Fremont council to select new council member through appointment process

The City Council on Tuesday decided that it will appoint its fifth council member from a field of applicants, avoiding the costs of a special election.

The council — comprised of new Mayor Bill Harrison, Anu Natarajan, Sue Chan and newcomer Vinnie Bacon — will fill the seat Harrison vacated after he was elected mayor last month.

Candidates for the job must submit their application to the office of City Clerk Nadine Nader by noon, Dec. 21. Nader said special council meeting for reviewing the applications has been tentatively scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., Jan. 9.

At that meeting, council members also will decide on the details of the interviewing process. They might select a candidate based on their discussions of the candidates; or they could rank the top three-to-five candidates and interview them later; or they could decide to interview all candidates.

Nader said if council members decide to interview candidates, their questions will be posed at a special council meeting tentatively scheduled at 6 p.m., Jan. 14. They then likely would select their top candidate at that meeting.

The selected council member would be sworn in at a Feb. 5 council meeting, Nader said.

It would be the third time in little more than three years that a new member was appointed to the council, rather than chosen in a special election. In 2010, Fremont council members appointed Dominic Dutra to replace Bob Wieckowski, who resigned from the council after being elected to the state Assembly. Earlier this year, Gus Morrison was appointed to sit on the council as mayor, replacing Mayor Bob Wasserman after he died late last year.

Each applicant must be a Fremont resident, Nader said. For more information, call 510-284-4060 or email cclerk@fremont.gov.


Fremont City Council: Chan and Bacon sworn in Tuesday

Incumbent Councilwoman Sue Chan was sworn in by her husband, Dr. Steven Chan.

Sue Chan looked over the past four years and quoted Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We had a roller coaster of ups and downs that would rival any ride at Great America.”

But Chan also noted the sunny budget figures that were provided by city officials at the meeting. “Together we weathered the storm … We’ll be building our general fund reserve. This is a significant and impressive accomplishment.”

The same could be said of Vinnie Bacon shaking off two consecutive election losses before finally winning last November. Bacon made light of his newbie status on the council when he first sat on the dais, joining Chan, Mayor Bill Harrison and Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan.

“This is weird,” Bacon said with a smile.

Harrison replied, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, Vinnie.”

Bacon was sworn in by his teenage son, Patrick, who spoke from the heart as only kids can:  “Every Saturday and Sunday morning (during the election campaign), I handed out fliers for my dad and wondered, ‘Is this really worth it?’ And now, after being here, I realize it was worth it.”


The Harrison Era Begins

It started with tears and ended with laughter. That might explain the past four years in Fremont, which, like all California cities, have had to battle the double whammy of a terrible economy and a state fiscal crisis.

It also explains the swearing in of new Mayor Bill Harrison and council members Sue Chan and Vinnie Bacon. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty swore in Harrison, his old friend. Haggerty started to cry during his comments but he forged through long enough to note that their fathers were good friends with each other and the previously elected mayor. “I had this vision that Bill’s father and my father were looking down, but there was a guy in the middle and had his arms around our fathers … and it was Bob Wasserman.”

Harrison, a witty guy who may set a record for mayoral quips, thanked his wife, Jennifer, and their two sons, and his mother. All were in attendance Tuesday.

“We all have to answer to people,” Harrison said. “I’m in a unique situation in that I have to answer to my mom.”

He then echoed his campaign comments, saying how excited he is to steer proposed projects like the Fremont downtown development and the Warm Springs BART plan. He then used a line oft-spoken by the late Bob Wasserman, who was Harrison’s mentor.

“We’re going to build a community where people can live, work, shop or play, and most importantly, raise a family.”



Gus Morrison’s final night as Fremont mayor

During the emotional City Council meeting Tuesday night, Gus Morrison’s speech stood out for its straightforward delivery and heartfelt conviction. Morrison was elected to mayor for five terms, but was in retirement when he was appointed to serve again as mayor earlier this year, when Mayor Bob Wasserman died. The standing-room only crowd gave Morrison a standing ovation when he was given a special pin noting his more than 25 years of service to Fremont.

After the ovation died down, Morrison noted that Fremont has changed greatly since 1960, when it was a town of just 40,000 people, and included just 700 Asians and less than 20 African Americans. Morrison said he was proud of the changes the city has undergone since then.

“We built a special place,” he said. “We need to protect it for the future.”

Fighting back tears while reading from prepared remarks, Morrison gave advice to the present council and future ones:

“Do your homework as well as you can. Try your best to not make up your mind until after you’ve heard the public speak … many times people have changed my direction. So, do that. That’s the best advice I can give.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Always ask the next question. Don’t feel like it’s a dumb question — you can always say, ‘This may be a dumb question, but …’ Because if you ask two more questions, you may find the guy was just blowing smoke.

Stand firm on principle. Don’t compromise your principles.

And, of course, always protect the hills and the wetlands.

I’ll be watching and occasionally commenting. When you do well, I’ll shout it from the mountaintops. When you mess up, I’ll tell you directly. I look forward to doing a lot of shouting.

Good luck. Good night.”



Morrison and Dutra say goodbye

As with most nights filled with goodbyes and dreams fulfilled, the City Council on Tuesday was rife with emotion. The night featured more public embraces than a soap opera, more than a few people shed more than a few tears, and there were a few small surprises — Dominic Dutra quoting Oscar Wilde?!

Dutra, clearly a well-liked councilman among his peers, went first, saying he was humbled to serve and it was a privilege to serve the combined six years on the council (with two different terms).  “I love Oscar Wilde’s saying: Be yourself because everybody else is taken. I tried to be myself … and I hope I made a difference.”

Gus Morrison went next (here’s a longer blog post on his farewell speech). Morrison was appointed mayor earlier this year when Mayor Bob Wasserman died. Bill Harrison replaced Morrison at the meeting. With his voice quivering, face turning flush red and eyes moistening, Morrison noted that he had served on 16 of Fremont’s 35 city councils, and served with 24 of the 42 council members. Not everyone loves Morrison (hey, ya’ cant please everybody), but the respect for him by just about all in the room was evident. The packed crowd gave him a standing ovation when he was given a pin for his 25 years-plus of service to Fremont.

Fellow council members spoke their kudos for both Dutra and Morrison. Councilwoman Sue Chan said of Dutra: “Dominic, I am so honored to know you. You have been such a servant. I don’t think people know what a role model you are to me … You will be missed. I know this won’t be the last time we see of you.”

Vice Mayor Anu Natarajan said of Morrison: “Here is a man who loves being mayor. He’s made for it, he has a passion for it, he’s convinced us that being mayor is the sexiest job on earth.  (crowd laughed) He made a difference in a year; he wanted us to be a better council and, Gus, you did that.”



Union City to launch ‘Shop Local’ program Thursday

City officials and the Union City Chamber of Commerce have scheduled an event this week to launch a program encouraging residents to shop at local businesses during the holidays and beyond.

The free discount program, Shop Local Union City, aims to reward shoppers who make purchases at at Union City stores, said Rhea Serran, a city spokeswoman. The program lowers prices for participating shoppers and directs a portion of proceeds to help fund Centro de Servicios, a Union City charity that serves 10,000 Tri-City-area families.

Shopping locally has other long-term benefits, including bolstering the city’s tax base and creating jobs for community residents, Serran said.

Shop Local Union City kicks off with an event scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, at 32083 Alvarado-Niles Road.

Free exhibitor tables will be available there for Union City businesses. To reserve a table, local merchants can contact Christine Friday, Union City’s economic development manager, at 510-675-5396 or at cfriday@unioncity.org.

For more information, visit www.shoplocalunioncity.com.


Christmastime is Here

That’s not just the name of my favorite holiday song, via “Peanuts” and Bay Area jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi.

In Fremont, Christmas means the Niles Canyon Railway Train of Lights, which runs between Sunol and Niles many times during the holiday season. It’s on my Christmas to-do list  this year.

And judging by the great photo slide show put together by my colleague, Aric Crabb, it’s going to be awesome.



Fremont event slated Saturday to benefit fly fishing program helping veterans with PTSD

I’m working on a story regarding a group of U.S. war veterans who have started a program to help fellow vets deal with PTSD. I’ll have more on this next week. Great people and a wonderful, yet under-the-radar, cause. In the meantime, below is some info letting people know about the group’s fundraiser, which is slated this weekend:

A fundraising dinner benefiting a program that helps combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is scheduled for Saturday.

All proceeds of the event will go toward Veterans First Fly Fishing, a program that uses fly-fishing activities to improve veterans’ focus and motor skills while steering them away from paths to addiction and self-destructive behavior.

The event will be held at Fremont Elks Lodge at 38991 Farwell Drive The fundraiser’s no-host bar opens at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Individual tickets will cost $50, while a table for 10 will be $450.

To purchase tickets online, go to www.nccfff.org.

For more information on tickets, call 510-909-4304 or 510-793-7913.


Newark Crime of the Week

Newark Police Blotter — Nov. 25 – Dec. 1

Sunday, November 25

2027 Hours: Officers investigated a residential burglary on Elmwood Street. Entry was gained through the “doggy” door in the backyard. The loss was two MacBook Pro computers, a Sony gaming system and jewelry. The burglary occurred between 1600-2000 hours.

2234 Hours: A bicycle stop by Officers resulted in the arrest of a male transient, 38,  for being under the influence of Methamphetamine.

2253 Hours: A citizen on Plummer Ave. noticed a neighbor’s front door was open at 1730 hours but waited over five hours before calling Police to report it. Officers responded and found the front door had been kicked open and the residence was ransacked. The loss is unknown at this time.

Monday, November 26, 2012

0756 Hours: Officers investigated a collision on Newark Boulevard and subsequently arrested an 18 year old woman for being an unlicensed driver and hit-and-run.

1655 Hours: Officers investigated an injury accident at Cedar Boulevard and Joaquin Murieta Avenue.

1716 Hours: Officers saw a subject riding his bicycle on the wrong side of the street and tried to make an enforcement stop. Transient, 38,  took off and jumped into the rear yard in the 6200 block of Radcliff Avenue. Caton was taken into custody for resisting arrest, prowling and an outstanding felony arrest warrant.

1732 Hours: Officers from Fremont and Newark responded to the area of Thornton Avenue and Hwy 84 for a roll-over accident. The vehicle was located on Hwy 84 at the beginning of the E/B off-ramp to Thornton Ave. The collision was handled by the California Highway Patrol with Newark officers providing traffic control.

2330 Hours: Officers investigated an indecent exposure incident on Crestmont Avenue. A citizen noticed a suspect standing in front of his neighbor’s house with his pants down. The suspect was described as a White Male Adult in his 30’s.

Tuesday, November 27

2147 Hours: Officers arrested Newark woman, 50, for DUI after she was involved in a collision at Cedar Boulevard and Breton Drive.

Wednesday, November 28

1127 Hours: Officers investigated an attempted robbery that occurred on Tuesday night I.F.O Cousin Café located at 39193 Cedar Boulevard. According to the victim, he was serving a table outside of the restaurant last night when an unknown suspect produced a firearm and demanded his iPhone. The victim pushed the suspect and the suspect fled without the goods.

0033 Hours: Officers conducted a probation search of room at the EZ8 Motel. A search of a motel room yielded two small baggies of methamphetamine. San Jose woman, 29, and Fremont man, 32, were arrested for Possession of Methamphetamine.

Thursday, November 29

1232 Hours: Officers were sent to Sears at Newpark Mall for a report of a shoplifter in-custody. Union City man, 21, was arrested for petty theft.

1301 Hours: Officers located an abandoned vehicle without any wheels behind 8477 Central Avenue. The vehicle was reported stolen out of Fremont PD the day prior.

1328 Hours: NPD units were summoned to Madeira’s Liquors at 6714 Thornton Avenue for a report of a robbery that had just occurred. As it turns out the store was getting their delivery of beer which resulted in multiple pallets of Modelo being stacked in the entry way leading into the store. Two male adult suspects helped themselves to the beer; the manager took offense and ended up getting punched in the face numerous times. Both suspects fled the scene. The manager went to the hospital with facial injuries.

1340 Hours: Units were dispatched to Colbert Street for a hit-and-run collision that had just occurred. While en-route dispatchers advised the suspect vehicle was at Mayhews Landing and the railroad tracks with the driver slumped over the steering wheel. Newark man, 48, was arrested for hit-and-run.

1800 Hours: Officers arrested Newark woman, 43,  for Petty Theft after she was caught shoplifting at JC Penney.

Friday, November 30

0641 Hours: Officers investigated an attempted auto burglary that occurred overnight in the 5100 of Elmwood Avenue. The vehicle’s window was smashed, but nothing was taken.

0718 Hours: Officer responded to the 35000 block of Cherry Street to investigate a vehicle theft, while en route, officers located the vehicle abandoned on Cherry Street., near Picardy Place with the engine running and no keys with the vehicle.

0804 Hours: Officers investigated a stolen vehicle in the 36000 block of Cherry Street which occurred overnight.

1159 Hours: Officers investigated a residential burglary in the 36000 block of Ruschin Drive that occurred during the early morning hours. The house had been ransacked. Entry was made through a side window that had been smashed. Loss is still being determined.

1411 Hours: Officers investigated a residential burglary in the 7000 block of Fountaine Avenue that occurred during the early morning hours. The house was ransacked and entry was made through an open rear window. Loss and this time is currency.

2156 Hours: Officers assigned to the Newpark Mall crime suppression detail contacted Milpitas man, 23, who was arrested for possession of “hash”.

2240 Hours: Officers investigated a residential burglary in the 36000 block of Christine Street, which occurred between 1700-2230 Hours. The suspect(s) forced entry by kicking-in a side garage door. At the time of the initial contact, the victim was unsure of the loss.

2342 Hours: Officer’s responded to Buena Vista and Parada Street after a citizen called NPD to report a suspicious vehicle parked in the area. Contacted were a Newark man, 18; an East Palo Alto man, 21; and a Newark woman, 19.  During the course of their investigation they located alcohol inside of the vehicle as well as property stolen from the previously listed residential burglary. The trio was arrested for possession of stolen property.

0155 Hours: Officers documented a hit-and-run collision at the intersection of Cherry Street and Smith Avenue. An unknown vehicle completely sheared a fire hydrant.

Saturday, December 1

1708 Hours:Officers responded to Sears and accepted a Citizen’s Arrest of two Juveniles for petty theft.

Any person with any information concerning these incidents can contact the non-emergency line at (510) 578-4237. Information can also be left anonymously on the “silent witness” hotline at (510) 578-4965.