I’m perplexed by some of the comments critical of the city. 

What could they have done to keep NUMMI: Fix some potholes on South Grimmer? Schedule garbage pickup every day? Let Building Department employees freelance for the plant when they’re short on work?

It just doesn’t seem like there was a lot they could offer. Am I missing something?

Matt Artz

  • Gus Morrison

    I made two visits to Toyota City to meet with their leaders in support of NUMMI, hoping to get them to build the Prius here. Within a week on one of my trips, the Governor did the same. We were willing to do whatever it took, but they asked for nothing.

    I think the best approach to Toyota is an economic one. If you don’t want to build cars in California, we don’t want to buy Toyotas. That is the kind of argument they will understand.

    NUMMI is/was a great corporate citizen. It will be sad to lose them and many of the non profits which give so much to those most in need in the region will miss them also. They were part of almost every civic endeavor, ranging from writing checks to planting trees. It seems they never said no to a good cause.

  • http://www.ishanforcouncil.com Ishan Shah

    A side note: The federal angle could have been worked more effectively if the city leaders had made the first move. At least thats what some Senators told me!

  • Jon Simon

    The city leaders should have led an effort to change Fremont’s name to Priusville, Toyotopolis, or my favorite, Camremont. The rec department could have fired the raccoon and replaced him with a talking Tacoma. The Niles sign could have been changed to say Scion (they’d only have to add two letters). Mission San Jose could have been renamed Mission Toyotathon. We could have let them dump all the sludge from their crank cases into Lake Elizabeth. Instead of trying to recall our council members, the citizens could work on recalled Toyotas.

  • Fremont Citizen123

    Of course, Toyota probably did not care much for Fremont’s city council. The Council, after all, sent Toyota the message that they cared little for Nummi and its needs and wants when the A’s came a’court’n.

  • Coyote_Bill

    I think that Fremont lacked leadership, big time.
    We would expect Leadership from the Mayor, oops He is promoting a ball park. The City Council, where were they. Torrico, Corbett they were to busy with there feel good legislation, nothing to controversial, like a balanced budget for the state.
    A leader would have brought the citizens into the process and made them feel part of the process. Instead the City Manager was conducting secret meetings with the Wolf’s. There were to many behind the scenes meetings , that eventually got the citizens of Fremont upset as much with the process as the results.

  • Fremont Lifer

    Matt, how long have you been covering this City? You work the the local paper, you maintain this blog, but perhaps you haven’t been reading the comments posted here, which explain pretty clearly why a significant percentage of the local population are dissatisfied (to put it mildly) with the current management of this City.

    For one thing, politics is all about perception. It is not enough for you to do good, if you are in public service you must be seen to do good. If we are willing to accept that there were things being done by local leaders to encourage Nummi to stay in operation, it seems that most of them have been done in their usual “sub rosa” way, stemming from a years-old perception by our leadership that the great unwashed masses are just too dumb to understand the delicate dance in which they are involved. Our Council wasn’t even concerned enough about Nummi to work through their August recess.

    This is why we need new leadership in this town – it would be better to be young and green and doing something than the dry old gassbags we have now, steeped in the “old boy” politics that exists primarily to maintain the wall between residents and the town that they own. What would it say to somebody like Wasserman, who has spent most of his working life at the public trough, if we actually elected a kid with no public service credentials who’s barely out of high school? This is the kind of choice made by people who are thinking, “Hey, could the kid do any worse than what we’ve got now?”

    Younger and smarter leadership might actually consider ways to open up City government; to stimulate public comment and participation. Why don’t Council members have public meetings to talk in person with their constituents? Why are Council meetings conducted in basically the same way they were done in 1956? Why do we have to physically show up at Council meetings to offer our comments? Haven’t these people ever heard of e-mail, blogs, Twitter, Skype? Why doesn’t each Council member, the City Manager, and department head have their own blog, to tell us what they and their department are working on and to receive comments from the public? And don’t tell me the City has a website – it’s basically an electronic yellow pages, a mile wide but an inch deep. These are just the options that occur to me, and I’m a technological dinosaur.

    But the change that needs to come isn’t necessarily technological – it’s a change that recognizes that the City shouldn’t be run for us by a small group of career civil servants and Chamber of Commerce veterans. It’s an openness that finds more personal reward in sharing information than in being part of the “inner circle”. It’s a realization that maybe you’re not the smartest guy in the room; that sometimes the people who live here, who run businesses here, raise their kids here, and eventually grow old here may know something about some things that you don’t know about. It’s a trust that, if you’re really doing the right thing, you don’t need to keep it secret from your constituents, and a willingness to change your position based on new information. It comes from knowing that you’ve been given a public trust, not an opportunity for personal enrichment.

  • http://www.ishanforcouncil.com Ishan Shah

    matt, my campaign conducted a poll yesterday. Our council has a 30% approval rating.

    “Younger and smarter leadership might actually consider ways to open up City government; to stimulate public comment and participation.”

    I agree.

  • Andy

    I agree with Matt. I dont think fremont would have had any say or effect on toyota. Maybe blame the governor, but not wasserman. He is too unimportant in the chain of things.

