Cupertino mayor wanted to ‘wait’ before disclosing city manager’s abrupt resignation

The revolving door at Cupertino City Hall continues with the abrupt resignation of Jim Throop, the third city manager in four years to quit his job.

After a six-hour council meeting and shortly after midnight on June 22, Jim Throop tendered his resignation, stating that he had “decided to retire from local public service”. Throop, whose last day will be July 22, came to Cupertino after a three-and-a-half-year stint as city manager of Lompoc in Santa Barbara County. He was only at Cupertino for six months.

Throop did not respond to a request for comment from this news agency.

In a statement, pro-housing group Cupertino For All called his resignation a “scathing indictment of the current leadership of the city council.”

“Cupertino residents should replace the current members of the Better Cupertino-affiliated council with people who understand grassroots governance, the role of the city council in our council form of government, and the importance of working with staff in a cooperative, productive and respectful spirit. way,” the release reads in reference to the slow-growing group that has backed several current board members.

The council has already offered the top job in town to the finalist candidate found in the recent recruiting. According to a recent press release, the candidate has accepted the position, but negotiations are ongoing. And, although the city announced that it had “retained” former acting city manager Greg Larson as a consultant to help with the transition beginning July 5, it was unable to produce a signed agreement with him, and the city attorney said negotiations are still ongoing. .

To add to the mystery of Throop’s impending departure, Mayor Darcy Paul asked him to keep the decision secret, according to an email obtained by this news outlet.

Within two hours of Throop’s email, Paul responded and copied city attorney Chris Jensen asking if they could “wait until we make a public announcement” about his resignation. so that the board can first “meet and talk”.

“For the stability of the city, it makes sense to work together on an announcement or press release,” Paul wrote. “I predict we could reverse the trend within a week.”

The city sent out a press release two days later announcing the city manager’s departure. The mayor did not respond to a request for comment and instead posed questions to Jensen who said the city wanted to delay the announcement until they had a chance to meet to discuss recruiting. a new city manager.

While the decision to suspend the announcement of Throop’s resignation does not violate any law, it does raise issues of transparency and public trust, First Amendment Coalition Executive Director David Snyder said.

From the perspective of good government, he said “timely transparency is almost always the best course.”

“The public is always best served when public agencies are open and quick to make major changes like this,” Snyder added. “It only serves to foster distrust of the government when it unnecessarily delays change in city policy or staffing.”

In addition to Throop and the three former city managers, Cupertino had three acting city managers since 2018.

A 2020 audit by Campbell-based consultancy Moss Adams found city governance to be the second highest risk factor for the city.

According to the auditors, the city “has no strategic plan and the council sometimes operates at a more operational than strategic level, focusing on immediate actions and implementation details rather than setting strategic goals at a later date. long term”.

“This contributes to a responsive environment where staff priorities can change based on the interests of the board,” the audit said.