Mayor Liccardo’s Spokesperson Lasted All of 10 Weeks

Did you hear about the game-changing “We Are Built in San Jose” announcement on Wednesday? When it landed in San Jose Inside’s inbox, our first reactions was:

Why did Mayor Sam Liccardo get rid of his new spokesperson after just 10 weeks?

First reported by the Mercury News’ City Hall reporter Ramona Giwargis—see how giving credit works, Merc, it ain’t that hard—the mayor's public information officer (PIO), Michelle Young, had her last day Aug. 7. Young’s first day on the job was May 26, according to interim PIO and longtime Liccardo staffer Ragan Henninger.

“I can’t say anything specific about what happened to Michelle, because it’s a personnel matter, but I can talk about We Are Built in San Jose,” Henninger said.

Liccardo’s new incentives to improve local manufacturing include expediting the permit approval process to 60 days, slashing building and constructions taxes to 1 percent, et cetera, et cetera.

Young had almost no political background when she took the role of spokesperson for the mayor of the 10th biggest city in the nation. She came over from the athletic department of Santa Clara University, which made her an odd hire in the first place. But Liccardo's team did an extensive search before giving Young the position, and we're coming off the slowest period of the year, the summer recess, so something obviously went terribly wrong.

In a meeting with San Jose Inside staff last month, Young said she hoped to streamline Liccardo’s answers in media sessions so he wouldn’t stray from set talking points. The mayor is a notorious stickler for having his words his way, so perhaps it’s a situation of a new employee trying keep him from winging it. And this bird you cannot cage!

Attempts to reach Young went straight to voicemail. Henninger said she could not talk about a possible severance package for the late PIO, so, for now, we'll have to wait and see if this is just the latest City Hall buyout.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

9 Comments

  1. “The mayor is a notorious stickler for having his words his way…” If this is true then he should say his “words” himself so there is no room for confusion. Plus it would help stream line the budget. Perhaps Ms Young simply could not stomach having out every day and spin for Sam.

  2. > Liccardo’s new incentives to improve local manufacturing include expediting the permit approval process to 60 days, slashing building and constructions taxes to 1 percent, et cetera, et cetera.

    Yeah, right.

    I happen to know of an out-of-state manufacturing company that has a local branch on Hwy 101 for distributing it’s products.

    The company decided to build a showroom on its local site. I asked the CEO recently how the project was going.

    “Our property is really an aggregation of six tax parcels. The city won’t issue a building permit until it’s consolidated into a single parcel. The lawyers have been working on it for a year.”

    Doing business in San Jose.

    • Chuck claimed repeatedly that SJ worked “at the speed of business.” Yeah, right. Did he really think anyone would swallow that BS? The government of SJ just gets in the way of business.

  3. This strange event deserves looking into more deeply. Something’s going on here. C’mon Josh, don’t just accept the personnel matter excuse from Bike Boy Sam. Do your job—dig, dig, dig. Surely you can find someone who will talk on background. Any Golden Parachute for Ms. Young? That is not subject to the personnel exception of The Brown Act.

  4. What a joke, and just wait till the police / fire Measure B contract falls apart. Sam = Chuck. Same ole crap at city hall.

  5. I’ll tell you WHY! Some people don’t want to lie for a living and absolutely become involved in criminal activity! Does Base Ball Stadium Parcels ring a bell. Does Bankrupt San Jose Redevelopment Agency and $300,000.000.00 worth of triple flipped parcels the City Taxpayers own and can’t sell for $100,000,000.00

  6. Or maybe she had personal reasons for leaving, but that wouldn’t be juicy enough for your conspiracy theories.