To the Editor:
I deeply resent the comments made by Councilmember Polly Armstrong at Tuesday's City Council meeting regarding those of us who followed the General Plan process through to the end. I have no alternative but to interpret her remarks to mean that if someone cares enough to participate in Berkeley, then they must be (her words) “junkies” – not the caring, thoughtful citizens who feel that their gift of time and energy to the city is a good thing. The General Plan process was 2 1/2 years of hard work done since the early 1999 staff draft, which was resoundly rejected in favor of a Planning Commission authored draft (which is still not finalized until the housing element is approved by the state).
I feel she should give the hundreds of citizens who did participate a public apology.
It is difficult enough to get people to come out to meetings, and the marginalizing of the people who participate in the process further discourages those who are listening to the council meetings. It was all the more surprising to hear this during a discussion that had a lot of feel-good talk about the city's need to work better with citizens and neighborhoods on land use issues.
I hope Ms. Armstrong will reconsider her statement, as Berkeley needs the best and the brightest from our diverse community to help guide us through the troubled waters we often find ourselves in.