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Community Letter Regarding Summary of City Manager's Hiring Practices

Post Date:08/09/2019 11:30 AM

From the Office of the City Manager

 August 9, 2019

Dear Santa Clara Community,

I acknowledge that the Santa Clara Weekly admitted its many factual errors in last week’s opinion piece, authored by Mr. Miles Barber. I was pleased to see that my community letter clarified the facts about Chief’s Kelly’s departure. With that same sentiment, the purpose of this week’s letter is to set the facts straight about the continued false claims about my hiring practices.  For example, Mr. Barber continues to allege that I am not promoting employees from within the City organization at the same rate as New Hires.  He also claims that prior City Managers promoted from within the organization at a higher level than me. Once again, Mr. Barber ignores publicly available reports that do not support his claims. 

I have been very transparent with the community, employees, and City Council about the data supporting New Hires and internal Promotions. I first reported this information in Oct. 2018 as part of my “First Year Report” to the community and I have often shared data with the City’s managers at Quarterly Management Meetings. The data was also publicly reported in Jan. 2019 at the annual Council Goal and Policy Priority Setting Session.  It is also worth sharing that The Silicon Valley Voice/Santa Clara Weekly has made several public record requests on this exact topic and the City has provided detailed spreadsheets on internal Promotions vs. New Hires.

Mr. Barber not only has his facts wrong, he fails to report the transparency that I have practiced regarding regularly reporting this data.  A reasonable reader can only conclude that his failure to report my transparency is because the facts do not support his erred conclusions and his comfort with mischaracterizing my actions to support whatever cause he is trying to advance.  Santa Clarans…because the community deserves the truth, once again here is what the data actual show:


Here is what you can easily conclude from the data:

  • Overall, my hiring practices, Promotions vs New Hires, are the exact opposite of what Mr. Barber claims.
  • Data does not support Mr. Barber’s claims that my hiring practices favor New Hires over internal Promotions in a way that isn't any different from past administrations.
  • My record of Promotions is actually trending 1% HIGHER than the average (43% my practice vs. 42% average) and my record of New Hires is actually trending 1% LOWER than the average (57% my practice vs. 58% average).My hiring practices are more favorable to internal Promotions when evaluated against the AVERAGE and, with the exception of FY 16/17, my hiring practices are better than past City Managers relative to internal Promotions.
  • For each FY, data show that the City’s hiring activity regarding Promotions are, generally, less than New Hires.

Informed data-driven decisions and conclusions matter!  It is a value that I have been emphasizing since my first “State of the Organization” report in January 2018. As City Manager, I know our employees are our biggest asset for providing Santa Clara with the top quality and high-touch customer service that we all deserve. I have worked to provide employees with professional development to prepare for future opportunities within the City. In fact, at the January 2019 Council’s Goal & Policy Priority Setting Session, I stated that investment in our employees’ development and wellness was our collective #1 business imperative and led the effort to have the Council’s policy priority about employees to be more comprehensive. At that session, based on data, I made the case that our employees need more professional development, focus on wellness, and better balance with respect to workload out weighing capacity.  Table 2, from Jan. 2019 Session, shows the Workforce Discretionary Training Statistics and, in 2017 how I began to change that trend to be more robust and positive.

Table 2


In addition, this year, I recommended, and the City Council approved unanimously, significant investment in employees and their development in the FYs 2019/21 Operating Budget. These investments include over $500,000 for training and professional development across departments; $54,000 for the Working Scholars Program – an online program allowing working adults to obtain their bachelor’s degree while remaining employed (which by the way, we have been named the top performing program when compared to other agencies); additional investment in wellness and mental health resources for public safety; and, $300,000 for citywide training and process improvements for using Microsoft Office 365. These are intentional strategies and investments that are meant to help us build our bench for strategic succession planning. The data, budget, programs, training, and achievements support my effort to advance more internal promotions.

Last, like the private sector, it is worth noting that Santa Clara must compete within a hard to recruit and retain region and, it is well known and studied, that public sector employment is changing dramatically. Data supports this statement, both the region’s 2.1% unemployment rate (Source: Nova Workforce Data) and, specifically, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reports that from 2012 to 2018, that local government employment tenure fell from 8.1 years to 6.9 years (Source: United States Department of Labor). Yes, gone are the years when the local government employment lasted 30 years with one employer: the data support that fact. For the Silicon Valley, the combination of several factors (e.g., high cost of living, tech businesses, development, the “silver tsunami” of Baby Boomers retiring, commute, etc.) all make for greater challenges regarding employee tenure, recruitment and retention. This requires us to be innovative in our recruitment and retention practices, and workplace strategies to serve as an employer. Adding to the challenge, is the complex and competitive compensation packages that private and public sectors offer qualified candidates. The City of Santa Clara must compete within this context and offers competitive compensation packages to recruit and retain employees, as demonstrated in several negotiated labor agreements and ability to hire top talent. Santa Clara has, and deserves, top talent: I have been mindful with maintaining this long-practice. My record is consistent with that practice and, indeed, it is no surprise that surrounding cities have referred to our City team as the “A Team,” and that for sure is a FACT!

In community spirit,

Deanna J. Santana
City Manager

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