FUSD makes tentative plans to cut $21.6 million

Today’s story about Fremont Unified discusses the school board’s tentative plans to cut $21.6 million from the 2009-10 budget.

I need to correct an error in the story. It said that the district has 26 counselors this year when in fact there are 34.5 counseling positions. The board will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall to consider eliminating 12.5 of those positions next year and to receive a budget update.

I also received an e-mail from a parent this morning asking if class sizes will increase for grades 1-3, since that was not mentioned in the article.

School board members Ivy Wu and Lily Mei initially said they supported increasing class sizes in grades 1-3 since the board approved class-size increases for all the other grade levels. They felt it was an equity issue. But there’s some issue with funding, where a district could pack more students into a room in grades 1-3 and still receive state money for class-size reduction while paying a penalty. I don’t understand the funding issue enough to explain it at this point. I believe Trustee Mei wants more information from district staff about the impacts of increasing classes in grades 1-3 to 21 students, but she hasn’t recommended out right that the district make this change.

To recap: the board has not voted to increase 1-3 class sizes. Also note: even though the board approved it, a class-size increase in grades 4-6 would need to be negotiated with the teachers union before it becomes a done deal.


Now What?

So the A’s aren’t coming to that mostly untapped expense of land that hugs Warm Springs and Weibel. And NUMMI is no guarantee to stay.

What should go there? If NUMMI’s in the picture, it won’t be homes, but I can name two elected officials who have told me they see NUMMI taking a hike and that chunk of land as Fremont’s future downtown.

You don’t get a BART station these days without planning for some type of intensive development. What should it be? Something like Sabercat with six story buildings? A sprawling R&D campus? Twenty-four-story towers that they want to build next to Union City’s BART station?????????


Stadium editorial in today’s Argus

Editorial: A’s must go back to the drawing board


THE OAKLAND Athletics will not be playing baseball in Fremont afterall because co-owner Lew Wolff and his partners failed to anticipate roadblocks, and residents and businesses were in no mood for a major change to the city’s landscape during bad economic times.

The A’s wanted a $1.8 billion stadium/commercial/housing project south of Auto Mall Parkway; the A’s were so sure the deal would fly, they purchased 200 acres from Cisco Systems.

But when the area’s big retailers protested, the team suddenly changed direction toward the city’s Warm Springs project with hopes that a BART station would be built and ready by completion of the stadium.

That met with resistance from Fremont’s biggest employer, NUMMI, and threats of lawsuits from residents. Wolff was stuck and eventually gave up. He was so frustrated that he is willing to part with $24 million that can’t be recovered from the land deal.

Wolff is not the only loser. Fremont loses revenue for community businesses and the prestige of hosting a major professional sports franchise.

For NIMBY Fremont residents to tie the A’s and the Coliseum with the crime rate in Oakland, fearing the same would happen in Fremont, is absurd. Oakland’s crime rate and the A’s have very little in common. They also claimed traffic would get out of hand. Here’s a news flash: Expect more traffic anyway because odds are Wolff will use the land he purchased for residential or other development.

Now Wolff and the A’s return to the drawing board. They view the Coliseum as outdated and inadequate for baseball. Other Northern California options have problems. A move to San Jose would likely will be blocked by the Giants’ territorial rights. Dublin’s name has been dropped, but it was resistant to a potential move by the Raiders. Sacramento has the land, but it’s a smaller market. And past discussions have shown concerns about corporate sponsorships.

Oakland has a chance to step to the plate with a variety of options; hammer out a workable arrangement with the Raiders to improve the Coliseum, or begin plans for a new baseball stadium at either the same location or, dare we say, downtown. The latter notion worked in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Baltimore.

We want the A’s to stay in the Bay Area. Somehow, we must find a solution that works for all.


Fremont has a stimulus package of its own

If it’s good enough for the feds, it’s good enough for Fremont. The Council on Tuesday will consider a temporary reduction in business fees and other business friendly measures.

The plan, which would run through Dec. 31, 2010, is designed to help out existing businesses and attract new ones to town.
The proposals include:

  • Reducing development impact fees by 10 percent in most parts of town and by 25 percent in the central business district, which is near the BART station.
  • Exempt clean technology firms from the Business License Tax
  • Increase the preference for buying from local businesses from 2.5 percent to 5 percent
  • Exploring the opportunity of creating a foreign trade zone, in which foreign and domestic goods can be brought in without customs duties excise taxes or tariffs. NUMMI is a Foreign Trade Zone.

Colorado Gov. agrees with Wasserman

Scroll down if you don’t care about the Rocky Mountain News going under.

Sadness, resignation mark Rocky Mountain closure

DENVER (AP) — Citizens, politicians and competitors raised a tribute Thursday to Colorado’s oldest newspaper, the Rocky Mountain News, which is publishing its last edition Friday.

“This is a sad moment in the history of Denver and Colorado. We have lost an important voice in our community,” said Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.

“I have read the Rocky Mountain News for decades and will sorely miss it,” said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, a former Colorado senator. “My heart is with the Rocky and its employees.”

Gov. Bill Ritter was attending a Colorado Press Association convention luncheon when the shutdown was announced.

“For me, it’s a very, very sad day. As much in public life you may disagree with editors, you may get taken to task by editors, I really do believe that the First Amendment and the free exercise of the press is at the heart of what makes us strong. We lose a Colorado icon, we lose a newspaper that has contributed so much, I think, to the history of this state,” Ritter said.

Ritter said he hopes newspapers survive and people aren’t forced to rely on anonymous bloggers on the Internet to get their news.

“You can argue all you want with an editorial writer, but at the end of the day, you can call him. You can find him and call him and you can talk to him, and you can’t do that on a blog,” the governor said.


Stalled train finally leaves Paseo Padre crossing

UPDATE: 10 a.m.: Spoke to Detective Bill Veteran, Fremont P.D., and he says the shift notes indicate that officers were out there for about an hour and then left. Their report does not indicate why the train was stalled — which is common since this really is the jurisdiction of the company that owns the railroad track. Now waiting for word from Union Pacific … — Ben

I got an email from a reader that Southern Pacific train stopped in the middle of the Paseo Padre Parkway crossing at about 4;30 this morning and blocked the street until it finally departed at about 8:05 a.m. That would mean that Paseo Padre was blocked for more than three hours.

Either our cops guy or I will find out what the heck happened when we get in the office.


Wasserman’s address at the Saddle Rack

I’m not fast enough to write down all of what he said word-for-word, although the mayor is an admirably slow speaker. Here are some main parts.

On the anonymous blog comments:

I do have some very hard feelings. This is where we are in the world. We have the anonymous bloggers and emailers. I’ve gotten some horribly inflammatory things accusing me of things I’ve never heard of let alone did. And that was very difficult tot take.

The mayor continued that he had been in public service for 55 years during which time he had always been upfront and acted with integrity.

When I see these cowards hiding behind (aliases) and defaming the city and defaming us individually, I find that very hard to take, and it makes me very bitter. Continue Reading


“Hey Lew, we’re not through”

That was the chant that went out at the Saddle Rack tonight where about 125 people attended a pro-stadium rally, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

A few folks still held out hope that the A’s would give Fremont a second chance. Several others said they thought it was a dead duck.

I saw Dirk Lorenz there, but didn’t get a chance to talk to him. Councilmember Bill Harrison was also in attendance, as was the mayor, who took some time to address all of the negative anonymous comments that have been posted to local blogs. I’ll post his thoughts tomorrow.

Meanwhile, below are a couple of photos of the event. My story will post to the web site tonight and be in the paper tomorrow.