Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

December 12, 2006 > Hasta la vista, baby

Hasta la vista, baby

The Terminator series of movies included a few choice comments that, taken out of movie context, can illuminate the new reality of the Fremont City Council. In a highly emotional session, Dominic Dutra bid farewell and first-time elected councilpersons Bill Harrison and Anu Natarajan were sworn in. To strip the emotional content from the show and glean any lessons from the subtle shift of a reconstituted council, I turned to the “Governator” who has demonstrated his political dexterity in Sacramento and delivers basic life lessons on the big screen.

In the movie, Terminator 2: Judgment Day released in 1991, Arnold Schwarzenegger, aka The Terminator, returns to pre-apocalyptic Earth in an attempt to save the life he tried to destroy in The Terminator, first screened in 1984.  A conversation between The Terminator and John Connor, future savior of mankind, might correlate to a theoretical conversation between Dominic and Bill as the former councilmember attempts to help the rookie understand the subtle nuances of council decisions:

John Connor (Harrison): We're not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean.
The Terminator (Dutra, “The Dominator): It's in your nature to destroy yourselves.
John Connor (Harrison): Yeah. Major drag, huh?

We can all take heart however as The Terminator reversed course and helped save the remnants of civilization from machine tyranny. Bruised in battle with the evil machine, T-1000, he noted, “I need a vacation.” The “Dominator” too was temporarily defeated when the Centerville Unified Site came before city council. The most learned of the group in the intricacies of residential and commercial development, he was left fuming as a decision was made to select a neophyte who was ultimately unable to deliver the goods.

As The Terminator accepted his fate with dignity, so too did the “Dominator” as he took leave from the council. Although, at times, his agenda and mine were at odds, I never doubted that he had sound reasons for his decisions. Mixed emotions were evident at the swearing-in ceremony and will remain as the new council confronts a host of issues that have been in hiatus for too long.

This council will need to face and find solutions for a lack of constituency trust evident from the sound defeat of Measure L. Just asking for more money using teeth gnashing and wailing (Measure V) or silence (Measure L) has not worked. A good test of where the problem lies would be to place a specific safety tax on the ballot and even though passage would require two thirds approval, allow those services to explain their needs to the public and see if they have the support of the electorate. If the tax is passed, politicians might finally understand that voters demand respect and clear, rational decisions with visible consequences for poor choices and waste.

In the meantime, as the Dominator settles into a less visible lifestyle for the next several years, the question remains whether he and The Terminator will share well-known taglines, “Hasta la vista” and “I’ll be back!” Best of luck to you Dominic, whatever you decide.

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