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Fremont City Council Diary

Last night I did a live blog of the council meeting. Since it’s now a day old, I’ve reversed the order so it reads chronologically. Highlights were a union contract squabble, a dig at Union City and “cutting edge” traffic analysis.

7 p.m. — The chamber is full and very purple. SEIU union members are here to say they won’t sign their no-raise contract unless the get assurances that top management folks won’t get raises, while they’re stuck with nada. They want what’s called a “me too” clause. If management gets a raise, they would too.

I arrived just in time to hear the SEIU fight song. It’s sad that other unions have better songs and chants than the my union, the Newspaper Guild. In our defense, we don’t wear purple and we have super cool shop steward pins. I have two pins — one for each member of my shop.

7:19 — Nina Moore of the Chamber of Commerce just stopped by to tease me for my poor council attendance of late.  I took it like a man and complimented her shoes. A former colleague of mine would have called them spunky.

7:20 — Irvington man says bad traffic issues. Lots of skidding and trouble with Kirby’s, he says. They want speed bumps or signage.

7:25 — SEIU got in their two cents about their contract. They left chanting “What do we want? We want a contract.” I’ll ask Diaz why the city won’t commit to no raises for top management. Chamber is now almost empty. Ishan Shah is here. So is Dirk Lorenz and Nina Moore.

7:45 — It’s time to talk about the downtown (Midtown) and consultants. This project will have several. HOK, which is known for designing ballparks will be working on Fremont’s potential downtown hub. And there will be two traffic consultants: one to be “cutting edge,” and the other to be not “cutting edge.”

Anu Natarajan wants lots of parking in the midtown (Walnut Avenue to Mowry Avenue and Paseo Padre Parkway to Fremont Boulevard)

Bob Wieckowski could go for narrow streets, with no parking and lots of sidewalk space for pedestrians.

Idea is to pre-plan the district and do all the environmental studies so developers know what they’re getting into if they build in the district.

8:30 — Now there’s a report about city measure to be more envirnomental.

City operations account for just 0.43 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Fremont.

Trash diversion rate surged to 68 percent, which means less trash going to landfill. But city won’t regulate plastic shopping bags or Styrofoam cups. Damn those forgetful middle-aged men.

8:35 — Fremont Main Library is going to get a green roof and solar panels. I just read online that the $20 Sigg water bottle I bought might have that unhealthy compound found is plastic bottles that I was trying to avoid.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gqxeMVJch30QYDYYh6ceM8sTkTrgD9AG4LRG0

8:50 — Ishan Shah has left the building. He must not care about the environment. :>) Sue Chan is now asking about waste reduction. She’s open to mandatory composting. But what about all the middle aged men who won’t be able to remember not to throw out their food?

8:53 — Natarajan asked if it’s true what Union City Mayor Mark Green said about Union City having a waste diversion rate of 72 percent. Wasserman implied that (coming from Green) he didn’t believe it. That got a big laugh from the 10 or so people still around.

Then Wasserman said this:

I’m sure if Mr. Green reads Mr. Artz’s blog, I’ll have a phone call in the morning. If they reach 72 percent g-d bless them.”

Ego boost much appreciated. But, best I can tell, no one in Union City reads the blog, except maybe Tony Acosta and Helen Kennedy. Not that many Fremont people read it either. Memo to Mark Green: Don’t take offense: Wasserman hasn’t questioned you integrity in ages:

http://www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat/2008/02/28/con-game/

9 p.m. — Nina Moore is now sitting next to me. I’m debating whether to mention that I went for a run today and haven’t showered since. Good thing for her I’m wearing my jacket

9:05 — Fremont will sign a compact on global Warming. Wasserman says it’s important even though Fremont might not reach all the goals, which include reducing gas consumption and increasing use of renewable resources for electricity.

9:20 — They’re still talking about this regional climate compact. BTW, City Manager Fred Diaz refused to talk about the SEIU negotiations. HIs review is next week. He said he’s not going to ask for a raise. He got 5 percent last year, which was slightly more than some employees and slightly less than others. It was a whole lot less than Nancy Farber’s.

9:25 — They approved the green thing. That’s a wrap.

Matt Artz

  • Irvington

    An entirely reasonable position for SEIU – I fully understand that the rank-and-file won’t be getting raises this year (as I’m sure they do), and management should share the pain.

    They’re still talking downtown? Do they know we don’t have any money? I mean NO MONEY – zip, zero? They’re still planning as if “happy days are here again”. Is this coming from the Redevelopment Fund?

    Perhaps, since he has worked as a transportation planner, Mr. Bacon could enlighten us regarding what a “cutting edge” traffic consultant might propose?

    Better not let that ballpark connection get around too much.

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

    Woo hoo! finally get mentioned after a very long drought =]. I liked the little pro-union kid!

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

    Hey now, I have homework to do! Not to mention Dawn suggested I go home to fill out some paperwork so I could mail it first thing tomorrow morning. Rest assured, I love our environment. : ] In fact, I have all members of my campaign team collect recycling and turn it in so we have a little bit of cashflow into the campaign AND are doing our part for the environment. Not to mention, I specifically chose my car for its low emissions and high gas mileage. Now that soda can Councilman Harrison was drinking… it was dumped unceremoniously into the trash, not the recycling bin!

