City CIO Resigns After Accusation of Being “In Cahoots” with Verizon

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Palo Alto’s former Chief Information Officer, has been accused of having an unethical influence in the recent decision to have 11 new Verizon towers installed in residential neighborhoods, The Mercury News reported. The city council made the agreement with Verizon in May of 2018, with a 6-3 vote. Since then, they have received 20 letters from residents detailing reasons to repeal the decision, with the accusations against the CIO, Jonathan Reichental, being the common theme.

Resident Jeanne Fleming wrote to the state Fair Political Practices Commission, accusing Reichental of breaking a California state gift law by taking 114 total days of trips over a four-year span, with some of the travel funded by telecom companies working within Palo Alto. Days after Fleming’s accusation went public, Reichental resigned. Francesca Kautz, another resident fighting the tower agreement, wrote to the council saying, “If Mr. Reichental is in cahoots with the telecommunications industry, the citizens of Palo Alto did not get a fair shake when fighting and appealing the Verizon cell node issue.”  

City Attorney Molly Stump said Reichental had no unethical involvement in the decision, and said the council will not be able to cancel their agreement with Verizon, as the telecom company already has the necessary permits to move forward. According to the News, Mayor Liz Kniss is in favor of the Verizon plans, and explained how thorough the council was in making their decision. Kniss said the allegations against Reichental are only a convenient reason to try and halt the tower installations, when most residents raising complaints never wanted them to go up in the first place.

Councilman Tom DuBois is in favor of rehearing the agreement in order to “protect the city from a lawsuit,” by reassuring residents there was no foul play in the final decision. The city council assures the public that Reichental had nothing to do with their decision to move forward with the Verizon agreement, and the commission is still deliberating on whether or not they will investigate the complaint.  Comments? Email us.  

December 4, 2018