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The 2010 fall election results are in, and (surprise) the FCN ponies have been defeated. For their tireless efforts I would like to present Kathy McDonald, Vinnie Bacon and the FCN faithful with their own unique gifts. Hopefully these items will keep them occupied over the coming months as they dwell on why they lost, despite obvious issues with our current council.

Kathy McDonald
Let’s get Mrs. McDonald out of the way first. She never had a chance, and was motivated only by her ego after co-founding the FCN. And when all is said and done, she probably siphoned away enough votes from Bacon to ensure his defeat. Thanks!

McDonald is not without attributes though. Her multitasking skills are such that she’s capable of forming an advocacy group to fight the threat of “violence and mayhem” resulting from a ballpark across the freeway from her Mission Hills home, while at the same time trying to sell that home for a profit. For the purpose of improving on this impressive skill, I present House Selling For Dummies.

Kathy, please consult the chapter on pricing your home. If you purchase an asset at the height of a bubble, it’s actually worth less after that bubble bursts, not $175,000 more. The best of luck to you in your future real estate endeavors.

Vinnie Bacon
In contrast to Kathy McDonald’s preeminent wannabe status, Vinnie Bacon is a viable council candidate who will be elected someday. I voted for him in 2008 but not in 2010. There are plenty of reasons why I rejected Bacon and wrote many times against his candidacy, both on this blog and elsewhere. Not being open minded to a transformative project supported by a sizable portion, if not majority of the city topped that long list.

Vinnie would probably have been a good council member. But in my opinion, he deserves to sit on the sidelines for another two years and think about the benefits of considering opposing views as valid. He needs to understand the importance of meeting in the middle, as well as the role of compromise in forging workable solutions that meet the goals of both sides (eg Patterson Ranch). This would be in place of his current mode of running around town opposing shit left and right.

For his efforts this time around, I present a book of stamps. Because for the the next two years his political career will be limited to licking stamps for the Sierra Club.

The Fremont Citizens Network Faithful
You guys are hard to shop for! But, I am certain that all 6 of you will enjoy my parting gift. Remember to use it sparingly, the next election is two full years away.

Weibel Elementary amazes me. It is shocking to learn that children living in a housing development can be banned from attending Weibel as if it were a private school, owned wholly by the residents of the Mission Hills. We’re talking about a public school for Christ’s sake, paid for by you and me. Every child who lives within a reasonably set boundary should be able to attend. This is paramount what I consider fair, but unfortunately typical of some Mission Hills residents who covet their exclusivity.

In the past I estimated that Kathy McDonald’s involvement in politics — beginning with her opposition to the A’s ballpark in Warm Springs, then culminating to her directorship of the Fremont Citizen’s Network — has been in the interest of preserving her status and exclusivity.

Wrong I was, as it appears that the primary reason Kathy McDonald entered the political arena, the fire that ignited her “ire”, was her need to reconcile a bad residential investment and in doing so preserving her personal wealth.

In late 2008, at the peak of the FCN effort to oppose the A’s stadium, Kathy McDonald was gearing up to sell her $1,000,000+ home in the very neighborhood she claimed would be under the threat of “violence and mayhem” if a ballpark were to be built 2 miles across the freeway.

In June, 2009, after 4 months on the market, Kathy McDonald removed her Mission Hills home from the MLS where it was listed for $1.2 M. Regardless of having bought it at the peak of the bubble for 175K less, she was trying to make a hefty profit.

Now, I think it’s reasonable to ask what her actual motivation was for opposing the A’s ballpark. It certainly appears that she never intended to live in the neighborhood she so vigorously defended. Rather,it can be argued that her motivation for opposing the A’s ballpark was driven purely by the financial gain of selling her Mission Hills McMansion. Simply put, she resisted because a ballpark miles away, across Hwy 680 may have jeopardized the value of an ambitious residential purchase made during the real estate boom.

This is who you align yourself with Vinnie Bacon while you dwell in an apartment.

Perceptive or Politicking?

There is rarely a period of dormancy in the politics of a major city, but when talking about Fremont, CA the lull emanates to all facets of city life. The calm is over as the pressing issue of our city pulled itself back into the forefront this week when the council discussed the nearly futile effort to bring the A’s to Fremont.

The A’s are not coming to Fremont. Now that we have that out of the way, we can discuss the lunar stylings of Candidate Moonbeam, Vinnie Bacon.