    On an unrelated side note, I don’t understand how the blind writer Homer wrote a book thousands of years ago that is somehow driving me insane today… Darn ancient greeks and their confusing names :[

    Check out my superpower: http://www.google.com/profiles/shahforcouncil

  • Jon Simon

    Matt,
    Thanks for the coverage. It beats reading minutes. As for a narrow-roaded and wide-sidewalked downtown, blech! We just don’t have the mass transit or city design to handle that.

  • Heather

    Mr. Artz,
    I read your blog. Don’t comment so often. What’s to say about Fremont politics? Downtown? Been talking about that one for over twenty-five years. It will never happen, and I’m resigned to moving out of the area in order to get it. It will never happen in Fremont. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. End of story.

    I wish Mr. Shah didn’t so ardently comment at every opportunity – he exposes his lack of grammar at every post – ouch! and I thought MSJHS students were theoretically the best of the best? Mr. Shah, you need to think before you post, and make sure that what you post expresses your positions. That is, if you truly want to be taken seriously in your run for Council. So far, you have made a less than stellar impression with me. You might have boosted your college applications with this quixotic run, but if you are serious about City Council you have done yourself serious damage with your indiscriminate rants here on this blog.

  • DeepCreekResident

    I completely agree with you Heather, Mr. Shah this isn’t your personal twitter or facebook account. Please post your positions, that is if you have any ? Maybe you should just focus on completing your studies.

  • Eyesbright

    I couldn’t disagree more with “Heather” regarding Ishan Shah’s comments. I take Mr. Shah’s comments in context with the knowledge that he’s very young and somewhat naive. He strikes me as far more knowledgeable on the subjects about which he comments than most people his age (remember, it’s all relative and consider the comparison); he’s also more knowledgeable than many people of far greater age.
    While I tend to be a spelling and grammar “cop,” I also take in to account the venue (blog). Mr. Shah’s comments are quite acceptable; in fact, again, his writing is far superior to many people who are obviously older.
    I hope and expect that the naivety will be remedied through experience and wider reading will fill in any gaps in knowledge (lack of same about Sen. Jeff Sessions keeps coming to mind as an example).
    While Mr. Shah’s naivety and lack of knowledge would keep me from voting for him at this point, I applaud his efforts to be involved with local politics and reserve the option to change my mind about that vote as he matures.

  • Coyote Billl

    Interesting and entertaining blog on the city council meeting, please keep it up.
    I agree with Eyesbright about Ishan, I to applaud his efforts to be involved with local politics. Naivety and lack of knowledge, perhaps, but you have to start somewhere. I wish there were more like him

  • Lou Vandelay

    As with other posters to the blog, over time, what Mr. Shah posts does enlighten us about who and what he is. In this case, that’s not a bad thing – being young, enthusiastic, and energetic aren’t bad qualities. However, if you’re running for a serious local position, you need to present yourself as a serious candidate. I’m not seeing that at this point. I’m seeing potential, but I can’t vote for somebody who’ll be learning “on the job” when their job is to make major decisions about the City we all live in. Maybe try again after you get some life experience, work experience, time on a board or commission, all the stuff that imparts maturity.

    Matt, thanks for the live blog – beats watching it on public access. Curious though, after all the stuff you let slide on this blog, you feel the need to edit “God” down to “g-d”?

  • Lou Vandelay

    Off subject, but there’s a good article in East Bay Express today about the NUMMI closure:

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/news/a_tribute_to_nummi_workers/Content?oid=1190012

  • Samuelji

    Heather, & Deepcreek,

    Are you joking? Those were some of the most hurtful and disrespectful comments I’ve ever seen posted here. Heather, I’ve only posted once prior to this, that too was in defense of young Mr. Shah. I will once again rally to defend him. Aside from the singular solyndra post, which he seemed to explain fairly well to all of us. He got excited, and seemed to go into “chat mode” rather than present the usually respectful demeanor that he shows on here on a daily basis. He has never once come across as anything but a respectful young man. Shame on you for discouraging him from expressing his voice; Coyote Bill is right, we need more like him.

    On another note, the kid has repeatedly defended his actions and

  • Samuelji

    has stated his intentions on his web page which I believe Matt has posted before. Please do educate yourself. You sounded incredibly ignorant.

    I also fail to understand your reference to his poor grammar.I’m a retired English Professor. I’ve never seen him speak like a 17 year old should on this blog! If you have a problem with others posting here, I don’t think its the place for you.

    Matt, thank you for the very detailed postings my friend.

    Professor Ji

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

    I take your comments to heart everybody. I’ll try to be more professional, knock it off with the smileys and school references and such. They were just a medium through which I tried to lighten the mood and make myself seem like a more accessible person. I wasn’t aware it was undermining my credibility and will be careful to guard against it in the future.

    I assure you that I am most serious about my bid and really didn’t do this for college. I have publicly stated I will remain in the City of Fremont for the next 4 years and complete my education at one of the colleges within commuting distance of the city.

