Fremont teachers’ no-layoff clause controversy

What was supposed to be a united rally against state budget cuts and a push for local school funding turned into an attack on the Fremont teachers’ union and the no-layoff clause for permanent teachers in its contract during last night’s education/budget forum.


Overall, the event was a tame affair. Three or four dozen people attended — about half of which I recognized as elected officials, school administrators or the super-involved parents who serve on various school committees. A couple of the organizers said after the event that they had hoped for a larger turnout and agreed that perhaps they had been preaching to the choir. Nevertheless, they’re hoping those who heard their message will pass it on to others in the community.


That message being that the fiscal crisis the district finds itself in (about a $20 million deficit) is the fault of the state Legislature which keeps making cuts to education; that there needs to be a Constitutional amendment so that state budgets no longer need two-thirds legislative approval to pass; and that it behooves everyone in the community to support a local schools parcel tax. Continue Reading


Newark teens IDed in murder, attempted suicide

Although investigators have not released the name of the teen believed to have been shot to death by her ex-boyfriend before turning the gun on himself Friday, multiple outside sources have identified the girl as Amanda Caravantes and the suspect as Erik Petersen, both 17.

Both teens attended Newark Memorial High at some point, and Petersen still is enrolled there, according to sources.

Community members have called a candlelight vigil at 7 tonight near Newark Junior High (at Lafayette Ave./Newark Blvd.).

The text in blue is a statement from the Newark school district:

The Newark Unified School District and the Newark Memorial High School community are saddened by the tragic loss and injury of two young people on Friday night in Fremont. 

In order to provide support to students and staff who may know these families, the District will have counselors and psychologists on call this week.  Parents and students are encouraged to contact school staff if they need, or know of anyone who needs support regarding this incident.

Please join us in keeping these young people and their families in your thoughts.


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. Continue Reading


Fremont tax

As an acolyte of New York tabloid sports reporters, it was my duty to play up Mayor Wasserman’s tax hike suggestion for all it’s worth in tomorrow’s paper.  But my sense is it’s not going to happen.

I just talked to Bob Wieckowski, who called me after my very early deadline. All our deadlines are very early these days.

Wieckowksi wasn’t too keen on the tax proposal. Considering that he’s been the council’s most vocal advocate for higher taxes and better services, that doesn’t bode well for tax fans.

Wieckowski said Wasserman’s suggestion came out of nowhere, and questioned whether there’s “the political mojo” to pass a tax measure.


Wasserman broaches asking voters for a tax hike

Mayor Wasserman just spiced up an otherwise dull City Council meeting by bringing up the idea of proposing some kind of tax hike.

“I think it’s something the council should think about,” he said. “If there’s a desire to do it, I’m 99 percent sure there’s an opportunity before the next general election”

It didn’t appear that Wasserman has done a lot of homework on this. He first asked about the deadline for a November ballot. He was told it had passed, although I’m not sure there even will be an election in Fremont this November.

Then he asked if there was a vote in March. The primary is in June, but the school district might choose to ask for a special parcel tax in that election. A city tax proposal wouldn’t help the schools’ tax hike bid one bit.

Councilmember Sue Chan asked about the potential conflict. She said, “It would probably be a good idea to monitor that.” Everyone seemed to agree.


Fremont and Fast Food

Men’s Health Magazine has officially turned on Fremont. A few years ago the dude rag named Fremont as the Best City for Men.

But since then Men’s Health named Fremont one of the drunkest cities (Please don’t blame Niles) and now, Fremont is near the top of the list as one of the most fast food dependent cities in the country.

If my co-workers are any indication, Men’s Health has finally hit hit the nail on the head.


Stark not concerned about town hall meetings

Congressman Pete Stark, D-Fremont, does not plan to cancel or change the format of three upcoming town hall meetings in light of demonstrations at similar forums nationwide in protest of Obama’s proposed health care reform. (Over the past week, other congressional leaders have received threats, called off their town hall meetings or switched to teleconferencing with their constituents to avoid a potential showdown.)

Stark chairs the Ways and Means Committee’s health subcommittee and helped draft major portions of Obama’s plan, which, he acknowledged, could make him a target for protesters. A staff member in his Fremont office said she expects that there will be security at the town hall meetings, even though neither Stark nor his office have received threats.

Saturday’s meetings are scheduled for the following times/locations:

* 9-10 a.m.: Fremont Senior Center, 40086 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont.

* 10:30-11:30 a.m.: San Leandro City Hall, 835 E. 14th St., San Leandro

* Noon-1 p.m.: Alameda City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda

“If all (the demonstrators) do is come and scream, what can I do? There’s no law against it. You just have to be patient and hope that everybody can be polite and maybe they’ll get some questions answered. Or maybe they can make a point about their belief of how the bill should be written,” said Stark, who has erupted into impassioned speech himself during public meetings.

Read more comments from the congressman in Thursday’s Argus.


Omeed Popal heading back to court on Monday

Fremont resident Omeed Popal, the guy charged with murder in connection with the 2006 hit and run spree that killed a man in Fremont and left more than a dozen injured in San Francisco, is headed back to court on Monday. Baring some unforeseen event, he will be arraigned on the murder charge and then likely plead not guilty, which is pretty standard. Popal is currently being held in an Alameda County jail without bail.