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Council reviews Wozniak position

By John Geluardi Daily Planet Staff
Tuesday March 20, 2001

The City Council will consider a variety of issues including the controversy surrounding Gordon Wozniak’s position on the Community Environmental Advisory Commission. 

In January City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque issued opinions claiming Wozniak’s employment as a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was in conflict with his role on the CEAC. Albuquerque suggested Wozniak resign because of the many issues CEAC considers related to the laboratory. Wozniak disagreed with the opinions and refused to resign from the commission. Two CEAC meetings ended abruptly over  

internal arguments among commissioners over his continued  


Wozniak’s future on the commission may be determined by an amendment to the Berkeley Municipal Code, which is also on tonight’s agenda. The new sections of the code would give the council the authority to terminate appointed commissioners and board members if the council determines they were “engaged in an employment, activity or enterprise for compensation, which is inconsistent, incompatible or in conflict with his or her duties as a board or commission member.” 

If the council adopts the new ordinance and determines Wozniak’s employment is in conflict with his role on CEAC, his seat on the commission could be declared vacant.  

Since November the city attorney has said seven commissioners have conflicts of interest to some degree.  

Wood Smoke 

The council will consider a CEAC recommendation to limit the use of wood in fireplaces based on studies by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District that have determined that wood smoke particulate matter causes adverse health effects. 

The CEAC has recommended the council prohibit the installation of open fireplaces in new residential construction and require smoke-reducing equipment on all new commercial wood-burning fire places. The recommendations also called for long-term community education and an ambient air study.  

However the City Manager’s Office suggested the council not adopt the education and air-study sections of the recommendation, because those projects would be too expensive in light of other pressing environmental issues such as lead poisoning, pesticide use, polyvinyl chloride use, dioxins and automobile impact on air quality. 

Harrison Park air study 

The council will consider a resolution authorizing the city manager to contract an air study at Harrison Park with Applied Measurement Science to determine if the Interstate 80 vehicle traffic is causing a health risk to park users. 

The $39,700 study will be a follow up to another study done in 1997 by Acurex Environmental Corp. Acurex determined that the measurements of harmful materials in the air around the park, located at Fourth and Harrison streets, were normal accept for small particulate material, which was likely from automobile exhaust coming from the nearby freeway. 

Since 1997 two things have happened that warrant a new study: I-80 was widened resulting in a 20 percent increase in traffic, an the Environmental Protection Agency has revised health standard related to particulate material. 

Medical marijuana 

The council may adopt a medical marijuana ordinance tonight. It first referred the issue to the city attorney in December 1999 and it has been bouncing between the City Manager’s Office and the Community Health Commission ever since.  

The question has been how many plants will qualified individuals be allowed to grow at one time. The commission would like to allow 144 indoors or 60 outdoors. City staff has consistently advocated for much less, no more than 10 indoors or outdoors.  

Medical marijuana advocates say that more plants insure a good crop and city staff says too many plants could lead to abuse of the ordinance with surplus crop finding its way into the hands of recreational dealers.  

The police department has said they are concerned that large numbers of plants could provoke burglary and possibly home-invasion styled robberies. 

Other items on the agenda include: 

• Adoption of an ordinance that requires a two-week notice to the police department for any large indoor events. 

• Acceptance of a $50,000 donation from Albany for the construction of the Harrison Street Skate Park. 

• Adoption of a resolution in support of the University Professional and Technical Employees, CWA Local 9119 who are working without a contract. 

• A request for the city attorney to review the police department’s policy on requesting identification from members of the public. 

The council meets at 7 p.m. at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Meetings are broadcast on KPFB 89.3 and TV-25.  

There is a 5 p.m. special meeting at the same place to discuss staff feedback on council priorities.