A new twist has transpired in the city of San Jose’s executive purge, as interim City Manager Norberto Dueñas signed off on an unprecedented buyout late last month. Alex Gurza, formerly a deputy city manager and lead labor negotiator for the city, was surprisingly let go in mid-December by the previous City Manager Ed Shikada. But through a quirk in the civil servant system, Gurza was able to come back to the city’s employ just days later as a low-level analyst in the Parks & Rec department—a job he had held 20 years earlier. In the process, Gurza’s pay was reduced to roughly a third of his previous $222,000 salary. Yet on Jan. 23, Dueñas signed off on a severance package for Gurza that included back pay at his prior pay rate and six months’ salary—or about $111,000. Combined with buyouts for Shikada, who was forced out by Mayor Sam Liccardo and the council majority at the end of last year, and Asst. City Manager Pam Antil, who followed Shikada out the door, the city will now pay three of its top executives as recently as two months ago a combined sum of $333,308 to not work for the city. In return, the three former employees have agreed not to sue. All of these maneuvers are relatively unusual in the public sector, but agreeing to give Gurza a golden parachute after he was fired is particularly odd. City Attorney Rick Doyle admitted the situation “is a little bit out of the ordinary” and confirmed that Gurza was offered the same deal back in December. Dueñas decided to revisit the offer to “stabilize the situation,” Doyle said. While a city manager can’t make purchase decisions that exceed $250,000, the City Council in 1997 authorized the manager’s office to extend severance pay to a non-elected employee for up to six months. They probably just didn’t expect to do it for three top-level executives all at once.