race, decided by a few votes.
But Sellers wasn’t the only city employee snubbed. There were many who felt the axe of Gillmor’s disdain. Long time City employee Rajeev Batra served for years as Director of Public Works and a short time as acting City Manager. He was promised an increase in pay for increased responsibilities, which would improve his retirement. While he was entitled to higher retirement pay, which was minimal, Gillmor and her Council did not nor would not approve.
When you look at the mega-dollar salary and benefits that have gone to City Manager Deanna Santana, now pushing close to $800,000, and three assistant managers at $350,000, Santa Clara is so out of balance they are looking up to see the bottom. Folks, this is not a good view.
The landslide victories granted to the new Council was a vote for change. Has anyone noticed any change?
It is time for action and this Council can best restore sanity and ratchet down the financial awards that have been passed out like jellybeans at the county fair.
Santa Clara needs bean counters, and not jellybean givers, or residents will wind up in the jam.
Leading the way is Santa Clara’s key legal employee who wasted and spent $5 million of resident taxpayers’ dollars. Why is City Attorney Brain Doyle still employed by Santa Clara?
Every day he remains is an endorsement for incompetence.
Where are the erasers?
Residence must push the council for change. This has been happening too long. Why would a little city like Santa Clara be paying these type of salaries!!
Thanks for another great OP/ED piece. I think that when the citizens voted in the charter amendment that created the “Salary Setting Commission” they were directing an end to the shenanigans’ you described.
Can someone please interview the retired city manager of Mountain View? Kevin Duggan. He was so well respected, and so effective. He was recruited out of retirement to go down to Bell, CA and clean up that mess where the city manager and cronies were exploiting the same loopholes and enriching themselves at taxpayer expense. (They did go to jail!) I’ll be he’s got some stories to tell, and relevant facts to share with the residents of Santa Clara. Then go to Deana Santana and ask her how what she’s doing is any different. https://www.mv-voice.com/news/2011/08/18/former-mv-city-manager-helps-deliver-city-of-bell-from-scandal
The first steps in rooting out bad policies and instituting a long-term path to solvency is building a group aligned to transparency, justice, and financial conservation.
Bad policies: Currently, and for the past two decades, the City Council and services to the community has been ruined by self dealing interests of employee unions – specifically SCPOA – and the “old-guard” council that fought to keep minorities out of leadership roles. There is absolutely no justification for the amount of salary and benefits provided peace officers in the City of Santa Clara when neighboring entities Campbell, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Mt. View, and Santa Clara County are able to pay less. (note: Sunnyvale peace officers are also certified firefighters). Santa Clara Police Department has had more officers convicted of crimes, per capita, than any other agency in Northern California. Santa Clara’s police chief is the only elected chief in the entire state, this political position hasn’t served residents well – this needs to change sooner rather than later.
New Alliance: There are good, educated, strong people in and around Santa Clara. A core group should recruit and leverage experience from Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business and School of Law; seek mentorship from influential business leaders at Santa Clara HQ’d companies like AMD, Applied Materials, Palo Alto Networks, Silicon Valley Bank, and Intel who have instituted diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives; and reach out to Stanford’s GBS to institute ethical leadership practices.