It is reported that at Tuesday’s meeting, Bacon challenged the sitting council’s effort to derail the closing of NUMMI. Bacon made this assertion despite the momentous forces at work – dismal economic conditions, Toyota left holding the bag, an over-compensated workforce and an antiquated factory, to name a few.

But, Vinnie is running for a council seat, and the usual dearth of integrity gets in the way when a political campaign is underway. Bacon is quoted as saying:

“4,700 workers are now dealing with the trauma of losing their jobs. In my opinion [the Fremont city council's] actions really let these workers down.”

Bacon later expounded that the council and mayor were preoccupied with the stadium and “should’ve focused on restoring the manufacturing jobs”

All this while the entire nation is in the worst recession in 70 years, Bacon apparently would have done better, though he himself has yet to articulate any specific steps he would take as a sitting council member to develop the NUMMI site.

Bacon will talk heartily about the importance of bringing “green tech” jobs to our city. He is even as bold as to present the cultivation of “green tech” jobs as a metric to judge the current council’s success. Although, he is more than willing to gloss over the construction of the new Solyndra fab plant, a project that was surely facilitated by the current council and mayor.

Bacon later retracted by writing “I was not implying that the City could’ve saved NUMMI by doing something.”

But he thought he’d bring it up anyway. A politician will say anything to get elected.

In short, no.

Amaury Pi-Gonzalez’s my word column from the Oakland Tribune is a bit loose on supporting information, but I agree with the conclusion. There is little reason for any venture to consider Fremont, be it a pro sports team, a software firm, a night club, a non-eastern eatery, a biotech R&D lab, a movie theater, an arts museum or performing arts center or anything else that doesn’t fit within the narrow confines and contingencies required by our segregated and self-interest-obsessed citizenry.

From my short time living in Fremont (7 years), it has become blatantly obvious that to move ahead with any semblance of progress, the end result must fit within the narrow contingencies required by the many self-interested factions in Fremont. These factions are often separated by race and immigration origin, and not coincidentally segregated by wealth. Environmental zealotry often plays a role. But at the core I believe it is the inherent historical segregation of the Fremont townships, where those living in one township have an agenda that often conflicts with requirements of the greater city.

NIMBYism forges the future of Fremont and rules the discourse, as evidenced by the only major advocacy group in Fremont being rooted in the preservation of a privileged way of life, far removed from that experienced by greater Fremont. And, 2010 council candidate Vinnie Bacon has pledged to fight for that preservation.

For example, economic development may be a necessity for the survival and vitality of Centerville, while the effort may be entirely useless to a homeowner in Warm Springs — unless a friendly retailer is included in the greater plan. The redevelopment of Niles main street is likely to be seen as an impediment to a Mission Hills resident’s homeward commute, while at the same time being vital to the island community of Niles.

The idea of the Fremont A’s is no different. A referendum on the stadium among Fremont voters would surely pass. The current city government is wholly behind it. Hundreds of supporters have rallied in favor at one of the last existing entertainment spots in Fremont. The A’s project would continue the prosperity and relevance of the land occupied by and surrounding the NUMMI plant. Without the Fremont A’s, the land is destined to be a wasteland for a generation.

The NIMBY opposition to the Fremont A’s is limited to a far segregated class of status-ists who consider a sports venue 2 miles away and across an 8 lane freeway a threat to their child’s education (and more importantly, their fleeting property values). They have sought solace in an advocacy group as well as an opportunist anti-development zealot who has leached on to the effort as a vehicle for political success (the Fremont Citizens Network and Vinnie Bacon, respectively).

But, little do the efforts of the FCN and Vinnie Bacon matter. The ultimate result of all their fervor is akin to pouring a cup of water in the ocean. The fact remains that for any employer, Fremont is not even on the short list of Bay Area destinations, let alone a list of national destinations.

How did that come to be?

Fremont may have extended it’s shelf life of a comfortable community with good schools and parks and affordable homes — all characteristics that have attracted a vital population in the past. All three of those characteristics are eroding, unsustainable by the absence of tax revenue created by retail commerce, coupled with unsustainable wages and benefits promised to city employees. The prospects of Fremont are fast becoming the reality suffered by Vallejo and Stockton.

A’s owner Lew Wolff knows this. You’d have to believe that any major firm ever interested in Fremont who wasn’t aware of this reality is aware by now. Perhaps an A’s stadium development would have sparked the fire for Fremont. But, it is impossible to ignite some excitement in Fremont when there are so many devoted to putting the fires out.

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