Disconnect between Mayor Reed, City Manager on Police Chief Search?

In his weekly call-in show Monday with KLIV 1590’s George Sampson, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed pulled back the curtain a bit on the city’s efforts to find a permanent police chief. The question is whether or not City Manager Debra Figone—the person charged with recommending who to hire—was ready for that curtain call.

Reed told Sampson he expects the city to officially name a permanent police chief by the end of this year. The City Charter states that it is the city manager’s responsibility to select a police chief, and the mayor and City Council must then ratify the appointment. But, according to the city manager’s office, the search to name a long-term police chief has not been active in roughly eight months.

Last week, Figone announced in a memo to the mayor, City Council and staff that she intends to retire later this year, with the date likely falling sometime in December. Sampson noted in his interview with the mayor that turnover and uncertainty at the top administrative level has been and continues to be an issue.

“This is going to leave San Jose without a city manager, without a permanent police chief, without a fire chief, without a planning director, without an IT director,” Sampson said. “I can’t think of a time when San Jose’s city government has had so many key positions left unfilled, much less so much turnover at the department head level. Why do we have so many department head openings all at once?”

Mayor Reed noted that the IT and library director positions have been filled, and he pointed out that many of the people who have recently left top posts with the city—Police Chief Chris Moore in February, Fire Chief Willie McDonald in August and Planning Director Joseph Horwedel later this year, to name just a few—are part of the “Baby Boomer” generation, which is increasingly leaving the workforce while fewer people enter into government jobs. This answer is only partially accurate, as McDonald left for a job in Las Vegas and Moore has since started work as vice president of a company that specializes in public safety communications. They’re department heads who left for new roles with less animosity, as budget cuts and pension reform have strained employee morale in nearly every department.

The real meat of KLIV’s interview with Reed came near the tail end of a clip provided to San Jose Inside, when the mayor noted that Figone is expected to fill several positions before she ends her 44-year career in public service. Sampson pressed the mayor on when a permanent police chief would be named, considering the city started a nationwide search as far back as December 2012 before calling off the search earlier this year.

“Well, it is up to [Figone],” Reed said. “Under the charter, it’s her job to hire senior management—subject to approval by the City Council. And she’s been working on that, so I anticipate we’ll have a decision on that before she leaves.”

Many of the top police chief candidates pulled out of the search to replace Moore, and Larry Esquivel was named acting chief. Since then, few people have been talking about the job—although some people suspected Esquivel may have lost some support with the rank and file after getting involved in a fight between City Hall and the police union. The acting chief has stated repeatedly that he did not apply for the job in 2012, but with Reed’s comments, it seems the city will either have him stay on in an official contract or carry out an expedited search.

City Manager Debra Figone was not available for comment Monday, but communications director David Vossbrink told San Jose Inside that no police chief search has officially resumed.

“I’m not aware of any movement on any decision in that direction,” he said. “We haven’t actually restarted that in an active way.”

Noting budget issues and ongoing labor negotiations—which are going great!—Vossbrink added that Esquivel and the San Jose Police Department command staff have made it easier to wait on making a formal decision.

“The reason we’ve been able to hold off on it is because Chief Esquivel and his command staff have been minding the store well during the interim period,” Vossbrink said.

Listen to KLIV 1590’s interview with San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed.

Josh Koehn is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to josh@metronews.com or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

31 Comments

  1. The Mayor is Full of *@*# ! These Department heads left because of The Mayor and his Inability to See the consequences of his actions . Many more will continue to leave because the Mayor has made San Jose a “Joke of a City” . There is NO REASON , for any qualified Employee to choose San Jose over any other Employer . The Pay is way behind any industry standard and the Benefits Package is Laughable at best . This Mayor couldnt tell the truth if it Kicked him in the face. He continues his many lies to the end. Even when Measure B is beaten down in the Courts , candidates/new hires will only stay long enough to lateral to another city or jurisdiction . It simply is not worth working for the city of San Jose. It will take this city decades to recover from Reeds sheer Arrogance,many Lies and Contempt for City workers

  2. This Mayor, along with a majority of the city council, have created an absolutely toxic and oppressive work environment not only for the average grunt city worker, but for the senior management of the city. If this were a tech company and they treated their senior management they way Mayor Reed treats employees, it would never retain workers and would soon go out of business. The senior management for the City of San Jose is FLEEING this city, and nobody wants their job.

