Debra Figone

Disconnect between Mayor Reed, City Manager on Police Chief Search?

In his weekly call-in show Monday with KLIV 1590 executive director George Sampson, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed pulled back the curtain a bit on the city’s efforts to find a permanent police chief. The question is whether or not City Manager Debra Figone—the person charged with suggesting who to hire—was ready for that curtain call. Reed told Sampson he expects the city to officially name a permanent police chief by the end of this year. But, according to the city manager’s office, the search to name a long-term police chief has not been active in roughly eight months.

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Leadership Transition Continues with City Manager Debra Figone’s Retirement

San Jose City Manager Debra Figone announced this week she will retire after overseeing city operations for six years. Her tenure, which will come to an end in December, has marked some of the most difficult years in the city’s history, as the City Council enacted layoffs and pay cuts to cope with historic budget deficits. Her departure will likely leave the city with an interim city manager, police chief and fire chief, all while the 2014 mayoral race is in full swing.

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Future of Environmental Innovation Center Uncertain as Contractor Files for Bankruptcy

Contractors working on San Jose’s $11 million Environmental Innovation Center (EIC) walked off the job last month a half-year behind schedule and $1.6 million over budget. A couple weeks later, the company, Modesto-based Applegate Johnston, Inc., filed for bankruptcy. Modesto-based Applegate Johnston, Inc. was awarded a contract for San Jose’s EIC in 2011, despite having previously finished two fire stations several months late.

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Acting Police Chief Larry Esquivel Caught in Labor Crossfire

Breaking up is hard to do. Breaking up a fight between the San Jose police union and City Hall could be damn near impossible. In what appeared to be an effort to mend fences and remind people who’s the boss, Acting Police Chief Larry Esquivel recently sent an email this week to his command staff—roughly 50 deputy police chiefs, lieutenants and captains—scolding them for signing on to a letter critical of the city recent actions involving labor negotiations.

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Rules Committee to Discuss Permit Price Reduction, Potential Tax Measure

Since most of San Jose’s housing stock is a half-century or older, maybe the city should cut the cost of remodel and renovation permits. District 10 Councilman Johnny Khamis proposed the idea, and he’s bringing it to the Rules and Open Government Committee when it meets Wednesday. Other items on the agenda include a potential tax measure on the ballot next summer, Councilman Ash Kalra trying to tighten smoking laws and a gadfly/mayoral candidate demanding city staff repent for a particular project.

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San Jose Fire Chief Leaves for Las Vegas Amid Unanswered Questions

A funny thing happened after Willie McDonald announced in a June 10 email to San Jose Fire Department staff that he was staying on as fire chief. He decided to send another email, only in this message, dated June 13, McDonald thanked everyone for their hard work and abruptly informed them he was leaving for Las Vegas, where he would oversee Clark County’s fire and ambulance services. So, why would a fire chief leave for a job expected to pay him less and demand more? And what would make him change his mind?

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No More Pay Raises for Govt. Executives

City manager Debra Figone made the correct decision in turning down a raise. What was astounding was that it was ever offered in the first place. Her current compensation is a whopping $227,975 a year. Just the offer of this raise is cause for voters to become irate. It reduces the credibility of public service and confirms taxpayers belief their money is being wasted.

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Councilman Chu Takes on Late Night Big Rigs at Rules Committee

When the sun goes down, big-rig truck drivers parallel park on Baytech Drive in the Alviso neighborhood so they can rest for the night. It’s not illegal, but it is annoying, says City Councilman Kansen Chu. Other items going before the Rules and Open Government Committee on Wednesday include Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen fighting for the public’s right to take photos in public spaces and potential raises for City Manager Debra Figone and City Attorney Rich Doyle.

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