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What Councilmembers Said At “New Libraries Now” Rally

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday May 11, 2011 - 08:53:00 AM
Steven Finacom

On April 26, 2011, as I reported in the April 27th Planet, a group of about 60-70 supporters of demolishing and rebuilding the South and West branches of the Berkeley Public Library held a rally on the steps of City Hall during a Council meeting.

This was under the auspices of a group calling itself “New Libraries Now”. Dave Snyder from the Berkeley Public Library Foundation emceed the event and introduced speakers, including three members of the Berkeley City Council. All three, along with a fourth member, Darryl Moore, stood at the top of the City Hall steps by the podium holding signs supporting the rally and calling for “new libraries now.”

Councilmembers Linda Maio, Max Anderson, and Laurie Capitelli spoke at the rally.

Some of their quotations have been misreported in other media. I also quoted some of their remarks in my article, but not their complete statements. Since then, a number of people have asked me if there is a complete transcript of their remarks.

Below is a transcript [made from a recording.] There was an individual heckler yelling about the City budget during the rally, so at a few points the yelling or crowd applause made words or phrases in the Councilmember comments inaudible. Those points are indicated. Otherwise, this is a transcript of their full remarks. 

DAVE SNYDER: “We want to take the opportunity to have some of our City Councilmembers make their comments so, please, Councilmember Susan Wengraf…” (turning to Councilmember Linda Maio. Maio takes the microphone). 


“That’s Linda Maio. So we’re in session right now, so we’ve come down to be with you, we’ve come down to thank you for joining us, for new libraries for South and West. OK! There’s one word in Measure F (sic) that’s in contention, it’s called the word ‘demolition’, and because of one word we may not have south, what, libraries for south and west for our kids, for our families, for our seniors, and for our disabled. It’s simply not fair. It’s simply not right. We have to go ahead with what we’ve got, and what we’ve got is the taxpayers, the taxpayers of Berkeley, saying ‘Yes! We want good, quality, libraries for all of Berkeley’.” (Applause, and a few words inaudible). “…for all our libraries. And so with your help we have to get the word out because once taxpayers hear it, let me tell you once they hear it, they’re angry. They’re angry because we’re stalled. And we’re stalled because of a few people who nitpick and really, there’s no place to go, for them. There’s no other solution for um, um, for good, decent, safe, libraries for our kids and for our (inaudible, shouting in background).”



“Greetings everybody! It’s good to see you here. And the Tea Party guy can go someplace else (pointing to man shouting about the budget). (Laughter from crowd). (Next Phrase inaudible). “Your presence here means you have reinforced the commitment that this City expressed on Election Day in 2008 that we want good, quality, modern libraries in all parts of our city. We want a fair and equal distribution of resources in the City and we want, we want our families, and our children, to have access to the materials, and the education, and the books that they need to have a successful life. And that goes for whether you live in North Berkeley, whether you live in the Claremont area, or whether you live in South or West Berkeley. (applause) A few years ago my wife and I decided to remodel our kitchen. So we went in and we started work on it. We had no plans to tear down the wall, but what we found during the course of our process compelled us, if we were going to have a decent kitchen. Now, if any of you find dry rot and bad things in the walls of your house, and you’re planning on, um, revitalizing your kitchen, you’re not going to walk away from it because you found some dry rot! You’re going to fix it to the highest standards you can because it means something to you. And it means something to the City to have good libraries, to have opportunities in the City spread out in an equitable way so that we can add to the thrust of Vision 2020 and that’s making sure by the year 2020 all of our children with have access to access to areas of educational opportunities that will let them develop (inaudible) graduate from high school. We’ve had a (inaudible). And what people have to decide is, what side of history are you going to be on? Are you going to stand there, are you going to stand in the library door, or are you going to facilitate the availability of resources to all of our community? So you’ve done your job, and we’re going to go in there (pointing to Council chambers) and do ours!” 



“I’m, I’m going to be brief, and I just want to say, number one, the voters overwhelmingly said, ‘spend the money, rebuild the libraries, have modern libraries for everyone.’ Number two we’ve spent, all of you, many of you, and hundreds of other people, hundreds if not thousands of hours planning these tour libraries. NO ONE stepped forward at any of the meetings I went to and said, Stop. NO ONE. It was only after a very small minority didn’t get their way or perceived of some way to stop this project that they moved forward, with, with, obstructionist activities. It’s time to move forward, it’s time we as a community said the majority, the overwhelming majority of people have said move ahead and build these libraries. Thank you.” 

DAVE SNYDER: “Thank you Councilmember, we appreciate your support.”  

(Capitelli pats Snyder on the shoulder and stands aside to listen to next speaker.)