  3. ““Mayor Reed noted that the IT and library director positions have been filled, and he pointed out that many of the people who have recently left top posts with the city—Police Chief Chris Moore in February, Fire Chief Willie McDonald in August and Planning Director Joseph Horwedel later this year, to name just a few—are part of the “Baby Boomer” generation, which is increasingly leaving the workforce while fewer people enter into government jobs.”“

    reed’s statement is so comical. He can come up with an excuse for everything, can’t he? Always pointing the finger somewhere other than the truth. ROFLMAO.

  4. COP Moore……
    Moore, who was named acting chief in October 2010 and took over as permanent chief several months later, said he was surprised by his interactions with the mayor and City Council during his tenure, saying it felt like he was “talking to a brick wall.”

    “What surprised me, honestly, in the last couple years, was I knew that the budget situation was going to be bad—and I knew that, and I signed up for that … What surprised me was the absolutist nature of City Hall and the mayor in his effort to drive down the retirement cost.”

    Fire Chief McDonald….
    There was a number of conversations that were held from the time that I sent out the first [email] to the [second one],” he continues. “Most of those conversations took place with the city of Las Vegas, really making me feel that the opportunity was perfect for me, that I could lead the department and have a great deal of autonomy.

    Baby Boomers?????….Nope….looks like they left due to the “stage 4 cancer” known as Chuck Reed, Deb Figone, and the rest of the city council clowns

  5. Sad, city services were marginal and a lot of the workers probably couldn’t hold a job in private industry before this.  I can only hope more ineffective city employees quit. Unfortunately, the benefits will make this situation does nothing to draw people to work there and will probably cause the situation to get worse.

    Only time or the city manager’s office knows whether the mayor either doesn’t know and lied or knows and lied about the police chief job. But right know that job is burdened with the job hunters paradox: Someone who is smart enough to be the chief of police is smart enough to know not to take the job.

    • “…a lot of the workers probably couldn’t hold a job in private industry before this…”

      Any proof to back this up? Librarians couldn’t work at the “private industry library?”  Waste water/pollution control techs couldn’t work at the private industry waste water treatment facilities?

      Parking enforcement couldn’t work at the private industry parking enforcement company?  Janitors couldn’t perform janitorial work at the private building maintenance companies or at any of the private industry facilities anywhere?

      Lawn mowers and tree trimmers would never cut it in the private sector? What private industry building inspection code enforcement company is hiring right now?

      What private police force would SJPD officers not be able to cut it at?  What private fire fighting service providers would pass on a trained/certified fire fighter paramedic?

      • Yes, I served for 7 years on the Appeals Hearing Board in San Jose and found that a number of the people in Code Enforcement had no idea about the building code and lacked the drive to completely clean up issues in the city.  If San Jose was smart, they would use the code enforcement department as a revenue generator, just like parking tickets.  I also heard the stories from a couple of workers who actually worked for the City of San Jose and heard stories about workers who actually worked in the government offices.  You completely miss the point I was making.  a number of them were just plain lazy or incompetent.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are decent ones, but if they really wanted to compete, let them be written up and terminated for performance like the rest of us in private industry.  So, yes, I do have direct experience and your general statements don’t apply.

        • I am not following why you believe fines can’t be used for revenue. They make up 5.1 percent of the general fund’s revenue… I am also not following why you think the code enforcement group couldn’t start to use the fines as a tool to fix the problems that exist with absentee land lords that plague neighborhoods… Seems like a win for both the city in terms of gaining needed revenue and cleaning up neighborhoods.  I feel for people who are put in a position that they are unqualified for, but they need to perform and not following why that would be a bad thing for them to be terminated if they can’t.  The unfortunate part is discontent won’t improve performance and the good ones will leave and San Jose will be stuck with the ones who can’t.  Not a good thing

        • Code Enforcement can and does investigate complaints against property owners who maintain blight in the neighborhoods. They use a tiered approach that starts with a warning and escalates from there to fines and injunctions all the way through to court ordered confiscations.

