Fremont City Council and a sprinkler system that wasn’t installed

maroof2I have this story in today’s paper about the owner of a Fremont preschool, who says she’ll have to pay about $65,000 to install a sprinkler system due to a mix-up by the city.

You’ll have to read the story for details.

One thing I left out was that the preschool owner, Maroof Mendez (photographed right), wrote to all of the City Council members about her plight. She told me she never heard back from three of them: Sue Chan, Anu Natarajan and Bob Wieckowski.

She showed me an e-mail correspondence with Mayor Wasserman, in which the mayor essentially passed along her complaint to the City Manager, who already knew about it. The mayor wrote, “I have asked the City Manager to fully investigate the matter and report to the Council.” If that happened, the report wasn’t made in public, nor was a copy given to Mendez.

Lastly, Mendez said that Councilmember Bill Harrison told her he’d look into it, but never got back to her.

I asked Harrison about that, and he said that he asked city staff members about what happened; he felt badly about the mix-up, but felt Mendez wasn’t entitled to anything more than she was getting.

So I asked him whether he might have been a more forceful advocate for Mendez if instead of representing the entire city, he was elected to represent a specific district and Mendez lived and worked in his district.

He said, no. “The law is the law. I understand her frustration,” he said. “Child care is my pet project but I wouldn’t let her put children her in harm’s way just because she’s in my district or not.”

Fair enough. But from personal experience, the city I covered that had district elections also had council members who saw their roles as helping constituents navigate City Hall as much as making comments on city reports.

Of course, they also tended to politick more and pursue more narrow local interests.

BTW, The story’s headline isn’t accurate. Mendez didn’t want the city to pay for the sprinkler. She wanted the city to either loan her the money or give her more than a year to come up with it.

Matt Artz


  1. Another reason to justify a CHARTER CITY, with District elections, if Bill wanted to get reelected He would have done more for Her.
    Talk about the bureaucracy gone amuck. Question : after all the buck passing, who is accountable?

  2. This is nothing new. Small businesses have been suffering from costly city’s mistakes and incompetencies for years. Highly paid staff continues to dispense inconsistency rules, incorrect information, conflicting codes, talking from 3 sides of the mouth, the list goes on. Suggestions for improvements or complaints are met with routine run around or the usual silence. There is a total lack of accountability.

    While the city mistreated its citizens and wouldn’t spend a dime to rectify its mistake, it is willing to shell out hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollar to put a welcome mat for out-of-town billionaires and their stadium project. Go figure.

  3. For the record, in your main article Matt you quote Jill (who is actually Director of Community Development – not the Planning Director as stated -who reports to her) as saying that since the Department Heads will now be meeting once a week that the problem should be dealt with. NOT SO!

    Every week there is what is called a the City’s CTCC meetings – which stands for City Technical Coordinating Committee. Line staff meets in the morning EVERY Thursday, and then the CTCC Executive Committee meets EVERY Thursday afternoon (unless there isn’t anything on there agenda).

    Having said this, given the high staff turnover and the management of Current Planning (i.e., permits) it’s not hard to understand how this happens. NO BODY IS WATCHING THE RANCH; and staff moral is in the tank – because of a lack of trust and respect in the DCC, PD and those trying to manage entitlements.

  4. BTW: Applicants (those applying for permits) pay for ALL the staff time at EVERY CTCC meeting!

    Sounds like Maroof didn’t get her monies worth!

  5. And SmallBusinessOwner, you make an excellent point!

    For those who said that it was no big deal that FRED DIAZ secretly spent $100,000.00 of the publics money to an outside consultant – let alone the amount on staff time/dollars that went into the A’s PROPOSAL and wasn’t much, tell that to Maroof!

  6. My daughter attends Maroof’s school. She is an amazing leader, teacher and has the best schools in the area (we spent months researching before enrolling). This makes us mad that the City of Fremont doesn’t take responsibility or accountability. What a shame, Bill Harrison should step up, I’m not sure I want to vote for him if he is just interested in status quo! I hope things turn around for Maroof.

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