Most of you guys got Wieckowski’s “Give our economy a JOLT” mailer earlier this month.
In it he makes several claims:
- Creating thousands of local middle class jobs
- Attracting high-tech companies to our region
- Establishing job training programs and workforce development
- Hiring more police and firefighters
Below the image are excerpts from a Q&A I did the the Fremont Councilman, in which he explains the basis for the claims. Spoiler Alert: Fremont this year is budgeting fewer police and fire department employees than the summer before Wieckowski joined the council.
Warning!!! This is going to be a long post. If you’re not into politics scroll way down for cute Chihuahua photos:
TCB: Explain how you created “thousands of middle class jobs”
Wieckowski: “The BART Extension. If we look at the BART extension I think we can agree that those are good middle class jobs.” And the Grade Separation … That was during my entire time in office.”
“I think that that’s legitimate for a city council member to claim that, ‘I did that.'” … “Once the City Council approves it, you have ownership of it. I think you take ownership of it if it’s a catastrophe, but if it’s a success you take ownership of that as well … I think the public sector does create jobs.”
TCB: Should you take the blame for jobs lost by the NUMMI closure?
Wieckowski: “I don’t take the blame for NUMMI. … (mentions that city under Gus Morrison lobbied for the Prius to be built in Fremont) … It’s not like this city hasn’t been active. If a private landowner decides he doesn’t want to do it….”
TCB: Using your criteria for creating jobs, couldn’t I claim to have created thousands of jobs by voting in favor of a state infrastructure bond measure — that bond money goes toward hiring people?
Wieckowski: “You’re reaching. As an elected official I have control over how (money) is spent. That sets me apart from citizens. You don’t have any authority to direct how that money would be spent as a citizen other than to approve this much money being raised.”
TCB: Couldn’t Garrett Yee also claim to have created thousands of jobs with the new Ohlone campus in Newark?
Wieckowski: Garrett was running for election when they had the bond (that paid for the new campus).” He didn’t get sworn in until the same time that the Ohlone bond was approved. I would agree with that (giving Yee credit for creating jobs), if Garrett had been on the Ohlone board and voted to put the measure on the ballot…”
“I think John Weed (a longer-serving Ohlone board member) could say (he’s) responsible for thousands of jobs.”
TCB: Name some of the high-tech companies you’ve attracted to our region?
Wieckowski: “There’s a whole list of new companies that have come in. I think I (pause) My claim to attracting them is creating the environment in Fremont that we want to be green.”
(He’s saying that by pushing for sustainable policies like the Styrofoam ban, he’s creating a climate that attracts green tech companies to Fremont)
He added about the mailer:
“It’s a propaganda piece. I’m taking liberties with my use of action words.”
TCB: Explain how you established job training programs.
Wieckowski: “I participated with Kennedy High School (on setting up their Green Academy). I didn’t do much (except for going there) and showing my support. Now they have something. I’ve just been friendly with them.”
TCB: Explain how you’ve hired more police and firefighters:
Wieckowski: (He says that he’s asked the city to give him the precise figures on sworn officers from when he took office in Dec. 2004 and now.
Note: I don’t have those figures. I do know that the eight new police positions authorized by the council in mid-2007 were never filled. I also know that according to this year’s city budget, Police Department staffing is budgeted for 287 full-time equivalent employees. In the 2004/2005 budget, It was 299 FTE’s — a decrease of 12.
As for fire, The department is budgeted for 152 FTEs this year. In 2004-2005, it was 153 — a decrease of one.
- Wieckowski pointed to grants for the future Sabercat Park and the Grimmer Greenbelt (his creation) to back up the claim that “he’s also secured millions of dollars to create new parks and recreational opportunities.”
- He noted that he was the council’s point person on transportation issues and funding to back up the claims that he “created jobs” and “helped secure over $200 million for local projects including a BART extension.”
- He’s saying that his participation in the city’s trade mission to China helped retain jobs for employees at two Chinese-owned companies doing business in Fremont. Wieckowski volunteered to be the council’s representative after Mayor Wasserman backed out because of a social obligation. Councilmember Cho threw a fit over the mayor not going and refused to go, and the vice mayor at the time, Bill Harrison, also declined to attend.
- Obviously Wieckowski’s polling shows that jobs are the big issue. The problem is that if every elected official overseeing taxpayer money can individually take credit for spending that money in a way that creates jobs, then job creation is not such a unique skill.
- Another problem is that the mailer’s interpretation of job creation could be so different from that of most voters, many of them who get this piece might just scratch their heads and wonder if Wieckowski has spent the past six years as president of Google or the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
- The irony is that of Fremont’s five council members, Wieckowski might have the best claim to an independent record in the three years I’ve been covering things. Obviously you need three votes to do anything, but it’s hard to imagine the council banning Styrofoam food packaging without Wieckowski and it’s hard to imagine there being any hope for a Children’s Natural History Museum without him either. I asked him about that. He answered by mentioning his effort four years ago for a permanent Hayward Fault exhibit at Central Park. “It’s hard to get that on a flier,” he said.
- This might be the last edition of Campaign Mailer Watch. It’s 9:16 on a Saturday night. Not good. This should have been my Lady Gaga hour.