Berkeley's Anti-Sitting Initiative
is Nothing But a Ruse

By Becky O'Malley
Friday June 15, 2012 - 08:19:00 AM

In almost every culture gangs of street thieves work this scam:

One gang member approaches the victim and picks a fight with him over some trivial matter. While the victim is busy dealing with this assailant, another gang member sneaks up from behind and lifts his wallet from his back pocket. Happens all the time, all over the world.

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting it suddenly occurred to me that this is what’s going on in Berkeley right now.

There’s an election in November. A number of citizens are incensed about a variety of topics—the list is long and getting longer:

  • the push to rezone West Berkeley for the benefit of big landowners;
  • a chronic shortage of affordable housing
  • the University of California’s increasing colonization of the city’s downtown;
  • diversion of public funds from infrastructure maintenance (pools, streets, sidewalks, sewers) toward extravagant pensions for executives in the city bureaucracy;
  • lack of sunshine in city government;
  • use of bond funds for purposes not revealed in the ballot measures which authorized them;
  • a “downtown plan” which breaches CEQA and makes it easier to destroy historic buildings;
  • and that’s just for starters….

Could there be a better time for Tom Bates and his cronies to pick a fight with civil libertarians and homeless service providers and their clients over sitting on the sidewalk? Those in charge have been picking the public pocket in a variety of ways, but if they raise enough of a ruckus over the annoying behavior of hapless homeless and wayward youth perhaps we citizens won’t notice. -more-


Odd Bodkins: Three per cent (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday June 14, 2012 - 06:30:00 PM

Public Comment

On June 19 Will Berkeley City Council Renew Unconstitutional/Unlawful Police Department Agreements?

By Gene Bernardi M.A., UC Berkeley, and member of SuperBOLD
Thursday June 14, 2012 - 04:22:00 PM

A Berkeley City Council Worksession on Police Department agreements is scheduled for 5pm-7pm, June 19, 2012 at Old City Hall, followed by a Special Meeting at which the Police Department agreements will be considered for action by the Council.

One of the recommendations is from the Berkeley Police Review Commission which calls for the Council’s approval of the Police Department agreements with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC) and the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI). NCRIC is coordinated with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. -more-

No Sit Ordinance Would Be A Violation Of Our Freedom of Assembly

By Mahendra Ramanna Prasad
Thursday June 14, 2012 - 04:20:00 PM

I was born and raised in Memphis. One of the stigmatizing aspects of growing up in the American South and especially Memphis was knowing that its place in civil rights history was that MLK was killed there. On the other hand, as a kid, I was consistently given the impression that Berkeley was a bastion of freedom given its involvement in the Free Speech Movement to allow college students the right to advocate against segregation.

However, as a Berkeley graduate student these days, I find myself more and more convinced that perhaps Memphis today is a better friend of free speech and civil rights than Berkeley. Memphis still has an ongoing Occupy encampment. Berkeley does not. Memphis has a thriving Tea Party community that invited Occupiers to debate with them. I don't see that many debates like that today in Berkeley.

In any case, what really is convincing me that Memphis is freer than Berkeley these days is the possibility of a no sit no lie ordinance. While sitting public officials may contend this ordinance is not intended to block free assemblies such as sit-ins and sleep-ins, who knows what future government officials will do. This is a clear violation of our first amendment right to freely assemble. -more-

New: Sandusky is Not Mentally Ill

By Jack Bragen
Saturday June 16, 2012 - 03:25:00 PM

It has become fashionable in recent times for criminals to claim that they have a disorder that made them do the crime for which they are charged. Doing this is a temptation for a person who has committed a crime and who hopes to avoid their due punishment. -more-

Benefit of Sit-Lie? Lack of Leadership?

By Redwood Mary
Thursday June 14, 2012 - 04:27:00 PM

It is apparent that The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and other Private interests have some huge funding to
spend on a very costly ballot initiative that will not solve the core problems of: -more-