One Crazy Week at City Hall

Definitely makes for a wild week when the dullest thing to go down at San Jose’s City Hall was a bomb threat. Days after City Manager Ed Shikada fired lead labor negotiator Alex Gurza, Shikada felt the axe on his own neck. But all that was just a warmup for the fireworks surrounding the appointment of a new council member for the vacant District 4 seat, which encompasses Berryessa. Mayor-elect Sam Liccardo called the emergency meeting despite protests from several colleagues and local labor unions. His preferred appointee, recycled ’90s-era councilwoman Margie Matthews (then known as Fernandes), got the nod—but not before Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio became an unexpected folk hero to progressives. He argued that the process was rushed while dominating a filibuster-esque Q&A session with prospective candidates. Who knows how long Oliverio could’ve gone on had Councilwoman Rose Herrera not interjected a motion to cut off questions, thereby securing her station as Liccardo’s vice mayor. Even the three council members who boycotted the meeting—Ash Kalra, Don Rocha and Xavier Campos—sang hosannas for Oliverio. All of it made for great theater, and Rocha admitted to watching a stream from his office computer in between a staff luncheon and his son’s school’s holiday party. Kalra also grabbed a bite with his staff before hopping over to the African American Community Service Agency holiday party instead of making the meeting. “I didn’t want to legitimize an illegitimate process,” he told Fly. Campos was seen jetting out of the City Hall basement garage after the council offices threw him a going away party. But it’s not over yet. Rather than wait until the Jan. 6 scheduled council meeting, lame duckers Chuck Reed, Madison Nguyen and Pete Constant will get a bonus round special session Dec. 30 to appoint a new city manager. Norberto Dueñas, a deputy city manager, has been floated as the likely pick, but his counterpart, Kim Walesh, is close to Mayor Sam. It's not exactly clear why this can't wait until the first scheduled meeting of 2015, Jan. 6, but whoever is chosen, a council majority of six votes would be required to replace them.

Send a tip to The Fly

The Fly is the valley’s longest running political column, written by Metro Silicon Valley staff, to provide a behind-the-scenes look at local politics. Fly accepts anonymous tips.


  1. …how did The Fly miss the insanity of Herhold “propping” a City Hall door open and then leaving it unattended only to return to find a local chud trying to rip off his computer?

  2. Kim is much sharper with a good handle on the issues. She will have more credibility in letting some directors go, like PRNS n ESD for starters.

  3. With reference to possible “Interim City Manager” selection;

    Deputy-City Manager Norberto Dueñas would be an “outstanding” City Manager. He is above all other of his talents, a fair and honest man. He will not tolerate incompetence and or “bad-faith” in negotiations with city employees.

    Mr. Shikada’s appointments to Senior staff positions are an extension of the former City Manager Figone’s appointment philosophy-“any woman will do.” Here are a couple of examples.

    Mr. Dueñas was an “Interim” Assistant City Manager until Mr. Shikada made another catastrophic appointment by hiring a piss-poor administrative flunky from Palo Alto. No one is floating this person’s name as a candidate for “Interim” City Manager for obvious reasons. One of which is, she should never have been hired in the first place.
    As to Kim Walesh, albeit a nice and cheerful person, is just a very highly paid cheerleader. She was given the title of Deputy-City Manager more or less as a “party-favor” by Mr. Shikada because there is not much happening in the Office of Economic Development. And with senior staff exiting city hall, at or about the same rate as Police Officers, there was really no-one left for the position.

    The other Shikada appointee to Deputy-City Manager is Jennifer A. Maguire. Ms. Maguire is an “outstanding” Budget Director but this is a specialist type of position requiring full-time focus. The position of Deputy City Manager requires a broader scope. For example, Ms. Maguire was assigned to the Treatment Plant Advisory Committee (TPAC) which oversees the San José / Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP). She was completely overwhelmed by the complexities pertaining to WPCP and didn’t last very long. By the way, Deputy-City Manager (appointed by Mr. Shikada) Alex Gurza was also appointed to TPAC by Mr. Shikada-another “dual” catastrophic mistake-he didn’t last very long either.

    So, who will Mayor-elect Liccardo pick? Resurrecting the “First fig” (Figone) was also been bantered about. Remember, Councilmember Liccardo supported the reinstatement of 872.9870 hours of sick-leave to the First fig after returning from a six-year stint as City Manager for Los Gatos. This “gift” upon Figone’s retirement, translated into a sick-leave buyout of $109,166.05 into the First fig’s coffers.

    There is of course the ever looming “city manager seat-sniffer” who is currently the City Manager for Los Gatos. Will this person be considered? I sincerely hope not. His wife is assigned to the Environmental Services Department (ESD). Apparently, his wife can come and go as she pleases. No-one at ESD can say for certainty what her work product is and when she shows up at her assigned workplace.

    If Mayor-elect Liccardo chooses anyone else other than Mr. Dueñas for City Manager, (Interim and or permanent) this mistake will certainly reflect to his sleazy participation and or orchestration of the District 4 “Interim scam appointment” as not relegated to an isolated event.

    David S. Wall

    • I don’t know Norberto Duenas, but if the things you say about him are true. I’m sure he has zero chance of getting the job. Liccardo won’t tolerate fairness and understanding on his watch, and intolerance for bad faith in negotiations with city employees is an absolute deal breaker.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *