Memory Lane: Newark the city that never said no

memory laneI’m trying to learn about Newark and came across this story written in 2002 by Marian Liu. At that time, no council member had cast a dissenting vote in nearly five years.  Alberto Torrico eventually ended the streak before he left for the State Assembly.

Here’s the story:

Newark — the city that never says no.

For nearly five years, no matter what the issue, Newark City Council members have voted unanimously on every single item on their agenda. And what’s more, they voted yes each time.

“If this isn’t a record, it’s got to be damn close to a record, ” said Bruce Cain, a political science professor at the University of California-Berkeley. “It’s the first time I’ve heard of such a thing.”

Council members attribute the trend to careful planning and teamwork, but experts worry that this may mean differing views are stifled or ignored.

“I steer the agenda in such a way that I can anticipate basically by just knowing how the council has acted in the past, but I have no crystal ball on how they are going to vote, ” City Manager Alberto Huezo said. “How they vote, that’s not really my job; it’s really theirs.” Continue Reading


Fremont Barnes & Noble to close

barnesI got this tip from here.

And I confirmed it this morning. The woman at Barnes & Noble said the store at Mowry Avenue and Fremont Boulevard was closing over a dispute with its landlord. Business was pretty good, she said, so the chain might open a new Fremont store in a few years — maybe one that isn’t across the street from Borders.

The store closes at the end of the year. In 2011 the nearest Barnes & Noble will be in Stevens Creek. I didn’t even realize that was a real city. I thought it was just an auto mall.


Fremont News of the Day

From the cops:
Two men started fighting inside the Florence bar in lovely Niles. A third male got involved to back his buddy, and a fight broke out. One man brandished a knife and the other man brandished an Air-Soft gun, which folks mistook for the real thing. All three went to jail.

From lovely Niles:  UPDATE: Tortoise was found.
Boz, a 30-something-pound desert tortoise ran away from his home on School Street. Let me know if you see him, and pray he doesn’t come across any roadrunners or gila monsters.  He probably looks something like this:tortoise


Comings and goings

I used to write for a rag called the Daily Planet, which only came out twice a week. Now I blog for The Tri-City Beat, which only covers one city.

But the blog’s name was never supposed to be a misnomer. And maybe soon it won’t be.

This post is being written by the Argus’ new Fremont/Newark reporter. Yowza, as Mayor Smith might say.

I’m also the Argus’ new Tuesday and Thursday cops and court reporter, which is pretty scary because I’ve got a tin ear for the police scanner. Sometimes I even forget to turn it on.

In both beats I’ll be replacing a reporter who rocked the scanner with the best in the biz, Ben Aguirre. Ben has left the paper and his cool facial hair behind for an exciting opportunity. We wish him well and his favorite baseball team misfortune galore.

Now for the good news. Replacing Ben — and in some ways replacing Linh Tat, Todd R. Brown and Jonathan Jones — will be former Argus reporter and editor Rob Dennis.

If you read The Argus for the better part of the last decade, you know that Rob is the real deal, and if you followed this blog during the early days, you know that he can kvetch with the best of them.

I was bummed when he left two years ago to make that documentary, and I’m stoked that he’s back here covering schools and Union City as well as cops and courts three days a week. I’m still “covering” Ohlone College and Washington Hospital.

One more thing: Last weekend we recorded our 13,000th approved blog comment. I really appreciate you guys reading and contributing. It gives me a lot of good ideas and insights.

For the most part, the comments this election season were less mean-spirited and vindictive than during the 2008 election. But there’s been a recent upsurge in personal attacks.

It’s very difficult and time consuming to police the blog. And I’m a sucker for feistiness and free debate. I’m also not a big fan of rules. So, I’m appealing to your better nature to keep it reasonably clean and civil. I’m also retaining the right to indiscriminately edit comments that cross the line and replace curses and personal attacks with random bits of Yiddish.

A dank oyf leyenung


Sam, I am?

wassermanPress release headline:

Mayor Sam Wasserman proclaims Hot, Flat and Crowded as Book of the Year

Press Release:

Dear Editors:
Attached is a news press release highlighting the Fremont City Council Proclamation that encourages all citizens of Fremont to read this year’s One Book, One Community selection of Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat and Crowded. 
The Mayor endorsed the book for the whole city to read at the Tuesday, November 9 City Council Meeting. 


A’s Wolff: Fremont official grandstanded

UPDATE: City Manager Fred Diaz doesn’t know what Lew Wolff is referring to. I don’t either. Also A’s stadium blogger Marine Layer thinks Wolff’s grandstanding remark refers to Oakland. See comments.

For a must-read interview with A’s General Partner Lew Wolff, click here.

