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UC report highlights virtue, omits burden

By Judith Scherr Daily Planet editor
Wednesday January 16, 2002

How about a little lite reading for your pleasure? You might want to start with “Building the Bay Area’s future: a study of the economic impact of the University of California, Berkeley.”  

A fast read. And informative: Our esteemed university spends $412 million in the nine-county Bay Area, creates 22,000 jobs (minus the 24 just laid off from University Extension), nurtures scientists, restaurateurs and academicians who share their genius with the rest of us. UC Berkeley also provides tutors for our kids. And puts on a great Easter egg hunt every year, which the report somehow missed. 

But the slim missive – authored by the San Francisco- and Los Angeles-based Sedway Group (available free on campus at 101 Sproul Hall) – leaves out some basics. Sedway did what profs teaching the revered institution’s Econ 1A courses used to call a cost-benefit analysis - at least they did half of it. The benefit half. Guess they’ll do the cost side when the governor hikes the university budget. Seems like there are a lot of costs to having the university here that could be factored in along with the good stuff, if anyone sat down to do the numbers – like making our cops work a little harder, wearing out our roads a little faster, jacking up housing costs, removing private property from the tax rolls... 

And what about the costs of that giant project with the poetic name - Northeast Quadrant Safety Services Project – there’s a bunch of citizens and all nine councilmembers who say the huge project’s gonna clog Northside with traffic, dust, noise, more students, employees…..  

But maybe in the era of celebrating spin doctors, it’s OK for the big U to omit what it costs to bring those kids to town.  


Speaking of kids, they’re such a worry. We’re always checking in on them to make sure they’re following The Rules. But there’s a bigger worry.  

Big folk.  

You’ve gotta ask questions when those charged with keeping the littler, liter ones following the straight and narrow, do not themselves follow rules. Like when the school board didn’t let the student board member second a motion at a recent meeting. Oh, yeah, they forgot she was allowed to do that...the dog ate the rule book, I guess. And then, did you know that same board elected its officers in CLOSED SESSION. Get these folks a copy of the Brown Act! 


Meanwhile – don’t know whether to be proud or what? – Lite got the call. 

No, not from God or the FBI - but almost. It was little Johnny Ashcroft Jr. from the Emeryville Express. The guy claimed to be Will Harper – but I know Will from back in the early ’90s when he was at the “Berkeley Voice” – so I know he’s a bona fide reporter and a real reporter wouldn’t stoop that low – demanding to know, in no uncertain terms, whether I am now or ever was a commie pinko. Wow! I didn’t know Emeryville was so far from Berkeley. Maybe we should set up a border patrol…. 


But Emeryville’s not the only area out-of-step. Noticed the Christmas decorations downtown? Good way to save city bucks. No work to put’em up next year. 


Here’s a rumor for you. Some say the Landmarks Commission’s gonna name the communication tower at the Public Safety Building a historic landmark. True? 


And, to end, a song for City Hall: “This little lite of mine….” Ever noticed the bulbs at 2180 Milvia glow 24/7. The guy in charge doesn’t disagree. “I’ve had the same feeling myself,” Public Works Director Rene Cardinaux told the Lite. And now, he’s gonna do something about the lights that don’t shut off. “You put a dig in my conscience,” he said.  

That’s all Berkeley Lite’s ever desired.