  • Coyote Billl

    Fremont Lifer,
    Very well said, I agree with what you eloquently said. It is time for the residents of Fremont to take back there town!
    Throw out the career bureaucrats

  • http://newballpark.blogspot.com Marine Layer

    There’s a lot of grousing, but nothing that actually addresses Matt Artz’s request. Okay, let’s get younger leadership in. Then what? What should this more business/tech savvy leadership have done? It’s incredibly difficult to do large-scale manufacturing in this state. Solutions, not platitudes.

    My suggestion would’ve been to find ways to reduce Toyota’s variable costs without harming the workforce. Subaru’s Indiana plant (which builds 30k Toyota Camrys per year) has a zero landfill status. Get state/local pols to put together an incentive package to reduce the plant’s waste to that zero landfill amount, and tax breaks to build a large solar power generation facility in order to reduce their massive electricity bills. These aren’t “young” or “old” ideas.

  • Fremont Lifer

    It was not my intention to specify that younger leadership was, in and of itself, the answer. What we need is leadership that is responsive to the needs of the electorate. We’ve all lived so long with a substantially opaque City Hall that we all seem to take it for granted that that is the the way it’s supposed to be. It’s not.

    Did anyone hear this weekend during the coverage of Senator Kennedy’s funeral about the differences between transactional politics and relationship politics? IMO, what we have now locally are transactional politicians. At election time, we see them until we’re sick of their faces, they’re at every grocery store, craft fair, farmer’s market, open house, at your front door and on TV during every commercial break. After the election, those who won disappear into the City Hall vacuum. They got all they wanted from us – our vote. At this point, they all seem to think that we’re supposed to go home and leave them alone until the next time they’re on the ballot. This is why most people you stop on the street can’t even name the City Council members.

    This is an issue that goes beyond specific problems like Nummi or Center Theater renewal or traffic or local crime. It would require an attitudinal shift on the part of both the voters and the elected officials. Voters must take the time to learn who they are voting for before they cast their ballot; then they must demand that their local officials do more than collect their per diems and avoid the local press. Local officials should honestly want to embody the “service” part of public service; they must look for what they can do to improve the lives of their constituents and learn to think further than the next election cycle.

    Is that too much to ask? Or is that what we deserve?

  • Jon Simon

    Making the council and mayor full time might help. Raising taxes would help. Getting rid of the insane pensions and unconscionable overtime costs would help.

    Did you know that teachers work most of their overtime for free? Did you know teachers, on the rare times they do get paid for overtime, actually make less per hour than normal? Of course Schwarzenegger still wants to go after their pensions.

  • ulno

    I think Fremont’s city government reflects the views of many people in Fremont: anti-business, anti-freedom, and pro-government-control.

    I think the trend of businesses leaving the area will continuing until people stop villifying capitalists.

    California imposes a tax on investment in
    manufacturing equipment. This is a tax that nearly all of NUMMI’s competitors in other states do not pay.
    Likewise, electricity for manufacturers in California is more than twice as expensive as it is in most other states.

    Nummi only made money in 1992, the “result of California’s taxes and labor and pollution rules, as well as the plant’s UAW contracts”, according to an estimate by Tokyo-based Credit Suisse Group AG analyst Koji Endo.

    By 2012 California is to begin a program aimed at taxing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent. Business groups in the state including the California Chamber of Commerce and California Small Business Roundtable have said the program will boost energy and other expenses for companies in the state.

    Georgia offers factories like Kia property tax abatements, lower energy prices, lower state income taxes, reduced regulation, and real infrastructure improvements.

    Neither Fremont nor Alameda County nor the state of California offer anything for businesses to grow.

    The citizens of this area are more interested in pushing environmental and workforce agendas, than in giving people and businesses the freedom they need to be prosperous.

    A coalition of tax reform and labor groups has filed a proposed ballot initiative for 2010 that would increase corporate taxes by an estimated $2.5 billion, targetting companies that make over $1B a year.

    Look at the suggestions above: “raise taxes”, “pay government people more money”, “make them reduce landfill waster and use solar power”. Or how about Torrico with his plan to intimidate the company into staying? If it weren’t so serious to the prosperity of the area, it would be hilarious.

  • Lou Vandelay

    Giving capitalists the freedom they felt that they needed to be prosperous has landed a large percentage of us in the economic ditch.

    The US economy produces enormous wealth but it also produces grinding poverty. Of course some people are lazy, but when large numbers of hard-working people are living in poverty and the middle-class is shrinking, you’re lookin’ at a systemic problem, not an individual character flaw. Wealth has been rising to the top, which leaves the masses to fight over the crumbs.

    Here’s how the wealth distribution became more concentrated between 1983-2004, in large part due to the tax cuts for the wealthy and the defeat of labor unions:

    Of all the new financial wealth created by the US economy in that 21-year-period, forty-two percent of it went to the top one percent of the population.

    Ninety-four percent of the wealth went to the top twenty percent of the population, which means the bottom eighty percent received only six percent of all the new financial wealth generated in the US during the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000′s. This doesn’t even take into consideration everything that happened during Bush’s second term.

    A single billionaire can use his or her influence to get the undivided attention of any politician he/she wants, at any time. If he doesn’t get what he wants he can quite literally “fight city hall”, the state government, or even the federal government. The rest of us must pool our limited individual power and organize to have any effect at all.

    There’s nothing wrong with responsible capitalisim, but we’ve seen what unregulated, unrestrained greed can do to the state and the country. Freedom works best when it works for all. Ironically, while the wealthy have power and money, it’s the rest of us who have the votes. Use them wisely.