News

Palo Alto's chief information officer to depart

Jonathan Reichental accepts job at Oracle

Palo Alto Chief Information Officer Jonathan Reichental plans to resign from his position next month to take on a new role at Oracle, the Weekly has learned.

Reichental was hired by the city in October 2011 and has been at the forefront of the city's various tech initiatives, including the implementation of the PaloAlto311, a website that allows residents to lodge complaints; the installation of Wi-Fi at all public facilities; and the city's Open Data platform, a public database of the city's budget, employee salaries, infrastructure and building permits, as well as many other data sets.

He also has been City Hall's leading evangelist for upgrading technology. He led City Hall's conversion from desktop computers to laptops and tablets; renovated the Information Technology Department to create an open floor plan; and has advocated for improving the Council Chambers by installing new LED screens and upgrading the outdated broadcast system. Despite his urging, the council balked at the $2-million renovation earlier this year, opting to pursue the needed improvements gradually and on a piecemeal basis.

During his tenure, Reichental has balanced his duties as chief information officer with various speaking and teaching engagements, including stints as a professor at UC Berkeley, Duke University and University of San Francisco.

Reichental also has been a frequent speaker at technology conferences, a habit that prompted a resident to file a formal complaint against him recently with the Fair Political Practices Commission. The complaint alleges that Reichental has violated the state's gift laws by allowing entities from the telecommunications industry to pay for his trips. The complaint states that between 2013 and 2017, Reichental took at least 28 trips that were paid for by enterprises outside of the city. His statements of economic interests list trips to Dubai, Ecuador, Ireland and Germany, among others.

The complaint also points to a trip to China that, according to Reichental's statement of economic interests, was paid for by TMForum, a trade association of telecommunication companies. When asked about this trip, Reichental told the Weekly the trip was actually paid for by the Municipality of Yinchuan, China and that TM Forum was an event coordinator. He said he made a few clerical errors on his forms and that he intends to fix them by filing amendments.

"All the trips were reported and permissible under FPPC rules," Reichental said in an email to the Weekly. "It's my normal process to call the FPPC advice line before I commit to trips to ensure they are compliant."

He also noted that he never gets paid for the trips.

The complaint against Reichental was filed by Jeanne Fleming, who has vociferously opposed Verizon's effort to install wireless equipment on local utility poles (she unsuccessfully appealed Verizon's application for 11 installations, which the City Council approved in March). She pointed to Reichental's involvement on the city's Connected Cities working group, which reviews telecommunication projects, and to emails that she obtained through a Public Records Act request that show executives from AT&T and Crown Castle asking Reichental for advice with their applications (there is no evidence in the packet of emails, which the Weekly has reviewed, that suggest Reichental had expedited these projects).

As of Wednesday afternoon, the FPPC has not determined whether the complaint against Reichental warrants an investigation. On Monday night, Galena West, chief of the FPPC's Enforcement Division, informed Fleming that the agency will need additional time, beyond the initial 14-day period, to determine whether additional investigation is appropriate.

"Please be advised that, at this time, we have not made any determination about the validity of the allegations you have made or about the culpability, if any, of the person you identify in your complaint," West wrote to Fleming.

City Manager James Keene plans to formally announce Reichental's departure next week, just days after the city announced the resignation of Fire Chief Eric Nickel, who is leaving in January to serve as fire chief in Santa Barbara. Reichental will work as Oracle's global industry solutions leader for the public sector.

Reichental told the Weekly that he began discussing his next career move with City Manager James Keene about a year ago. Over the summer he informed Keene his plan to leave at the end of the year to pursue other career-growth opportunities.

"I did briefly entertain several opportunities, but finally a few months ago I found exactly the right organization and role," Reichental said. "Serving the community of Palo Alto has been an honor and a privilege. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity Jim provided me, and I will take the most amazing experiences and memories with me."

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Comments

34 people like this
Posted by Jim’s crew
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2018 at 8:52 pm

This is an embarrassment that the city paid this person to make speeches about what? Going from desktops to laptops and PA311 that we just learned from an audit that the complaints go nowhere.

I bet “Jim” gave this fellow an “experience” of a lifetime

You are welcome

Please we do not need a digital screens purchasing director so I would NOT get a replacement to do that


36 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 21, 2018 at 10:30 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

As per the auditor's report etc., so many of the systems he was responsible for don't work but Mr. Keene praised him in recent media coverage and bemoaned not being able to afford to pay more for top-quality staff.

I guess it's supposed to be fine we don't get what we pay for while the city continues to demand more money from us,

"The complaint against Reichental was filed by Jeanne Fleming, who has vociferously opposed Verizon's effort to install wireless equipment on local utility poles... She pointed to Reichental's involvement on the city's Connected Cities working group, which reviews telecommunication projects, and to emails that she obtained through a Public Records Act request that show executives from AT&T and Crown Castle asking Reichental for advice with their applications..." (

Remember the CC cell tower meeting where the telecom execs bragged about their $1M NATIONAL cell tower safety research? I remember being amazed that no one questioned the research findings since people familiar with industry research know that amount is a pittance -- way less than PA spends, for example, on CC Chambers and city hall "wayfinding" systems.

