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.


No Fremont mayoral talk on KGO

Say what you want about the A’s, their ballpark plans for Fremont nearly catapulted the mayoral race into the big time. KGO talk show host Ron Owens wanted to get the city’s three mayoral candidates on the air today to talk about the A’s plan.
Gus Morrison and Steve Cho agreed to the participate, Bob Wasserman did not, said the program’s producer Mark Silverman. KGO wasn’t fully committed to the segment anyway, but it probably would have happened if all three candidates been willing to go on the air, he said.


Still ticking …

The Wasserman campaign sent me a bunch of pictures from his appearance in Glenmoor this weekend. Since they never used to do that, I’m guessing the statement is that he’s recovered from his most recent bout of pneumonia. I’m also guessing that he’s laughing with this woman and not coughing on her.

Is it just me or is he dressing a lot better since getting sick 10 days ago? That striped shirt in last week’s video is a keeper, and this hat is no slouch either. A more gaudy belt buckle would have completed the look.


Wasserman sick, will miss tonight’s debate

Mayor Wasserman is suffering from a bout of phnemonia. It’s not nearly as serious as the one that kept him away from City Council meetings two years ago, but it’s enough to keep him out of tonight’s candidate forum and away from Trisha Tahmasbi’s big party/fundraiser on Thursday.

I’m planning to do a live blog of the council debate at 7 p.m. and the mayoral debate at 8 p.m.


More on Fremont endorsements

Not all endorsements are created equal. Some come with money, some come with union foot soldiers and some come with nothing at all. But the best endorsement deal in town is probably the one from Alameda County Democratic Central Committee.

If they endorse you, you get to pay a relatively small fee to get your face on two fliers with all the top Dems that go to every Democratic voting household in town. Probably a $50,000 value.

Their method for making endorsements is a little convoluted. Bob Wieckowski, who is a committee member, has already gotten an endorsement. The other endorsements will be made this weekend, with Trisha Tahmasbi favored to get the nod for council and Bob Wasserman for mayor.


Fremont Election Update

Deadline to file nominating papers is 5 p.m. We’ll have a full list then as long as our internet doesn’t crash We’ve been having some major technical difficulties here.

Here’s the people who have filed:
Gus Morrison
Bob Wasserman

Bob Wieckowski
Vinnie Bacon
Hou Leong
Linda Susoev
Larry Montgomery

Four people have appointments today to file at the city clerk’s office: They are Suzanne Chan, Charles Bartlett, Paul Reeder and Fazlur Khan.

Hey Tahmasbi and Cho. Tick Tock, Tick Tock.


Fremont gifts

Every year Fremont officials have to declare any gifts they’ve received and  list major assets that could present conflicts of interest. I’ve been sitting on these forms for months. Before I disclose, I want to emphasize that I’m not saying or even insinuating that any of these gifts are inappropriate. Some of them are simply amusing.

Take the mayor’s gifts, for example. A Wendy’s employee gave him a set of pots and pans, Sheena Chang gave him a $160 scanner, Rahul Roy gave him a $150 tea set and John Winn gave him a $150 gift basket with champagne truffles and coffee. If I can make out his handwriting, it also looks like some one gave him some whiskey on Pearl Harbor Day.

When it comes to stocks, Mayor Wasserman is all Fremont all the way. He owns shares of local companies, Lam Research, Sybase, Fremont Bank, Cisco and Men’s Warehouse (they still have an office here), which Councilman Bill Harrison also owns.

Harrison, a CPA, had what seemed to be the shrewdest stock picks. He owns shares in both Weight Watchers and Yum Brands, which owns KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. If your diet goes yo-yo, he gets mo’ dough.™

Anu Natarajan gets the prize for best name for a consulting firm: Anuance. Last year she was treated to a $200 lunch at Berkeley’s Chez Panise by local dancing king Dominic Dutra and his wife, Lisa. Continue Reading


A’s unsure about Fremont

UPDATE:  Lew Wolff is backtracking. He told the Mercury News that he’s just frustrated with the pace of the environmental study, and that he’s still confident the team is coming to Fremont.  His son, Keith, told me that nothing has changed, but he did acknowledge that three of the larger retailers at Pacific Commons have sent letters expressing concerns about the team’s parking plans.

He said the retailers couldn’t block the project, but that the team is intent on satisfying them. One possible mitigation measure could be a pedestrian bridge over Auto Mall Parkway linking the stadium to one of the bigger parking lots.

ProLogis owns Pacific Commons and the adjacent future ballpark site. Cisco has an option to buy the ballpark land and the A’s are looking to step in and take Cisco’s place. Keith Wolff said that contrary to what Mayor Wasserman said, the team does not have any disagreements with ProLogis.

ProLogis representatives haven’t returned phone calls from me or Merc reporter Lisa Fernandez, so I can’t say for sure if any of the major retailers might have language in their leases that could give them a say over the ballpark project, or if ProLogis itself is concerned with some facet of the A’s proposal. Continue Reading


Rt. 84 is in trouble

It took Fremont and Union City more than a decade to agree on building Route 84. Now it looks like it could take just as long to build it.

Cost estimates for the road, which would span from Mission Boulevard in Union City to Paseo Padre Boulevard in Fremont, have increased from $136 million in 2004 to $211 million.

That means the project now has a big, fat deficit. And to plug it, the Alameda County Transportation Authority needs about $43 million either from the state or from the cities.

Fremont mayor Bob Wasserman said Fremont’s not chipping in. “What I would say is if that’s going to be the contribution then you’re going to be waiting a lot longer than 2013 to finish that project,” the mayor told county planners. “We don’t have that type of money.”

As Wasserman alluded, the project is scheduled to be completed in 2013. But, if there’s not enough money the project could be built in phases or delayed altogether.

The road, which will help motorists travel from I-880 to Union City’s proposed high-rise housing development, has always been a sore spot between the two cities. Union City wanted a new road going all the way to the freeway, but Fremont objected.


Rich guy hosts fundraiser for mayor

Dale Sobek, the same guy whose giving Meals on Wheels proceeds from the sale of his art collection, is stepping up to the plate for Mayor Bob Wasserman tonight. Sobek, who lives in Milpitas, is hosting a fundraiser for the mayor at the Nova Gallery of Fine Art, which Sobek will be closing soon. Donation suggestions start at $75 and go up to $500.

Sobek is active in Fremont real estate and politics. A few years back he commissioned an artist to draw portraits of all the council members, with their faces effectively super-imposed in settings that matched their interests. Wieckowski had an environmental scene, Wasserman had police headquarters, Natarajan had an architectural backdrop. Sobek said Steve Cho didn’t know what he wanted, so they super-imposed him over the gallery. See them for yourselves.