City IT chief, under fire for foreign trips, resigns to take job at Oracle

Jonathan Reichental, the city of Palo Alto's former Chief Information Officer

By the Daily Post staff

Jonathan Reichental is stepping down as Palo Alto’s chief information officer to take a position at Oracle days after his frequent foreign trips had come under fire from a resident activist.

But Reichental, in an email to the Post today (Nov. 21), said that over the summer he told his boss, City Manager Jim Keene, he was going to look for a new career opportunity after overseeing the IT department for nearly seven years.

That conversation occurred several months before the controversy arose over 28 trips he took between 2013 and 2017 to places such as China, the French Riviera and New Zealand.

The controversy began Nov. 9 when Jeanne Fleming, who campaigned unsuccessfully against the installation of 11 Verizon antennas, filed a 15-page complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission, or FPPC, against Reichental.

She contends the travel was funded by the telecommunications industry mainly through nonprofit trade groups and is illegal under state laws that prohibit gifts to state and local government officials.

“Dr. Reichental has been using his senior position at City Hall to influence the city’s dealings with the telecommunications industry,” Fleming said. “This includes shaping the city’s response to the applications telecom companies have made to install cell towers in Palo Alto’s residential neighborhoods.”

Reichental told the Post on Nov. 16 that he consulted with the FPPC before accepting the trips, and that he met the state’s criteria.

“I use a lot of my free time for teaching, learning and education,” Reichental said. “The trips I took were generally in consultation with the FPPC advice phone line and met the reimbursement criteria of government, educational or non-for-profit.”

He said he reported all the trips on the financial disclosure document officials must file annually, called a Form 700.

Reichental said he didn’t participate in the decision-making regarding the Verizon antennas because his job involved the city’s IT department, and the antenna applications are handled by a different department.

He added, “I don’t believe any of my trips were paid for by commercial interests in technology and communications.”

But Fleming pointed out that one of his trips was from TMForum, a nonprofit partially funded by AT&T. And AT&T is seeking to install equipment in Palo Alto, Fleming said.

In his email to the Post on Wednesday, Reichental said he is excited about the next chapter in his career.

“About a year ago I started speaking with City Manager Jim Keene about my next career move. After six years, it felt like the right time to begin exploring a variety of career growth opportunities,” Reichental wrote. “This past summer I told Jim that I would be leaving before the end of the year.

“After entertaining several compelling offers, a few months ago I found exactly the right organization and role,” he wrote. “I will be the Global Industry Solutions Leader for Public Sector at Oracle.

“I have enjoyed every moment of my time at the city of Palo Alto. It has been a remarkable privilege for me to serve this warm and engaged community,” Reichental said in his email. “I also got to work with amazing co-workers and a great IT team. Almost seven years to the day I began my journey at the city, I will start my new role at Oracle on Dec 17.”

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


  1. Sure he’s excited about the next chapter of the career. He’s got Palo ALto paying him a cushy pension for life after failing to deliver working systems to the city. Maybe his managers at Oracle will notice whether or not he does his job there because PA’s high-paid “managers” sure didn’t.

  2. Good by….I wont miss you.

    I seem to have missed all the great work you did for the city.

    By any chance…..does the city do alot of business with Oracle??

  3. Thanks for clarifying that this guy is head of IT and not the decision maker on antennas. That leads me to my next question — why does the guy whose job it is to make sure the computers of all those bureaucrats work correctly and run the city webpage have to make all those trips around the world?

  4. Based on his new job title it sounds like he’ll be selling Oracle products to all those people he met on these far-flung trips he did for the City of Palo Alto. A happy ending for him.

  5. 28 trips in four years = One trip every 7 weeks

    When this guy leaves the City, who gets his Frequent Flyer miles?

    And if he’s traveling overseas that off, how did he get the time off of work to do that? Or were these trips “on the clock”?

    How many jobs allow you the opportunity to take a vacation every 7 weeks?

    How do you accomplish anything if, in the midst of an important project, it’s time to take a vacation?

    Where was Jim Keene during all of this? Is he so busy that he can’t supervise his direct reports?

    Why doesn’t City Council ask questions like this?

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