As the City Council meeting closed in on midnight and two councilmembers had already gone home, the council voted to supply workers who answer the city’s general information phones with material about the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors.
The idea is to have information available, so staff can refer anyone who calls asking about how to avoid military combat.
The measure had been scheduled for an earlier vote as part of the consent calendar, where items are passed without debate. But it was postponed for more discussion after Councilmember Betty Olds said she wanted to see the item amended to include giving staff information about military recruitment for people who called wanting to enlist.
Amending the recommendation is the “democratic thing to do,” Olds said, arguing that the city had already received too much media attention from a council-approved resolution calling for a speedy end to the bombing of Afghanistan.
Councilmembers and city officials received thousands of phone calls, e-mails and letters both protesting and supporting the decision.
Olds’ amendment was rejected.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington stated his opposition to Olds’ amendment, then agreed to include it as long as the original recommendation and the amendment were voted on separately.
“I first want to remind the council of the military’s discriminatory polices, policies that have caused many colleges and high schools to not invite them to recruit on their campuses,” Worthington said, referring to military discrimination against gays and lesbians.
The council then voted on the original amendment, adopted by a 5-1 vote, with Olds voting in opposition. Councilmembers Polly Armstrong and Maudelle Shriek had already left the meeting and Councilmember Margaret Breland was absent due to illness.
The council failed to approve Olds’ military recruiter amendment by a vote of 3-3, with Worthington and councilmembers Dona Spring and Linda Maio voting in opposition. Motions require five votes for approval.
The proposal came from the city’s Peace and Justice Commission, which adopted a resolution earlier this month praising Berkeley’s “unique and honored tradition of promoting alternative social values and viewpoints including nonviolence and pacifism.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.