As expected, the Berkeley City Council last night adopted the biennial budget for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. The budget, originally presented on May 3, closes a $12.2 million deficit in FY2012 and a $13.3 million deficit in FY2013 by eliminating 79 positions, cutting a number of services, and raising a number of fees (the full 384-page budget report can be accessed here).

The budget had been extensively debated in a number of council meetings since the a discussion of the budget development calendar in October. Last night there was no discussion of the main budget, and it passed without comment. The focus of debate last night was on supplemental allocations for community agencies that had been cut in the proposed budget. Councilmember Linda Maio and Mayor Tom Bates proposed $114,078 in additional funding for nine agencies, and councilmember Max Anderson proposed $264,078 in additional funding for the same nine agencies, as well as the city’s Black Infant Health program, a number of festivals and the city’s pools.

The debate on the two proposals was heated, even though councilmember Jesse Arreguín pointed out that “we’re close”, and attempts should be made to “bridge the gap”. Eventually, the Maio/Bates proposal was agreed, with additional sums for the Cinco de Mayo and Stonewall festivals. 

City Manager Phil Kamlarz had identified the $114,078 as available for one-time use in the general fund because of a terminated contract and the freeing of Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) funds thanks to six-months funding from Community Services Block Grant. Additionally, the Youth Emergency Assistance Hostel (YEAH) has relinquished its contract of $45,000 per year.

“What has happened over the last few years,” Anderson said, “is the continuous shredding of the safety net in our city.” His proposal was a partial attempt to halt that trend, he said. The extra $150,000, he said, could be found by trimming the city’s budget for paving, which Kamlarz said came to $4.3 million over the two years.

“We’re spending $6.6 million on the agencies,” said councilmember Gordon Wozniak. “It’s not like we’re not supporting the agencies. Our roads have deteriorated to the point where if we don’t do something now, we’ll pay for it. We shouldn’t be robbing Peter to pay for Paul.”

Wozniak particularly singled out the expenditures for festivals in Anderson’s proposal. “I think in these times we can’t spend $10,000 on festivals,” he said.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington strongly supported Anderson’s proposal. “The City of Berkeley has many, many events. But there is only one city event that is aimed at the Latino community. Similarly there is only one LGBT event that the city funds,” he said. “They are little events compared to July 4th or Solano Stroll. Eliminating these events is disrespectful to these communities.”

“As to where this money is coming from, it’s $105,000 out of $4.7 million,” Worthington said. “We are increasing the money by hundreds of thousands of dollars for paving. And no one on City Council says we shouldn’t increase the money for paving. Where is it written in stone that we have to increase paving by this number of dollars?”

Councilmember Darryl Moore said that at a recent community meeting he had held in San Pablo Park, “the number one issue was when are you going to repair streets. So I’m concerned about reducing any funds going to street maintenance.” He said, however, that he favored supporting Cinco de Mayo and Stonewall festivals.

Moore was a particular focus at the meeting, because he had to leave at 9 p.m. to catch the red eye to Washington for his White House meeting to celebrate Pride Month. As Mayor Bates hurried the meeting along to accommodate Moore, Worthington said it was unfortunate to limit time when it was “the most important council decision of the year”.

“We’re tens if not hundreds of millions behind on our infrastructure maintenance,” said councilmember Laurie Capitelli. “Try to get across Milvia in a wheelchair or ride a bicycle on Milvia. When you pave a street it costs x. When you wait a few years and try to repave it, it costs 3x. I will not support cutting the infrastructure budget.”

Arreguín pointed out that many agencies “have threadbare budgets”, and said that taking some of the $105,000 out of the paving budget or some of the YEAH money “is a reasonable proposal”. “The budget is a reflection of our priorities as a community,” he said. “While this budget increases spending on infrastructure more than in recent years, our budget should assist the poor, the disabled, the youth.”

Arreguín said, “I think we’re close [to agreement]. I hope we can see what can be done to bridge the gap.”

Anderson picked up Arreguín’s point about the budget reflecting the community and lamented that the budget had become “blood sport” and a matter of political power battles. “You don’t have to scorch the earth with people, Mr. Mayor,” he said. “How could you possibly be opposed to taking one-thirty-sixth thousandth from the paving budget?”

Bates and Worthington became involved in a heated dispute over whether the public had been given a right to a fair hearing at the meeting. Worthington claimed that there were people who had been denied the right to speak, adding that it could result in a lawsuit invalidating the budget. Banging his gavel, mayor Bates said, “That is absolutely false.” The city attorney, asked for an opinion at the meeting, said that the public comment part of the meeting had been properly conducted.

When votes were taken, Anderson’s proposal failed, and the Maio/Bates proposal passed, with additional sums of $4,000 allocated to the Cinco de Mayo festival and $5,000 to the Stonewall festival, using some of the money from the YEAH funds. The council also agreed to return to further funding for homeless programs, using the remainder of the YEAH funds.

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...

131 replies on “Berkeley City Council passes budgets for 2012, 2013”

  1. “This means that there were 292 non-chronically homeless people in Berkeley in 2003. By 2009 there were 404.” 

    But the economy was much worse in 2009 than in 2003.  It seems likely  that the huge number of housing foreclosures in 2008-2009 were the main cause of the increase in non-chronically homeless people in 2009. 

  2. I didn’t read these comments when they were posted, but I would like to thank @20faa7b467aafa049c30c56dacb83755:disqus  for his or her contribution to the discussion.

    Your posts have been thoughtful, have remained polite even when confronted by snide quips, and have brought to light some troubling and controversial items in the Berkeley City Budget.

    Thank you.

  3. This is an out of thread reply to Esquire’s comment that says:

    What has decreased is the number of chronically homeless – the number of transient homeless has increased  [….].

    In the time we’re talking about, the number of homeless adults living in Alameda county decreased around 7%.  The City cites a 17% decrease in Berkeley homeless during that same period of time.

    At the end of that time period, the percentage of Berkeley homeless who were not chronically homeless was about the same as the percentage for the county as a whole.   Therefore, Berkeley not only had a smaller share of the burden but also a smaller proportion of the hardest situations to help.   Overall, county-wide in that time period, the homeless problem got smaller. Something is working.

    Any way you slice it, Berkeley was less of a regional homeless magnet by 2009 than it was in 2003.

    I, therefore, won’t take up Esquire’s claim that Jesse misunderstands Berkeley demographics.

  4. You are wrong about that assessment.

    What has decreased is the number of chronically homeless – the number of transient homeless has increased (mind you this is a truncated distribution because you don’t know how many of the new transient homeless will end up chronically homeless). The overall effect was a decrease because many of the chronically homeless either moved on, died, got hospitalized, got incarcerated, or were placed in tax-payer financed habitats.

