Intern or Chief of Staff? Mayor Davis' Introduction Practice Not Illegal, But Misleading

April 9, 2015 | At his March 27, 2015 State of the City Address, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis made the usual acknowledgements in his openin...

April 9, 2015 |

At his March 27, 2015 State of the City Address, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis made the usual acknowledgements in his opening remarks, with one noteworthy mention. That was for his intern, Teresa Rodriguez.
Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis.

While the mention of his intern was not unusual - after all each council member is allocated one part-time intern if they choose - how the Mayor referred to her was of interest. Rather than calling Rodriguez an intern or assistant,  Davis referred to her as his Chief of Staff.     

The term Chief of Staff connotes several different thing. While the title for people of a certain age conjures images of President Nixon's Chief of Staff H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, more typically it connotes a person who heads a large staff of employees, typically for a high level politician or private sector executive.

To clarify that matter, a public information request was made to the City of Elk Grove to see if the Mayor did have a Chief of Staff as he suggested, and if so a job description for the position. According to information released yesterday, Rodriguez' position is that of an intern.

The document, titled "Consultant Contract for Teresa Rodriguez Intern to Mayor Gary Davis," outlines Rodriguez' pay, terms of the agreement, and legal status for the position. Among other things the contract shows the rate of pay to be $12 an hour not to exceed $8,064 through December 31, 2015, and that Rodriguez' work as Davis' intern is that as a contractor, and not an employee.

According to the contract, the "consultant shall provide administrative serves to City Councilmember ("Mayor") Gary Davis ("Gary Davis")." Nowhere in the document is the intern or consultant position referred to or described as a Chief of Staff, nor does it indicate the position has staff members of the City or Mayor reporting to her.

When asked why he refers to his intern as a Chief of Staff, Davis said the amount of work Rodriguez does for him far exceeds the typical definition of an intern.

"Technically, she is an Intern," Davis acknowledged in an email response. "From my perspective, Chief of Staff is her merited title."  

Although bestowing the title of Chief of Staff on an intern is questionable, there appears to be no labor laws that would put the City of Elk Grove at risk.

That question was posted to Attorney Mark Van Brussel (SB#80777), a partner with Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger. A leading California employer labor law firm, Van Brussell's works in the firm's Sacramento office.

From a legal view, Davis' introduction of Rodriguez as a Chief of Staff generally does not put the City at any practical legal risk should she sue the City in the future. Van Brussel said the introduction did not imply any contract with the City, and if a law were filed based on that, it would likely fail.

While the introduction of Rodriguez does not expose the City to any employment consequences, Van Brussel's said from a practical standpoint, the practice can have negative effects. He noted it could cause resentment with city employees and other interns, and as a matter of public policy, it is a questionable practice on Davis' behalf.

"It is misleading, it hurts the integrity of the Mayor," he added.  


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Integrity is a terrible thing to waste.... said...

At this point, I don't think Davis has any integrity left to hurt. Rodriguez is well and truly tied to Davis' grandiose ideas of Olympic swim trials, major league soccer stadiums and a myriad of other major and minor schemes leading the city down the path of financial disaster. If I were Rodriguez I would be hiding in the shadows and avoiding the questionable limelight. This just may turn out to do her more harm than good.

NOT EOE said...

Davis is certainly not an equal opportunity mayor in doling out his praise. Did anyone catch the report by the Trails Committee last night at the Elk Grove City Council meeting?

Mark Doty was giving the committee’s quarterly report and when Mark wanted to bring up a few criticisms, which were very valid, Davis cut him off. It was clear that Mark had more to say, but Davis just ended it by basically saying, “Thank you for your report. Now go sit down!”

Matt Foley said...

Well, to expand on EOE comments above--the Mayor is once again on a new tangent, this time being light-rail and trails. He starts projects and drops them faster than a short-order cook flipping flapjacks at a truckstop during morning rush hour!

Now to parse those ideas further...he knows that the lack of light rail has hurt the city's economic development efforts, and the council ignored city activists in the past who pushed for it. But now he knows that new sales tax measures, as well as upcoming federal grants will favor transportation projects and pedestrian trails.

So Mr. Doty helped the council lobby voters to pass the upcoming sales tax measures, but once Mr. Doty started criticizing the Developers who already have their plans finalized when they come to the city--well, it was lights out Mr. Doty!

Anonymous said...

Very interesting...have to watch the City Council meeting today on video. Why are our other councilmembers silent when the Mayor silences speakers?

Anonymous said...

Chief of Staff to a mayor?

Can I be the chief emissary to the Kingdom of Zamunda?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:22...Finally did have time to watch the meeting and was glad to see that Mr. Suen did comment/ask a question after our Mayor cut Mark Doty off.

I too caught Mayor Davis' mention of Teresa R. Actually said, "Teresa, OUR Chief of Staff, Partner in crime, etc." Not MY Chief of Staff, but OUR Chief of Staff. Who knows what he meant by "Partner in Crime", rather scary comment I would say. Now we have a Partner in Crime??? Pretty much tells all.......

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

While Mr. Davis appears to be propping up Ms. Rodriguez by inflating her title, I theorize that what he is doing is trying to prop up himself. If he says he has a Chief of Staff, what does it say when his fellow councilmen merely have interns? This title inflation by Mayor Davis is to make him seem more important than his colleagues. I can't imagine Mr. Detrick or Mr. Hume are taking to kindly to this.

Anonymous said...

It's so transparent and obvious. Trust me, he gives this woman a little bit of an ego boost and she works like a dog for him. Late meetings, grunt work, run around assignments.... for what, minimum wage? i've seen him do the same thing for certain "activists" in the past. He makes the ladies feel good and important. They in turn feel empowered and work like mad women for the pet projects. Yes, this undercuts staff. yes, puts them in a very uncomfortable position.

Anonymous said...

It is an insult to this country of our because our city mayor has no integrity and has no creditability with his people. He governed by fear and intimidation. He is a dictator. This is what we got when our polices are committing crimes along with and for corrupted city leaders. Dysfunctional check and balance in our city government.

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