Tri-City officials’ salaries

Several people have approached me during recent fundraisers to ask about a rumored list of city and agency official salaries.

The state Supreme Court ruled in August that California cities and agencies must release salaries of those being paid with taxpayers’ money.  A number of cities had refused to release that information in past years, in particular Union City.

As space and time permitted, we began running stories about those salaries, and finally posted online the list of those making at least $100,000 a year. 

The last story we ran looked at Washington Hospital, which turned out to have nine out of the top 10 highest paid public employees in the Tri-City area.

Unfortunately, a number of people missed that story, which ran on Thanksgiving Day, by coincidence.

For anyone who missed that story and the others, or the list, they all can be viewed at www.insidebayarea.com/argus. Click on “Tri-City Salaries Special Report,” right above the video news graphic.


We all fall down

Here are photos representing the Feb. 9 domino-toppling event, an international affair involving five Bay Area school districts and three Chinese cities. (You can read more about the event here.) 

The photos are coming to you a bit late, but I was waiting for one district to send me photos, which it never did.


The above photo of Fremont students setting up a domino design at Washington High was shot Feb. 8, the afternoon before the real event. Incidentally, FUSD won for best design. Also, Washington High student Pritika Kumar, who was voted “steadiest hands,” got to knock down the first domino of the event.

These next two photos show designs by New Haven students at James Logan High School. According to NHUSD spokesman Rick La Plante, about 272,000 dominoes were used between the two participating countries.




More grocery stuff

Here’s an email that Blake Hunt Ventures sent to Centerville officials regarding the firm’s failure to lure a grocery store, courtesy of my favorite Niles chat group.

Interesting tidbits: Brad Blake says that Trader Joe’s isn’t interested in opening another Fremont store and that Whole Foods is only interested in locating at or near the intersection of Mowry Avenue and Fremont Boulevard. As for Tesco, the British specialty grocer, it has its eye on a building near the corner of Fremont Boulevard and Decoto Road.

Only big discount grocers were interested in the Centerville site, Blake wrote.

His letter follows:

Continue Reading


Centerville Supermarket update

After more than an hour of discussion there’s still no definitive answer as to the future of the 6.5 acre, city-owned vacant lot in Centerville.

You might remember that in October, the council picked yet another new developer, Blake Hunt Ventures, on the promise that it could find a grocer for the site and build a retail center. Well, no grocer was interested and the council was divided over what to do next.

Back in October, Mayor Wasserman and Councilmembers Cho and Harrison backed the all retail/grocery store plan, while Councilmembers Wieckowski and Natarajan voted against going with Blake Hunt because they wanted some housing at the site.

With the grocery store out of the picture, Wasserman decided he was open to housing and wanted to go with a new developer. However, Natarajan, who still wants housing there, decided that rather than completely go back to the drawing board, the city should stick with Blake Hunt and work on a new plan.

So there was a majority for building some housing on the site and for sticking with Blake Hunt. One problem, though. Blake Hunt is a commercial developer, and company co-founder Brad Blake said after the council meeting last night he wasn’t sure he wanted to go out and team up with a residential developer to take another crack at the site. He said he should have a decision later today. More to come.


Fremont budget

Just got back from Fremont’s quarterly budget briefing. In December the news was all doom and gloom: property tax and sales tax revenues (68 percent of total city revenues) weren’t growing as fast as the city had projected.

Three months later that’s still the case, but it appears the bottom hasn’t fallen out, so no major cutbacks yet.

City Manager Fred Diaz has ordered departments to cut 1 percent from their budgets and has held about 20 positions vacant. The potential upshot is reduced police front desk hours, longer turnaround for maintenance issues and slower response time to resident requests.

Diaz said there’s no talk of trying for another tax hike unless residents come forward and push for one. Any volunteers?


Meet Milt

milt-werner.jpgThere was a story in today’s Argus about the Fremont school board naming Milt Werner, the current assistant superintendent of instructional services, as interim superintendent for the 2008-09 academic year. (The current schools chief, Doug Gephart, is retiring in June.)

Alas, we weren’t able to get a photo of Werner in time to run it in the print edition, so I’m posting it here for anyone who’s dying to know what he looks like.

Additionally, here are a few tidbits about the man who will be leading the county’s second-largest school district: Continue Reading


Centerville Supermarket blues

Another developer, another failed effort to get a supermarket in the vacant 6.6 acre lot near the Centerville train station.

After local developer James Tong struck out twice in his effort to get the redevelopment project off the ground, the council turned to developer Blake Hunt Ventures.

Well Blake Hunt struck out too. Now instead of an all-retail project, the firm is proposing a mix of retail and residential on the site bounded by Fremont Boulevard, Post Street, Bonde Way and Thornton Avenue.

The council rejected similar plans last year. Council members decide on the new proposal at their meeting Tuesday night.


Reporter’s Notebook: Urango Trial 2/13

The following are tidbits and outtakes that didn’t make it into recent stories about the trial of Manuel David Urango, the man charged with killing Alia Ansari in Fremont’s Glenmoor neighborhood in October 2006. The trial started in mid-January and is expected to last through the end of the month.

Session date: Feb. 13, 2008

Daughter’s interview:

Jurors watched the first 30 minutes of a 45-minute long videotaped interview in which Ansari’s daughter is asked about her mother’s killing. The video, which appears to be shot from the ceiling of a playroom, opens with the interviewer walking in with the daughter, who was 3 years and 11 months at the time, and asking her about certain colors. The girl does not know the difference between black and white. At one the girl pointed to the interviewer’s skirt and said it was red. It was actually black. Continue Reading