    Perhaps they chose to come here because of the services they get; build it and they will come. You cannot “whatever reason” this out.

    What I am trying to say is that Jesse’s comments are misplaced. I think part of it is because of misunderstanding of the demographics of the City.

    For example, Berkeley has 18% of its people below the poverty line even though 67% of the population has at least a college degree. This means that students who are here on a temporary basis are included in the demographics for the poor. Makes one wonder what the true extent of poverty is in Berkeley. Makes you wonder further what the city claims in proposals for low-income housing funding is.

    Another thing that Worthington and Arreguin fail to acknowledge is that for both 2012 and 2013 we are running budget deficits which means we are borrowing to pay the deficit.

  5. You can spin it any way you like – the organization works with predominately Asian neighborhoods. However Asians are 19% of the population of Berkeley so even if it is racially targeted it is still a good way to spend the money especially with the trickle effects.

  6. No.    Suppose that in an Italian neighborhood, the Knights of Columbus wondered “What can we do to make the community where we live a nice place for everyone?  How do we give back?”   and the idea came up that, using their non-profit status and organizational capacity, they could help make paid mentors affordable for surrounding public schools and perhaps help with programs like after school Bocci ball.    If the district and/or city kicks in for the mentors and after school program getting greater service at a lower price than otherwise possible, cui bono?

    The actions of an ethnic affiliation group are not automatically racially targeted.

  7. No, I think your argument is still wrong.   The number of Berkeley homeless who left Berkeley or else got off the streets was larger than the number of new homeless.   Berkeley’s “share” of the county’s homeless decreased.   Berkeley is less of a magnet, relative to the region.

    It’s true that some homeless people might decide to come to Berkeley for whatever reason — but more than that number of homeless people are either successfully getting off the street or are leaving.   (At least in that 2003…2009 period.)   In other words, you can’t win ’em all, but in that period Berkeley was winning more than it was losing.

    You mention that the budget for transient homeless increased.  Of course it did because while the overall number of homeless decreased, the proportion of chronic homeless decreased much faster.   So the nature of the problem changed.  The nature of the problem also changed because of the economic crisis which created transient and/or temporarily homeless people faster than in the past.

    The hypothetical cost you gave of $100,000 per homeless person off the street seems a pittance, to me, compared to other alternatives.   I don’t mean that in a squishy “What’s the price of a human life?” sense (not that there’s much wrong with that).  I mean that $100K is a pittance compared to the dollar price of other alternatives.   Some homeless people get off the street via the criminal justice system, for example.  What do you suppose that costs you?

    I agree with you (re “opportunity cost”) that it is a damn shame we are stuck in a condition with so many people on the street.  It would be nice to use that money in other ways.  That’s not a problem Berkeley itself created and its not a problem Berkeley itself can make go away.  Berkeley is not particularly special among similar urban environments in the impact it feels of the problem.   Berkeley can no more avoid that spending than it can avoid funding a police department.    What is particularly nice here, though, is that these community agencies offer a chance to save money on that spending.  Their labor costs are lower and their presence “on the street” gives them an advantage over trying to do the same thing using government agencies.

  8. My point is that these expansive policies at a steep tax-payer expense to reduce chronically homeless has created a situation that more homeless is attracted to the city. The facts support my statement. This is over $20M most of it out of the General Fund.

    The City still has budgeted to support the transient homeless which has increased by 33% between 2003 and 2009.

    Even more disturbing is the following fact:
    Lets assume we spent $2M a year for these programs (it is more but lets just be conservative). 821 homeless down to 680.This means for each of the 141 homeless people we have gotten off the street it has cost tax-payers almost $100,000 per homeless person off the street.

    The opportunity cost of these policies is fantastically high.

  9. Esquire argues that the increase in the number of non-chronic homeless between 2003 and 2009 indicates that policies “attracted” homeless immigration.

    The total number of homeless people — and Berkeley’s share of all Alameda County homeless — dropped considerably. 

    And, a much smaller percentage of the homeless were chronically homeless, by 2009.

    Those are both improvements.

    There were fewer people living on the streets by 2009.   Because a higher percentage were “non-chronic” homeless, the average chances of getting off the street was better.

    So Esquire is trying to color an apparent success story as the opposite.

  10. *Homeless programs support youth:*
    I looked at the specifics of the Homeless budget and the proportion that goes to youth is $200,000 out of $3.1M in 2011 and $160,000 out of $2.87M in 2012. In other words less than 10%.

    In FY2012, $2.5M of the $2.85M for homeless services comes from the General Fund. That is 88%.

    *Homeless programs attract more homeless:*

    Read the report you posted (thank you for sharing) carefully and do the math:
    * The number of chronically homeless people in Berkeley decreased from 529 to 276.
    * People residing on the streets, in shelters or in transitional housing programs decreased from 821 to 680.

    This means that there were 292 non-chronically homeless people in Berkeley in 2003. By 2009 there were 404.

    So while we focused effort and massive amounts of money on housing chronically homeless people we have also attracted an additional 33% more new homeless people.

    The stats suggest that we are spending a lot of money to help homeless people (it is reflected in the budget) but at the same time we are attracting more NEW homeless people.

    Obviously a city report would twist the numbers to paint a rosy picture of why they have spend in the order of $20M for homeless in those years.

  11. @B_Waxman:disqus
    With regards to RISE’s statement: If you work with ALL youth in neighborhoods that are predominately ASIAN you are helping PREDOMINATELY ASIAN.

    How is that not racially targeted funding? I did not knock the program – I mentioned that it is racially targeted.

    The funding come from the General Fund, not from BUSD.

  12. Really?  Are you talking about this?

    It seems the priority is to attracting and supporting more homeless than supporting the youth in the city (e.g. Parks – Youth employment program).

    The percentages Esquire uses to support that statement appear to be a bit wrong to me but they are close enough for discussion.  (See page 269 or so of the budget report.)

    We could begin with the obvious point that homeless support programs support (among others) … homeless youth.

    More insidious, though, is this notion that this spending will “attract [….] more homeless”.  I don’t know where we’ve gone in the past two years but the number of chronically homeless people in Berkeley dropped by 17% between 2003 and 2009 (that’s 141 fewer people on the street).  Berkeley’s “share” of the chronically homeless within the county dropped from 41% to 27%.

    Here’s a charming stat about that same 2003-2009 period:

    Significant decreases in the number of homeless adults with no dependent children were somewhat offset by an increase in the number of literally homeless adults with dependent children, from 94 to 125 adults and children.

    So, sorry, I don’t think Esquire makes a “good point” trying pit homeless support community agencies against youth support community agencies.

