While speakers at a noontime rally at Old City Hall were protesting a spate of Chamber of Commerce hit pieces received by voters over the past week, new mailers containing what Councilmember Dona Spring called “more brazen lies” were appearing in District 4 and District 7 mailboxes.
The most recent piece put out by the Chamber PAC implies that Worthington and Spring are anti-business and responsible for the closure of Cody’s and the Act 1 & Act 2 Theatre on Bancroft Way, due to their support for “doorway camping on Telegraph,” voting against more downtown parking and not supporting the West Berkeley Bowl.
Worthington argues that the parking issue is a red herring, and that for 20 hours every day, from downtown to the Telegraph Avenue area, there are 1,000 spaces available. The problem, he said, is letting people know where the spaces are located. He said that due to his advocacy, the city is meeting with the university and private parking-lot owners to talk about how new signage indicating available parking can be funded.
Worthington said he is responsible for insisting that the 22 parking spaces on Telegraph Avenue removed by a city bureaucrat be replaced; this was funded at Worthington’s behest in the budget approved in July.
Worthington points to “a dramatic reduction” in downtown parking with the removal of “Hink’s Parking” on Kitredge St. by the Transaction Corp. Library Gardens project. Along with others, Worthington said he fought for and got the replacement of some of that parking. He added that he does not want to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on building a new parking structure.
Spring, who had been a strong advocate of parking under new sections of the high school and under the new library, said the Chamber would rather blame her for business leaving Berkeley than the property owners who raise rents beyond what small business owners can pay.
Correcting the record, Spring said both she and Worthington voted to approve the West Berkeley Bowl after there were assurances that the council would be able to vote separately on urging the Bowl to unionize, if the workers wanted a union.
“They have set the bar at a new low,” Spring said of the distortions in the mailers.
Chamber of Commerce President Roland Peterson did not return several calls for comment on Thursday.
In a call to the Daily Planet on Wednesday, George Beier, challenging Worthington for the District 7 seat, distanced himself from the Chamber mailers, which support him. “I don’t like the tactics,” he said. “I find it distasteful.”