January 20, 2004 > Editorial
The Budget Deficit Myth
Citizens of Fremont have been led astray. All the talk of laying people off and a budget crisis is nonsense. I know better now after listening to a report by Economic Development Director Daren Fields at a recent city council meeting and perusing a color handout touting the "Highlights of 2003." Visiting the Fremont City website and reading the advertisement shown below (edited here, but you can view the ad at www.ci.fremont.ca.us and look for employment opportunities), I am relieved to know that I was wrong to be concerned about finances. It seems that no matter what happens to the rest of the city and its staff, the downtown myth is alive and well. We are about to spend more money on studies and at least $100,000 for a manager to help create this magnificent attraction for shoppers from near and far. I hope Newark and Union City are paying close attention since they could take a few lessons from Fremont spending habits.
The front of the "Highlights" handout shows artist renditions of all the wonderful areas we are about to develop in Fremont. Let's see, there is the downtown, bustling with happy people spending oodles of money at trendy, high-end stores and the Centerville Unified Site Redevelopment Project that has yet to move a shovelful of earth, and Pacific Commons, a portion of which has been redesigned as "big box heaven." Staff activities were ballyhooed by lists of meetings and presentations both at home and in locales such as Monterey, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
The lone semi-criticism at the council meeting was a meek suggestion that maybe Economic Development was going after the large companies and ignoring small businesses of Fremont. This was shrugged off with a comment along the lines of "they know where we are if they want to talk with us" I think paying attention to big business is vital for the health of the city, but ignoring small business, or worse, making it difficult to exist, is wrong! Daren proudly talked about an "ombudsman" for businesses. I think it is a great idea for all businesses, especially the smaller enterprises. How many of their complaints have been smoothed and soothed by an ombudsman? City officials can point to their attendance (Who? Probably the majority of attendance was by Councilmember Steve Cho) at ribbon cuttings but how about helping after the ribbon is cut!
I really want to believe this propaganda and would love to feel good about the media campaigns - remember "Shopping in Fremont Counts!, "There's No Place to Eat in Fremont - We Beg to Differ" and "Holly-dazed?!?! - but much of the verbiage is just that = talk with little concrete action to increase the economic wellbeing of Fremont without bankrupting the bank account.. Are all the triumphs listed in the handout due to the help of the city or in spite of it? I like hearing about visits to manufacturers who may have left with their tax dollars without the assistance of city personnel, but how many have left or declined to locate here because of difficulties with city regulations and intransigence? Speaking of personnel, if you are looking for Peggy Claassen, former Senior Civil Engineer of Fremont, call Newark.
.The City of Fremont is currently recruiting for the position of
(2 year assignment)
45.97 - $ 62.06 per hour
The City of Fremont is seeking an energetic and seasoned professional to serve as project manager for the Capitol Avenue/ Downtown Fremont retail development project.
The Fremont City Council is anticipated to soon select a preferred developer for the planning and potential development of approximately 13 acres in the heart of Downtown Fremont. The desired project will be a Main Street pedestrian-oriented retail development. The project site is located next to existing successful retail developments, such as Fremont Plaza and the Fremont Hub shopping center, and will serve as a catalyst in the City's broader efforts to transform the Downtown. The City Council has identified the first phase of this project as an area of high priority over the next few years.
Benefits: The City of Fremont offers a very generous benefit package including a Cafeteria Benefit Plan for full or partial payment of medical, dental and vision insurance as well as 232 hours of general and Management Leave per year.
Contact: Lynn Dantzker, Assistant City Manager (510-494-4732), or Daren Fields, Economic Development Director (510-284-4022) with any questions about the position.