Where's the accountability?


23 people like this
Posted by That was Fast
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 22, 2018 at 7:15 am

I guess we owe Oracle thanks for taking this guy off our hands. But he's not the first Palo Alto executive accused of wrongdoing who landed overnight at Oracle. That honor belongs to Mark Hurd, who was accused of filing false expense reports while CEO of HP in 2010 along with sexual harassment. Hurd is now CEO of Oracle, so Jonathan needn't worry that his own checkered past will be any problem there.

Kind of makes one proud not to work at Oracle.


24 people like this
Posted by Former HP Employee
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 22, 2018 at 8:41 am

> This is an embarrassment that the city paid this person to make speeches about what? Going from desktops to laptops and PA311 that we just learned from an audit that the complaints go nowhere.

Another unecessary and costly CPA position? How much was his salary + CalPERS?

> That honor belongs to Mark Hurd, who was accused of filing false expense reports while CEO of HP in 2010 along with sexual harassment. Hurd is now CEO of Oracle,

The demise of the 'HP Way' began with a previous CEO after William Hewlett & David Packard stepped down as key corporate decisionmakers. The everyday work environment was never the same & the company eventually spun-off into two different units (HP & Agilent).






20 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 22, 2018 at 9:47 am

Online Name is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


31 people like this
Posted by Former HP Employee
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 22, 2018 at 10:11 am

> Teaching other govt employees to deliver non-working systems that waste taxpayers' time and money globally?

> "Reichental was paid $243,360 last year. Including benefits, his total compensation came to $321,660, according to Transparent California."

Absolutely incredible. And now it's on to another high-paying consultant job based in part on his stunning credentials and background assisting the City of Palo Alto fulfill its 'information' needs.

Who does the hiring at City Hall and are there any comprehensive performance reviews actually involved? Most workers are held accountable via specified objectives that are established by their superiors.

Apparently some of this criteria is waived once an individual rises up the 'food chain' in certain municipalities and establishes various 'connections' along with a reputation as an 'expert' in his/her chosen field.

We'll just attribute this to the 'politics' of high-paying jobs/titles VS actual performance.


9 people like this
Posted by Former Employee
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 22, 2018 at 11:17 am

Fired employees who are capable but blow whistle or make suggestions. From Fleming's dark days to now.The Bureaucracy hasn't change a bit.

Hired and promoted those who are Yes men or fit their political agenda thrive!

The Palo Alto office politics has never changed!!!



Like this comment
Posted by MIT Electrical Engineer MD
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 22, 2018 at 11:27 am

[Portion removed.]

On to the issue of 5 G. This issue is identical to that of the tobacco industry in the last century. It is known that this will cause serious health issues including cancers, disruption of he blood brain barrier, disruption in our cells
and inter cellular communication), causes changes in he off springs' brains, yet Palo Alto passed the 5 g requests (how many junkets were given out?). . For those of you interested on 5 G's catastrophic effects on our health and wellbeing, you can check my podcast on Occupy Health on VoiceAmerica.com with Ms Pu. Tighten your seat belts because serious trouble is coming due to our junket taking city council Web Link


18 people like this
Posted by peppered
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2018 at 11:31 am

peppered is a registered user.

Happens every year. All the way from the city to the school disrict: hire high priced people, pay a lot, generous perks, watch them screw up, watch them leave. Nice pension package, lifetime health benefits for them and their family.

It's the Palo Alto Process. Thanks for paying. Now and decades into the future. They appreciate it!


19 people like this
Posted by sarah Wu
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 22, 2018 at 11:55 am

Is the other useless Keene recruit Gil Friend still there? that's another costly "investment" in aggrandizing the City of Palo Alto as an innovative modern city at a great expense and no benefits to residents


29 people like this
Posted by Revolving door again
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 22, 2018 at 11:59 am

The City Manager's office is a perfect breeding ground for those who want to use their city jobs as a stepping stone to corporate jobs, and who then come to the city for privileges (will he do it too?)
e.g.,
Steve Emslie now works for developers likeCastilleja
Richard Hackman, now works for the President Hotel developer. The city manager told them it is ok to go ahead -but it isn't.

other city officials:
Judy Kleinberg now heads the Chamber of Commerce
Jean McCown heads Stanford's mega development
Eric Rosenblum, Palantir executive was on PTC
Keen's association with the"Empowerment Institute"
Drew Maran (Construction co.) was on the ARB
Daniel Garber now a developer was on ARB


12 people like this
Posted by MIT electrical engineer, MD
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 22, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Another example. A PR person for the police department for $120,000 a year plus benefits. The police caption was astounded when I posted that this was an extremely poor use of money which he said was decided by the City council


