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ADA trainings on council agenda Daily Planet Staff If all goes as planned, the Berkeley Marina restaurants and hotel will be pa

By Josh Parr
Tuesday September 12, 2000

A quick read-through of tonight’s City Council agenda is akin to looking at a Jackson Pollock painting. It’s as if the city’s issues were poured through a fan and splattered across 2,000 pages of paper – well, 631 to be exact. Undergrounding utilities contrasts sharply with the obligatory monthly renewal of needle exchange programs. Expanding the Living Wage Ordinance compliments a “buy Berkeley” campaign, billboard removal within the city limits, meets Berkeley police undergoing American Disabilities Act trainings. As with a Pollock painting, the underlying balance comes from the contrast, the incongruity, the arbitrary limit of the canvas itself, or in this case, the limited time constraints of the council meeting and the finite patience of the council members. 

Despite a smaller-than-normal number of items on the consent calendar, (“only 58,” says Kriss Worthington, the District 7 councilmember), the meeting is expected to last 4 to 5 hours, and still, not every item on the agenda will be discussed. 

Perhaps because of this, one proposal that should receive air time is Councilmember Linda Maio’s (District 1) plan to “improve working relations with staff and council.” 

“It has to do with the burgeoning number of items on the calendar, and things getting carried (forward) from meeting to meeting,” says Jennifer Price, a Maio aide. “She’s hoping to make people more respectful of council time by asking for simple things - like preparation and communication. No more bickering. It’s really gotten preposterous. Meetings generally last until midnight and items constantly get held over.” 

Councilmember Polly Armstrong, from District 8, agrees. 

“I’ve been very impatient with the lack of productivity,” says Armstrong. 

“The problem is that for some political agendas, delay is a good thing, making real progress difficult.” 

But Maio’s item won’t even be discussed until 41 other items have been taken up. The mayor has also proposed a “meeting on meetings” to get through the bottleneck. 

Often criticized for bickering and oneupsmanship, the council is roughly divided into two groups - one which includes Dean, characterized as the “moderates”, and the other characterized as “liberal/progressive” which includes the dogged Worthington.  

Calling it a largely “ceremonial agenda,” Armstrong looks at earthquake preparation and fire safety as important issues. 

“Fire safety is similar to earthquakes in that you have to prepare for the aftermath similarly,” she says. “It’s been nine years since the big fire, and we can get complacent.” 

Worthington however, is focusing on the expanded Living Wage Ordinance to include a Marina Zone, undergrounding utilities, and freedom to discuss “appealable matters” with constituents as the most significant issues. 

“Right now, it is illegal to talk to constituency about appeals. You can’t have a public meeting with those who are in contention, which obviously, raises people’s ire.” 

The rules, he claims are hindering Margaret Breland, now embroiled in just such a case, from satisfying her constituency just before the Nov. 7 elections. 

Other issues include Golden Oldies of Berkeley politics: Save the Whales, Save the Old Growth Forest, and Free Political Prisoners - in this case Sarah Jane Olson, accused of planting bombs for the Symbionese Liberation Army.  

Traffic, ever increasing in Berkeley, also comes up in many forms, whether from residents who want to reduce traffic in their neighborhoods, or bikers who want safer streets and a “bike highway” along Ninth Street. 

After the “summer vacation”, from July 26 to today, Armstrong characterizes the re-opening of the council meetings, “like coming back to school.” 

“While I’m excited about getting back to work, summer went too fast.” she says, laughing. 

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Old City Hall Council Chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. It is televised on B-TV 25 and broadcast on KPFB 89.3.