Well, last night’s Berkeley City Council meeting was a lot less exciting than the previous week’s debacle. Big deal things happened, but the crowd was sparse and the Clog even ended up leaving early due to utter boredom. We guess it can’t be a full-blown Broadway musical every time. Here’s a quick recap:
When the Clog arrived, the public was commenting on the Rockridge Safeway expansion project, which would tear down the current structure and replace it with a bigger building, ultimately affecting surrounding intersections and increasing traffic.
One phrase that kept appearing over and over again was “monster project” — a commenter said that “this monster project is way out of scale … this is not change.” Folks, last time we checked, Safeway isn’t WalMart or Soylent Green. But we guess everyone has their different perceptions of monsters … we just think animated houses.
Mayor Tom Bates even said something popular for once; his “This project is too big” and comments on how the Council will not support the Safeway project was met with loud cheers from the crowd.
The Council seemed to be unanimous in its evaluations — even Linda Maio used a big adjective last night, calling it an “obscenely large project that might take on the largess of a WalMart.” Do you hear that folks? That would be applause from the Clog — finally, we’re getting an opinion out of this girl.
The Clog will now interrupt this update to bring you the weekly BCCM fashion watch: Alert! last night, Kriss Worthington was not wearing his usual blue shirt-eccentric tie combination. We were shocked when we arrived to see him dressed up in a candy-striped shirt and (gasp!) no tie! Perhaps he spilled his soy latte carried in an environmentally friendly container on himself earlier, or maybe the Princess was feeling down.
Whatever it was, it was the opposite of the Mayor — Bates was sporting a bright yellow shirt. Happy much? Someone’s glad sit-lie is on the ballot.
Anyway, back to the meeting:
The Council voted to oppose the Safeway behemoth and then moved on to talk about yielding procedures. The Clog is gonna stop now and say “Thank the Lord!” because the way time yielding is done now is utter chaos. What happens, for those of you unfamiliar with BCC shenanigans, is that currently, public commenters get only 1-2 minutes to speak, but if someone else “yields” them his/her time, then they can go on for longer.
So for example, the Clog would get 2 minutes to rant about how the chairs are far too squeaky in the BCC room, and at the end of two minutes, if the Boot yielded us their time, we could go on for another two minutes. But in this case, the Boot gives up their right to speak.
Right now, yielding is a hectic process — random-ass people from the back can stand up and scream “I yield time”, which is fine, but also causes double-dipping because the Bates can’t catch exactly who it was that screamed (and believe us, screaming and wailing occurs quite often). The proposal before the council last night was to limit a speaker to four minutes total, and in order for someone to yield time, he/she must go up to the podium with the person they wish to yield time to.
Of course, many were disgruntled. One woman claimed that as a disabled person, it was extremely hard for her to get to the front of the room in time to yield time — “You tried to shut the disabled people out from speaking … what are you afraid of?”
Another said, “If the intent is to keep people from yielding their time, it is a poor directive.” And then a man chose to share how commenting at public meetings was very soothing for him — “This free-for-all atmosphere is good to let off steam. It’s a good therapeutic process.” So now BCC has turned into a confessions box. Come one, come all — tell us your woes and your sins! Some will listen, others will fall asleep.
Princess Worthington had another proposal to add to that — oftentimes, council chambers can overflow when popular issues such as sit-lie arise; if two or more council members have reason to believe that an agenda item will explode, BCC meetings should be moved to a bigger venue. Oh and by the way, Worthington kept referring to sit-lie as the “arresting the homeless” measure. Wait a minute … we thought you didn’t like spin?
Maio didn’t like Kdub’s suggestion — “this is a lot to consider at the 11th hour”. How are people gonna watch from home, she wondered? Wow Linda, what’s with all this conviction? Everything’s topsy-turvy tonight.
Max Anderson then proceeded to disagree with Bates proposal, saying “Heaven forefend that someone get an extra minute!” Jesus Christ, who uses the word “forefend”?
Something or the other was voted on — we know that Worthington’s motion was shot down, but the Bates vote was a little befuddled. Check the main Daily Cal page for full coverage.
Finally, the council moved to the ever contentious West Berkeley Project with its cornucopia of three-letter acronyms. A man standing at the front of the room was holding a sign that read “Occupy Autism: the motion picture.” He commented, “[You should] pay the homeless to pick up garbage” and “Sometimes it’s just best to not listen to the green moustache man because he’s not honest.” Ok. We’ll take your word for it, we guess.
Someone else said “Everyone wants to go to Heaven but no one wants to die. Everyone wants to be an environmentalist but no one wants to read an EIR,” in reference to the confusing nature of the environmental portion of the project.
As y’all know, there are more than a few things going on the ballot this fall, and a few council members were concerned that people would get confused and vote down everything. Professor Wozniak though, threw around words like “percolate” and said he believed that the average Berkeley voter was more sophisticated than the council believed. Playing to the crowd, perhaps? Well the crowd certainly didn’t buy it — the Clog heard more than a few derisive chuckles in response to Gordon’s comment.
In the end, after much confusing debate and Jesse Arreguin pontification, the $30 million bond was put on the ballot. So basically, this November is gonna be a political shit-show.
Just be sure to keep percolating that water.
Image source: Sev! under Creative Commons
Tags:Berkeley City Council, Gordon Wozniak, Jesse Arreguin, Kriss Worthington, Linda Maio, Max Anderson, Safeway, Soylent Green, Tom Bates, West Berkeley Project
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