    Finally, of course the allocations to community agencies are based on the proposals received and how they fared under review.  The boots on the ground – the people with ties to the situation as opposed to just idle ideologies – are out there identifying the real needs and doing the hard work of running the programs and going through the grant process.   The homeless stats from 2003-2009 suggest that they’re doing a good job, as a whole.

  13. Hmm… I think Esquire makes an interesting point in his second paragraph about the 7% vs. 38%.  Your point about RISE doesn’t seem to refute his point.  Maybe I’m confused by your comment.

  14. You wrote: 

    The description of what EBAYC is:  “EBAYC works with all young people who live in low-wealth neighborhoods that have a significant population of Asian families.” Seems to be racially-targeted funding.

    I’ll add some emphasis to that:

    EBAYC works with all young people …

    What the city is actually funding is RISE, a joint project of EBAYC and BUSD.  I gather that BSEP also supports RISE at least according to the 23 Feb 2011 BUSD regular meeting minutes.

    RISE is a mentoring program at the high school for at risk youth.    The program does not appear to be in any way racially targeted.

    If you look around on the net, you can find pictures of RISE kids getting to go out on the dragon boats down at the marina.   You can find EBAYC’s job listings (they are advertising for academic mentors). 

    You wrote

    It seems the priority is to attracting and supporting more homeless than supporting the youth in the city (e.g. Parks – Youth employment program).

    so please don’t knock a youth program on the apparently false assumption that it is “racially targeted funding”.

  15. I am glad we are back in conversation over substantive issues rather than personal attacks.

    I am reading through the budget proposal and specifically looking at the funding for Community Agency Allocations. While childcare and community facilities improvements represent 7% of the budget for CAA, services for the homeless account for 38% of the budget (mostly general fund) [$6M for 2011/12]. It seems the priority is to attracting and supporting more homeless than supporting the youth in the city (e.g. Parks – Youth employment program).

    We also see that the McGee Avenue Baptist Church is also a recipient of funds (from the general fund). Seems to be faith-based funding. Same goes with the ridiculous funding of BOCA by the BUSD. Faith-based funding.

    The East Bay Asian Youth Center – RISE program takes over $500,000 in the next two years for their programs. The description of what EBAYC is:
    “EBAYC works with all young people who live in low-wealth neighborhoods that have a significant population of Asian families.” Seems to be racially-targeted funding.

    It is hard to accept the Arreguin’s contention that we are misplacing our priorities. To me it seems as the same old agenda: sacrifice our youth for the homeless and the transients.

  16. This dialogue seemed to really start with Anthony’s question referring to the city budget:

    “The question is, then, how do you allocate that inadequacy? Do we pass more of the inadequacy onto the poor or onto the pavement of our streets?”

    The question assumes that somehow the poor are the responsibility of local (municipal) governments. This is a dubious proposition at best. Maintaining city owned infrastructure IS without question however the responsibility of a municipal government. Once Berkeley has figured out how to responsibly maintain what it owns, it could be free to move on to more interesting and esoteric questions as “What to do about the poor”, and “What cultural events are worthy to celebrate with city dollars”.

    I don’t doubt at all Anthony’s intelligence, compassion and humanity. Unfortunately, however, if he is more interested in helping the poor, than he is in the nuts and bolts of operating a city, then he is simply misplaced in his career, and there are many fine organizations dedicated to helping the poor that I support, and that would be glad to have him.

    This is not meant as an insult.

  17. Anthony:
     
    To the extent that you took offense at my contribution to the ethnic/racial distinction, I am sorry.  I certainly meant none.
     
    I appreciate that you are at least now explaining your perspective coherently, rather than fuming with outrage, rather than engaging in debate or discussion.
     
    However, I don’t agree with you in the slightest in any case.  I encourage you to scroll up and read what I quoted about race identity and consciousness above from the American Anthropological Association when they advised the Census Bureau to drop racial designations from the census forms altogether.
     
    Although you have not per se corroborated this, I read in this thread that you are a Stanford graduate.  If so, I am sure you received a fine education, so I assume you know that “white” is defined as the absence of color or pigment and is not a human race.  We are all people of color, we all have pigment.  The normative racial term, Caucasian, is also a meaningless term.  Think about the etymology or origin of the term, “one from the Caucuses.”   It is also related to the pernicious term “Aryan” which is thought to describe a group of people who may have originated from modern Iran.  Now, think about this for a moment.  In present day, Russia, immigrants or residents who are actually from the Caucuses face the most brutal forms of bigotry, violence and racism on the premise that they are “blacks” (in Russian culture).  Here in the “West”, people of Iranian background, the true “Arayans” I suppose, likewise face racial profiling, discrimination and in some case bigotry and violence.
     
    ALL racial identities are pure hokum, both scientifically and culturally.  Gisesle Bundchen, Pablo Sandoval, Roberto Duran, the grandchildren of Adolf Eichmann from Argentina are all “Hispanic/Latinos” when they come to this country?  All one race, one people?  Nonsense.  We all have individual identities.
     
    And to answer your question, yes, you would call me “white” although I don’t designate myself as such.  In fact, ironically enough, 70 years ago, my mother was in a concentration camp as a primordial enemy of the “white race.”  So, I am sorry if I offended you.  I have no use for racism or the racial mindset/identity in the slightest.  It’s something we all need to transcend in fact, especially in a nation like the United States, which is made up of people from every corner of the earth.

  18. Your highly partisan council member/employer has made a career out “assuming people’s racial/ethnic identity and proceeding to make statements on behalf of those groups.” This victim act has gone far enough. If that’s all you have, the next election should retire you both.

  19. Of course it is Anthony. I hope that we get to butt heads again in here – in a civilized and “progressive” manner.

  20. I don’t know what kind of statement you are trying to make about comments with the most “likes.”

    Does that mean Berkeleyside readers opinion of what comments are the best or that they are most in agreement with are the ones with the most “likes”? If so, how can you reliably make that statement?

    The “likes” are in no way scientific or representative.

    It basically means that those who are highly motivated to read comments and participate are “like” certain comments over others.

    When it comes to online message boards, it’s well known that it’s incredibly unreliable and disingenuous to claim that these highly motivated participants somehow accurately reflect a larger group. For example, look at the SF Chron comments. They are some of the most vile comments and are largely conservative. But extrapolating any conclusions about SF Chron readers are highly fallible. The Bay area is not as conservative as many of those comments would suggest using the line of thinking you are employing.

    In sum, it is erroneous and against the scientific method to make conclusions about Berkeleyside readers based on “likes.”

  21. What has been racist is somehow my racial/ethnic identity being questioned and brought into this. Not that I am denying or affirming anything, but I never mentioned my race. Are people assuming things because of my name or who I work for?

