It’s the economy, stupid

One thing that every candidate for Fremont City Council seems to agree on is that the key to paying for better services, like more cops, is more economic development. Only Bob Wieckowski is bold enough to defend 2006’s failed Utility Tax.

But can any city really expect economic growth when the economy is tanking and credit is tight? I asked Steven Cohen, economist for the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto, about whether Fremont could generate the kind of economic growth that could pay for new cops.

“Nothing in the way of what are loosely called economic development policies are going to help any cities’ budget in the next year or two or three,” he said.

Fremont is well-positioned to eventually attract companies, but it will face competition, he added.

“The idea that one city such as Fremont would dominate is (questionable). But even if they were successful, it’s not going to solve the budget problems facing them this year, next year or in 2010.”



Matt Artz


  1. One way to pay for more police in Fremont without relying on economic growth would be for the City to NOT raise the cap on property tax money allowed to flow into the Redevelopment Agency rather than the General Fund. This issue is scheduled to come up for a vote before the Fremont City Council in the next six months. All current City Council members are in favor of raising the cap, thus diverting funds that could be used to pay for police and fire services into funding additional development. In these tight economic times, Fremont should consider keeping the cap on money for redevelopment and using the property taxes from Pacific Commons and the Auto Mall to help fund police and fire services.

  2. Charlotte, I would love for at least one of our city council members to describe why the cap should/must be raised for redevelopment and not put more money into the General Fund. It seems like a no-brainer since everyone talks about the protecting against crime and that is done through the General Fund.

  3. This was exactly my point regarding services/ infrastructure and growth— it locks us into an uncontrollable spiral of urbanism.

    Police are paid too much. The city union is turning Fremont into a tax farm.

    An idea: let the contracts expire and retire out the FPD. Crime is a growing problem, but only because we are pursuing big development and high density housing which mandate low income, affordable units. Put a moratorium on low cost housing and apartments, and the demand for police and crime reduction will at least be arrested, if not reduced over time.

    As FPD retire or move on to other forces, we supplement police with volunteers. After all, most police spend their time doing routine traffic violations. Is this really a priority? We can cut FPD costs by narrowing down to a skeleton crew that in turn supervises community policing, volunteer force.

    What did citizens do before the advent of professional police? How did they survive? I’m sure it wasn’t ideal, but we’ve gone to the other extreme. Bring community back into the picture, neighbors helping neighbors, retire out the fat of FPD, prioritize crime leaving the hairy calls for professionals and routine, minutae for trained volunteers. If people aren’t interested in protecting their own neighborhood as volunteers, then obviously they don’t have a problem. etc.


  4. It’s always been about getting as much into RDA and employee pensions/salaries as we can. . . . .

    It has little to do with conservation or managment of growth which ultimately drives demand for waning services.

  5. Yes superduper. But that’s my point.

    As city staff take up more and more of the budget, problems of revenue become more accute.

    When revenue is tight, how does the city respond?

    It doesn’t look toward economic development as the way out?

    And, as economic development spurrs growth, then services are further impacted, city staff requires expansion, and naturally staff wants all the pirks on top of it. Back again to money question,… and on-and-on it goes…

    Now we can continue in this non-sensical approach to ‘growth’ or ‘revenue’, or we can reconceptualize Fremont. Our fundamental problem is Fremont is not happy with itself. It wants to metamorph into a bigger, more exciting town. It gives carblanche check to development in order to raise the monies for more attractive redevelopment and services. One year it’s a cultural art center, the next a water park, the next an A’s stadium, etc.. all with the hope Fremont will ‘someday be on the map’…

    Meanwhile, we loose the very things that made Fremont charming to begin with.

    We need to do some real soul searching and figure out what Fremont is and what are our strengths…

    I tried to put some thought in this

    Once you get your candidates elected– Chan, Trisha, Wasserman, etc..– and you’re all happy. Maybe then we can step back and reconsider and reflect upon Fremont’s future. The answer in the end, I can assure you, will be raising taxes– both in the state and locally. That’s where we are headed, and, sadly, most people must like it– at least by the way the vote.

    Meanwhile, after November 4rth, minutemen will begin a campaign for township government in Niles and Centerville, and we will come back next election cycle to implement these reforms with a slate, a PAC fund, and neighborhood GOTV committees all in place, long before the pulling of papers.


  6. Charles, given the demographics of Fremont, 137 languages representing 155 countries, I am surprised you have elected to launch your political ideas here. I think you would stand a much better chance of getting some of your platform planks accepted in a more rural and conservatively-based state, i.e., Montana, Wyoming, etc. I am not saying “take a hike”. I just think you would find more like-minded individuals to launch your particular brand of government.

    Since you advocate a gun in every household I find your concept of “neighborhood volunteers” to assist professional law enforcement to be a tad bit dangerous given our density of housing. Now in Montana or Wyoming…

  7. Dear Doug,

    No. I think Fremont is actually an ideal place for conservative, populist politics. It’s a family town with a high percentage of homeowners. We’re diverse, but ‘diversity’ doesn’t mean people don’t care about taxes, homeowners, local economics, moral government, and having more control over where we live. I think Fremont is therefore the perfect place for this kind of campaign.