          ALL very expensive (except for the warnings) almost always contested at enormous expense to the taxpayer (except for the warnings which are usually ignored).

          Not to mention that there are many more blighted properties than there are Code Enforcement officers to investigate them. Sure, the simplistic answer is “then hire more.”  The realistic response is, “then the taxpayer better be ready to pay market rate for trained, knowledgeable, and ethical Code Enforcers”  or suffer from your generalization that “a lot of the workers probably couldn’t hold a job in private industry before this.”

          Fines may end up being classified as “revenue” as an incidental consequence of the City receiving money that it needs to account for. That is night and day from using laws and their enforcement to fill the City Treasury.

        • My “General statements” don’t apply? You are the one who said, “a lot of the workers…” but whatever.

          So you sat on the appeals board? I am guessing that you heard from contractors and developers contesting administrative citations issued by Code Enforcement.

          If so then I guess you would be aware that Code Enforcement was/is one of the most acutely understaffed departments in the City. When this City Manager, Mayor and Council laid off rather than negotiate, personnel from many other departments who were not laid off but had their jobs eliminated and their department was downsized may have been reassigned to Code Enforcement. Those employees may not have had the first clue about the position they were assigned too hence contested enforcement actions in the Appeal Board…

          Again whatever – those folks were put in the position of maintaining a job and income vs unemployment. they didn’t chose the lousy circumstance they were forced into.

          It is odd that you think that Code Enforcement should be used as a revenue source like Parking Control – first it is expressly ILLEGAL to use Parking Enforcement as a revenue source due to the corruption that it naturally would lead to. If you think that it is currently used for revenue generation and have proof you will be a local hero.

          Likewise, using Code Enforcement as a revenue generator would lead to corruption and further mistrust of the government.

          As far as write-ups, discipline and terminations in the private sector its not much different in the public sector it happens.

          Laziness and incompetence are human conditions that exist in both the private and public sectors since there are far more private sector employees compared to the public sector it is a safe to say that laziness and incompetence abounds.

        • I understand the tiers probably better than most being involved in working with Code Enforcement… What I don’t understand is why more fines aren’t levied.  The Compliance Orders do not use the standard court system and therefore are administrative in nature.  Meaning, you don’t have to spend alot of money to enforce.  Liens could be placed and the fines paid once the property sells, of course, preference would be that the property is cleaned up.  Which neither event happens when it comes to most complaints.. Stonewalling like you mentioned is the best because no one does anything.  I am still not understanding the comment about Parking Fines not being a source of General Fund Revenue.  Especially since it specifically calls it out in the Budget that is on the city website.

        • Downtowner, not sure how you are rating Code Enforcement. My experience with them is that they are a top rate department. They have always been extremely knowledgeable and professional and have always made sure that they took care of what was needed to the nth degree. I wonder why you have had such a different experience?

  6. “… so I anticipate we’ll have a decision on that before she leaves.”

    What else could the schmuck say? He can’t admit he’s poisoned the once-highly coveted position of SJ police chief, so he instead “anticipates” there will be a hiring decision. The evidence indicates no basis to say anything more positive or concrete, but lack of evidence never stopped Chuck Reed. What other things does he anticipate? That the police force will spring back to the proud and effective agency it was before he became mayor? That Major League Baseball will suddenly realize Ol’ Chuck was right all along, and enthusiastically embrace the A’s move to San Jose? That the fortune blown on the airport will soon turn a profit? Or that prospective downtown investors and residents will look beyond the dope-dealing thugs who’ve migrated there due to the enforcement vacuum?

    Chuck Reed, accustomed to kid glove treatment from a complicit and derelict news media, knows he won’t be held accountable for anything he says—much the same as he’s not been held accountable for the disastrous results of his scapegoat-and-sue ‘em approach to governance. But give him the credit he deserves: for a man devoid of charisma, vision, or leadership, he has nonetheless forged a political career for himself by embracing his natural deceptiveness. He figured out that by telling the right lies (those favored by financial supporters and the media) he could generate enough momentum to overcome his personal shortcomings and get people to vote for him. His gain is our loss.

    But what he hasn’t, and won’t, figure out, is how to undo the damage he has wrought.