    Additionally, I understand the “technical” race and ethinicity, but they are also intricately linked and hard to divorce. When someone tries to speak on behalf of entire group of people and tell them they do not belong to a race, that is incredibly, incredibly offensive.

    Perhaps it’s not easy to understand or relate to that, but it’s blood boiling to have someone say we’re not a race, ethnicity or whatever word you use.. It’s robbing someone’s belonging and someone’s identity.

    Then there were statements that paving is good because the workers are Mexican.

    It’s not hard to pour over the comments are find the racist comments or racist/racial assumptions in other comments.

    I don’t know what you identity is, but on the chance that you are not latino, I have advice for you: don’t ever try to make statements on behalf of someone else’s racial/ethnic identity. That’s very dangerous and you will offend a lot of people.

    I’m half white, so I hope I can be excused for making this example, but it’d be the same thing as someone non-white saying that all white people are the same or that white isn’t really a race, anything like that (not good example, mind you, but I’m trying to be tame here). To claim more knowledge over someone else’s identity is incredibly insensitive.

    So again, please be respectful when injecting racial assumptions into these comments.

  22. If that’s heartfelt, I appreciate it. And yes, you don’t have to agree with or condone the views of my boss or even myself.

    I am glad you see that disagreement doesn’t mean we have to be disagreeable towards each other.

    I’ve said some substantive stuff. Some people replied to it and that was great. However, so many people instead chose to attack me and assume my racial/ethnic identity and proceeded to make statements on behalf of those groups. Not only was it insulting, but arguably worse, it wasted so much time and energy on petty things not related to the issue at hand.

    Let’s have a discussion. It will do everyone good.

    Thank you, again!

  23. Saying might is as good as saying it. If I just inserted “might” before any insult, it isn’t a get out of jail free card.

    I don’t want to “charm” you regarding any of my positions. That’d be like trying to persuade a wooden table. We have brains, we have thought, and we have our views. I don’t see us inducing within each other “aha” moments on policy issues. I’m young, but not that naive.

    I want to “charm” you to show you that I am a decent person, deserving of respect, whose qualifications and intelligence shouldn’t be slighted, especially when there’s been no basis to do so (minor typos don’t meet the threshold of insulting someone’s capabilities).

    I don’t agree with you and you don’t agree with me. I’m ok with that. But I don’t question anything about your capabilities or intelligence.

    In fact, I know nothing about you. I’ve put myself out there and none of us know your name.

    My offer, again, still stands. Get some coffee. Put a face to your insulting “questions.”

    I promise, you’ll leave with the same policy persuasions, but perhaps a bit more tolerant for your fellow Berkeleyan.

  24. Ironically, Stanford was cheaper than Cal for me. Blame it on the lack of comprehensive financial aid at public institutions due to budget cuts and/or not having the ability of private institutions like Stanford that can raise serious dough.

    I would have been debt if I went to Cal. Luckily, Stanford paid my tuition, room and board.

    Like I said, that’s just a sad reflection on the reality of public schools, budgets, etc.

  25. Unless otherwise noted, I am not officially representing any statements on behalf of my boss. Though I may reflect upon him through my words, those words are my own, not his (again, unless otherwise noted). You can’t put my words into his mouth -that would be either dishonest or lazy.

    There are times where I can be Anthony Sanchez, I haven’t relinquished that fully.

  26. p.s.  On Becky’s scolding remarks above, there is at least one reader who has “liked” her comment and presumbly does agree with her:  our old friend, “Bruce Love” (who is an agent of the Planet)!

  27. Good observation, Mike.  Mrs. O’Malley has shown herself on this comment board to be an astute grammarian, Latin scholar and withal a polymath par excellence.   We ignoramuses should defer to her greater wisdom and cease expressing our views and opinions.

  28. Please Sharkey – it should read “with whom you disagree.”  After  all you’re addressing BECKY O’MALLEY!

  29. One commenter claims that paving the streets is the most effective thing we can do to reduce property crime.

    Another commenter claims that paving the streets will reduce poverty.

    Isn’t anyone going to claim that paving the streets will eliminate cancer and end global warming?

  30. it could be also that you clicked on the box multiple times but the browser did not refresh fast enough for you to see that the box was checked again.

  31. Apology for what? A paid staffer got his finger in the ringer for an over the top melodramatic pitch for funding festivals over paving the streets:

    “Do we pass more of the inadequacy onto the poor or onto the pavement of our streets?”

    Given the taxes we pay, for all the social service programs, that is insulting.

     

    “…borderline racist name-calling…” ?!

    How desperate the old guard is to perpetuate the false divides their fading power was based on!  

    Challenging the regimes ‘group and dupe’ membership drives is racist? I’m not a “person of color” or a “colored person”. Color theory would say the President and I are both half white, he and I are comfortable with the reality, not the divisive label.

    “People of color” is so blatantly opportunistic, so retrograde, so offensive, it could only have been been concocted by that particular brand of progressive who abhors progress. 

    Why? Because when you strip people of their heritage, culture and their individual identity they can be grouped in simplistic ways (e.g.: by testing them “positive” for color or “negative” for color.) Then using them in in self serving political turf battles becomes much easier.

    Read what I wrote about the Chapinas earlier. One day when the our local “progressives” are busy running tin cups across their cell bars yelling for better prison conditions – one of these 5′, 120 lb. lion hearts is going to tap them on the shoulder and point to the back wall of the cell block that was blown off years ago and then silently run back out through the weeds, careful not to trip on the bricks strewn everywhere. They’ll look at each other, shrug, and go back to yelling “Warden, we demand…” 

  32. We did uncheck the box that says “Allow Comments” but it clearly has not worked. We are checking with Disqus as to whether there is a spanner in the works.

  33. the sorry state of Berkeley “independent” local journalism
    Becky, Lance and Tracy live within a block of each in their posh neighborhood by the Claremont Hotel. Lance & Tracy’s home $1.5M; Becky’s $1.2M. Frances is around the corner in her $1.2M home.

    How out of touch are the independent “journalists” in this city?

  34.  Calling out others for calling people names when you do so all the time in your newspaper makes you look both foolish and hypocritical as well.

    I would argue that adding a hyphen isn’t really in the same category as making a whose/who’s or doesn’t/don’t error, but you aren’t worth arguing with.

  35. Racist? Which comments were racist? Pointing out that “Hispanic/Latino” is technically an ethnicity and not a race isn’t racist.

    Name-calling? Certainly no worse than the vicious way you and your reporters trash Mayor Bates and those who you disagree with.

