After a long wait for the sit-lie issue to begin at last night’s City Council meeting, the public comments section ended with a dramatic adjournment when the crowd broke out into song and dance. As opposed to the first meeting over sit-lie, where the atmosphere in the room was charged with anger and hysteria, last night was simply … bizarre. Here’s a full recap:

The night started out pleasantly enough, with regular commenter Leprechaun Hat Man — who’s usually up in arms over everything — thanking the council members for sending back the armored tank.

Council member Susan Wengraf was absent and expecting a grandchild in beautiful Santa Monica.

And then, the evening devolved.

The first relevant agenda items were the “public hearings” over the massage centers a.k.a. prostitution parlors. Recommendations were made to shut down Acupressure Health Center and Berkeley Alouette, and when Mayor Tom Bates asked if there was anyone there to represent the complainant appealing the shut-down, there was no one. Awwwkward.

Then BCC moved to talk about the West Berkeley Project, which involves MUPs, EIRs, SCRPs and far too many three-letter acronyms for us to understand. It was supposed to be a quick agenda item, but it dragged into almost two hours of conversation. Fml.

Some people just like to hear their own voices a little too much -cough Kriss Worthington cough-.

Speaking of KDub, he kept making food references and food puns all night long, saying that the Watershed measure was a “pig in a poke” and a “fact-free ordinance”, had been “left in the refrigerator for 16 years” and was “half-baked”. Someone clearly forgot to eat dinner before hand.

The watershed measure is meant to deal with flooding, occurring mainly in council member Linda Maio’s district. Arguing ensued, leading to Wengraf complaining that she doesn’t like different areas of Berkeley being pitted against each letter, which in turn drew a loud outburst from Council member Max Anderson: “This is a specious argument!”

And now we will interrupt this recap to bring you the BCC fashion watch: Anderson’s arm was in an unsightly sling last night, having been broken god knows how. Jesse Arreguin was wearing a bright green chair pin that other sit-lie protestors were sporting, while Worthington was wearing one of his ridiculous ties as usual.

Now back to the story: so basically, KDub is on anti sit-lie mode 24/7. While speaking on the West Berkeley Project, he said of sit-lie “Do you really think that there’s not gonna be at least one third of Berkeley passionately against this?” Because it does, of course, take two-thirds of the city to pass any ballot measure, something PC Maio reminded us of when she said “It’s so important for all the stakeholders to be on board because we need two-thirds of the vote … and that’s a lot.” Linda, Linda, Linda. Always stating facts and never opinions.

The public comments section over this issue involved references to egrets, Berkeley’s bird. Wait, we thought it was the barn owl? People also accused the council of not being transparent and buzzword buzzword enough, which pissed off council member Laurie Capitelli enough to draw a rousing comment out of him: “This is not a secret. Let’s not pretend it is … I resent someone sitting up here and playing to the crowd”.

General hissing was how the crowd responded to that.

And finally, at long last, after hours of grueling bickering between Worthington and Bates, did we reach the public comments over sit-lie. Up first was Napoleon, who kicked it off with a song. You know, if this were American Idol, Capitelli would be Simon, Worthington would be Paula and Anderson would be Randy. Perfect.

There were also a lot of complaints of council members not answering phone calls: “Darryl [Moore], you’re selling out your neighborhood … you don’t answer any of my phone calls!” and “Gordon [Wozniak] has never returned my calls.” Darryl and Gordon — heartbreakers. Call us maybe?

Here’s a general summary of the more substantive comments:

-This is not an economical move as it takes tens of thousands just to put it on the ballot, not to mention that thousands that will be spent on the lawsuits that will surely ensue. We’re sure that’s pretty much true of any ballot measure though.

-Statistics were cited last night that may or may not be true, but sure were interesting: the same 10 people have received 90 percent of the sit-lie citations in San Francisco; 20 percent of homeless are LGBT, while 10 percent of country is LGBT; homeless LGBT are much more likely to be sexually assaulted than homeless heterosexuals

-$75 for a first fine is just far too much.

-FASCISM. DRACONIAN THIS IS. You know, now that you mention it, Tom Bates could pass off for a vampire.

-People called for boycotts of small businesses that supported this measure. If that’s the case, y’all are about to do a lot less shopping.

We then had a woman come up to the mic and turn the room into the opening scene of A Knight’s Tale. She called for a boycott of businesses supporting sit-lie, and then started singing “We Will Shop You” set to the tune of Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” The entire chambers joined in clapping and singing along.

From there on out, BCC became a musical. When “We Shall Not Be Moved” began, Bates lost control of the room and left with the other council members. Arreguin, Anderson and the People’s Princess stayed behind and joined in.

This literally went on for a good ten minutes before Bates came back and abruptly adjourned the meeting due to parliamentary reasons no one quite understood. All we heard was Worthington screaming, “Point of order, this motion is out of order!” It’s not so kumbaya after all, eh Kriss?

BCC meeting devolving into a full-blown spontaneous flash mob? Classic Berkeley, classic.

Image source: netmen! under Creative Commons

BerkeleyCitizen said:
Jul 11, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Thanks for the entertaining, as always recap. Here’s another 3 letter acronym apropos to the meeting: WTF?

Teresa said:
Jul 12, 2012 at 12:55 am

I’m sure your coverage of it is more entertaining than the actual meeting. Love your writing!