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City Council/school board candidates: Round 2

Last night, Fremont City Council and school board candidates answered questions at a forum sponsored by the Fremont Council PTA. It was the second forum for the candidates this month. The questions focused on school issues, including those that are affected by City Council actions.

All five school board candidates and seven of the 10 council candidates were there. It would take too long to go through all the questions and answers, but I understand that the Fremont Council PTA will post candidates’ written responses to the questions on its Web site: www.fremontcouncilpta.org.

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Torrico’s Safe Surrender bill vetoed

Just got a press release stating that Alberto Torrico’s Safe Surrender bill was vetoed this week by Governor Schwarzenegger. The bill, which overwhelmingly passed both the state Senate and Assembly, would have extended the time that mothers have to safely surrender their newborn to designated agencies. As it is right now, the bill, signed in 2001, gives mothers 72 hours to surrender their newborn to fire stations and emergency rooms, an alternative to abandoning the child. The proposed bill would have given mothers a week to make that decision, and would have placed the state Department of Social Services in charge of the Surrender program.

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Fremont to vote on joining Vector district

The County Board of Supervisors today gave permission for the vermin-fighting Alameda County Vector Control District to try to annex the two remaining holdouts: Fremont and Emeryville.

It’s a little bit more interesting that it sounds. If approved by a weighted majority of Fremont property holders, the average home owner would see their property tax bill go up $10. Overall the assessment would raise $614,000 to fight vermin in Fremont.

The strange part is that Fremont doesn’t have much vermin. Last fiscal year, in fact records show that the city spent just $315 responding to a grand total of 11 calls for service. Now, the vector district says they got calls for Fremont and they do provide services that Fremont doesn’t.

You can read more about it here. I’ll be writing a follow-up story for tomorrow that will be kind of repetitive and not as thorough.

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Vector vote elicits uncharacteristic reactions from council members

Since Fremont property owners will be asked to raise $614,000 ($10 per single family residence) to fight a problem the city spent only $315 dollars on last year, I figured I should try to get the council members on the record.

Their reactions were a little bit out of character. Bob Wieckowski, who is most open about the city needing to raise taxes to provide better services, was the most critical of the tax, although he wouldn’t actually take a stand on it.

And, Steve Cho, who can be hard to pin down on some issues, gave the least wishy-washy answer and the most coherent argument in favor of the assessment.

Let’s start with Wieckowski. His concern is that vector control (rats, yellowjackets, wasps, etc.) isn’t a big deal in Fremont, and that property owners might end up taxing themselves for small potatoes and then turn around and oppose a city tax that could be spent on a big need like more police. “The amount that it would raise way exceeds what Fremont would spend,” he said of the $614,000.

“The public is only willing to tax itself so much. If the city of Fremont got $10 for every home, we could spend it on police. Who cares about the damn rats?” Continue Reading

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Fremont had small exposure to Lehman Brothers bankruptcy

It amounts to less than one percent of Fremont’s $355 million investment portfolio, but Fremont was left holding a $2 million Lehman Brothers corporate bond. With Lehman now in bankruptcy proceedings, it’s too soon to tell if Fremont will recover the full value of the bond, Finance Director Harriet Commons said.

The bond was rated AAA. Under normal circumstances the city would have sold it before the issuer went into default, but in Lehman’s case, she said, “Everything happened so quickly, that’s how we ended up holding on to it.”

I’ll have a short story about all three Tri-City area cities and the Wall Street woes in tomorrow’s paper.

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Pete Stark voted against the bailout

Strange day. I went out to lunch and the Dow fell 777 points. I’m not going to look at my Vanguard account for at least a month.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, was one of 95 Democrats to vote against the $700 million bailout package that was defeated today in the House of Representatives. My congresswoman, Barbara Lee, also voted against it.
To see how other congressmen voted, click here.

Here was Stark’s floor statement on the bailout, according to his website:

“The bill before us today is basically the same three-page Wall Street give away first put forth by President Bush. The fig leaf adjustments are not enough to outweigh the fact that no one knows if this bill is what’s needed. I’m not willing to make a $700 billion gamble that President Bush is right after 8 years of seeing all that he’s done wrong.”

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Still ticking …

The Wasserman campaign sent me a bunch of pictures from his appearance in Glenmoor this weekend. Since they never used to do that, I’m guessing the statement is that he’s recovered from his most recent bout of pneumonia. I’m also guessing that he’s laughing with this woman and not coughing on her.

Is it just me or is he dressing a lot better since getting sick 10 days ago? That striped shirt in last week’s video is a keeper, and this hat is no slouch either. A more gaudy belt buckle would have completed the look.

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Pet store protest

If you drive past the intersection of Mowry and Farwell tomorrow afternoon, you might see several animal welfare protesters. They have scheduled a demonstration outside a new puppy store in the strip mall there, which they think has gotten some of its dogs from puppy mills.

But the owner of the store, Puppy Love Boutique, says all of his dogs come from USDA-approved and inspected breeders. “We will not buy from puppy mills,” said Joey Kakar, a Fremont native, who opened the store two months ago.

The protest organizer, Darlena King, who recently moved to Fremont, said protesters have information that the store has gotten dogs from two companies that she says, are brokers to puppy mills. Kekar denies the allegation.

Puppy Love Boutique is the only store in Fremont that sells dogs. 

Animal welfare advocates have campaigned against buying dogs from pet stores because many pet store acquire their dogs from giant breeding operations where dogs are mistreated, they say.

Kekar said members of a local animal rights group have been passing out fliers outside his shop. When asked about business, Kakar sighed and said that it’s a slow economy.