Rules to Discuss Rocha Memo on Recruitment of Department Heads

Should the city recruit more department heads from outside or promote from within? Councilman Don Rocha says he thinks the city needs to do a better job casting its net to outside talent.

In a memo submitted to Wednesday’s Rules and Open Government Committee, the District 9 councilman says he worries that the city doesn’t do its due diligence in recruiting or spreading word about executive openings.

“The most troubling question for me to answer is not whether or not our employees are qualified—it’s whether or not we have conducted a search of a caliber to find the best candidate for the job,” Rocha writes. “Without an open recruitment, neither the city manager nor I—or even the candidate themselves—can know for sure that they are the most qualified person to serve our residents in that capacity.”

Since 2011, vacancies have occurred for 11 of the city’s 14 department director jobs, Rocha’s memo states. Seven of those 11 openings were filled by internal appointment.

“While this is a strong concern of mine, I in no means intend to convey that I don’t appreciate our employees or their commitment to serving our residents—nothing could be further from the truth,” he adds.

City Manager Debra Figone asked to defer the conversation to next week, as she’ll be out of town on business. Plus, Rocha’s understanding of the city’s recruitment process is a little off, she notes.

“In addition, I want to clarify the record of our recent department director recruitments and appointments,” Figone writes. “Over the past three years, we have conducted open, national recruitments for nine directors, and I have made four promotional appointments without recruitments.”

Four of the city’s executive positions remain vacant.

More from the San Jose Rules and Open Government Committee agenda for May 29, 2013:

• City staff recommends that local elected officials vote in support of state legislation that aims to finance affordable housing in transit-oriented developments by allocating cap-and-trade auction revenues. AB 1051, a bill known as “Sustainable Communities for All,” was introduced by Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima).

“These efforts include the integration of affordable housing and jobs in transit- and amenity-rich areas, the protection of open space and the creation of parks and trail in urban formats …, ” city staff summarizes.

Given the dissolution of all Redevelopment Agency (RDA) funding, the city’s looking for other ways to fund transit development and low-income housing. Cap-and-trade auction revenues are one alternative, the city notes.

• City staffers are also asking for the Rules Committee to support a state Assembly bill that would make more money available for low-interest housing assistance loans for government agencies. AB 637, authored by Assemblyman Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), would make more money available for pre-development of low-income housing, according to the city.

• Another bill that would allocate greenhouse gas cap-and-trade auction revenues for affordable housing merits San Jose’s support, the city says. Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal’s (D-Long Beach) AB 574 would generate more money for transportation-centered developments, like apartments clustered around train and bus stops or condos by light rail stations.

• Figuring out ways to spend those cap-and-trade auction revenues seems to be a popular idea this legislative session. Assemblyman Richard Gordon (D-Menlo Park) penned AB 416, which would use that money to “help improve energy efficiency projects throughout the city, provide opportunities to increase renewable energy generation, increase solid waste diversion from landfills, increase the reliability of local recycled water supplies, increase electric vehicle infrastructure and achieve greenhouse gas emissions reductions” by cutting back on the public’s driving habits.

• Communism is alive and well! Or socialism. So says supervisorial and mayoral candidate David Wall, who wrote a letter to the city blasting its affordable housing programs. He “respectfully submitted” the letter with the declaration: “To me, a socialist is just a communist with a sore butt-hole.”

WHAT: Rules and Open Government Committee meets
WHEN: 2pm Wednesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Is this Rocha’s pension reform solution?

    Going outside for senior positions will have two effects.  It will mean that the high paid people will pay higher average pension contributions, and it will cause the lower paid people to leave for promotions, which will have the same effect for the lower paid people.

    A big difference between public employee pensions and Social Security is that benefits for public employees are essentially based on their ending and therefore their highest salary.  Social Security is essentially based on average pay.

    What a wonderful idea!

    • Social Security is not a retirement plan.  It is supplemental- a safety net of sorts.  Please, look it up.  While you’re on Wikipedia, read up on the Windfall Provision of SS- that way you can see how uninformed you are about your comparison.

      Social Security and a retirement plan (whether public or private, defined benefit or defined contribution, 401k or stock market) are very different things.  You should hopefully figure out that they are not alike- because they are designed NOT to be alike.  Your ignorance of this, yet affinity to blather on a public forum about their differences makes me hope that your sole plan for retirement *is* social security.

      • Social Security is as close to a “defined benefit” plan as most people that work in the private sector get.

        Your ignorance of this, yet affinity to blather on a public forum about their differences makes me hope that your sole plan for retirement *is* social security.

        Since you asked, I have IRA and a 401(k).  If I’m destitute in retirement, I’m sure you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

  2. Ash Kalra aside, the mayor, city council, and city manager, as well as well as a majority of the executive staff of this city are a raging bunch of morons, running San Jose full speed ahead into the toilet. The people running this city are a complete disgrace, and the citizens should wake up to see what a bunch of buffoons you have in very high offices.

  3. Rocha is correct , This Mayor , City Manager and Council have done a HORRIBLE job running this city , and an even worse job dealing with Employees. As far as recruiting for the “top” jobs , Good luck with that . Anyone and everyone who can read will avoid coming to work for San Jose , at all costs.There is absolutely no reason for any qualified individual to come here and work for : Less Pay , less Benefits, WAY bigger contributions , zero appreciation , constant bad mouthing by Mayor and Council. It is just so much easier to work anywhere else for an absolutely better package/pay

  4. Amen, seems like a good ole buddy system.  Agree with Chuck or you are gone or ignored.  Chuck and his puppets runs this city and it is going down the toilet.  God help us if he tries to bring in new blood.

    Admire Don for his efforts but who runs rules committee (Chuck).

    Where has PO gone?  Wants to run for mayor so he is keeping his stupid ideas quiet.  But then we have Sam who is an idiot as well.  Pete, well no need to comment while he colllects his 50% tax free disabilty and double dips.  No need to comment on the others.

    Gee #20 murder this week, thanks Chuckie, no officers to check gang activity, or to be proactive.  Nice to see your gang guru Salcito standing in the back of the room collecting 130K doing nothing.  Must have been one great golden hand shake.

    Good luck SJ have since moved.

  5. There’s “I am JFK going on a fuzzy black and white TV” Level of makeup, then there’s “OMG DID THAT THING JUST STEP OUT OF A CLOWN CAR” level of makeup.”

    This is one picture I would encourage SJI to photoshop a bit.  Just turn down the red values, should look OK.

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