Santa Clara News Bites: COO, PLO and SVO

Santa Clara News Bites:  COO, PLO and SVO

By Robert Haugh

Here are some interesting items we’ve come across:


Santa Clara’s new City Manager Deanna Santana is hitting the ground running. She won’t start until October, but Santana has already hired three top people. Last week, we reported on the hiring of Scott McKibben (Stadium Manager) and Manuel Pineda (Assistant City Manager).

Yesterday, it was announced that she hired Walter Rossmann as Chief Operating Officer. He’s the current Assistant City Manager for Sunnyvale. For those of keeping score at home, Santa Clara just hired away Sunnyvale’s three top people: Santana, Rossman and Pineda. Sunnyvale has a reputation for being one the best managed cities in California, so this is like getting three All Pro free agents to join your team. We’re wondering if Mayor Lisa Gillmor let Sunnyvale Mayor Glenn Hendricks know about this by text.


We think Santa Clara is up for grabs in the 2018 Santa Clara County Supervisorial race to succeed termed-out incumbent Ken Yeager. One candidate who also thinks so is former San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio (a.k.a. PLO). He took a smart position against lifting the curfew which will really help him with Northside voters.

He’s also showing up at key Santa Clara events. For example, on August 2, he was at the Santa Clara Rotary lunch as the guest of Andy Ratermann, a Santa Clara Unified School District Trustee and Santa Clara Chamber PAC board member.  Ratermann is politically active and well-connected, although as Chamber PAC chair Dave Tobkin told us: “Mr. Ratermann is not a spokesman for the PAC.”


The Silicon Valley Organization (SVO), formerly known as the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce is bustin’ moves in Santa Clara, as we’ve chronicled.

Some good news for SVO: their competition has no CEO right now since the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce parted ways last month with Chris Horton who was hired about a year ago. They’re looking for a replacement. May we suggest someone with event management experience and a spell checker.

Some bad news for SVO: they won’t likely get any money from City Hall.

Community activist Deborah Bress blew the whistle on a potential $15,000 “sponsorship” from the city.

The plot thickened when Bress accused Santa Clara Assistant City Manager Ruth Shikada of doctoring the minutes of an Economic Development Committee meeting to hide the fact that the committee was trying to slyly fund SVO and hide it from the full Council. Bress says she has a tape of the meeting to prove her point. Now, funding for SVO is too hot a political potato to touch. So maybe the Santa Clara Chamber could ask the city for money to hire a CEO search firm — just a thought.




  1. I’m a relative newcomer to the city as a resident. But I’ve worked in other cities so I’m watching what’s happening with an experienced eye. Santa Clara is growing up. The Mayor seems to get it. Either because of the 49ers or major residential and commercial developments, the City needs more talent to handle the challenges. Looks like they went out and got it with the new hires. Residents should be grateful.

    The current city staff has the reputation of being friendly but they’re in over their heads. The stadium audit proved that. I’m guessing this is the beginning not the end of changes that are needed if Santa Clara wants to be able to handle the 49ers and developments in the future.

  2. Sunnyvale has been a well run city for decades. Good for us. If the Rotary is hosting other candidates, I’d like to attend to meet them. We need a good choice.

Leave a Reply