Should Fremont have a full-time council?

Councilmember Anu Natarajan thinks so. But she might be the only one. The city council has agreed to consider the idea, but likely will shelve it. Mayor Wasserman said Tuesday that he doesn’t want to be a full-time mayor. Bill Harrison and Bob Wieckowski don’t seem too keen on the idea either.
I suspect Harrison would rather be a part-time mayor down the line than a full-time councilmember. And Wieckowski is a bankruptcy lawyer. Why would he go full-time city council during the worst economic crisis in decades?

Natarajan does make some interesting points.

I worked for a couple of years in Berkeley, which has kind of hybrid system. The council members don’t get paid that much, and don’t work full-time, but they do have staff members who make more than they do and deal with policy and constituent matters. Council members are expected to initiate more policy proposals than in Fremont.

I’m sure some people would say staffers are a waste of money, but, hey, once you reach a point where every full-time firefighter makes more than 100k, it’s hard to play cheapskate on a relatively minor expense?

In Berkeley, the staff members had offices at City Hall, and their functions were very much a product of their boss. One councilman — a real lefty — basically ran a social services operation out of his office. I remember his staff member helping a needy person move.

Another council member, who was a retired scientist, basically ran a shadow staff out of his office, employing interns to produce spreadsheets crunching data on various city issues.

Most had them working on constituent services, so people prickly Berkeley voters wouldn’t hate them too much.

The best thing about council staffers is they usually like to gossip with people like me. They’re in City Hall all the time, they’re politically-minded people, but they’re allegiances aren’t with the city manager. I miss them.

Matt Artz