Town Square

Post a New Topic

East Palo Alto to seek new city manager

Original post made on Jul 15, 2014

East Palo Alto will look for a new city manager to replace current manager Magda Gonzalez, the City Council announced at its Tuesday, July 15, meeting.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 9:28 PM

Comments (24)

Posted by Memories, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Can't cherry-pick if there aren't any cherries to pick. Those are facts, and the emails didn't write themselves.R Buh-bye Magda!

Posted by Disenfranchise-EPA, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2014 at 9:20 am

East Palo Alto is too small, and too dysfunctional, to ever hope to be a city in any sense of the word. It would be hard to expect to find anyone who is competent, and rational, to ever hope to be able to make any significant changes in East Palo Alto [portion removed.]

It should disenfranchise itself, and return to unincorporated status in San Mateo County. The County has the resources to help the residents of East Palo Alto deal with the problems that it faces—particularly in the area of law enforcement.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by Paly Momx3, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 16, 2014 at 11:13 am

[Portion removed.]

Good for the citizens of EPA. The power of voice. Keep your strength and determination. You will find a person who has morals and ethics, for there is corruption in EVERY city.. Rich and poor. Time reveals all things.

Keep on demanding what's right for yourselves and the city!


Posted by EPA Mom, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Finally! This is not the first incident which indicated strongly that Ms Gonzalez was not appropriate for EPA. I only hope that the 'professional' headhunter will, perhaps for the very first time, consider the needs and desires of EPA citizens and propose someone who is not only in it for the money and contacts that can be made. EPA needs to be governed from within. Despite the paternalistic and disparaging attitudes held by too many of our neighbors, the expertise does exist within the city to run itself. It is the many parasitic consultants and nonresident employees who make poor decisions and perpetrate the dysfunction.

Posted by appalled at what some people think, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 16, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Just like to note for Disenfranchise-EPA what the Merriam-Websters definition of "disenfranchise" is. It means to take away someones right to vote

dis·en·fran·chise verb \ˌdis-in-ˈfran-ˌchīz\
: to prevent (a person or group of people) from having the right to vote

Full Definition of DISENFRANCHISE

transitive verb
: to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity; especially : to deprive of the right to vote

Posted by laughable, a resident of University South
on Jul 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Finally, a competent city employee who questions the status quo of the economic dysfunctions within the city. The powerful want her out?
[Portion removed.]

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm

Paly Mom - great comment! Corruption, deceit and bias exist at all levels of politics. We need someone who understands and respects our town's history, who understands why we have our rent stabilization laws, who upholds it, whose self-interested is balanced with the skills to carefully steer us in the right direction, while working collaboratively with city council.

The hiring of Gonzalez was in some ways an odd fluke: A mistaken early announcement of her hiring by Ron Davis, who was acting city manager, which resulted in the loss of another solid candidate was a big part of Gonzalez' hiring. Even back during the interview process, there was some concern about hiring her, amongst those tasked with it. We've been reaping what our city government sowed, and it's time to end this lousy cycle.

Posted by EPA Organizer , a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2014 at 1:46 pm

@Laughable, [portion removed.] You apparently know nothing about the history of EPA or the questionable characters that come in and out. You apparently did not read any of the articles or press releases that came out revealing the [portion removed] of Magda Gonzalez. As a city manager Magda had every right to audit any program she so chose. It is her job to evaluate and determine the effectiveness of programs within the city. Yet, her email exchanges, harassment and illegal dealings with landlords, are what ultimately ousted her. Make no mistake, EPA residents have far cried for someone among staff who will stand up and challenge Status Quo. We know that there are others among staff who do not carry they vision of the city. We are watching them too, and hope that justice will prevail in their removal as well. It is easy to sit, laugh and point out flaws in others when you're far removed from the issue. Rethink your position "laughable", challenge your thoughts and actually take a look at what is going on, or miss the beautiful struggle that EPA residents are about to engage in to take back our city.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2014 at 2:19 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by Disenfranchise-EPA, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2014 at 2:22 pm

> shows ignorance and bias ..

Not certain how suggesting that this municipality is too small to be sustainable is ignorant .. but let's look at a few facts--

City Revenue: $18.3M (2014-15)
City Size: 2.5 square miles
Population: 28,155+ people
Assessed Value: ~$2B.

Palo Alto's budget for about twice as many people is now about $160M.

It's very difficult to use simple comparisons of two City's expenditures to compare the management, or other issues. For instance, the Fire and Sewer systems in East Palo Alto are provided by an assessment district. These districts bill the clients via property taxes, so the cost of owning property goes up, but the revenue needed to sustain the town is smaller than if it had to provide these services itself.

The following is an assessment of EPA from the San Mateo LAFCo in 2009:

East Palo Alto:
Web Link

Financial Ability of City to Provide Services

a. While the City has made progress to enhance revenue and
reduce operating costs to close an ongoing structural
budget deficit, it does not contain adequate reserves to
offset sustained economic downturn.

b. Information from the San Mateo County Assessors' Office
indicates that the City's property tax revenue will
continue to decline in the short term and the City
projects that sales tax revenue growth will slow and
remain flat.

c. Due to the structural budget deficit compounded by
economic uncertainties, the City will need to frequently
re-examine and adjust the Adopted Budget and alternatives
including contracting for service to meet the most essential
of city service priorities, particularly public safety.