    Moreover, there is no other town in the Bay Area that has the precident of being 5 townships before incorporation! What an amazing history! Unlike many people who support the given run of the mill of candidates, I think Fremont is great, and don’t want it to change!

    Nor have I advocated ‘everyone’ owning guns. I only trust the most responsible citizens as possessors of firearms– e.g., those with an obvious stake in law and order, namely, property owners. They have a vested interest to assist police and not break the law. Guns in the hands of the lumpenproletariat, in contrast, is indeed a dangerous situation, which I am strictly against, and thus would then be a high advocate of disarmanent. Fortunately, such a scenario has yet to descend upon us.

  8. Many of the candidates running for Fremont Mayor and City Council tout an increase in City Development, at this point with the Financial economy in a tail spin, I would hope these candidates would reconsider how they are spending our taxes.

    For years I keep wondering why we are building a false economy. We need to ensure these new retail establishments are not hiring illegal immigrants. As in the construction industry when illegals are hired, we are putting businesses that follow the rule of law out of business or making it hard the compete when they are under bid because those who hire illegal immigrants are not paying their fair share.

    Are these candidates in support of hiring illegal immigrants? According to last night’s debate at Irvington High School, I am left with the impression that Gus Morrison and Bob Wasserman could care less that Fremont is hiring illegal immigrants. Note, I am not against IMMIGRANTS that are here legally.

    Fremont needs new leadership in the form of new council members who will actually listen to WE THE PEOPLE, not the Chamber of Commerce. Crime, graffiti, and break ins are occurring at an increased rate in Fremont. When we announced that our City would no longer respond to alarms, we invited criminals to increase crimes here. I, along with so many others can see that criminals from outside of Fremont are targeting residents and businesses within a distance of our freeways in order to make a fast getaway. Fremont needs a roving undercover camera in areas where graffiti is taking place and needs to establish some harsh punishment for those that are caught. Hold these vandals responsible by making them clean it up along with their parents if they are underage, make both parent and vandal volunteer hours, at our police stattion, city hall or graffiti clean up program. Make the parents if the vandal is underage attend a parenting class along with their vandal child. If the parents are not doing there job in supervising their child, their vandal child will not change. Finally, make the parents pay restitution for the the acts of their minors, this can be paid in cash or through volunteers hours at specific city programs.

    Fremont needs to hold off on all low income housing until we hire more officers to handle the current challenges we already have with increased crime. How is it that Fremont officers can inforce NO LOITERING in certain areas around town, but could care less about other areas of Fremont? Why are more businesses hiring security?

    Our city puts outa newsletter from time to time. How about establishing an email system for announcing important city meetings rather than just the newspaper in which so many do not read.

    I was highly dissapointed at last night’s candidate debate that only a handful of residents, maybe 30, showed up to hear who is running and could be spending our taxes in the futute. Also I was under the impression that this was a forum and questions would come from community residents. I found many of the questions were prepared in advance by businesses. I was almost as if the Chamber of Commerce is running Fremont and not our Elected City Officials who are supposed to represent the citizens of Fremont.

    People need to research and educate themselves on the candidates before voting in someone who will not represent us.

  9. A questions for Charles…

    First, let me thank you for spending time on these blogs. Imagine if all candidates were so accessible!

    Anyway, some days ago you wrote this about gun ownership…
    I only trust the most responsible citizens as possessors of firearms– e.g., those with an obvious stake in law and order, namely, property owners.

    Am I misreading you or are you suggesting that only property owners should possess guns?

  10. “I only trust the most responsible citizens as possessors of firearms… namely, property owners.”


  11. Hello MacRae,

    The idea behind gun ownership and crime is that police cannot always be there to protect you when your life is most threatened. Case in point: Katrina… Or, let’s imagine what might happen in the 30 min response time for FPD.

    I also believe gun ownership, espeically that of a visible sort, is indeed a deterrent for crime. So, unlike Wassserman, I do not advocate the elimination of gun ownership. Gun bans disarm the law abiding citizen, and criminals will find the means to acquire guns anyway.

    Your question was if I believe property owners should have an exclusive right to own guns?

    My answer:

    I do not support weakening or taking away a right from one group of people when it means we may all loose that same right.

    At the same time, we can do much in the postive areas of gun ownership. I think we can encourage property owners to have a greater knowledge and appreciation of lethal self-defense, and I favor promoting such. This is not the same as disarming poor people.

    Yet, and will stand firm on my belief that property owners (on the whole) are more responsible and law abiding than, say, renters or drifters.

    I realize this is a ‘classist’ atttitude, but I think it stands to reason and is true.

    Armed property owners would do more to assist law and order/police in Fremont than armed lumpen proletariats.
    Armed property owners also would stand as a deterrent against further crime.

    Thanks for the interest. Just trying to get some different ideas out there. http://www.charles4council.com

    Also, learning what a city race requires…

    Answer: $$$ and endorsements are a huge factor! You almost cannot win without them. But I am also convinced a lot can be done on a shoe string budget.

