Union City planning commissioners fined for laundering council race contributions

UNION CITY — Two Union City planning commissioners have been fined for laundering campaign contributions during the 2010 City Council race.

Gurnam “Gary” Singh and Jo Ann Lew violated state law when they contributed money to Singh’s election committee in the name of other people, the Fair Political Practices Commission has ruled.

Singh and Lew, treasurer of the Gary Singh for City Council 2010 committee, waived their rights to a hearing and agreed to pay a $15,000 fine, the agency said in a ruling posted online Monday.

“These violations denied the public of information regarding the true source of Gary Singh’s financial support, during the time when he was running for … City Council,” the agency stated in its ruling.

Singh, a Union City planning commissioner for the past eight years, lost his 2010 bid for City Council, finishing fourth with about 14.5 percent of the vote.

He declined to comment on the fine Tuesday, saying he was too busy at work to discuss it.

Lew, the Planning Commission’s current chair, could not be reached for comment

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Union City considers extending sales tax

‘Tis the season for new taxes, it seems.

UNION CITY — The city may ask residents to renew a 4-year-old sales tax that has generated millions of dollars for the city.

Without the extension, a half-cent sales tax Union City voters passed in 2010 will expire April 1 next year, city leaders said. The tax pays for police, firefighters, libraries, street maintenance and other essential services, city leaders said.

Union City expects to spend 80 percent of this year’s $45.4 million general fund budget on public safety and public works, according to a city budget report.

“The idea is that the tax makes us nearly $4.5 million per year, and we need that money to maintain current services,” City Manager Larry Cheeves said.

As voters are asked again to help fill financial gaps, city leaders pledge that they are doing all they can to improve Union City’s budget.

The City Council on Tuesday will discuss the tax, which city staffers recommend putting on the ballot. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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Newark considering closing “crime-plagued” motel

The motel’s co-owner says reports of crime are overblown, but Newark leaders and police say it’s been a chronic problem. The Planning Commission will consider the issue Wednesday night. 

NEWARK — As a crime-plagued motel continues straining limited police resources, city leaders are taking steps to shut it down.

While the motel’s co-owner says reports of crime at the E-Z 8 Motel have been overblown, city staffers describe it as a haven for gangsters and other criminals. The Newark Planning Commission has scheduled a special meeting Wednesday to consider putting it out of business.

“The operation of this motel is injurious and detrimental to the public health,” City Attorney David Benoun said Friday. “It’s in the interest of our citizens that this issue be addressed.”

Motel co-owner Jerry Cannon says the city’s accusations are untrue and that crime at the Newark motel has dropped significantly since 2010.

“We think it’s a safe place to stay,” Cannon said in a phone interview. “We have been communicating with the city as recently as Friday afternoon, and we’re confident we can reach an agreement before the commission’s meeting.

City staffers paint a different picture of the 141-room motel at 5555 Cedar Court, next to Interstate 880 and Cedar Boulevard.

The motel has seen serious crimes, including murder, sexual assault, gang violence, arson, prostitution and vandalism, police said. It also has been a hotbed of illegal street drug use and sales, police said.

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Walnut Avenue to close from 10pm Friday-6am Saturday

FREMONT — A stretch of Walnut Avenue will close between late Friday night and early Saturday morning as crews continue to build a bridge across the road, as part of BART’s Warm Springs extension project.

From 10 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday, crews will close Walnut Avenue between Civic Center Drive and BART Way. Motorists are asked to detour toward Mowry Avenue.

A bridge is being built across Walnut Avenue to link the existing BART line with a newly constructed subway, according to BART.

For more information, call BART at 510-413-2060 or email bartwarmspringsextension@bart.gov.


Fremont spending $300,000 on surveillance cameras, license plate readers

FREMONT — The city will install dozens of cameras and license-plate readers throughout Fremont, aiming to deter and to identify criminals coming into the city from other areas.

City Council members on Tuesday allocated $300,000 for the program sought by the Police Department, shrugging off speakers who warned of a creeping loss of privacy.

“This whole notion that cameras are bad and privacy is good is overly simplistic,” said Councilwoman Anu Natarajan. “The prevalence of iPhones and Facebook and constantly being in touch with each other makes camera privacy a nonissue.”

Most of Fremont’s burglaries are committed by people living in other communities, said police Chief Richard Lucero. Cameras will be placed at 12 intersections near city limits to capture information on vehicles entering and exiting town, he said.

In a six-month period from late 2012 to early 2013, 46 people were convicted of burglaries, police said, and 39 of them — about 85 percent — lived outside Fremont.

The strategy of monitoring motorists near city limits has been adopted by other Bay Area communities, such as Piedmont, which installed license-plate readers and cameras last fall.

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Fremont HARB to reconsider historic building’s fate Thursday

HARB will hear this item again at 7:30pm tonight (Thursday) at the Sisters of the Holy Family, at 159 Washington Blvd.

FREMONT — The city will consider again the fate of a historic building that Fremont leaders want to sell because they say several renovations have eroded its historical significance.