    I understand that you have a specific political view that you want to use your website to promote, but you really need to re-examine what you publish there before you start attacking others for being rude.

  36. We are highly disinterested in what you have to say or share Becky O’Malley. You are lucky I am being polite.

  37. If you are interested in what commenters have to say then open your blog to comments. You are nothing but a troll and you deserve nothing.

  38. Respectfully, I doubt many Berkeleyside readers agree with you.  If they did, presumably, you would not be on this forum commenting at all, but would be focused on your own “newspaper” (or what remains of it) with the bulk of Berkeley’s news junkies following your reportage there.  You could also create an open reader comment forum at the Planet to foment reader discussion of the sort you think is lacking here.
     
    p.s.  Take a look at which types of comments in this thread received the most “likes” from readers and which did not…

  39. This is an excellent and much appreciated report, and it’s too bad the ill-mannered commenters have preempted the discussion.  I am  interested in what people who are interested in what the City Council is up to have to say about the meeting,  and I’m not at all interested in ignorant and borderline racist name-calling. I expect many readers agree with me.

  40. Guess what?  “Well-equipt” is not conventional English usage or spelling. Proper spelling is “well equipped”. Calling out Sanchez for making simple typos makes this writer look either foolish or hypocritical or both, since he himself makes worse errors from time to time . 

  41. We will see whether the city lawyer is correct – after all they did approve the Safe Community Partnership which is a shell operation.

  42. An apology does not mean I condone or support any of your progressive agenda. I find your and your boss’s ideology to be sterile and lacking an imagination.

  43. The average Bear is smarter than the average Stanford graduate – and with a lot less student debt.

  44. Anthony Sanchez deserves an apology. Many of the comments have hurt your feelings as an individual and they are not appropriate in public discourse. We have reduced ourselves to petulant republicans (and god forbit) tea partiers!

    I apologize.

    Thank you for joining this comments section to provide your opinion.

  45. I said that you might not be well-equipt for the job you’ve been given and that Mr. Arreguín’s policies might not result in the best outcome for Berkeley residents, neither of which is a personal attack or an insult. West Bezerkley is right. You clearly need a thicker skin if you think that someone questioning you is an insult.

    You graduated from Stanford so you’re clearly smarter than the average Bear, but most folks I’ve known who are truly brilliant don’t feel the need to tell other people that they are. Why would I want to waste my time (and yours) meeting with you? You’re not going to charm me into changing my opinion, and unless you change your position on issues like the ones we’re talking about here there’s no way I’m going to start thinking that you’re using your brain instead of letting your emotions make your decisions for you.

  46. Let me preempt someone on this one:

    “I’m sorry you’ve chosen to denigrate and my qualifications”

    I don’t know how “and” got in there, but I would you wouldn’t doubt I know it doesn’t belong.

    Like I said, I don’t review before I post. Bad habit. What can I do with my impatient self?

  47. To Sharkey-

    It’s depressing that you, too, have gone down this road.

    I tend to type fast, if not excitedly, and hit “post” before reviewing. In fact, it’s not even the first time this happened in this thread. It bears retyping my response then:

    “…it was a simple typo. Quite common for people who lack “digital” dexterity, such as myself. It is in no way a reliable indicator of my intelligence or spelling prowess.

    Admittedly, I should try to type slower and review before hitting “post.” But some habits are hard to heave.”

    I even typed the response as witty and alliterative as I did to prove a point.

    Now as to the specifics of my typographical errors, I had added an extra word and consquently forgot to adjust the proper conjugation. As for “who’s versus whose,” I’m keenly aware of their appropriate usage. However, I’m not writing a term paper and tend to type phonetically, correcting when I can. Let’s not forget that I’m also doing some of this via my mobile.

    I’m sorry you’ve chosen to denigrate and my qualifications. I’ve never disparaged you. I wish we’d stay on topic and speak  with substance rather than attack each other. I will email Lance after this to see if we can get better moderation that better polices character/quality attacks.

    I will also extend the same offer to you that I did West Bezerkeley: let’s have coffee. Get to know me. Maybe you’ll be less inclined to attack my character. I’m ok with being ridiculed for my positions. As someone said earlier, it comes with the territory. But it’s not appropriate to say that I am not qualified for my job, that I am not intelligent or that I need refresher courses. Our mutual friend Eric Panzer would also agree that attacking my intelligence is not only unnecessary, but erroneous. I disagree with him all the time, but we would never discount each other’s brilliance.

    So let’s get coffee. Let’s put a face on your insults.

    DISCLAIMER: please excuse any typos. I’m rushing to get ready for an event.

  48. Few qualifiers.I particularly like the sentence that begins with ‘banging his gavel.’

  49. Lance, (article author): I really enjoy your description of the interaction between Bates and Worthington. No qualifiers, just the facts.
    Bates acts like a wanna-be tyrant sometimes at the meetings.

  50. “don’t make any ignorant and hurtful assumptions about me”

    That you’re hispanic, attended Stanford and are active in politics are matters of public record. The only assumption that’s been made is that you’ve bought the old regime’s party line, unequivocally.

    What’s puzzling is your surprise at being held to account for it. Unless it was satire that inspired the melodramatic (near campy!) musing: “Do we pass more of the inadequacy onto the poor or onto the pavement of our streets?”. 

    Ask Chapinas who pay $5000 to ride through Mexico packed in airless cargo container, walk through the desert for thee days and nights, lay in a shut car trunk from Albuquerque to Oakland and then be shaken down for another $500 on arrival…they think is a bargain! 

    Why? In six months they’ll have a truck, in year, an Oregon drivers license. Three brothers and two cousins living in a room, working six days a week equals a small house in East Oakland and sending the for their wives and kids. The rest is California’s history, present and future.

    When they learn to read well enough to appreciate the spanish ballot they laugh at those urging them to get in line with los otros pobres, and wait for El Señor to make rain. They’ve had centuries of that from the Church.

    The opportunities they seek are the ones they make themselves. Like they say: $5000, the cargo container, the desert, the car trunk…it’s a bargain just to have all this opportunity. Can you see anyone on the Berkeley city council or the School board who could command the respect from people of such courage and optimism? I don’t. And it’s hurtful to me.

  51. “So again, I am still offering that coffee to see that I am a nice, intelligent human being whose knowledge and abilities don’t need to be slighted online.”

  52. “If the social safety net helped pay for your education, it’s too bad you weren’t  required to study economics, accounting, and finance so you’d have a better grip on fiscal realities.”

    The hurtful, horrible and ignorant assumptions I’ve been referring to this ENTIRE time is the one above. You still haven’t admitted that and somewhere obfuscated the issue about your perception of progressives.

