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Rep. Mike Honda to host coffee and benefits forum with veterans Saturday in Fremont

By Chris DeBenedetti
Friday, November 15th, 2013 at 11:57 am in Uncategorized

A press release from Rep. Mike Honda’s office:

FREMONT – On Saturday morning, November 16th, Rep. Mike Honda (D-Silicon Valley) will host a coffee and benefits services event for veterans at the Fremont Veterans’ Memorial Building.  All veterans with questions for the Congressman, or who need direct access to constituent staff, are invited.

Also attending the event will be officials from the V.A., as well as health care and Veterans Service Outreach staffers, to assist with filing claims, inquiries on benefits, and other issues. As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Honda has worked to facilitate the creation of a unified electronic health record system to reduce the backlog in veterans’ claims processing.

WHO: Rep. Mike Honda; representatives from the V.A. and government health and outreach agencies

WHAT: Coffee and benefits forum

WHEN:   Saturday, November 16th

9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Rep. Honda will meet with veterans

10am a.m. - 11:00 a.m. V.A., Outreach & Constituent Services offered to veterans

WHERE:          Fremont Veterans’ Memorial Building

37154 Second Street

Fremont, CA 94536

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John Henneberry files civil rights lawsuit vs. Newark police, city manager and others

By Chris DeBenedetti
Thursday, November 14th, 2013 at 6:36 pm in Uncategorized

NEWARK — Vocal City Hall critic John Henneberry has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Newark, City Manager John Becker, Alameda County, claiming his civil rights were violated when he was arrested in April at the State of the City address.

Henneberry is seeking unspecified monetary damages and claims his 1st, 4th and 14th Amendment rights were violated when he was taken into custody after he sat in the public gallery section at the Newark gathering. Instead of being cited and released, which he says is standard procedure for those arrested on suspicion of a non-violent misdemeanor, Henneberry was held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin for 32 hours.

Story is being filed Friday and will be in weekend print edtion. Stay tuned.

The story that ran in Sunday’s paper can be found by clicking here.

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Labor groups accuse each other of misconduct in fight to represent Fremont employees

By Chris DeBenedetti
Thursday, November 14th, 2013 at 6:31 pm in Uncategorized

FREMONT — A dispute between two labor organizations vying to represent more than 25 percent of the city’s employees has turned bitter and seemingly endless, with both sides accusing each other of misconduct as the case awaits a decision from state officials.

On one side is the Fremont Association of City Employees (FACE), while the other is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 — and each says it alone has the authority to represent 227 city workers in contract talks.

That wide-ranging group of employees — the city’s largest among its 833 workers — includes planners, home inspectors, park rangers, social workers, police administrative workers and more.

For more of the story, click here.

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Fremont: Industrial accident injures three employees at Tesla Motors plant

By Chris DeBenedetti
Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 at 4:07 pm in Uncategorized

Story by colleagues David DeBolt and Dana Hull:

FREMONT — Three Tesla Motors employees were injured when a low-pressure aluminum casting press failed Wednesday afternoon at the company’s Fremont factory.

There was no fire and no explosion, but fire trucks and an ambulance responded to the factory, located at 45500 Fremont Boulevard near Interstate 880, shortly after noon. The three employees were taken to Valley Medical Center with second-degree burns.

“We had an equipment failure with an aluminum casting machine, which spilled hot metal on three people,” Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said in an e-mail. “Two (workers’ injuries) sound relatively minor, one more serious. (I) am going to visit them in the hospital later today and will personally ensure that they receive the best possible care.”

For more of the story, click here.

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Planning Commission approves Newark General Plan, council to vote on Dec. 12

By Chris DeBenedetti
Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 at 11:30 am in Uncategorized

I got back yesterday from a 10-day vacation — Nov. 2 to Nov. 11.  It was sorely needed.

My first day back ended around 9:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Newark City Council chambers. That’s where the Newark Planning Commission voted to recommend approval for the General Plan Update, even after eight residents spoke in opposition to the Updated Plan, the Area 4 development proposal  and other development projects therein.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously 6-0 to recommend the plan for approval.

The commission’s vote on the issue had been continued (in other words, postponed) in meetings throughout October, as local residents, environmental groups and regional agencies voiced their opposition, especially to the housing and mixed-use projects planned in Areas 3 and 4. That opposition was noted in an Argus story filed Oct. 30.

The City Council will vote on General Plan Update at a meeting scheduled Dec. 12.



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Fremont studying designs, costs of building new City Hall

By Chris DeBenedetti
Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 4:54 pm in Uncategorized

What are your thoughts about these preliminary ideas for a new City Hall that the city of Fremont is exploring?

FREMONT — Officials are exploring the idea of building a new Fremont City Hall, adding another element to ambitious plans to create a mixed-use district that they hope transforms a moribund 110-acre area into a regional destination.

Three weeks ago, staff employees and the five-member City Council toured City Halls in Redwood City, Mountain View, Cupertino and Milpitas to do some window shopping and compare notes on those cities’ civic centers.

“We looked at Redwood City and Mountain View to see how they merged their City Hall with active and successful downtowns,” said Jessica von Borck, Fremont’s urban initiatives manager.

Milpitas has one of the newest civic buildings, but Cupertino held special interest because its City Hall includes areas for the community, which is one of Fremont’s goals.

“We want to create a downtown that provides public spaces,” said von Borck. “We want to make part of our civic center area open to the public for events and art shows.”

The new City Hall would be built next to the old one, at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and State Street, where Fremont’s Family Resource Center is located.

Of course, ambitious proposals like these come loaded with an arsenal of questions, such as: How much will it cost? What would a new City Hall look like? How much will it cost? Where will the Family Resource Center go? And — one more time — how much will it cost?

