Rocha Requests Closed Session Waiver, Manager’s Office Review

Councilman Don Rocha is calling for a management review that could reveal more details about more information about recent dysfunction in the city manager's office. He also wants to open up a discussion on the forced resignation of ex-City Manager Ed Shikada, which would require approval to disclose what took place in closed session meetings.

Shikada fired deputy City Manager Alex Gurza on Dec. 11. A little more than a week later, he announced he, too, would leave the city, setting off a flurry of gossip and press leaks that provided a window into the power struggle that has engulfed City Hall. The situation merits a closer look, Rocha wrote in a memo submitted to Wednesday's Rules and Open Government Committee meeting.

"If we are made aware of dysfunction at the highest levels of the organization involving the city manager, we have an obligation to take an interest in the matter, ask questions, and take steps to ensure that the problem does not arise again," he said. "If we were simply to ignore and forget the incident, I don't believe we would be living up to our duty as leaders of the organization."

A review would reveal whether the city needs to change its management structure, Rocha continues. It would also give the next city manager insight into his or her new role.

Early last month, San Jose's City Council gave Shikada a performance evaluation in closed session. The 11-year city employee who held the city manager post for all of a year was informed a day later by incoming Mayor Sam Liccardo that a search for his replacement would begin and he would be relieved of executive power.

But because the decision to axe the city's top appointed official was made in closed session meetings, council members can't talk about what happened. Now, Rocha wants the city to waive closed session privilege in this case, to free up his colleagues to comment on the matter, if they so choose.

"The abrupt departure of City Manager Shikada late last year has prompted much public speculation and engendered considerable ill-will among some of the city's employee bargaining units," Rocha wrote in another memo. "Although state law allows the City Council to discuss personnel matters concerning its appointees in closed session, I believe that in this instance it may be appropriate to waive our closed session privilege, to provide the mayor and council members the opportunity to explain the reasoning for their decision if they wish to do so."

He's asked that the Rules Committee place the item on an upcoming council agenda for consideration.

There's a slim chance the motion for a closed session waiver will pass. Even if it did, no meeting minutes are taken during closed session, so people who want to know what happened during that meeting would have to take each council member at their word.

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for January 14, 2015:

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

17 Comments

  1. Would Shikada’s performance evaluation be available via the Ca. Public Records Act?

  2. City councilmember Johnny Khamis said the city is hiring more police and community service officers to be more responsive. “I don’t want people to take the law into their own hands,” Khamis said.

    Are you kidding me. Community service officers are unarmed and just take a crime report after you have been violated. And a 20+ academy when 24 officers are retiring this month alone. Wow I can do that math when it is a 6 month class room training plus another 3 months training before they are a solo officer. And now we are cutting homicide detectives. Way to go San Jose!

    Welcome crime to San Jose, once the top crime prevention city in the country.

    • Thing is, they made of mess of things and they can’t stop the bleeding. Councilmember Kalra warned them what would happen if they went forward with the illegal measure b, as did many, many bloggers–but they didn’t listen and now they can’t stop the exodus. Directors, Assistant Directors, supervisors, chiefs, police, firemen and many, many other staff from all departments are jumping ship. That should tell them something, but it doesn’t. They have too much arrogance.

    • Khamis is a Fool and a confirmed Liar. He continues to spew the lies of the Reed/Liccardo Regime . losing 25 Officers and attempting to replace them with 24 recruits , Is NOT hiring more Police Officers . Keep in mind that between 1/3 and 1/2 will fail out of the police academy

  3. i find it amusing when people kind of allude to the fact that there are too many mexicans in a city called SAN JOSE – HELLO…….SAN FRANCISCO/LOS ANGELES/PALO ALTO/MONTEREY/SANTA CRUZ/SAN DIEGO/SACRAMENTO lol what a friggin’ joke – name some anglo named cities in CALIFORNIA pardner

  4. None of the city names cited by Anthony have anything to do with Mexico or Mexicans, as they were all named by Spaniards, you know, those adventurous Europeans who brought here their Indo-European language, European religion, and European culture.

    • Last time I checked Mexicans speak Spanish. And most of Anthony’s cities were founded by pioneering Spaniards and Mexicans of the Spanish Empire.

      • i just find it amusing how white dips (not necessarily you….but if the shoe fits) keep acting like mexicans should feel like aliens lol pilgrim!!