Councilman Manh Nguyen’s Odd Preference for Part-Time Staff

There was something a little fishy in North San Jose’s City Council office late last year. Vietnamese media mogul Manh Nguyen trounced Tim Orozco in a special election last summer to fill the District 4 seat, which covers Berryessa. It was an unusual race, as Nguyen was accused of having multiple wives and living out of the district, while Orozco had to answer questions about multiple drunk driving convictions. Due to term cycles, Nguyen already has to defend his seat this year and the two could square off again, although no challengers have yet to announce their candidacy. After moving into City Hall, however, Nguyen’s office has set the benchmark for odd behavior on the 18th floor. He has had at least six people leave the office in less than six months, in part because the councilman preferred to hire only part-time workers. Nguyen apparently does this not only to test new employees’ abilities, but also because he wants to ensure staff has time to volunteer on his campaign. Longtime office administrator Margie Espinoza, who worked in the D4 office before Chuck Reed became mayor, didn’t get that chance, though, as was pushed out because of her costly salary—outgoing council member and now State Assemblyman Kansen Chu boosted her pay as a parting gift. Staff volunteering for campaigns is nothing new, but sources say there’s been pressure on some employees to take leaves of absence to work full time to get Nguyen re-elected. The councilman’s closest advisers, Jonathan Padilla and Bryan Do, say that’s not true, but they’re both currently volunteering at the moment. Padilla will return to the office next month, but Do—who often popped up on the 18th floor last year unannounced, a la Kramer from Seinfeld—has never been employed by the councilman’s office or campaign. And yet, somehow, he’s also never made an appearance on Nguyen’s calendar.

Send a tip to The Fly

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.

5 Comments

  1. Surprise surprise, another article by the Fly that not only lacks substance (like most Fly articles), this is simply terrible reporting (again, like most articles produced by the Fly)

    ” Margie Espinoza, who worked in the D4 office before Chuck Reed became mayor, didn’t get that chance, though, as was pushed out because of her costly salary”

    We should be praising council member nguyen for saving money by getting rid of an employee who was being paid too much. If only SJI would follow suit and get rid of their employees who are getting paid too much for terrible work. (refer to the block of text above). It seems to be a reoccurring theme of the Fly to simply vomit on his keyboard and post the results (coincidence?)

    i would sure would hope there is pressure for staff members to volunteer on their employers campaign — did it occur to you that if a council member is not re-elected, their staff members will likely be out of work?

    I am glad you fulfilled your weekly quota of a crappy, block-of-text article that says nothing what so ever. unfortunately for us SJI readers, this Fly will simply not go away.

    • Its funny how you say “praising” for firing workers, but how about actually investing in staff full time to actually do the job he was elected to do. Improve the district and be a representative for the community. Hes wasting more city resources and tax payer money by putting these staffers, because they are getting paid to barely accomplish anything in the office and to just be a front for their campaign work. He doesn’t care about helping the community, just being re-elected.

      Your comment has the worst reasoning I’ve ever seen.

  2. Does SJI know that Manh Nguyen is a big fan? He likes to fill time on his Vietnamese language radio program on 1500 AM by “reporting” on the current events covered in SJI. Last week he spent a program discussing Darcie Green’s husband with Tam Nguyen and candidate Jimmy Nguyen… Wonder if he’s going to report on this article next week.