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 22, 2018 at 12:22 pm

I watched Reichental in action over his years here. He did a lot of good during his time with the city. Before him, the IT department was not very good, even compared to other cities. They were very old school, lacked innovation and cost the city a lot of money due to bad decisions. Reichental probably saved the city millions through avoiding costly, bad IT decisions that were too common before he arrived.
It’s unfair and irresponsible for posters to make a bunch of groundless accusations and claims. Reichental was a highly regarded IT exec before taking a salary cut to come work for the city. He did so out of a passion to make government more innovative. He has been recognized repeatedly as one of the top CIO’s in the country, and one of the few in that group who are in government. That’s what his peers and experts think of him. On top of that, he seems to have goodwill and good values.
BTW, as the article makes clear to anyone who reads it, the city did not pay for his time or expenses for his speeches. Also, as expensive as employees are in this region, he was not at all overpaid for the competitive market. He made more before coming here and he will be in high demand in the private sector.


12 people like this
Posted by Verbena
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 22, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Verbena is a registered user.

You can look up CPA salaries using Palo Alto's Open Data: Web Link

You can also look up CA pensions here: Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 22, 2018 at 1:48 pm

It is true that the IT department was not very good before the current Director appeared—even though we are constantly told by our City Council that the City only hires “the best people”. The question becomes—is the IT department better now that this fellow has been on the job for several years?

Anyone who has worked in the technology sector will have a lot of exposure to both good and bad IT departments. It’s not hard to come to a meaningful decision about the quality of such a group quickly. On the other hand, it would be nice to have every department in an organization come under a periodic review by either the organization’s audit department or an outside audit group. While Palo Alto does have an audit group, its effectiveness is always subject to question. They did do an audit several years ago on computer security (if memory serves). The results were not favorable, and a “security manager” (or some such) was hired. There was no follow-up audit a couple years later, so it’s not clear if this “security manager” was needed, or ever achieved any meaningful increases in the security of the City’s computing environment.

There are so many problems trying to run a City government along the same lines as a private sector organization of similar size. Too many employee privacy protections that all anything from incompetence to malfeasance to go undetected, or unreported. So, having meaningful audits that were open to public review just doesn’t happen to provide the public the accountability that we expect from “self-government”.

The responsibility for ensuring that departments are functioning up to expectation lies on the shoulders of the City Manager. Sadly, our Council can not direct the City Manager to do much. All the Council can do is ultimately hire, or fire, the CM. Given that the current City Manager is costing us about $450K a year, it’s really hard to see that we are getting our money’s worth.


5 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 22, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

There’s a huge libertarian strain in high tech plus a broader right leaning anti civil service vibe, so this guy is more typical than not.
Democracy has been hacked. By capital.


10 people like this
Posted by Oracle
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 22, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Jonathan Reichental will be joining recently resigned City of Palo Alto Development Services Director Peter Pirnejad at Oracle.
Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Jim’s crew
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2018 at 8:29 pm

From an article about Pirnejad apparently there is career building going, by spending time with our “community needs” these tech “chiefs” and developers go out to create products presumably to sell back to us. Maybe they can at least leave a Memo about what “needs” they have identified- or is that Oracle property now.

What a racket.

Web Link

“Those are the kinds of functions Oracle is pursuing with its new platform, Oracle Public Sector Community Development. As strategy director for that project, Pirnejad will be charged with working with stakeholders — often, local government leaders — to understand their needs and then communicate those back to the rest of the team at Oracle to help guide the progress of the product.“


Like this comment
Posted by Reality Check
a resident of University South
on Nov 24, 2018 at 4:38 pm

[Post removed; duplicate post]


12 people like this
Posted by citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2018 at 11:17 pm

So he's the guy responsible for those huge screens in the City Hall lobby?
What an incredible waste of money. They display vacuous pictures of no interest.
City Manager spent many MILLIONS of dollars on that remodel.


23 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 26, 2018 at 8:59 am

Online Name is a registered user.

That city hall "wayfinding" display was $4,500,000; it's pretty hard to forget such an absurdly high number or the concept of needed such costly help in navigating the 1st floor of one building.

Still waiting comments from our city officials and city council members on all his non-working systems that wasted our time posting complaints that went nowhere and wasting out tax dollars while they asked for money money from us. Anyone??


12 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 27, 2018 at 9:25 am

Posted by Verbena, a resident of Ventura

>>You can look up CPA salaries using Palo Alto's Open Data: Web Link
>> You can also look up CA pensions here: Web Link

Yeah, it is always amusing to look up the top management salaries in the $291K-$480K range including benefits, all the Fire-related salaries+benefits upwards of $250K, and compare to the now-outsourced-to-Team-Sheeper ~$3K-$6K Swim Instructor/Lifeguard. Boy, it sure was important to save money by outsourcing those lifeguards.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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