3950906089_6a8be7bc22Let’s face it: students are a big presence in Berkeley. After all, there are 35,000 of us (including graduate students), we make up 25 percent of the population of Berkeley and we have our own unique needs to be addressed, including safety, public transportation and landlord-tennant issues. So why hasn’t a student been elected onto the city council since the districts were drawn in 1986? The districts as they stand divide the student population into four areas and dilute the possibility of a student presence on the council.

A group of students, supported by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, have decided to do something about this. Last Friday they proposed redrawing the districts, resulting in a student majority area. That’s right Berkeley students, the power could soon be in your hands.

Skinner herself read more »

The Citizens’ Sunshine Ordinance, an independent citizens’ group in Berkeley which has nothing to do with sunshine, recently submitted a government ordinance to the Berkeley City Council that would make all city records, except those otherwise protected by law, available to the public Six Reasons Why movies .

Basically what this means is that Berkeley will save a lotta clams by curtailing the number of citizen lawsuits that happen to be in vogue now. Essentially, it’s like putting that gigantic “smoking kills” warning on the packet of cigarettes, so you can’t go knocking on the door of Marlboro when you’re smoking through your throat. When everyone knows the rules and procedures, they can be enforced without lawsuits, and disputes can be settled at the local, rather than federal, level.

The Planet lists some of the features of the Citizens’ Sunshine Ordinance: read more »

Another angle of ridiculousness has emerged in what seems to be the oaks story of 2008: The U.S. Senate might get involved in the mess of the Marine Recruitment Center after the infamous words “unwelcome intruders” were heard ’round the bay and from coast to coast.

Senator Jim DeMint (South Carolina – R) will introduce a proposal to snatch Berkeley’s more-than $2.1 million in federal earmarks and transfer the sum to the Marine Corps instead. That’s a bitchslap if we’ve ever seen one.
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Yeah, NSS. As if Berkeley would ever say “no” to some grass.

In the event of federal interference with dispensaries, Berkeley City Council urges opposition to and noncooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s marijuana raids.

Is it news to you that weed is illegal? In a nutshell, the sitch’ is this:
read more »

How many of you like smoking when walking down Telegraph Avenue? How many of you like to lie down randomly on the sidewalk? Pee in public? Drink in public? Own a shopping cart in public? Yell randomly in public?

Well, all of those things will be banned eventually. Tuesday night the Berkeley City Council passed the Public Commons for Everyone Initiative, which Mayor Tom Bates has been trying to push through the council for months now.

The Chron is reporting that it’s a way clean up the streets and get rid of rowdy behavior. It’s always a way to force the city’s homeless population to get some help—by either getting help on their own or by being arrested and being sent to get help.

The implementation of the Public Commons for Everyone Initiative is slated to start sometime late this year, after the City Manager creates a plan for implementation and bring it back to the council.

So we guess we won’t see anymore rowdy frat guys roaming the streets of Berkeley after a football game or that piss-drunk freshmen peeing on the street corner or that weird guy going to sleep right next to your favorite coffee spot.

Maybe this will eventually bring more businesses back to the now-shoddy Telegraph Avenue. Just think: a Jamba Juice on every corner. Maybe they’ll even bring a Peets to Telegraph. Or even a big corporate drug store. Oh wait …

At least the streets will be clean … or not as dirty.

Council passes plan to stop bad street behavior [SF Gate]
Berkeley consider ‘public commons’ initiative [Oakland Trib]

EDIT: It seems the Chron may have been a little too eager with its story. According to the Oakland Tribune, Berkeley City Council approved some parts of the initiative but also sent it back to the city manager:bq. A sweeping plan to improve the quality of life in public areas and make Berkeley a cleaner and friendly place for shoppers and visitors was approved by the City Council on Tuesday.

bq. But the plan — originally put forth by Mayor Tom Bates with additions by council member Kriss Worthington — must now go back to City Manager Phil Kamlarz for more specific proposals. Laws will not change until after a meeting in the fall, said Bates’ senior aide Julie Sinai.

The Daily Cal also has the story.

Berkeley is an odd city with odd people. They try really hard, and sometimes you just gotta love their tenacity in trying to make the world a better place. Hugs, y’all.

After Berkeley’s most recent attempt to tell the Bush administration to eff off, the city’s making it personal. This time Berkeley is targeting former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rumy, you’ve got lots of ‘splaining to do.

The City Council is considering signing an international lawsuit against Rumsfeld (and other top U.S. defense officials) to initiate a war crimes investigation. Maybe that Abu Ghraib exhibit in Doe Library was the final push.

The suit was first filed by Berlin in November and seeks a response to tortures at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. It claims that Rumsfeld not only condoned the inhumane practices but also ordered them.

Both City Manager Phil Kamlarz and Mayor Tom Bates have suggested avoiding the legal process. Instead Bates has recommended writing a letter.

A letter? Are you serious? We don’t need no stinkin’ letter.

Actually, a lawsuit from a city is a just a tad preposterous. Sometimes, we think the Council is a little overzealous, but that’s cool. Why? ‘Cause we’ve got curb cuts for wheelchairs and an eco-friendly community. But most all, our milkshake brings all the boys to the yard and they’re like, “It’s better than yours.” Damn right.

Berkeley considering joining complaint against Rumsfeld [Modesto Bee]