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During his campaign for Mayor, Vince Lago expressed his desire to change the culture at City Hall.
Residents had long been voicing concerns over some members of staff’s lack of respect and lack of responsiveness to their calls and emails.
At the last Commission meeting, in a unanimous vote, the Commission approved a new Code of Conduct for staff addressing some of these resident concerns.
However, since Lago taking office, the City has started to see staffing changes. Some via resignations, some via retirements and some via termination. The changes have come from the clerical level all the way to department heads.
Public Services Division Director
Brook Dannemiller was the City’s Public Services Division Director in Landscape Services. Dannemiller had long been bumping heads with residents over the department’s lack of protection of the City’s tree canopy. In 2015, Dannemiller had opined that the City’s oldest live oak tree on Lisbon street had less than two years of life left and should be cut down, a move that would have benefited a developer who sought to tear the tree down in order to build three homes on a single lot. Residents on Lisbon Street fought the decision and with Lago’s help save the tree and secured two lots for a pocket park (Lisbon Park). Dannemiller resigned in May and has been replaced by Deena Bell Llewellyn.
Assistant Public Works Director for the Sustainable Infrastructure Division
Jessica Keller was the City’s Assistant Public Works Director for the Sustainable Infrastructure Division. Keller was a proponent of growing the City’s bike lanes and sidewalks, an agenda that often conflicted with the desires of residents who lived in the affected areas. She had numerous heated exchanges with residents, including a public one at a City bike path meeting on Alhambra Circle with residents of the street who opposed the project. The Commission voted against the project that had little support from the residents on the street. Keller was terminated by City Manager Peter Iglesias in June. Keller’s position will not be filled.
Assistant Public Works Director for the Solid Waste Division
Al Zamora was the Assistant Public Works Director for the Solid Waste Division. Under Zamora’s tenure the issues with solid waste, garbage pickup and recycling pickup grew exponentially. Residential bulk waste and recycling pickup would sometimes be a week delayed. Staffing issues, poor fleet management and management in general led to increased resident complaints over trash and recycling pickup. Zamora retired in August.
More Changes Coming
Sources at City Hall inform Gables Insider that more changes are forthcoming as the City seeks to improve on its customer service and its performance on its official duties.