  7. That’s the answer of our top elected leader??  Department heads are leaving because they are baby boomers?!?

    This begs a follow up interview by every local media outlet.  The answer is bogus, and is an insult to anyone who hears it.  KLIV should be ashamed to let that answer go without an aggressive follow up.

    The only reasons executive management is leaving now, is that they are eligible AND they are taking their sick leave payout before it goes away.  That is it!  Oh, and that little problem called employee moral, that even they cannot fix, especially without support from the Mayor and Council…of which there hasn’t been any in 7 years.

  8. “…a lot of the workers probably couldn’t hold a job in private industry before this.  I can only hope more ineffective city employees quit.”

    That statement really shows your ignorance. Most City workers have one or more degrees. When the City hires, they only select the best of the best during the hiring process. It is not easy to get hired into the City. If you feel they are so ineffective and feel that you can be more effective why don’t take the time to improve the effectiveness. Submit an application. See how far you get. They are really short staffed, right now, and I am sure if you can cut the mustard, they will be glad to have you.

    • See my post above…I felt the same way. This certainly was the way it used to be.

      Going forward “downtowners” point might be valid but not for the arrogant reasons his tone betrays.

      Now that backgrounds are contracted out it should come as no surprise that more candidates pass backgrounds than fail for the simple reason that the company gets $500 for every pass and $250 for every fail. Unless a candidate has some very obvious flaw that would fail him/her out very early in the process there is no reason to fail after considerable time and energy has gone into the background investigation.

      Also despite what anyone from the City or upper echelon command staff at the PD says, what used to be the minimally acceptable scores on the written and oral portions HAVE BEEN LOWERED – had they not been lowered there is no way that the City would be able to fill the 60 recruit seats to start the SJPD Police Academy. (FYI with 2 weeks to go until the current class graduates only 40 out of the original 60 remain – 2 weeks ago, 14 recruits washed out for failing test scores!) 

      SJPD may never recover from the damage that Mayor Reed, Councilmembers Liccardo, Constant, Oliverio, Nguyen and Herrera along with retiring City Manager Figone have caused!!!

      • Wasn’t trying to be arrogant.  Just an observation after 7 years of working with City workers..  Not all are terrible… Like I said, unfortunate that the good ones will bail.  I can tell you that I heard a number of corrupt things that some departments would do, the most terrible was “comp time” where they would say they worked other hours and then banked vacation.  Again, I assume Sir Meyer Weed works in the city and has better observations than I do.  I can also say that there are still some spot on great guys working in Planning that I’ve worked with also.  But being a resident and watching who was working Code Enforcement for complaints I’ve filed and also being on the Appeals hearing board, not impressed at all.

        • Well, with an attitude like that, thank goodness you are no longer working on the appeals board. I wonder what they would think if they knew your true feelings about them and then having to work with you? You worked with them for 7 years, you say? Was that on an every day basis, once a week, once a month? What? I wonder just how close? Just how much time have you spent with them trying to understand their job and what they actually do? Really. So many people are so quick to put down what the public employee does without ever really knowing what they actually do. Have you ever gone on a ride along with PD or if Code Enforcement has them, have you gone on a ride along with them? Judging from your posts, I don’t think you have as much insight as you are claiming. I don’t think you know as much as you are proclaiming to know. You seem to have a “look down your nose” at many of them, so thank goodness you are no longer in that position. It is people like you, with attitudes like yours who have helped to decimate this city. And to key in third hand information about corrupt employees on a public forum, without any evidence presenting itself or without them being able to defend what you are saying is just so, so trashy. Rumor runner. I would think that you being a board person and all, you would have taken this information to someone in the City who could look into it, but what do you do…you trash it out on a public forum and don’t report it, so is that what a high caliber, efficient board member does? After all, something like that would be illegal, but you let it go? I bet when they read your posts, they will have a new way they look at the people who sit on the appeals board. If any of the others are anything like you, then they need to rethink how they work with them. This would be unacceptable to have others like you on the appeals board, with your attitude. Why are you putting them down on a public forum? My question to you is why didn’t you get to the bottom of things to your satisfaction, if you feel there was inefficiency? I would think that is what you SHOULD have done. OR…did you just pass it and let it go? So, who was the true ineffective person…you or them?

