Editor’s Note: The City of Santa Clara refutes the following column
Planning to retire and being retired are different stories and sometimes there is more to the story.
The Weekly carried a story in May this year, announcing the retirement of Fire Chief Bill Kelly.
Now it’s true that Kelly planned to retire this year and he hadn’t determined a date. He thought it would be proper to have a conversation with City Manager Deanna Santana and provide advanced notice of his plans to wrap up his 35 years.
He was thinking that providing a few months advance notice to Santana would be the courteous thing to do.
This would give him time to complete some tasks and wrap up a few loose ends before finishing up his long career as a Santa Clara fireman and 7-year term as Chief.
In late April, he made an appointment with the City Manager to let her know that he would be retiring later this year and wanted to give her advance notice.
A few days later, he was approached by a member of the City staff who mentioned to Kelly that he saw Kelly’s job was being advertised on the City website and that he would be retiring the end of June.
Of course, this was a bit of surprise to Kelly, but then he has learned that nothing our current management regime does is a surprise anymore.
Fire Chief Bill Kelly has now retired and joins the dozen or so department leaders who have parted ways with our City, through their own choice or that of our City leadership.
While many of our department heads have left a legacy of effective management and positive direction, their replacements are yet to prove they can lead and direct under this autocratic form of government.
In place of leadership by example, “my way or the highway” is an old axiom that now appears to have become the Santa Clara way.
The growth of leadership has been a hallmark in Santa Clara as we have historically picked the best of the best from our own ranks following years of service. The current method of recruiting from other cities outside Santa Clara has succeeded in losing us years of knowledge and experience.
These management actions translate into morale issues among our own long-term employees. The once hopeful, hard-working employees within our own City departments have been ignored, removed, reassigned or rejected for advancement.
Folks, the ship has tilted, and we are taking on water.
The occasional loss of a key employee is an event that can happen anywhere. The intentional displacement of quality people is an act of mismanagement and a serious breach of trust.
Restoring visionary and progressive leadership in our City cannot come soon enough.