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NewsGovernmentResolved: Tom Williams VS. City of Milpitas

Resolved: Tom Williams VS. City of Milpitas

It’s been a long road for ex-Milpitas City Manager Tom Williams.

In 2016, Mayor Rich Tran ran for his first term partially on a platform of holding Williams accountable, as by then Williams had routinely been presented in a negative light by the press, shown as a leader whose staff members sometimes left amid conflict, waging lawsuits against the City and/or going on the record with critical remarks.

Williams’ defenders argue that news reports about him made him into a caricature, highlighting key conflicts with staff members but not taking into account his overall job performance.

When Tran’s first term started in 2017, his campaign promise was not forgotten. In 2017, after Williams dipped into the City’s funds to cover his own legal fees, the level of scandal around him reached a boiling point. His resignation followed.

In the meantime, however, according to Williams, his reign as City Manager had grown increasingly taxing prior to this misappropriation, with him showing up at work to face age discrimination (allegedly directly from the mayor) and retaliation, among other things.

After resigning, Williams demanded over $1 million from the City of Milpitas. The presence of the resulting case persisted through Tran’s first term, stirring resentment on the City Council and raising questions among the public as the calendar wrapped back around to a new election season.

However, the arbitration proceedings have ended.

The outcome? Tom Williams will get $1,372, to cover part of his cell phone bills from his time at Milpitas City Hall.

The arbitrator’s conclusion hinged in large part on the indisputable fact that Williams had misappropriated taxpayers’ money to cover his legal expenses, the discovery of which preceded his resignation. Cited events from before that juncture had less bearing on the case’s outcome.

Multiple witnesses did frame Tran’s behavior and comments around Williams as inappropriate, but in the end, the arbitrator did not accumulate sympathy for Williams himself.

Quietly, with the transfer of this low sum, the age of Tom Williams at Milpitas City Hall will end. Mr. Williams currently works as the City Manager in Millbrae, his hometown.


Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro
Eric Shapiro is a writer & filmmaker. As a screenwriter, he’s won a Fade In Award and written numerous feature films in development by companies including WWE, Mandalay Sports Media, Game1, and Select Films. He is also the resident script doctor for Rebel Six Films (producers of A&E’s “Hoarders”). As a journalist, Eric’s won a California Journalism Award and is co-owner and editor of The Milpitas Beat, a Silicon Valley newspaper with tens of thousands of monthly readers that has won the Golden Quill Award as well as the John Swett Award for Media Excellence. As a filmmaker, Eric’s directed award-winning feature films that have premiered at the Fantasia Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, and Shriekfest, and been endorsed by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Eric’s apocalyptic novella “It’s Only Temporary” appears next to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” on Nightmare Magazine’s list of the 100 Best Horror Novels of All Time. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Rhoda, and their two sons.


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