Racism Charges in Library Demolition Dispute(Opinion, reprinted with permission from the LeConte Chat Listserv)

By Patti Dacey
Monday April 25, 2011 - 07:55:00 PM

This library issue just gets curiouser and curiouser. Charges of racism are outrageously flung around at the people who believe that the bond issue purposely left out any information about demolition or who support preservation efforts, draining the very concept of racism of any meaning at all. Also, please note that the library board and the people playing the race card pushed a change in the zoning code, passed by the Planning Commission, that allows all libraries to be demolished or changed in any way by right, INCLUDING the downtown library (anyone for a 120 foot tower on the downtown library without a public hearing?). There's also the completely false indication at the end of Max's announcement that only one person is behind the law suit (which has already been partly won)" WE URGE THE PLAINTIFF TO WITHDRAW HER SUIT!", though there are several people, and a whole lot more backers. 

I have had nothing at all to do with this lawsuit, but I have been absolutely shocked by the tactics of the library board and their backers around this lawsuit. They haven't been able to win in court yet because of the legal incompetence of our city attorney, the mistakes made by that office, and the bait and switch tactics used by those who wrote the language of the bond, so now they adopt a scorched-earth policy towards the people who object to this that's one of the nastiest, most toxic strategies I've ever seen in this town.  

Berkeley has always come together around its libraries. We fought to keep our beautiful downtown library--remember that a good slice of the political establishment wished to demolish it to build a brand new building--and we pay a great deal in taxes cheerfully to keep all our libraries open. Just say no to this rally and the ugliness it represents. Even if you believe that the South and West libraries should be demolished, please forcefully reject the tactic that accuses anybody who stands in the way of the library board and its backers as racist and worthy of being personally destroyed. It's shameful and its hateful, and it's just plain wrong.