This LAFCo assessment is about six years old, so perhaps it needs to be brought up to date—but it seems that this important government agency also has opined that EPA probably would not be sustainable in the future.

The following links are for general edification—

Tax Rates For Santa Clara County:
Web Link

City of East Palo Alto Budgets:
Web Link

[Portion removed.]

(Amazing the the Weekly censored the previous post--but that's the price one has to pay to try to converse in a heavily Liberal environment. Free speech for me--but not for thee!)

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2014 at 2:27 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by laughable, a resident of University South
on Jul 16, 2014 at 2:53 pm

EPA Organizer - the only to this cities problem is "Gentrification. " look at the improvement with the removal of Whiskey Gulch area of the city.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Laughable - you're not sticking to the subject, which is the possible ousting of Gonzalez. What do you know about her and her Reign of Error?

Posted by Mark Dinan, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I've lived in East Palo Alto since 2009. Tracking the comments, I really wonder if some of the commentators have spent much time in EPA. My neighbors include a Stanford Professor and her husband, a Marketing VP at a tech startup, a Director at HP, a Director at Yahoo, an Apple Software Engineer, and an EBAY employee. I see hundreds of Google and Facebook employees biking to work along the Bay on my morning walk with my dog on the Bay Trail. East Palo Alto may face the challenges that every city with poverty has, but to imply that it should simply unincorporate and "go away" is ridiculous. East Palo Alto is changing rapidly, and the challenge for the new city manager will be to manage the changes and competing priorities gracefully, not maintain status quo.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Mark - did you forget to mention that honoring the reasons for the City's incorporation are crucial, and that even though you only mention your neighbors who are professionals, that EPA is filled with working class people? Who else are your neighbors - there must be others besides those that you mentioned? Full on gentrification is NOT what the majority want. We don't want to be like all the other Peninsula cities. We treasure diversity - including economic diversity. Latinos are the majority, and the ethnic shift we've experienced in the past 15 years is still manifesting.

A city manager who isn't going to cozy up to big economic interests is crucial. We need someone who can identify the strengths in our diversity, shore that up, and reduce the vulnerabilities that we have. Neutrality with crooked landlords, demanding that if they want a seat at the table requires that they be in compliance with the laws, is paramount. Learning about, understanding and valuing the various city offerings is also important.

The next decade is going to be very important, and we need the right people with the right mix of smarts, experience, sophistication, heart and respect for residents to run the city. This also means that residents need to keep participating in the city's processes. Apply to be on commissions and boards, take some time to learn about city laws, participate in the General Plan meetings, attend city council meetings, vote, demand transparency, let your elected officials and their hires know what matters to you.

Posted by Mark Dinan, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

Hmm - Yes, obviously we have many working class neighbors. We speak Spanish at home, and my neighbors also include Costco employees, school teachers, house cleaners, and gardeners. My larger point to people who have not spent any time here is that it is a diverse community that has many people who don't fit the profile of what "Disinfranchise" sees as EPA.

Posted by not appalled anymore, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm

For more on East Palo Alto's remarkable history see the film Dreams of a City: Creating East Palo Alto. even though made a long time ago still is a good orientation. Can be seen online at Web Link or just Goolge "dreams of a city vimeo" and it will show up

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2014 at 11:11 pm

East Palo Alto's embattled city manager will be replaced, mayor announces

Web Link

Posted by Jealous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2014 at 12:16 am

I wish Palo Alto would wake up and oust the City "Manager."

Posted by Raymond, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2014 at 7:25 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Memories, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Chris Peter, the Equity Residential (EQR) employee who was on the rent board, was kicked off. Hahahahahah!

Posted by Martha Poyatos, LAFCO, a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Seeing that a LAFCo report is quoted, I wanted to clarify that LAFCo made no recommendation that the City dis-incorporate. LAFCo did not opine that the City would not be sustainable in the future. The report identified challenges for the City that were not unique to the City of East Palo Alto, in particular at the onset recession. In the coming year LAFCo will revisit municipal service reviews for south county cities. In the meantime readers are encouraged to visit the City's website to view budget, audits and other reports.

Posted by Memories, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2014 at 7:38 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by EPAMom, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 20, 2014 at 8:35 am

I shouldn't be surprised that some EPA outsiders don't even feel the need to hide that fact that their ideal outcome for EPA would be to raze it to the ground, evict everyone, and annex it to Facebook. Clearly the people who live here now, some of whom have lived here for generations, and who provide underpaid labor for the surrounding, privileged communities, don't count for anything. To some, East Palo Alto is nothing but the last affordable real estate in Silicon Valley, ripe for the plucking by those who already have wrung the maximum profit elsewhere. Thank goodness we do have a committed group of people who continue to resist that sickening viewpoint and value the flawed, but rich and unique community here.

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

The dress code
By Jessica T | 26 comments | 2,072 views

September food and drink goings on
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,448 views

Two Days to Save This Dog?
By Cathy Kirkman | 15 comments | 1,278 views

It Depends... Disguising Real Characters in Fiction
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 420 views

Twenty-five years of wedded bliss
By Sally Torbey | 0 comments | 112 views