James Keene says goodbye after decade in charge | January 4, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 4, 2019

James Keene says goodbye after decade in charge

Palo Alto city manager concludes his final week at City Hall

by Gennady Sheyner

James Keene's tenure as Palo Alto's city manager began in September 2008 on the most inauspicious of notes: a global economic collapse that plunged the city's budget into the red zone and forced difficult conversations about layoffs and service cuts.

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Comments

12 people like this
Posted by Waving Goodbye
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 28, 2018 at 2:37 pm

From the PA Weekly....
>On Dec. 17, his final meeting, the council gave him a standing ovation...and references to Keene as a "philosopher leader," "inspiring poet" and a "bodhisattva."
>Marc Berman, a former city councilman, called Keene a "laid-back Zen master," while Councilman Greg Scharff called him a "Renaissance man."
>Klein recalled. "Where I saw a problem, Jim saw an opportunity."
>"Jim has dedicated many years of work to the public sector for the right reasons," Perez said at the Dec. 6 event.

More kudos and accolades to our outgoing City Manager. Quite a legacy.

>"It went by really fast," Keene said. "But I also feel like I've been here forever."

It sure seems that way.


121 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 28, 2018 at 3:08 pm

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2018 at 7:00 pm

>> >"It went by really fast," Keene said. "But I also feel like I've been here forever."

;-)


106 people like this
Posted by Operations Manager
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 29, 2018 at 10:49 am

Horrible, horrible job.
The town was much better off in 2008.
It went downhill fast under his tenure.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of The Greenhouse
on Dec 29, 2018 at 12:29 pm

I disagreed with Keene on his embrace of commercial development and a number of other things, but anyone who claims the city was generally better off under Frank Benest as city manager has a short memory.
In 2008, the city had structural deficits even during an upturn and we had recent huge, unsustainable pensions and retiree benefit increases that the prior council had approved, along with pretty flat revenue. The streets had become second rate. There was no plan or funding for infrastructure needs. The number of city employees had been growing steadily. There was not a strong emergency preparedness program. The city’s IT system was a joke. The fire department was inefficient and calling its own shots. There was no plan and no funding to addtythe creek flooding. Then the Great Recession hit as soon as Keene arrived. These things are all now in much better shape and the city is a leader in addressing climate change, as well. No small achievements.
We are a community with high expectations, as we should be, but we should look at the whole picture rather defining everything as being half empty. It is surprising to us on the inside, but from the outside others routinely admire Palo Alto in many ways, including the caliber of our city government and Keene is considered top notch.
Be careful what you wish for.


128 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Addison School
on Dec 29, 2018 at 12:53 pm

I find it hard to believe that an informed person would admire the caliber of Palo Alto’s city government.


121 people like this
Posted by Money for the future
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 29, 2018 at 12:59 pm

He gave himself a financial loophole for the future by giving an open money pot to the Enlightenment Institute. (calling it Expenses).
He has well funded himself for the future.

It is this "Institute" that dubbed him a "philosopher leader" and other highflown nonsense.


119 people like this
Posted by JCP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 31, 2018 at 11:19 am

JCP is a registered user.

Keene also played an important part in creating the Castilleja mess by allowing them to stop reducing enrollment for several years while they planned their ridiculous expansion plans. Castilleja played him like a fiddle, stroking his ego by asking him to teach a city government class. And he never pushed to audit enrollment, taking Castilleja’s word, even after years of lies.


119 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 31, 2018 at 11:32 am

The majority of Palo Alto citizens will not miss him. It's unlikely his successor will be much better.

Sadly,real change unlikely on all fronts.


112 people like this
Posted by clawback
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2018 at 7:24 pm

As is common practice against CEO's who retire from publicly traded companies there should be a clawback provision against Mr. Keene's compensation in the event there is a judgement against the City for negligence on Ross Road. The public should not have to pay this.


16 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 3, 2019 at 11:30 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Since Mr. Keene is on the board of CoolBlocks and Palo Alto's program and program manager are so prominently featured on the CoolBlocks site, it looks like Mr. Keene and his legacy will still be here. Web Link

Many still remember the outcry about how CoolBlocks was redundant because it duplicated other neighborhood and city efforts yet it -- and he -- remain.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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