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Rabbits, Bi-Polar Bears and Sidewalks: the shit show that was the Berkeley City Council meeting

Posted By Lynn Yu On Jun 13, 2012 @ 12:34 pm In News | Comments Disabled


The Clog isn’t one to attend City Council meetings, but we’re so upset over the sit-lie measure [1] that the Force itself couldn’t have stopped us from going last night (trust us, the Star Wars references are definitely relevant). What we were met with was absolute chaos and entertainment you simply can’t buy. The evening began civilly enough, but eventually devolved into a shouting match that left us fearing for our lives. The crowd was just about ready to storm the Bastille as the Jedi High Council Berkeley City Council fought amongst themselves and then, with Samuel L. Jackson impersonations [2] manifesting themselves, exhaustion settled over the room and the measure was placed on the ballot. Cue cries of “Shame on you!”

Here’s the Clog’s recap of last night’s events:

Somehow, protesting against corporations is always relevant. Even if we’re just talking about sitting rights. Hence, the sign below.


What this has to do with sit-lie, we're not sure

A woman speaking outside claimed that “A tutu is no more a ballerina than a corporation is a person.” True? Yes. Relevant? NOPE. But if it rallies the troops, at least it gets the job done.

The Clog headed inside, only to find Mayor Tom Bates [3] practicing his death stare on public commenters. His death stare must have been crafted after long hours of studying Stannis Baratheon [4] — it’s quite intimidating and could melt the Witch of the West herself.

Discussions over the West Berkeley project were in full force, and the Clog, as well as the crowd (and we’re sure the Council as well), were delighted to be introduced to Sling Shot Hip Hop the bunny. The woman holding Hip Hop said, “Hip Hop wants to be here … to show what a sentient being he is.” Optimus Prime would approve.

We were then met with a song over the project before moving on to the sit-lie public comments section. Something amending the West Berkeley project or another was passed; we’re not really sure exactly what happened because Hip Hop was absorbing all our attention. Read the main Daily Cal [5] story for more info.

Back to public comments over sit-lie: the first in line was a little kid who said, “If people don’t have a place to sit or something … then it is very sad because then they have to walk around.” You go, Glen Coco!  A career in adorableness awaits you. Sadly, it was not enough to touch the stone of the Councils’ hearts.

Next we were introduced to a long column of hat-wearing dissenters, from Thomas and his Jason Mraz hat to Mike and his green-bordered Lincoln hat, making this procession almost as good as the Royal Wedding. Chair accessories — such as chair earrings or chair lapel pins — also decorated the protestors.

Cries of “We’re not Seattle!”, “fascism! fascists!” and “Fuck you Tom!” rang out all night long. We’re sure Mr. Bates isn’t the only one to have those insults thrown his way — Mr. Cruise probably suffers from fascist accusations on a regular basis too.

In fact, that was the biggest lesson the Clog learned all night — when in doubt, call someone a fascist. Angry and heated? Scream “fascist!” Tom Bates pissing you off? “What a fucking fascist!” A councilman decides to sip on some coffee? “FASCIST!” Even though it was the crowd’s favorite phrase, we’re not entirely sure if they understood exactly what a fascist is. Last time we checked, consuming caffeine was an entirely non-fascist activity. Or is it?

Some of the more substantive comments of the night can be summed up here:

-Sit-lie is not solving the problem — we need to provide the homeless with better housing services, jobs, etc. Don’t forget Hip Hop the sentient being too!

-Seattle, Santa Monica and San Francisco — the three S cities are examples where sit-lie doesn’t work and why we shouldn’t adopt it. And don’t forget, “We’re not Seattle! We’re not Seattle!” Nope, but we do start with a “B”, which the Council must take as an indication for imminent success.

-A visiting Norwegian pointed out that sit-lie will be punishing and hurting a group already in need. Good for you, Norway.

-Students from Cal questioned the timing of the meeting; placing the measure on the ballot during summer, where the majority of students are gone, ignores the student voice. Speaking of having your voice heard, everyone only had a minute each to speak. And we wonder why people are frustrated with not being properly represented …

-Small businessmen also showed up in support of it, saying that they thought it was a good measure and that it would benefit the community


Many commenters were pretty big nerds, making references to Star Wars (Anonymous to Tom Bates: “Does Darth Vader know you stole his identity?”) and Star Trek, which we certainly appreciated.

The crowd was also big on animals. Besides Hip Hop the bunny, Mark Schwartz [6], a mayoral candidate trying to usurp Darth Bates, said “I am a bi-polar bear!” We were also introduced to Chief Sitting Bear, Ninja Kitty (at least we think that’s his name) and many a teddy bear. The saddest event all night came when said teddy bear’s owner flung it to the ground in outrage and frustration. The Clog does not condone such stuffed animal cruelty.

Urban Kitty: "We NEED to sit!"

Ninja Kitty: "We NEED to sit!"

Eventually, the discussion was brought back to the Council members, who started shouting and insulting each other. Democracy at its finest! Councilwoman Wengraf gave up mid-way and began falling asleep, while Councilman Worthington and Mayor Bates duked it out. Councilman Anderson, doing his best Samuel L. Jackson impression, shouted to Bates “I’ll bring my gavel next time and I’ll gavel you!” and “You ain’t gonna treat me like one of your little punks!” Papa Corelone, you better watch out.

The tension in the room rose to a point where it seemed like a riot was about to break out; police officers stood at attention and just as Anderson downed some apple juice after an anti-sit-lie tirade, and just as Bates banged his gavel, and just as Worthington spat out more insults, and just as Wengraf looked as if she was about to pass out, and just as Capitelli remained in the same position he had been holding for the past 20 minutes, and just as Maio began looking like a flustered chicken, and just as Arreguin cried out in support of Worthington and Anderson, and just as Moore sat looking like a peaceful walrus, and just as Wozniak smiled bemusedly, the crowd died down and peace settled over. We have no idea how that happened — perhaps it was the power of the banged gavel or sympathy for the abused teddy bear, but in an instant normalcy had returned and a vote was called.

Needless to say, it passed 6-3 (Worthington, Arreguin and Anderson voting against) and the crowd erupted in shouts of “SHAME ON YOU!”

Get ready for more protests this November, Berkeley. They’re bound to come. And don’t forget, when in doubt, “fascism!” is your best friend.

Image source: Lynn Yu (all), Daily Cal

Article printed from The Daily Clog: http://clog.dailycal.org

URL to article: http://clog.dailycal.org/2012/06/13/rabbits-bi-polar-bears-and-sidewalks-the-shit-show-that-was-the-berkeley-city-council-meeting/

URLs in this post:

[1] sit-lie measure: http://www.dailycal.org/2012/06/11/sit-in-judgment/

[2] Samuel L. Jackson impersonations: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amYzBQMT4VI

[3] Mayor Tom Bates: http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/mayor/

[4] Stannis Baratheon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhoD8I9DTXU

[5] Daily Cal: http://www.dailycal.org/

[6] Mark Schwartz: http://www.dailycal.org/2012/06/06/two-candidates-file-paperwork-to-run-against-berkeley-mayor-tom-bates/

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