    So again, I am still offering that coffee to see that I am a nice, intelligent human being who’s knowledge and abilities doesn’t need to be slighted online.

    If you met me, you can still dislike or disdain my progressive politics, but you can never question my faculties that brought me to believe in them.

    I can take heat for my positions all day, but not insults towards my intelligence and education.

    As for your story about the safety net, thank you for that, but that still never responded to what I’ve been talking about this WHOLE time with you: your assumptions that I have now explicitly aforementioned.

    I also kindly ask you to please re-read and analyze our entire conversation to see that my only conversation to you has always been about your negative comment. I don’t know where you got me implying anything about your safety net views, Again, please analyze our thread. Or I can print it out and show you the conversation over coffee.

    I’ve been extending the olive branch to you this entire time (as the evidence will show).

  53. There is something peculiarly Orwellian when someone downplaying the meaning, importance or even reality of racial/ethnic identity is branded as an insensitive “racist” unworthy of response by someone else who seems to be heavily invested in racial/ethnic identity as a core political identity issue.
     
    “The American Anthropological Association recommends the elimination of the term “race” from OMB Directive 15 during the planning for the 2010 Census. During the past 50 years, “race” has been scientifically proven to not be a real, natural phenomenon. More specific, social categories such as “ethnicity” or “ethnic group” are more salient for scientific purposes and have fewer of the negative, racist connotations for which the concept of race was developed.”
     
    “Yet the concept of race has become thoroughly—and perniciously—woven into the cultural and political fabric of the United States. It has become an essential element of both individual identity and government policy. Because so much harm has been based on “racial” distinctions over the years, correctives for such harm must also acknowledge the impact of “racial” consciousness among the U.S. populace, regardless of the fact that “race” has no scientific justification in human biology. Eventually, however, these classifications must be transcended and replaced by more non-racist and accurate ways of representing the diversity of the U.S. population.”

  54. There is something peculiarly Orwellian when someone downplaying the meaning, importance or even reality of racial/ethnic identity is branded as an insensitive “racist” unworthy of response by someone else who seems to be heavily invested in racial/ethnic identity as a core political identity issue.
     
    “The American Anthropological Association recommends the elimination of the term “race” from OMB Directive 15 during the planning for the 2010 Census. During the past 50 years, “race” has been scientifically proven to not be a real, natural phenomenon. More specific, social categories such as “ethnicity” or “ethnic group” are more salient for scientific purposes and have fewer of the negative, racist connotations for which the concept of race was developed.”
     
    “Yet the concept of race has become thoroughly—and perniciously—woven into the cultural and political fabric of the United States. It has become an essential element of both individual identity and government policy. Because so much harm has been based on “racial” distinctions over the years, correctives for such harm must also acknowledge the impact of “racial” consciousness among the U.S. populace, regardless of the fact that “race” has no scientific justification in human biology. Eventually, however, these classifications must be transcended and replaced by more non-racist and accurate ways of representing the diversity of the U.S. population.”

  55. No, not too many syllables.
    But using just swapping out “technique” for “modality” because you think it’s trendy makes you look like a new-age quack and muddles your message.

    “Acupuncture is a very effective healing modality.
    “Acupuncture is a very effective healing technique.

    “Embracing the many different and effective healing modalities would decrease medical costs significantly.”
    “Embracing the many different and effective healing techniques would decrease medical costs significantly.”

    If you had bothered to read my other comments, you’d see that I also dislike the heavy push of statistically useless drugs in Western medicine.

  56. To Judge Bork:

    1. I am not a Councilmember and do not vote
    2. However, Councilmember Arreguin, my boss, abstained on the item on second reading after trying to delay it for possible amendments. However, majority council wanted to go ahead.

    I apologize for this correction since the City Clerk still has not posted the minutes to the meeting yet (something that should have been done yesterday). However, you can watch the video.

    In light of these facts, I don’t think your comments are meant to be directed at me, nor my boss.

  57. Buzzwords like ‘modality?’ What, too many syllables for you? Do I need to talk down to you? More sophisticated expressions like ‘fat wads’ are more your style?
    In any case, feel free to bow down to the faked studies funded by drug companies who prefer people disbelieve anything could be helpful but dangerous drugs.’Nutty?’ Ok, I’ll be a cashew. You?

  58. As I’ve said before, despite being a Berkeley homeowner I hop in my car and leave the City of Berkeley almost every single weekend to do shopping in neighboring communities. Every weekend, the residents of El Cerrito and Emeryville get more and more of my tax dollars. It’s no wonder that they have so many fewer potholes than we do here in Berkeley!

    For someone like me who is a once-a-week shopper who buys in bulk and frequently visits fixit stores, there just aren’t many convenient places to shop – and certainly nothing to draw me downtown where it could take me longer to find a spot to park than I’ll actually spend shopping. I can count on one finger the number of times I’ve gone to Telegraph in the last two years.

    The best thing this town has done in recent memory is the building of Berkeley Bowl West, and the work that’s been done in the Fourth Street shopping corridor. Both attractions have reasonable amounts of parking, and are a magnet that draws in tax dollars from neighboring communities. And of course both were fought tooth-and-nail by the pro-homeless, anti-car, anti-development crowd that doesn’t seem to understand that they need a strong tax base to draw from if you want to fund a bunch of idealistic wackiness like Acupuncture For Junkies.

  59. In the early 1900’s my grandfather immigrated from Matazlan at the age of fourteen. One of a boot maker’s eleven children sent north to live with his aunts. My sister found the record made on Angel Island at the time. He was apprenticed as a house painter. More of his/my story in not appropriate here, other than to say my mother was the first to finish high school and I graduated from Cal in ’68 which my sister also attended and who was active in Mecha. I am proud to be a Mexican American. And some of my best friends are Guatamaltecos. 

    We’re not interested interested in entitlements. We want to run the place. After all, as my mother was fond of saying to my father “My people had a civilization when yours still had tails” (records show my fathers ancestors  immigrated from England, ending up in Kentucky, circa 1719) 

    “There are two kinds of people, those who work for a living and those who vote for a living.”, H.L. Mencken. If you’re hurt and insulted by my advice, I fear it was given too late.

  60. That’s ok! I’m willing to sound worse for one post if I can get someone to stop using idiotic buzzwords like “modality” and communicate using more common English words that better expresses their ideas.

  61. Then issue isn’t really is acupuncture effective – I have found it is for my health issues.  The issue is do we want to fund it.  Lots of things are worthwhile that we cannot fund.

  62. @71f7a76973a137b71580b5ae321e033f:disqus  RE: “…we assure that our most neediest in our society are tended to,
    such as homeless, low-income high school students, and people of color”

    Please define who you refer to as “people of color” and explain to us (i am in the top 1% tax bracket in the City) why should these people get preferential treatment over fixing the infrastructure?

