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‘Quirky’ Berkeley makes front page

Judith Scherr Daily Planet editor
Friday August 10, 2001

It’s not very often these days our fair city makes even the local section of The Chron. 

But when it makes A-1, it’s a real anomaly. Now, I read the paper from across the Bay daily – and we’re lucky to have a decent regional fishwrap in our midst - or maybe it’s mist.  

But I’ve got to say that the only time a Berkeley story makes A-1 is a “there-they-go-again, quirky Berkeley” story. 

That’s what happened with the Boy Scout pieces.  

When the Daily Planet saw a Girl Scout press release which included a visit of the Japanese and local Boy Scouts with the mayor, last week, we made a few calls. As a reporter for another paper, I’d covered the long debate over the Sea Scouts’ free berth at the Marina several years ago. At the time, the council, including the mayor, voted to take the freebie away from the scouts to protest the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy. I realized that, given the city’s deep commitment to opposing the BS policy, this was a story.  

When the Planet asked Councilmember Kriss Worthington for a comment on the upcoming meeting, we unintentionally informed him of it, setting off a chain of events which resulted, the same day, in the mayor’s moving her meeting off the city site. We wrote the story about Worthington’s objections to the mayor’s meeting on city property with a group that discriminates, and his wish to have an opportunity to educate them about the U.S. Boy Scout’s homophobia. And we wrote about the mayor’s decision to shield the children from controversy and move the meeting to a private undisclosed location. 

About a week later, a Chron reporter, who delves into Berkeley happenings about once a month or so, picked the story up and his editors, in their wisdom, and decided it was enough of a Quirky-Berkeley story to move on A-1 – two days running! 

Of course, AP picked it up and every other near & far media outlet that relishes a good Quirky-Berkeley story. 

The story is newsworthy, fitting neatly into the context of a very serious nation-wide controversy around the Boy Scouts’ homophobia. The story is also part of ongoing tensions between Mayor Shirley Dean and Councilmember Kriss Worthington. Both city leaders oppose the Boy Scout policy. Dean says she wants to sit down with local scouts to find a means of protesting the policy. Worthington demands Dean not meet with the scouts on city property and calls a rally on the question. 

All this is news, but A-1 Quirky-Berkeley councilmember’s-an-”idiot” story? I don’t think so.