Here’s a key snippet from Wolff:

As noted before we spent close to $80 million, of which, just give me a second – I have that number exactly someplace. I’ll give you a sheet with the number, I just can’t find it but I have it. We spent say $80 million of which roughly half is ancillary real estate, of which now that $40 million is worth $20 million – but we didn’t know that.

And, we’ve written off another $28 to 35 million for EIRs (environmental impact reports) and hundreds of architectural costs. So anybody who says that that was some kind of head fake is totally, absolutely wrong. But I will submit to you at sometime if I can’t find it here, the exact number that we are out.

Here, I have a sheet with the numbers on it – and remember, this is about a year ago now. $80 million to the city of Fremont. $25 million to $30 million absolutely non-recoverable. Now I talked to one owner who told me that nobody would do that without knowing they can go ahead …

That’s why when I read – I won’t name the person – but some official in town say I’m lying…I’ve lived my entire life developing properties in cities. Never blaming others for what I can’t get done. So when someone says, “Wolff overstates his scrutiny of the city’s proposed stadium. I know what a developer is really looking in what we’re doing and evaluating. Lew Wolff did not do that.” Now, it is this person who simply making up a story for their own grandstanding purposes.


Newark/Fremont News of the Day

fremontFrom the cops:

Two men enter the Chase Bank in Newark about 9:37 a.m. Wednesday. They vault over the teller’s counter, whip out a gun and announce “This is a robbery.” Problem was, the cash drawers were empty and their Plan B was to flee the bank without cash.


Appointment candidates

I’ve just about finished a story about the upcoming appointment to fill Bob Wieckowski’s City Council seat.

No surprise that council members don’t think Vinnie Bacon’s strong third place finish entitles him to the appointment. Mayor Wasserman said that if that were the case, the council would have needed to make that clear well before election so that the other folks who want the appointment would have known to run.

The council is going to start the appointment process on Dec. 7. They have 30 days to make a decision. They picked Anu Natarajan before Christmas in 2004.

So who’s in?

Here are the folks who told me they plan to apply
1) Planning Commissioner Dirk Lorenz
2) Planning Commissioner David Bonaccorsi, who added that he hasn’t done any legal work for John Dutra for a couple of years.
3) Planning Commissioner Rakesh Sharma, who finished fourth in 2004
4) Human Relations Commissioner Raj Salwan, who’s also a veterinarian and a member of a family that owns mucho property in Hayward.

Folks who might
1) Planning Commissioner Yogi Chugh. I’m expect him to apply, but he says he needs to hear what the process is going to be.
2) Planning Commissioner Roman Reed. He says he’s considering it even though he’s only been on the commission for a few months.
3) Trisha Tahmasbi. She hasn’t responded to my text message yet, but Wieckowski said if he had a vote — and he doesn’t — He’d pick Trisha.

Folks who won’t.
1) Nina Moore. No means no, she says.

In 2004, Lorenz argued that his strong election showing merited the seat. He’s had a change of heart.

“As I reflect back, I think they made the right decision (selecting Natarajan),” he said. “It needs to be an open process, and they need to pick the best candidate.”

For more on how it went down in 2004, here’s what the Mercury News’ Lisa Fernandez wrote about it:

Until this week, you could have looked at a portrait of the Fremont City Council and never have known that the burgeoning ethnoburb of the diverse Bay Area is “home away from home” for many immigrants from India.Now, for the first time, the East Bay will have an Indo-American on a city council. Anu Natarajan will represent Fremont, a city of 210,000, including 20,000 of Indian descent.

Natarajan, 42, a Bangalore-born architect and urban planner, was appointed Tuesday night in a 3-1 council vote to fill a vacancy on the five-member council. She is the fifth female council member in Fremont, and the only current one. Continue Reading


Avoid Mission / Mowry intersection

Photo by Anda Chu


A big rig truck overturned, forcing the closure of westbound Mowry at Mission.

More from the cops:

Big-rig overturned at Mowry/Mission Blvd. Westbound Mowry estimated to be closed until 3pm.

A big-rig truck turning onto westbound Mowry Ave. from Mission Blvd overturned at 1125 hrs. today.  The truck is currently blocking westbound Mowry Ave, although eastbound traffic is able to pass.  The truck may not be righted for several hours.  When the equipment needed to right the truck arrives, eastbound traffic will also be stopped for up to an hour.


Farewell to sushi

A not so young, not so old, Mission San Jose native emailed me that Sei Sho Sushi has closed in the shopping center housing the Mission San Jose Post Office. For loyal customers, I hear the Mission has a great 7-Eleven and a Subway. Or there’s always McDonalds.