    As for the grammar, I don’t see my errors! Please do correct me if I speak incorrectly.

    Mr. Vandelay, I believe we have had this conversation before! I fully respect your view that I may be inexperienced. I sincerely hope things such as my D.C. trip and future actions will sway you come election time.

    I try to stay active on this blog so I constantly know what is going on. Its a way I educate myself. In real life I tend to be a talkative person, that translates into multiple posts here. I do not believe however, that I supersede the post counts of other active members. By simply attempting to be a part of the conversation, I accrued a large amount of posts. Perhaps Matt could show us my post count?

    If you do however feel that I comment in excess, I apologize. But, I maintain that being a vocal person is part of who I am. I just can’t change that.

  • Gus Morrison

    Matt, I like the live blog very much. You can sit through the boring parts (most) of the meetings and we can know what is going on and appreciate your weird sense of humor. Keep it up

  • Lou Vandelay

    First, Samuelji, if those were “the most hurtful and disrespectful comments (you’ve) ever seen posted here”, you haven’t read everything that gets posted here, as some of us do. I’m glad to say that our young friend hasn’t seen the worst of it yet, and I hope he never does. Unfortunately, you need to have your shin guards on in this place.

    Second, it’s not that I don’t think Ishan is respectful or intelligent or possessed of many good qualities. My point was simply that he’s still a little green. He can’t help his age or lack of life experience, it just is what it is. Perhaps he has more life experience than I am aware of – has he ever held a full-time job? Been fired or laid off? Paid taxes? Paid a mortgage or made a payroll? I’m pretty sure he hasn’t raised kids. I will check his site again to refresh my memory about exactly what he feels his qualifications for Council are.

    I certainly don’t want to discourage Ishan from posting as often as he wants and saying whatever he wishes; it’s just that some of his posts reveal to me an individual who, IMHO, is still a bit too young for a City Council seat. Even if his campaign turns out to be an early attempt at success, I’m pretty sure that we’ll be hearing from him for a good while to come.

    Gus – any ideas about how your City career might have been different if we’d had the internet or this blog back when you were getting started? Ah, the good old days!

  • Small business owner

    Ishan. Please disregard those who nit pick on your grammar, belittle you due to age, or justify the importance of “experience” as requirements for our city leadership. We need people with values, regardless of age, who has vision to move Fremont forward. Politicians/City management, with all their glorious credentials, have long been taking care of their cronies, while addressing their true constituents as “mob” or like.

    Stay on course to improve our city governance, and you’ll have my support. Thank you.

  • Gus Morrison

    Lou,

    It certainly is different now. The hardest thing today is getting your message out to the 30,000 households that vote. When I first got elected in 1978, I spent a grand total of $4700. A candidate today would never even get noticed at that amount.

    The interent and blogs like this have changed some of that, but not much for local candidates. Those who participate locally are a small group, but powerful beyond their numbers. They seem to know either far more, or far less, about local stuff, but they all have their opinions.

    Several changes beyond technology have made the process different. IN 1978, the election was in March and it was just city council. You could reduce the voting universe and campaign to only those who actually voted in local elections. Later the election moved to November of odd numbered years when the school board had their election. About that time, computers entered into the equation and you could purchase a data base of those who actually voted in that election. Today, you can buy that data from the county for less than $200.

    When you can reduce the voting universe to those who vote, you cut the costs significantly. We have no mass media which can get to the voters affordably, so one either has to walk door to door or mail. Since we now have, again, moved the election to the same election where we elect a president or a governor, we have to compete in the most expensive election, with the highest turn out. Much or most of the money spent is wasted on people who simply either don’t vote or don’t care enough to make good decisions on candidates beyond their ballot designation.

    So, in 1978, without computers, without any mail, people actually were able to walk door to door and talk to the voters. Today, with the huge electorate and the growth of the city, it isn’t possible to do what I did then.

    Will there come a time when the internet plays a larger role in local elections? You bet, especially when the “local” paper ignores the mayoral election, ignores any responsibility to provide an editorial recommendation, and instead focuses on fringe candidates who run no campaign, spend no money, and have little or no background in local issues or causes.

    The internet has done a great job nationally, but it has done so because of the fact that, while we are a small blip locally, collectively we can make an impact. Check ActBlue and see how much money was donated to the opponent of Joe Wilson who shouted “You lie.” to the president last night. When I last looked, it was close to $400,000 from 6000 contributors. That is the power of the internet. Maybe someday, it will have similar powers locally.

    My fix to my frustration? We should move all the local elections, city, schools, special districts, etc back to November of odd numbered years, allowing people who care about local issues and candidates an election where their vote counts. Now, if everyone shows up to vote for president, 90% of them vote for mayor and about 75% of them vote for council. Moving the election would reduce the cost for candidates, allow them to have their mail or other material not be buried in state and national mailings, and maybe even get noticed by whatever local media survives.

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

    Thank you Owner for those additional kind words. I took what you all said and did my best to release the most serious platform paper yet: education.

    http://ishanforcouncil.com/?PageID=39

    I believe it addresses a very important issue in a tone you all may find more appropriate.