  63. It is highly disturbing for an elected official who makes decisions on local budget to characterizes $120,000 of tax payer money as “infinitesimal.” That is equivalent to property taxes paid by 12 property owners (at valuations of $800,000) in a year. That is not infinitesimal – this is the amount my neighborhood block paid as property taxes for 2011! FIX OUR STREETS!!!

    Also makes the naive assumption that we have not already been waiting for years for infrastructure to be fixed. What has been the social cost of not fixing the infrastructure for years and rather promoting your agenda?

    The first and most obvious outcome is this: Berkeley has one of the Highest Property Crime rates in the US while having a median family income of $100,000. Makes you wonder who the TRUE CRIMINALS are in this city.

  64. It is an established fact that placebo interventions have no important clinical effects in general. so your statement “acupuncture has shown in testing to be no more beneficial than basic placebos” is false because placibos have NO effect whatsoever.

  65. The answer is that fixing the infrastructure is an investment – spending it on festivals is an expense. Investments can generate future funds but expenses are just sunk costs.

  66. The answer is that fixing the infrastructure is an investment – spending it on festivals is an expense. Investments can generate future funds but expenses are just sunk costs.

  67. Berkeley as a City needs to grow up and so do you. For once you need to FOCUS on the city amenities that create the environment for commerce and community engagement as those lead to increased tax revenue for even more expanded budgets. Every dollar spent on infrastructure (provided you don’t squanter it on City Council cronies) has the potential of improving the living conditions for EVERYONE.

    Your neglect of the infrastructure, the downtown area, your persistent removal of parking, and your lax enforcement of ordinances of civility has let the City into commercial disarray. There are stores on Shattuck ave that have been closed for years! Students don’t shop on Telegraph anymore. Berkeley residents find themselves shopping at Albany, El Cerito, and Emeryville rather than Berkeley. You have robbed our kids so you can feed the homeless. You scrape our hard work so that deadbeats can roam the streets. That is your justice!

    The years where residents would blindly vote in favor of more taxes so that you can spend them on your misguided social justice programs is coming to an end. The years of no analysis and of no accountability and of conflicts of interest will come to an end.

    The only inadequacy is see is in your understanding of what your role is. But that is easily rectifiable.

  68. Never asked for you to drink my kool-aid, merely to please don’t make any ignorant and hurftful assumptions about me. Rather, you should meet me and know me before you make claims about who I am and my intelligence.

    It’s incredibly sad and speaks volumes about you.

    My offer still stands.

  69. The 2010 US Census includes changes designed to more clearly distinguish Hispanic ethnicity as not being a race. That includes adding the sentence: “For this census, Hispanic origins are not races.”[

  70. I want to respond so badly, but its too hard to overlook your insults and racist insinuations. Any value you could have brought to this conversation is undermined your in uncivil discourse.

    It’s sad that what I say is ignored in favor of my perceived identity and the lines of hurtful assumptions that follow.

  71. Adding insult to injury you also passed an ordinance that now makes homeowners liable 50/50 with the city regarding pavements in front of homeowners’ properties. Homeowners’ who do not have adequate liability coverage or umbrella insurance could potentially lose their homes because you, the City – the current custodian of pavements – have failed to fix them.

    You passed the ordinance BEFORE you fixed the pavements. And now you argue with our priorities? Have you no shame?

  72. “Most Latinos I have known or worked with don’t actually see themselves as a “race” anyway (which they aren’t, obviously) ”

    I’ll let that comment say all it needs to say about you. Case closed.

  73. “When votes were taken, Anderson’s proposal failed, and the Maio/Bates
    proposal passed, with additional sums of $4,000 allocated to the Cinco
    de Mayo festival and $5,000 to the Stonewall festival, using some of the
    money from the YEAH funds.”

    One word: TALAVEROS.

  74. Libraterian:
     
    This masterful analysis of yours deserves a formal recognition. 
     
    But, if I understand correctly, the man you are addressing is a City of Berkeley employee, partnered with a Councilmember who has made a successful career out of the very hustle you are unmasking.  His aim, as an aspiring member of a “benevolent” ruling class, is precisely to increase the dependency of those he sees as his brethren in order to increase his own powerbase and to secure a more prosperous living situation for himself and his fellow apparatchiks.   He is not so much “on the dole” as part of the class which is “doling it out”    (“it” being our tax money or, more likely, borrowed funds some future generation will have to be saddled with and repay).
     
    So, when you astutely advised, “Don’t fall prey to the local political hacks ‘group and dupe’ tactics to conscript you into their “people of color” branding initiatives” you must intend to warn others who are not already career grievance hustlers?  Good advice all the same. 
     
    Most Latinos I have known or worked with don’t actually see themselves as a “race” anyway (which they aren’t, obviously) and most of the ones here as immigrants at least don’t find a special affinity with other native born racial minorities.  That particular malarkey mainly exists at the university level in ethnic studies departments, but on the “street” there is often more antagonism among the various subsets in “people of color” in largely segregated neighborhoods than animosity towards the oppression of “colorless people.”

  75. Pretty sure there would be plenty of money for road repairs,
    swimming pools and festivals galore from the current  high property tax revenue stream if the city workers took
    regular America vacations (10-15 days and no endless sick days), took regular
    bank holidays (No Malcolm X Day), had regular medical coverage (No sex changes
    on the city dime) and had regular pension funds (401 K) like most of the city residents.
      

  76. RE: “…we assure that our most neediest in our society are tended to, such as homeless, low-income high school students, and people of color”

    “Do we pass more of the inadequacy onto the poor or onto the pavement of our streets?”

    ______________________

    Mr. Sanchez, your hymn book must be falling apart. Whoever sold you this tripe has never seen “poor”. Visit Michoacán and tell me we have “poor” in Berkeley.

    You’re a hispanic Stanford grad at a time when half the kids K-12 in California are hispanic. So get ready to rule, not get on the dole. Berkeley’s old guard has a pair of rusted shackles they’d love you to rattle along with theirs. Don’t take them. 

    Don’t fall prey to the local political hacks ‘group and dupe’ tactics to conscript you into their “people of color” branding initiatives. Anytime someone hears “people of color” they should ask: How is that different from “colored people?”  The honest answer is: “It is the same, but this way we can claim to speak for even more people whose histories, cultures, dreams and values are more different than skin color could ever be.” 

    I’d love to see the reaction of our elected shackle rattlers when a Mexican American politician (mayor, governor or President) invokes the work ethic of his/her immigrant parents as the solution to their pain. 