        • I actually did file a number of complaints while I was there and it amazes me how you believe workers can do no wrong.  Instead of asking questions,  you just want to attack.  Since you have no idea what I did or didn’t do while I was on the Board, I would suggest you ask questions before posting.  Probably would keep a better discussion going.  BTW, people can have different points of view and experiences then yourself.  And since you have no idea who I am, your conclusions are amazingly offbase.

        • You didn’t answer any of my questions, but in response to you:

          ““I actually did file a number of complaints while I was there”“

          —I understood that you did. It is clearly stated in your post “…for the complaints I filed….” What you are speaking of are neighborhood complaints, right? That is not what I was referring to in my post.

          “”… it amazes me how you believe workers can do no wrong.”“

          —I would like for you to point out exactly where in my post I made such a statement, or is that simply another one of your assumptions?

          ““Instead of asking questions,  you just want to attack.”“

          —You mean like you have done? You can dish it but you can’t take it?

          ““Since you have no idea what I did or didn’t do while I was on the Board….”“

          —You sure about that?

          “”….I would suggest you ask questions before posting.”“

          —You mean like you didn’t do before your postings?

          ““BTW, people can have different points of view and experiences then yourself.”“

          —I agree. BTW, the word is “than”, not “then”.

          ““And since you have no idea who I am…”“

          —You do not have any idea who I am, either. I may know more than you think I know.

          “”…your conclusions are amazingly offbase.””

          —I don’t think so. You basically put your “runoffs” out there for everyone to see and it looked nasty. Even Mr. Burton told you to either file a complaint or keep your mouth shut. I don’t think we were too off base. 

          Done with this. Have a great day.

        • Nice response.  Instead of engaging in the real issues of whether the services provided are actually up to par, you go on a rant about the poster.  To answer your questions..

          1. Really. “So many people are so quick to put down what the public employee does without ever really knowing what they actually do.”

          I actually know what they do.  Incorrect assumption.  I do understand what code enforcement “does” and witnessed it during a number of question sessions with a a number of the inspectors.  I spent countless hours with code enforcement, the city attorney’s office, redevelopment agency when it was in existence and police department.

          2. I can take it, no problem.  But this isn’t about me.  It should be about the issues.

          3. I don’t think I need to ask questions about 1st hand experiences which are the basis for my post. 

          4. Thanks for correcting my grammar. 

          5.  “You do not have any idea who I am, either. I may know more than you think I know. sure what you are inferring here.”  I personally don’t care who you are.  Is it that I need to be worried about you?  I doubt it.  What is it that you actually know?  That you work for the city? 

          6. Lastly, this is a public forum.  Would be nice if you stopped bullying people online and started engaging in debate around the issues rather than immediately using the “You are what is wrong with San Jose” …  Instead of posting like the other people have done, “I had great experiences with code enforcement” . Your responses are “You are at fault… you have to be wrong” 

          Lastly, If you read my other posts on this site, you will see I’ve spoken to a number of cops, city employees and others.  This is the basis for my comments.

        • Thank you for your response and in response to you:

          ““Instead of engaging in the real issues of whether the services provided are actually up to par, you go on a rant about the poster.””

          —You mean the poster who sat on a board that works with this City department and who is suppose to be professional but who, instead, puts down the department on a public forum and does not expect anyone to say anything about it?

          —You mean the poster who sat on a board and who is suppose to be professional but who calls out hearsay information about corruption and fraud in City department(s), in a public forum, and expects no one to say anything? The “rant” was warranted. You have posted that you were on the board for 7 years. People will know and/or can find out who you are just with that information. You think they may think twice about you in those types of positions in the future? Try being a little more professional.

