Public Comment

The Berkeley Times, Just Another Arm of the Machine

Gale Garcia
Tuesday April 26, 2011 - 11:57:00 AM

A reporter from the Berkeley Times called a couple of weeks ago to interview me about the lawsuit over the misuse of Measure FF library bond funding. I returned his call for two reasons, to read him the clear, unambiguous wording of Measure FF and to see if the Berkeley Times would do justice to the interview. 

I believe that Berkeley voters were deliberately misled about library officials’ intentions for the South and West Branch Libraries when Measure FF was on the ballot in 2008. The Argument in Favor of Measure FF stated, “Renovations will preserve and restore the historic architectural features at the branch libraries” – with no mention of demolitions at all. The Argument, which was an important piece of ballot information for the Measure, was signed by Tom Bates, Shirley Dean, Miriam Hawley, Darryl Moore and Nancy Skinner. 

I think it is unconscionable to have promised restoration of the historic features of the branch libraries if the intention was, as it appears, to restore the North and Claremont Branch libraries and to demolish the libraries in the flatlands. 

The Berkeley Times reporter never asked me where I reside, but said in his article, published on April 14, that I lived in the Claremont district. I wrote a short letter to the editor correcting this mistake. I clarified that in my many decades of residence in Berkeley, I have only lived in Districts 3 and 1, the very districts where the South and West Branch libraries are located. 

I sent an e-mail to the Editor of the Times, Todd Kerr, asking him to confirm that he had received and would print my letter. He responded that he had received it and that he would call me, which he never did. He did not print my letter. Instead, another biased article promoting the position of those who want the flatland libraries demolished appeared in the April 21 issue. It stated as a “correction” that the previous article had not made it clear that, “Gale Garcia is currently a resident of South Berkeley” (well, yes, currently – and for the last 33 years – and cumulatively for most of my life). 

I have been suspicious of the Berkeley Times ever since its first issue was published right before an election with a school bond measure on the ballot – it seemed odd that a new newspaper, printed in full color (very expensive), would have articles about Berkeley schools on 12 of its 20 pages. If you read the Berkeley Times for news, be aware that you might be getting only one side of the story, the side that the Bates Machine wants you to hear.