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Wozniak Wants Two Readings For Peace and Justice Items

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday February 26, 2008

After Move America Forward took aim at a Berkeley City Council item approved Jan. 29 asking the city manager to write the Marines saying their recruiters were “unwelcome intruders” in Berkeley—and council supporters took to the streets to face off with MAF and to ask the council not to back down—the council softened its language, agreeing not to write the letter. Instead, on Feb. 12, it publicly reiterated support for the troops and opposition to the war. 

The original Jan. 29 council item in question was written by the city’s Peace and Justice Commission. Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli and Linda Maio both said they hadn’t thoroughly read the item when they voted to support it. 

To prevent councilmembers from voting on Peace and Justice issues they haven’t read, Councilmember Gordon Wozniak is introducing a change in council rules that would mandate a second reading of all items from the Peace and Justice Commission. “It’s an opportunity to catch problems,” Wozniak said. 

“The council agenda gets posted Thursday night,” Wozniak said, arguing that the council doesn’t have time to review the issues. “It gives little opportunity for the council to hear from the community.” 

Wozniak’s council item will face opposition.  

“It’s a great way to make City Council meetings longer,” quipped Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, arguing that controversial items can originate from various commissions or departments—“even from Public Works,” he said. 

Both Capitelli and Maio told the Planet they would be paying better attention to the wording of council items in the future. 

Capitelli suggested that the Agenda Committee could do a better job of placing controversial items on the action calendar rather than on the consent calendar. Consent items are approved without discussion. 

Asked what she thought of Wozniak’s suggestion, Councilmember Dona Spring said, “It makes no sense. It’s an insult to the commission and the community. Any councilmember can ask for items to be held over.” 

Referring to the original council item, which Wozniak opposed and the replacement item, which he also opposed, Councilmember Max Anderson said he thought Wozniak’s idea to require two readings of Peace and Justice items, was a response to “being on the losing side of two votes.”  

Councilmember Kriss Worthington said it is unfair to single out one commission. “I think this is a drastic overreaction,” he said. 

But Wozniak said the Peace and Justice Commission should be viewed differently because “the scope of the mandate is different.” Much of what the commissioners deal with is primarily outside Berkeley, he said. 

“Many elected officials do not read the thousands of pages they are provided with,” he added. 

Tonight’s council packet is just 571 pages; on Jan. 29 it was 856 pages, with last-minute additions coming in the night of the meeting. 

One solution to the council not reading all the material would be to hold more frequent City Council meetings with fewer items to discuss, Worthington suggested, noting that there are lengthy documents to read, especially on land-use issues.  

“It’s logical to give more time to read these hundreds of pages,” he said.  

(On tonight’s agenda, for example, an appeal on moving the Blood House on Durant Avenue consists of 156 pages in the council packet, with additional material available on the city clerk website.) 

Asked if people who don’t read the items should recuse themselves, Spring said people often abstain when they haven’t read the material.  

Laughing, Worthington said, “It would force people to lie.” 

Wozniak said recusal would be difficult to regulate. “We may have to recuse ourselves a lot,” given the size of the council packet, he said. 


Move America Forward on TV 

Coming from Move America Forward to a small screen near you will be a TV commercial featuring clips from the Berkeley City Council’s stand regarding the Marine Recruiting Center controversy. 

The clips include Mayor Tom Bates standing up for the city’s anti-recruiting stance, saying: “They don’t belong here; they shouldn’t have come here; they should leave,” and others, including Spring and Anderson, saying that they will not apologize for their anti-military-recruiting stands. 

“The purpose is that we want everybody to know what the Berkeley City Council has refused to do—to apologize,” Catherine Moy, executive director of MAF, told the Daily Planet on Monday.  

The ads will run on local TV stations in the Bay Area and Sacramento, where MAF is based, and throughout the country on cable TV, Moy said. 

She said the nonprofit organization is spending $10,000 in the Bay Area alone to run the ads, which direct the public to their website, where they can sign a petition and contribute funds. “People are giving from $25 to $1,500,” Moy said.  

Asked what she thought of the video, Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, the city’s public information officer, said she thought it was a money-making scheme, with a PayPal button right next to the ad on the MAF website. 

“Some people are legitimately concerned about what the council did,” Clunies-Ross said. “However, media consumers have to ask how the ads are being paid for. I see a fund-raising campaign.”  

Clunies-Ross added that while “other communities are losing their uniqueness, we are an amazing community, maintaining our identify.”  

Moy, however, said they were using the funds to push back against what she called “Berkeley’s Anti-American” attitude. “We’re spending every penny on ads,” she said. 

Capitelli’s response to the ad, of which he’d seen clips on a news show, was, “The six of us [depicted in the clip] look like we’re just getting out of Guantanamo.”  

Capitelli said he’s posted his own response on YouTube, a four-minute clip from the Feb. 12 City Council meeting so that people can see councilmembers making “their own statements about who did what.” It can be seen at