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Express writes about Fremont race/A’s

The East Bay Express had a story this week about how the Fremont mayor’s race could affect whether the A’s come to town. To read, it click here.

The only two assertions in the story that I would disagree with are 1) That Cho is more conservative than Wasserman. They almost always vote identically, at least over the past year; and 2) That John Dutra wields tremendous influence in Fremont. It seems to me that since losing the State Senate race two years ago, and Torrico’s rise in the Assembly, Dutra’s clout has waned. Doesn’t mean he can’t rustle up a lot of money for his slate, but if this were “Dutraville,” his candidates would have locked up more endorsements.

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Fremont Chamber picky with endorsements

You’ve got to hand it to the Fremont Chamber, they’ve got some stones. Ten people are running for two city council seats, they represent just about any constituency you can imagine, and the chamber’s political action committee endorses just one person, and it’s not even the incumbent.

The chamber’s PAC, Business for Better Government, endorsed Trisha Tahmasbi and only Trisha Tahmasbi for city council.

They also endorsed Tahmasbi’s boss, Alberto Torrico for Assembly; Bob Wasserman for mayor; Desrie Campbell, Bryan Gebhardt and Ivy Wu for school board; Bob Brunton and Greg Bonaccorsi for Ohlone College Board and Pat Danielson and Bill Nicholson for Washington Hospital Board.

I know what a couple of people are thinking: “Wait a minute, they didn’t endorse Sue Chan? But John Dutra is supporting her, and John Dutra owns Fremont. He owns the Chamber. They could only make endorsements because he let them out of his back pocket.”

I don’t know what to tell you two. Maybe Mr. Dutra has already scaled Mission Peak in a single leap and is preparing to rain down thunderbolts on Chamber CEO Cindy Bonior.

The two mild surprises for me was picking Brunton over Lam Research’s Teresa Cox, and selecting only Tahmasbi for council. You figure if they’re going to endorse Torrico and his top assistant, they may as well also endorse his law parter, Councilmember Bob Wieckowski. Maybe Bob is a little too into banning Styrofoam cups and plastic shopping bags — two initiatives that the chamber opposed. But there are plenty of pro business challengers. How about Fazlur Khan or Larry Montgomery? I just met Larry tonight. Cool guy, cooler bike. He rides a Harley and wears Pittsburgh Steelers crocs. I wish I could be that cool.

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John Dutra speaks

Things here are hectic, so not much time to blog:

Here are some excerpts from my conversation with John Dutra. I know I’m playing stenographer here, but Dutra’s been blasted in the comments section, so he should get his say:

On ties to the A’s project:
“There is no financial connection between me, my family, my company and the A’s; and there will be none. I will not accept any compensation from the A’s, and I won’t work for them directly or indirectly for that matter. I met Lew and Keith six months ago; prior to that I didn’t even know these people.”

Dutra also said that he doesn’t have any projects coming before the council. He said his son Dominic does, but city officials didn’t seem to know what project that might be. I’ll call Dominic. Obviously, Dutra does support the A’s coming to Fremont.

On charges that he’s formed a slate of candidates for city and school races:
“I don’t have any slates. I just have candidates that I’m supporting. They asked for my support and I gave it. I’m going to raise money for everyone I support. Raising money during this economic time is very difficult. I’m always going to back candidates who I think are quality candidates, who I think are going to serve this community well.”

Dutra is backing Desrie Campbell and Bryan Gebhardt for school board, Teresa Cox for Ohlone Board, Bob Wasserman for mayor and Bob Wieckowski and Sue Chan for city council. He said they all asked for his support and that his support has nothing to do with his or his family’s business interests. Dutra does own land near the Ohlone frontage property.

On the assertion made by several people on this blog that Sue Chan will rely almost exclusively on his fundraising prowess while Trisha Tahmasbi won’t have the same help from her boss, Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico:
“What a joke that is. With all due respect to Alberto, he is a fundraising machine. He has access to lobbyists up and down the state. He’s working very hard to make calls for Trisha.”

On Trisha Tahmasbi:
“Trisha worked for me as a receptionist. She’s a very fine young lady. She should have gotten a little more experience in the community. Right now, as much as I like and respect her, I know she’s not quite ready.” Continue Reading

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Fremont election truth patrol Part II

UPDATE: I think I paraphrased Trisha incorrectly. I don’t think she really meant that any developer contribution would bias her, only that she didn’t want to open herself up to charges of bias when it come to development projects.

Trisha Tahmasbi
Someone wrote that she’s not going to take money from developers. I asked Trisha about that and she said that she has made a pledge not to accept money from residential developers. She hasn’t decided whether she will accept money from commercial developers.

She said there’s tension with how Fremont is being developed and she wants to be unbiased.

Tahmasbi said she would invite other candidates to take the same pledge, aware that for Sue Chan it would mean casting aside one of her top supporters, former Assemblyman John Dutra. I told Trisha that if I were Sue, I would counter by inviting all the candidates to take a pledge not to accept money from a sitting Assemblyman or his top contributors.

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Fremont Campaign fundraising (Mayor)

I’ve been looking at campaign finance filings for the first half of this year. Here are the leaders for Mayor in terms of how much money they have on hand.

Bob Wasserman  $78,396
Steve Cho           $50,302
Gus Morrison     $15,108

Some quick observations: It pays to have the support of Fremont’s biggest sugardaddy, Former Assemblyman John Dutra. Wasserman has Dutra’s endorsement and received a total of $3,000 from people named Dutra.

Wasserman received the most donations (208) of which exactly 50 percent came from Fremont people or businesses. A lot of people with Indian surnames gave him money. No sign of anyone with direct ties to the A’s contributing.

Among those giving to Wasserman were:
Suzanne Chan, who Wasserman is endorsing for Council
Richard Frisbie, who is the planner behind Patterson Ranch project
NUMMI
Ray Tong, a developer who wants to build a Berkeley Bowl-style supermarket (He gave money to Cho too)
Kaenyama Sushi – The sushi restaurant/night club that has had some trouble with the cops.

Cho received donations from 174 people, of whom 126 were based in Fremont. A lot of his financial support seems to be coming from Asians.  His list of contributors included three Changs, Lees and Lins. He also received money from four Lius and six Shihs, two whom live at the same address.

As for Morrison, all 32 of his donors are based in Fremont, and 24 of them are retired.

More to come in the print edition