The city is paying San Francisco-based Studios Architecture Associates about $150,000 to study those questions, and they are expected to deliver some answers by early next year, said von Borck.

“At that point, we’ll take a step back and identify how to move forward,” von Borck said. “We really don’t yet know the costs or how many buildings we’ll need. We’re in the data-gathering stage right now.”

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Newark recycling plant to hold public meeting with residents Wednesday

By Chris DeBenedetti
Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 4:45 pm in Uncategorized

NEWARK — An oil recycling company that shut down part of its operations after a fire damaged its facility nearly three years ago is inviting the community to a public meeting Wednesday.

Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc. — formerly known as Evergreen Oil — has scheduled the meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Silliman Activity and Family Acquatic Center, at 6800 Mowry Newark.

Company officials say they are holding the gathering to introduce themselves to the community and share their future plans.

The three-hour session will start with a video presentation, followed by a question-and-answer period expected to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Since 1984, the Newark business has been located at 6880 Smith Ave., near Cherry Street and a development of single-family homes. During Evergreen Oil’s nearly 30 years of operation, residents living nearby complained often about unpleasant odors emitted by the company.

For more information about the meeting, call 510-608-0137.

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at

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Fremont Symphony Orchestra to celebrate 50th anniversary at “Deco & Diamonds” gala Nov. 10

By Chris DeBenedetti
Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 3:36 pm in Uncategorized

An announcement from the Fremont Symphony Orchestra:

The Fremont Symphony Orchestra is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a glittering evening of “Deco and Diamonds” on Sunday, November 10 at the Veterans Memorial Building, 37154 Second Street in Fremont.

This benefit for the FSO golden anniversary season honors Fremont Bank for its 50 years of service in the community and the Fremont Bank Foundation for their philanthropy and support of the arts.  The event begins at 5:00 PM with a cocktail reception and silent auction, followed by a plated dinner, live auction and eclectic entertainment.

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski will be Master of Ceremonies for the Art Deco-themed evening.  Tickets are $100 per person and may be purchased by calling 510-371-4859, emailing or visiting

Performing at the gala will be organizations supported by the Fremont Bank Foundation including Diablo Ballet, Music at the Mission, Music for Minors II, Newark Symphonic Winds and StarStruck Theatre. Entertainment highlights range from Never Never Land performed by children of StarStruck Theatre to world-class cellist Michael Graham and pianist Aileen Chanco from Music at the Mission, an exciting Saxophone Quartet from the Newark Symphonic Winds and an award-winning pianist from FSO’s Young Artist Competition.

The Fremont Symphony’s successful opening October concert World Tour: Unity celebrated the diversity and unity of Fremont and the unifying nature of music.  In that same spirit, the brief entertainment at the Gala celebrates the amazing range of performing arts in our community.

“This evening will prove to be one of the most exciting of the year,” said Lee Foster, Executive Director of the Fremont Symphony.  “Not only will the evening be gorgeous with its Art Deco theme and decorations, but the entertainment honoring the Fremont Bank Foundation will be thrilling.  I hope everyone will join us for this festive evening honoring the 50th Anniversary of two great institutions, the Fremont Symphony Orchestra and Fremont Bank.  It’s a not-to-be-missed one time event!”All proceeds from the event will benefit the Fremont Symphony Orchestra, a nonprofit organization.

About Fremont Symphony Orchestra
The Fremont Symphony Orchestra brings live classical music to residents of southern Alameda County and northern Santa Clara County. Its mission is to enrich the quality of life in the communities it serves by maintaining a professional regional symphony of the highest possible artistic quality; reaching all parts of the diverse communities it serves through accessible and affordable programming, activity and outreach; securing the future of concert music by providing imaginative and enriching musical experiences for children; increasing both the numbers and the musical sophistication of the adult audience; and pursuing creative partnerships with other educational and artistic institutions.

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Construction Update: Upcoming Saturday Work Planned Around Mission Blvd. in Fremont

By Chris DeBenedetti
Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 1:45 pm in Uncategorized

An announcement from officials with the SFPUC’s Hetch Hetchy Water  System Improvement Program, as road construction continues for seismic upgrades for the Bay Divsion pipelines No. 3 and No. 4 along the Hayward Fault:
On Saturdays November 2 and November 9, construction activities adjacent to Mission Blvd. will take place between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Workers will be placing a base slab for the seismically-engineered concrete box beneath Mission Blvd. as well as reinforcing abutments along the path of the pipeline. The work will not impact traffic on Mission Blvd. or local roads.
If you have questions or concerns, please call our 24-hour answering service at 866-973-1476.
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Union City community members organize night walk Friday against youth violence

By Chris DeBenedetti
Thursday, October 31st, 2013 at 11:43 am in Uncategorized

An announcement from …

UNION CITY — Community and faith leaders will participate in a night walk on the west side of Union City to reach out to other community members affected by violence. The Youth Violence Prevention Coalition, the group sponsoring the Nov. 1 walk, will be joined by youth and faith groups, community representatives and advocates to demonstrate the growing community concern about youth-related violence in Union City.

The Youth Violence Prevention Coalition was formed in August 2007 when local parents, students and organizations including Congregations Organizing for Renewal, Filipino Advocates for Justice, Union City Pastor’s Alliance and city and school district staff came together after the death of Biniam Yifru to address the numerous shootings and stabbings that affected y9ung people of Union City. The coalition has engaged over 700 people and was successful in getting community support for a parcel tax that currently funds Union City’s Youth and Family Services to provide violence prevention and intervention services.

WHAT: Community Night Walk Against Violence

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1

WHERE: Beginning at Filipino Advocates for Justice, 3961 Horner St. (cross is Vallejo St.), Union City


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