The Historical Architectural Review Board on Thursday will hear the results of new architectural study that states the 2,447-square-foot building “does not retain sufficient integrity” to be considered a landmark.

The building’s future has been the center of a 5-year-long community debate.

Tri-City historians put the building — a two-story, wood-frame structure at 43327 Mission Blvd. — on the Fremont Register of Historic Resources in 1970.

But city staffers say that restoring the building to its original form would be cost-prohibitive and selling it would better serve taxpayers.

In contrast, local historians say that Fremont must improve at preserving its history and saving the structure would be a good start.

The Historical Architectural Review Board meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, in Multipurpose Room, at The Sisters of the Holy Family, 159 Washington Blvd.

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.


Fremont nonprofit group fined $25,000 for laundering contributions in 2008 mayoral race

FREMONT — A state agency has fined a nonprofit group $25,000 after discovering it had laundered campaign contributions to a Fremont mayoral candidate six years ago.

The Fair Political Practices Commission announced Monday that leaders of the Wisdom Culture and Education Organization, which offers courses in Chinese language and customs, made five illegal donations to ex-Councilman Steve Cho’s unsuccessful 2008 mayoral bid.

The Fremont organization’s leaders have agreed to pay the maximum fine for violating campaign law by making candidate contributions in the name of another person, according to the state agency decision.

“Making a contribution in another person’s name is one of the most serious types of violations … because it denies the public information about where a candidate receives his or her financial support,” the agency stated in its ruling.

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Union City: Save Our Hills scheduled to hold rally Tuesday night at City Hall

Here’s part of a press announcement released by Save Our Hills, the grassroots group that opposes a plan to build housing east of Mission Boulevard near The Masonic Homes in Union City. Here’s the announcement: 

Save Our Hills and the community will speak out against this development and is asking for your support to protect pristine views of our hills for future generations.  We do not have enough open space and agricultural land in the region.

Please join our rally in the front of City Hall Tuesday evening.

Tuesday, June 10th

City Hall

34009 Alvarado-Niles Road

Union City

6:30- 8:00 PM



Fremont: Final, Final Results for Measure E, Assembly Dist. 25

The Alameda County Registrar of Voters on Saturday updated its vote tally for Measure E, Fremont Unified’s $650 million school bond measure, and very little changed, as expected. The vote tally now is:

YES: 12,969 – 61.07 percent

NO: 8,268 — 38.93 percent

The measure needed 55 percent to pass.

Also, the race for State Assembly District 25 (southern Alameda County, northern Santa Clara County) has been whittled down to two candidates.  Kansen Chu, a San Jose councilman, and Bob Brunton, a former Ohlone College board member and the race’s lone Republican, finished first and second. The top two finishers now move on to the November ballot. The order of finish is:

1. Kansen Chu (Democrat):  11,9171 votes — 30 percent

2. Bob Brunton (Republican): 9,473 — 23.7 percent

3. Teresa Cox (Democrat): 6,759 — 16.9 percent

4. Armando Gomez (Democrat): 6,451 — 16.1 percent

5. Craig T. Steckler (Democrat): 5,309 — 13.3 percent



Newark: Clark Redeker, an original city leader, remembered for tireless community service

I got the chance to meet Mr. Redeker a few times. He was a class act and a humble guy, despite his many accomplishments. He will be missed. This story ran Sunday (June 8):

NEWARK — Clark Redeker, one of Newark’s original elected leaders, has died. He was 96.

The longtime Newark resident was admired for his tireless service and the witty, upbeat leadership style he used to help found the city, said former Mayor Dave Smith.

“He was so involved with so many aspects of the community, he became a truly iconic Newark figure,” said Smith, 68. “I always told him I wanted to be like him when I grew up.”

Born in Idaho in 1917, Redeker moved with his family to Palo Alto in the 1920s. There, he attended Stanford University, played tuba in the college’s famous band and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1940.

That same year, he married his first wife Marjorie Marliave and they moved to Newark, where Redeker would live for the next 74 years. He soon was promoted to chief chemist of an East Bay paper and chemicals company.

Newark incorporated in 1955, when the rural town had less than 10,000 residents, and he emerged as one of its most active leaders. He served on the first City Council and was its third mayor, serving from 1958 to 1959. In 1954, he joined the Alameda County Fair Association board of directors, a post he held for nearly 50 years.

He was a founding member of the Newark Rotary Club, and served 31 years on the Fremont-based Alameda County Water District board of directors, including seven terms as board president.

The water agency dedicated in his honor its Newark Desalination Facility, which was built on a road the city named Redeker Place.

Even with those accomplishments, he never took himself too seriously, said son Alan Redeker.

“When reminded that Redeker Place was named after him, he’d often reply, ‘I know my place and it’s a dead-end street,’” his son said.

City leaders say his positive mantra — “The good guys are still ahead” — illustrated his optimistic view of life.

“How could you not embrace that philosophy?” Smith asked. “Even when he got older and faced health challenges, I never once saw him be negative.”

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