I 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.