                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          ““I actually know what they do.  Incorrect assumption.  I do understand what code enforcement “does” and witnessed it during a number of question sessions with a a number of the inspectors.”“

          —A number of inspectors? How many? How many hours? Do you mean question sessions where you get to ask a question and they answer it and this whole session goes on for maybe 15-20 minutes, per inspector, once per month? You think asking those questions and hearing the answers thus put you in the “know” of everything they deal with on a day to day basis and how it is done? My understanding from those I have spoken with, is that it takes a minimum of five years for an inspector to thoroughly understand their job. It is a very complicated field. Now if it takes them five years, at full time in the job, how does 7 years of asking inspector questions, once a month, going to allow you to understand actually all that the position entails or what they actually do? Those sessions would not provide you one fraction of what that department is all about. Your incorrect assumption. Before posting about their inefficiency, did you take the time to find out that many of those before you are new inspectors learning the ropes and thus not as experienced or comfortable as many other seasoned inspectors? Like anyone in a new job, they learn many things just by doing. Instead, you, the appeals board member that they are standing before, puts them down in a public forum. How do you think they must feel about that?

                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          ““I spent countless hours with code enforcement, the city attorney’s office, redevelopment agency when it was in existence and police department.”“

          —Countless hours with code enforcement, city attorney’s office, redevelopment agency and police department. Over 7 years, I can imagine that you did spend time with them. That’s four departments. Code enforcement was just a fraction and that is the department at issue, right now.

                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          ““I don’t think I need to ask questions about 1st hand experiences which are the basis for my post.”“

          —Oh? You tell me I should ask questions before posting, but you don’t think you need to?

                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          ““Thanks for correcting my grammar”“

          —You’re welcome.

                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          ““I personally don’t care who you are.”

          —My sentiments, exactly, so I wasn’t sure why you initially stated this to me,

          “And since you have no idea who I am….”

          Really, I personally don’t care, either.

                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

          ““Lastly, this is a public forum.  Would be nice if you stopped bullying people”“

          —Nice throw back to deflect and you are correct. This IS a public forum, but that was not my intention, at all. I responded to a poster who claims to be an insider (appeals board for 7 years and working with numerous departments) who decided they would put down a City department(s), calling it/them corrupt and inefficient…in a PUBLIC FORUM, which could lead many readers to believe what was posted, without having any evidence or facts. After all, the post was made by a person who was on the board. You “HEARD”….  You blowout damaging hearsay on a public forum and expect no one is going to take offense to it? How would you have taken that if sitting on the appeals board, some code officer, in answer to your questions said, “I heard…”, instead of presenting facts. You would have been all over that.

          ““Instead of posting like the other people have done,

          (“I had great experiences with code enforcement.”)

          your responses are “You are at fault… you have to be wrong””

          —FYI…I was actually the one who made that post you have quoted, So I guess I did post “like other people have done.

          —You have quoted that my response to you stated, “You are at fault… you have to be wrong”. Please point out to me where I posted that statement. Just where do you see that? That’s okay. I just consider the source.

          Have a great day.

        • No wonder this town is such a mess.  Both of you should be ashamed of yourselves.  I wish both of you would move!  I am reading this and you both look like children fighting.  No wonder the citizens are sick of both the city workers and everyone else in city government!

        • Dear San Jose Bob, Anyone who lies in an attempt to take your lively hood will cause a harsh reaction.  The officers have been lied to for years and they are loosing their homes, they are trying to protect their families… Should they just remain calm while a four year politician comes in and says you no longer can have the pay and benefits you were promised.  In fact I will make thing so bad instead of having 7 officers in your area to help protect you at night there will be one or two.  It seems the officers have a lot to be upset about. Every night they put themselves more at risk then pre Reed.  And they doing it for way less money while being told that they going to loose more money.  Why would this not provoke a response in anyone, even you.

  9. Downtowner: “Comp. Time” is an authorized method of compensating employees for overtime hours worked. Employees can choose this instead working for pay. If you’re accusing employees of fabricating this work as you said “claim” and you have proof
    of such fraud, then I encourage you to file a complaint with the Office of
    Employee Relations. If you don’t have any proof, then I encourage you to keep your mouth shut.

  10. 6-8 of the candidates in the current Police Academy have been offered positions with other departments . with another 8-15 in the process with other agencies . This on top of the 8 current employees that have left this past week alone , should show the residents that Mayor Reeds “Misrepresentation” of hiring 200 more Police Officers is falling way short of expectations. San Jose is losing at least 100 officers a year. Just another shining example of this Mayor being absolutely clueless