Debra Figone

City Manager Debra Figone’s Exit Interview

Debra Figone will retire Dec. 20, after spending her entire 44-year career in public service.

San Jose Inside’s Josh Koehn sat down in late October with City Manager Debra Figone, who will retire at the end of next week, to discuss her 44-year career in public service. The free-flowing discussion, which has been edited for clarity, touches on topics such as the city’s adversarial relationship with the Police Officers Association, the validity of international travel for elected officials, the possibility of another sports franchise coming to San Jose if the Oakland A’s cannot relocate here, and how Figone views the media’s coverage of local politics.

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Shikada Will Face Moneyball-like Challenges

Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland A’s, has faced tight budgets when trying to assembly a top-notch team. Ed Shikada will have similar challenges as San Jose’s city manager, Peter Allen writes. (Photo by Muboshgu, via Wikipedia)

Every winter, Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane has one hand perpetually tied behind his back, as he tries to rebuild his rosters for the following season. Frugal ownership, a decrepit stadium, and multiple run-ins with raw sewage make the A’s one of the least desirable Major League Baseball landing spots for top free agents. So, Beane, the man profiled in Michael Lewis’ bestseller Moneyball, does his best to cobble together lineups with bargain basement prospects and aging journeymen. And because he’s exceptionally good at his job—and a little lucky—he manages to field competitive teams year after year. The city of San Jose faces similar obstacles in recruiting and retaining the best and brightest minds to run the day-to-day operations of America’s 10th largest metropolis.

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San Jose Police Academy Retention War Takes Inevitable Next Step

The fight over how best to retain San Jose police academy cadets is in full swing.

San Jose City Manager Debra Figone decided last week to end the suspense and remove “acting” from Larry Esquivel’s title as police chief, setting up a dramatic showdown. Not between cops and City Hall, though. An arsenal of memos over how to keep graduates of the police academy from jumping ship were fired off Tuesday. Just last week, it was widely reported that up to 17 cadets are taking their talents to different law enforcement agencies, leaving the city out about $2.9 million in training costs. On one side of the memo melee stands Sam Liccardo, armed with what he calls a “carrot and a stick.” On other other side stand Madison Nguyen and Johnny Khamis, carrying what they call a “first five” initiative. And in the middle, the police union is at the ready to shoot down both ideas.

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San Jose Officials’ Sister City Trip to Dublin Expected to Cost at Least $20,000

A group of San Jose city officials will travel to Dublin, Ireland, as part of the ‘Sister City’ program. A drop by the Temple Bar district could be in order. (Photo by Ian Stannard, via Flickr)

The Emerald Isle is calling. Ten San Jose officials will fly this week to Dublin, Ireland, for the bi-annual “Sister City” trip, which is basically a pub crawl disguised as a city-sponsored economic development junket. Among the lucky 10 are four councilmembers (Xavier Campos, Rose Herrera, Ash Kalra and Johnny Khamis); three department heads (budget director Jennifer Maguire; Joe Hedges, of economic development; and environmental services’ Kerrie Romanow); two council chiefs of staff (Shane Patrick Connolly, for Khamis; and Mary Anne Groen, for Herrera); and one soon-to-retire city manager, Debra Figone. If that seems like overkill, well, it is.

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Council to Review Annual Budget Performance, Semi-Annual Audit

City Manager Debra Figone will go over the annual budget performance review at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. (Photo via League of Women Voters)

City Manager Debra Figone’s annual budget performance review, which will go before the City Council on Tuesday, shows that 2012-13 revenue totaled $2.29 billion, about 1.2 percent ($28.6 million) below the budgeted estimate. Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include Xavier Campos hosting a gun buyback at a District 5 church, Kansen Chu pushing a solar panel incentive program and a semi-annual review of city audits.

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