I watched the replay of the Council meeting on TV29 on Wednesday night. I couldn't believe Gibbon accused Council members of taking an easy job on the City Council for the big bucks they were being paid. Huh?
Jim is correct that four of the five Councilmembers are retired; so they can work full-time for the City. It's not that they want the easy money of $771.75 a month for City Council, with an extra $100 for the Mayor, plus $30 for Redevelopment Agency Meetings, but with all the time they put in it's easier not to have another full-time job to go to.
Scott Perkins is the only Councilmember employed full time at Lawrence Livermore Labs, as the Lead Flight Test Engineer for Cruise Missile Systems. He told me he hopes it never becomes so demanding that Councilmembers have to be self-employed or retired to serve. Scott sent me an Excel spreadsheet with his hours per month. He averaged about 90 with a range from 56 to 136. His last paycheck was $1301.75 minus tax deductions. Perkins also emailed me a copy of the City's Liaison list which is posted on the City's website.
Carol Rowley summarized her monthly activities in the following email.
Roz-- There is not a day when I am not working on city business. It is a good thing that I enjoy working with people and enjoy reading and learning. We have two city council meetings a month, but get our Friday pouch loaded with things to read over the week-end in order to be prepared for the GHAD, Redevelopment or Council Meetings. I am on my computer every day answering questions or communicating with people. We rotate committee assignments. I am the council representative on the housing committee, teen council. San Ramon Valley school district, art advisory,- and library I also attend economic development. All these meeting are once a month. I am the chair of Trafffix, the congestion relief committee formed with the county, Danville , San Ramon and the School District. I am also on the Street Smarts Committee and attend county meetings on housing and other city needs. I belong to the League of California Cities and we meet quarterly. Our Contra Costa Council meets once a month. Each of the 19 cities being the host (Richmond to Antioch, etc.) I also belong to AAUW, Soroptimist, Dublin San Ramon Women's Club and other boards. I do this to keep in contact with my city and citizens. I want to be accessible. I work part time, even though I am a retired school principal. I also serve on the policy committee and meet with department heads frequently. Bottom-line is---I do not regret being active in my community. I feel that it is an honor to serve and i would not want it to be any other way! ---Carol"
City Clerk Pat Edwards phoned me to tell me that Mayor Wilson estimated his time as 70-80 hours a month. I'm sure it's more than that because Abram hangs around City Hall all day anyway. As he likes to say at meetings, "I'm here 24/7," and he is!
In addition to attending all of these meetings, there are meeting packages with hundreds of pages of reading every week. Look at the Laser Fiche online to see what Councilmembers are responsible for knowing each meeting. I teach graduate classes online, and most of my assignments don't require that much research.
Let's put our City Council's "salaries" into perspective. No not compare them with other cities, where we don't know their level of work or competence, but to Contra Costa County Supervisors who are paid about $120K a year plus benefits, or State Assembly Members who are paid over $95K a year plus benefits. I'm not too thrilled with their performances in office, but they are paid three to five times what our City Council is.
When buying a car or a suit or a pair of shoes, the saying is "You get what you pay for," but in electing a City Council, we are lucky to get much more than we pay for.
As Scott Perkins said in his answer to my question about his salary for this blog entry, "So, what is a board member worth of a private corporation with an annual budget of about $80-100 million and $300-$500 million in assets - per hour? $10/hour, $20/hour, $30/hour, more - or - less? Much like Board members are representatives of stockholders we are representatives of residents. Scott"