    Vinnie Bacon’s race will be interesting in this regard. The others are democrat establishment/machine candidates. Cho has strong community support and a very loyal base… The election will be interesting to dissect once we know the results.

  12. Charles, if property owners are so responsible why are we seeing the record number of foreclosures that we are? Far too many property owners got in way over their heads, which I don’t find to be very responsible behavior.

    There are many extremely responsible individuals that are renters simply because they can’t afford the cost of Bay Area houses.

    Keep in mind when the Second Amendment was written folks weren’t sporting machine pistols with body armor piercing ammo.

    I believe your intentions are good, but just a bit out of keeping with the unfortunate realities of the early 21st century and there’s no turning back the clock (other than the first weekend in November when we switch to Standard Time).

  13. Charles, I know that you are principled, but when you drift into these national issues you draw focus away from your goals for Fremont. As a city councilman, you will never be able to effect gun laws in or ban the sale of pornography within the city.

    I know this is an informal medium, but people can get a sense of your priorities based on what you say before an election. I see a similarity in your tact to the SF supes who chime in on every issue they have no jurisdiction over, while the city suffers. I’m not saying that you’d waste your time on the Fremont city council soap-boxing, but please keep it local.

  14. Dear Doug,

    There is no turning back the clock, but there remains timeless principles. Whether man or his culture is true begs the question. Gun ownership– the right to self-defense for the preservation of life and liberty–combined with armed defense against tyranny were once upon a time considered fundamental, inalienable, and immortal principles/truths.

    Today, everything this is not the case. Everything is in flux, and you have no guarantee of liberties or rights when faced with more-or-less utilitarian, pragmatic rationale.

    The foreclosure and usary dilemma created an illusion of ownership. But this ownership did not last long. Unfortunately, we are not allowing a market correction to run the irresponsible owners out of the propertied class. They may have been ‘owners’, but obviously their ‘ownership’ would have expired fairly quickly.

    But you are right. I ought to qualify my comments with the criteria that a man be able to retain newly gained property. That propety and ‘possession’ have some correlation.

  15. Doug, I always respect your viewpoint, but we should all keep in mind that the Bill of Rights has no expiration date. In fact, if the founders had it their way and they were able to get their hands on automatic weapons and some armor piercing rounds, you could bet your last inflated dollar that they would have done so, and supported others to do the same. We would all be fools to think that the founding fathers, in all their wisdom, would have assumed that we would only have muskets that shoot one shot only as fast as you could load it. They knew that there would be advancements, but they still put in “shall not be infringed.” The check and balance is that everyone (or just about everyone) is armed.

    More Guns = Less Crime!


  16. Marty, I think that it’s good to know where local candidates stand on state and national issues. For example, if a candidate is anti-gun, or pro-bail-out, they would never get my vote, even if that candidate was only running for local office. Besides, even local candidates swear an oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.

  17. Yes, and as we know, Mayors across the country have passed hand-gun bans as well as sanctuary city ordinances. If it goes one way, why can’t it go the other way– the lawful way?

  18. Walter and Charles, specifically, and others can hop in if you wish. In your lifetime have you found yourself in a situation that required the use of a handgun to protect yourself or your family?

    Conversely, have you ever been in a situation, that due to the people involved and the heated nature of the disagreement, the presence of a handgun would have/could have exacerbated the confrontation?

    I’ll supply my response to those scenarios; no and no.

  19. Doug

    About twenty years ago, while living in Niles my
    dog became aware of someone or something outside
    in the middle of the night. After about five minutes
    of barking I saw someone starting to open my side
    door. All I saw was their arm as they started it.
    I kicked the door closed on his arm, and shouted
    I have a gun, Get the hell out of here.

    All I know is I was sure glad that I was armed
    and able to protect myself.

  20. Like I said. You can’t always rely on the police in an emergency situation. Moreover, the 2nd amendment was originally concieved as a check against tyranny. Of course, things are different today. We can trust government. Government is like a family, loving like mom or pop. Or even sweet like bambi… “right”? Yeah… right.

    Q1: Yes. I have been in that pickle with a peeping tom that was growing ever aggressive with my fiance. I brandished a gun at him, and he never returned. This pervert was at the point of breaking into the house and stealing underwear, leaving doors and windows unlocked for midnight entry. The dog didn’t scare him, but the gun did.

    Q2: Impossible to answer. It is entirely hypothetical. I believe when people know others are armed or even have access to a gun, they are less inclined to take advantage of you. They know the ramifications and back off.

    But you are missing a bigger point here. Gun ownership is not for mere hunting or even to deter crime (though it helps). It is there as a check against tyrannical government which deprives us of clear, constitutional liberties and inalienable rights. This was the whole reason we originally had state militias. Over the last 70 years the state militia has been federalized and no longer exists. Thus, you have one less protection regarding your protection from both exploitation and oppression. And without inalienable rights you are little better than a slave.

  21. Charles, you’ve clarified your stance on the Second Amendment. What’s your stance on the First, separation of church and state?

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