Anyone paying attention to Los Altos City Council meetings the past few years could see that City Manager Chris Jordan and the council were not getting along. So perhaps it’s not a surprise to learn of Jordan’s resignation.
However, the timing of last week’s announcement is surprising. Jordan’s apparent ouster by the council comes right after an election that saw the ascension of two new council members, Sally Meadows and Jonathan Weinberg. Both were seemingly open to working with the city manager. Potentially, Jordan could have had a council majority on his side to continue in his position.
This is a personnel issue, so the details of negotiations behind the resignation are not publicly available. But Jordan’s guarded comments last week revealed he was interested in staying and the council wasn’t on board.
This is an ill-advised move. Why not let the new council members settle in and leave the decision to them?
We found Jordan’s assertiveness refreshing, even as he was criticized for overstepping his authority. It’s a fine line for a city manager to walk with any council. Picture five bosses with no idea how government functions learning on the job. It’s Jordan’s job to inform them even as he’s taking orders.
Jordan had successes and failures during his four years in Los Altos. On one hand, he saw the approval of a new community center after residents endured decades of substandard facilities. On the other, some items stalled, such as progress on the Emergency Operations Center – a council priority this year.
While Jordan fell short of council members’ expectations, their behavior toward him was sometimes less than respectful. The situation got so bad that a group of former mayors assembled last year and told the council to knock it off.
We see Jordan’s leaving as just as much a failure of the current council as of Jordan himself. Now, a newly elected council is tasked with coming in and hiring a successor – a challenge new council members shouldn’t have had to take on. Good luck.