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Santa Clara Seeks Stability From City Manager with Turbulent Track Record

Santa Clara’s search for a new City Manager to help add stability has lurched forward with an announcement of Sunnyvale’s City Manager Deanna Santana.

On the surface this appears to be a great “win” for Santa Clara, but it is far from clear that the “savior” that the City Council is looking for is in a candidate that had a somewhat rocky short two year tenure in Sunnyvale and a tumultuous three years Oakland. Before that she was Deputy City Manager at San Jose, a city that is more known for low staff morale, ineffective government and a bumbling inability to ever reach their self proclaimed goal of “The Capital of Silicon Valley.

The recruitment process was highlighted by a tepid brochure and community input sought after the recruitment process ended. The public process highlighted both it’s bizarre timing (after the deadline passed instead of before the recruitment starts as San Jose seeks input) as well as less then ten individuals attended three meetings.

Perhaps one of the improvements a City Manager can implement is an outreach program.

It will be interesting to see if the incoming City Manager deals with a City heading to bankruptcy over the unfunded pensions and medical pensions; the giveaways to the 49ers; the laissez faire dealings with developers; the corrupted senior City Staff and a cultural lack of transparency and responsiveness of City Staff.

The City Council has been attempting to “right the ship” and it will be interesting to see if this helps smooths the waters or if they are setting into unintended rough seas.

One item is for certain, Santa Clara is paying mightily for Deanna Santana’s salary and extensive compensation package (~$378k, ~ $600-700k total) as well as the additional two staff from Sunnyvale and one from Oakland that she is reportedly bringing in as part of her negotiation process with the Santa Clara City Council.