By Robert Haugh
Rumors are swirling at Santa Clara City Hall.
In case you missed it yesterday, Rod Diridon, Jr. said at a city council meeting that he was stepping down.
It’s the way he did it, that’s creating a lot of talk. It reminded a lot of people of the way former Mayor Jamie Matthews suddenly and mysteriously resigned after Super Bowl 50 almost exactly two years ago.
At the beginning of the meeting, Diridon read his resignation letter, shook hands, posed for a photo and left immediately.
Diridon also didn’t disclose where he was going for his next job. The letter he read said “I will be leaving to resume a career in the high tech industry.”
Some people think he’s headed to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. They’re the lobbying group for tech companies. But it’s raised some eyebrows that Diridon hasn’t said where he’s working next.
Also, the fact that he’s stepping down in the middle of a term is raising questions. Diridon was re-elected in November 2016 and was sworn in for this term just 13 months ago.
There’s been speculation for months about the high employee turnover in Diridon’s office over the years. According to multiple sources, there was an evaluation taking place based on employees’ complaints.
Editor’s Note: We received an anonymous letter a couple weeks ago detailing problems with Diridon’s management style. But we declined to print it because it was anonymous and unsubstantiated.
After Diridon suddenly left the council meeting, the council appointed Community Relations Manager Jennifer Yamaguma as “acting city clerk.” It’s a good thing that she has experience having worked as Diridon’s deputy. But now the council will need a Community Relations Manager.
Diridon’s resignation has started talk in the community that Santa Clara should change the way we pick a city clerk. Some people argue that the city manager should appoint the position like she does for other departments, instead of picking a city clerk by an election.
According to the California City Clerks Association, there are 154 elected city clerks in California. But there are only two in Santa Clara County: Santa Clara and Morgan Hill.
In the entire Bay Area, there are only eight elected city clerks. Last year, San Bruno got rid of its elected city clerk. And Belmont is considering moving from elected to an appointed city clerk.
At the next council meeting, the Council will decide how to permanently replace Diridon. We think one of the choices will be to ask Santa Clara voters to get rid of the elected position. That’ll have to be done by voters since it’s a position that’s in the city’s charter. We may see it on the ballot in June, 2018.
It looks like change and reform will continue in the Mission City this year.
Editor’s Note: We attempted to contact Diridon by email and text yesterday. He did not reply. If he does, we will share his side of the story.