, June 24, 2022

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Vallejo losing assistant HR director as city hall exodus continues

  •   3 min reads
Vallejo losing assistant HR director as city hall exodus continues
Vallejo City Hall.

VALLEJO – Turnover in Vallejo City Hall continues as Assistant Human Resources Director Stephanie Sifuentes is leaving this month, city spokesperson Christina Lee confirmed to the Vallejo Sun.

Sifuentes didn’t immediately respond to questions about where she is headed but her departure comes as the HR department has undergone significant change, including losing two HR directors over the past 15 months.

The city has turned to Beauchaine Consulting to provide assistance with several HR-related issues after HR Director Mark Love left at the beginning of the year. The Vallejo City Council will be asked to approve a second amendment to the contract with Beauchaine on Tuesday. If approved, the total compensation will reach $150,000.

City Hall originally approved a $50,000 contract with Beauchaine Consulting in January, with the city agreeing to a $49,000 increase in April. Until this week, the $99,000 contract was $1,000 shy of the $100,000 threshold requiring city council approval. The contract was expected to end on June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Beauchaine Consulting, which already works on employee and labor relations issues, is being asked to provide additional work, including “bargaining support for negotiations with employee labor groups, which will require more time than previously anticipated,” Assistant City Manager Terrance Davis, who is also serving as interim HR director, wrote in a staff report to the council.  Davis was originally hired to serve as the city’s public works director before being tapped to serve as assistant city manager.

The council will be asked on Tuesday to approve the $51,000 increase and extension of the contract to Dec. 31, 2022.

The mass exodus of city staff started when Heather Ruiz accepted the HR director position with the city of Napa in March 2021.

Ruiz’s departure came after she was named in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by three former top Vallejo City Hall employees who claimed then-City Manager Greg Nyhoff fired them because they raised concerns about Nyhoff’s behavior.

Love, who was first hired as assistant HR director in November 2019, became interim HR director after Ruiz left. Then-interim City Manager Anne Cardwell promoted Love to permanent HR director in July 2021 as one of her first acts after securing the interim city manager position.

That barely lasted six months as Love departed Vallejo in January 2022.

Sifunetes began as a senior personnel analyst with the city in November 2018, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was elevated to HR program manager in February 2019 before being named as assistant HR director in October 2021.

City announces search for new deputy police chief

More than eight months after Deputy Police Chief Michael Kihmm was fired, the city announced last week that it's looking to fill the empty position.

Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams terminated Kihmm in October 2021 allegeding that he failed to alert Williams to a personnel matter in a timely manner. Williams also accused Kihmm of conducting exit interviews with departing officers even after Williams told him to stop.

Kihmm said his termination was “false” and “unfounded” in a letter he wrote requesting that a notice of termination written by Williams be removed from his personnel file. His firing came the same week that Williams hired Jason Ta to fill the second deputy police chief position.

All three men served together at the San Jose Police Department before Williams left and recruited Kihmm to Vallejo.

The new deputy police chief will earn between $186,000 to $227,163 in annual salary plus benefits.

Facing a depleted command structure, the department successfully lobbied the city council to create another deputy police chief position in November 2020. At the time, two of the department’s three police captains were out on leave, creating a vacuum at the top.

Vallejo only has two captain positions filled now, but Capt. Jason Potts is slated to leave the city by the end of the week while Capt. Todd Tribble has been on leave since shortly before revelations in March that he and his brother former Lt. Kent Tribble had bent the tips of officers’ badges after shooting incidents.

The Vallejo Police Officers’ Association represents all police officials from officers to captains. The new deputy police chief positions, like Williams, are not represented by the union.

The special meeting of the Vallejo City Council is scheduled for 7 p.m., Tuesday inside the Vallejo City Hall Council Chambers, 555 Santa Clara St.

Members of the public will be able to participate in-person or remotely via Zoom.

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