    You want to “…assure that our most neediest in our society are tended to…”,

    then pave the streets. Most of the crews are Mexican American, probably with one kid in college and two at Berkeley Arts Magnet.

  77. Funding festivals seems like such a hollow and inadequate way to support for these communities.

  78. To West Bezerkely: “If the social safety net helped pay for your education, it’s too bad you weren’t  required to study economics, accounting, and finance so you’d have a better grip on fiscal realities.”

    I wish you’d meet me before you’d say such horrible things. I am more capable and knowledgeable than you’re guessing.

    I’m willing to meet sometime for coffee if you’re willing to be confronted by the shortcomings of assumptions.

    You can find my contact info at http://www.cityofberkeley.info

  79. Audrey’s Mom -it was a simple typo. Quite common for people who lack “digital” dexterity, such as myself. It is in no way a reliable indicator of my intelligence or spelling prowess.

    Admittedly, I should try to type slower and review before hitting “post.” But some habits are hard to heave.

  80. Someone making a case for their intelligence might want to spell it correctly.  Or, was that meant to be a joke?

  81. There’s no Xenophobia about it, and believe me I’m no fan of Western medicine. So far acupuncture has shown in testing to be no more beneficial than basic placebos. Until its effectiveness can be proven, I don’t think we should be spending fat wads of public dollars on it.

  82. Correct me if I am wrong, but the poor use the streets too.  Everyone needs safe streets and ours are dangerously unmaintained.

    And the poor and car-less are taking their lives in their hands trying to bike in this city.  Especially on California and Milvia.

  83. Hey, acupuncture stink talkers: Acupuncture is a very effective healing modality. (Xenophobia does not become anyone.) Acupuncture treatments have enabled me to stop taking NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen to name a few of the dangerous NSAIDs killing many thousands of people in the U.S. alone every year) by reducing pain and inflammation from an auto-immune disorder. There are reams of documentation attesting to acupuncture’s efficacy. Embracing the many different and effective healing modalities would decrease medical costs significantly. 

  84. Sorry, Anthony, but I don’t agree that “And our budget is woefully inadequate.”  I would say that the salaries of city employees are woefully INFLATED.  More than 500 earn a salary over $100,000 per year and that does not include the total cost to tax payers of most of their ancillary benefits.  Each police officer costs the tax payer close to $250,000 per year in total compensation costs.  How many tax payers in Berkeley get to retire at age 50 or 55 I would like to know?
     
    So, both the needs of the poor and of repavement and city pools and other basic infrastructure are starved so that the salaries of the majority of city employees can remain above six figures + generous benefits.

  85. I have found acupuncture and TCM immensely valuable in helping me treat a chronic health issue that completely stumped a series of medical doctors over a course of years.  It’s been the one effective treatment for me for that problem, and nothing short of a miracle.

    That said, I think that funding should have been zero’d out for the acupuncture clinic.  It’s a nice-to-have, not a must-have.  Our streets are literally crumbling. It would be great if we could fund everything, but we cannot.

  86. Sure, I see a difference. I would argue that I am a realist who has learned from past experience to question authority, whereas you are willing to blindly assume that those in charge are always looking out for everyone else’s best interests.

    Just because a technique was used for thousands of years doesn’t mean it actually does anyone any real good. Man thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth for thousands of years, but that doesn’t mean we should give that idea any special merit.

    We have a limited amount of public funds available to spend. I would much, much rather see those funds used on programs that are proven to work than on homeopathy that (at best) might work.

  87.   @EricPanzer:disqus I’ll volunteer my street: potholes are the only traffic calming device we can now afford. They’re free!

  88. The “value” this situation exposes is that the City has been expecting Federal grants to repair the roadways; it has been doing this for decades, and the cost of having to rebuild the streets  is much higher. Good luck on those Federal dollars now.
    Berkeley maintained a stable of grant proposal writers, and much of the money the city received would have been better spent in poorer communities.

  89. I am not meaning to denigrate these expenditures or the reallocation–I think it may very well be justified. Admittedly this is a question I don’t think I have adequate tools or time to satisfactorily answer.

    My beef is with the notion that the reduction shouldn’t be questioned at all, or that we shouldn’t consider the very real cost impacts that poor roads have on transit, cyclists, and drivers alike.

  90. Eric you asked (re Tizzielish) for honest skepticism.  Here you go:

    I would like to know – devoid of any ideological argumentation – what you think is the operational trade-off here re roads.   What I mean is, something like this:

    How many linear feet of road do you think will be neglected here?  What different results are we looking at here on the roads for that amount of money?

     I’m interested not in the absolute dollars (we already got that) or percentage (we already got that) or the dictionary definition of “infinitesimal” — but tell me in concrete and as quantifiable terms as you can the impact on the actual roads.

    I ask because the answer actually does refer back to the ideological questions in the sense of helping to make more specific and tangible the stakes for which you are fighting as compared to the expenditures you denigrate.

  91. In your opinion, the accupuncture detox money could have been ‘much better spent’.  Since Eric Panzer has introduced the tone of preaching, lecturing condescension into this discussion, I guess his attitude is affecting me because I want to point out to you, The Sharkey, and Eric Panzer that the opinions the two of you express about accupuncture are merely opinion.

    I don’t know much about accupuncture but I have the vague idea that is has been used for thousands of years.  One of the many flaws in Western culture is that we tend to think our way is the only way.

    When I saw that Lifelong, which serves a lot of people using their funding with impressive effectiveness, was getting $21,700 under the Tom/Maio proposal, even though I know nothing about accupuncture or the LIfelong detox program or how LIfelong uses accupuncture for detox, I thought “Gee, that program must be perceived to do some real good for people suffering if it is getting any money at all in this economic climate”.  Now that I have paused to reflect a bit more, the cynic in me wonders if Lifelong has a good lobbying relationship with the Berkeley City Council.  I admit I am curious that Accupuncture Detox got $21,700 in funding. I’d like to know what that money buys. If it is used to help drug addicts cope with the challenge of withdrawing from drugs, and if accupuncture has been shown to be beneficial and improve the odds of the addict sustaining their recovery . . . . without really knowing anything about accupuncture, I can sorta understand how helping addicts detox without using drugs could be a good thing.

    The entire sum of $114,078 is, imho, infinitesimal. And, yes, it is, imho,  intriguing that Lifelong’s Accupuncture Detox for such a huge piece of such a pitifully tiny slice of the Berkeley budget pie.

    I wonder, Eric Panzer and El Sharkey if you can see the fundamental underlying difference between cynically, sarcastically and disrespectfully dismissing ‘accupuncture detox’ as wrong in the admittedly strange context of the Berkeley budget’s economic challenges versus my assumption that “hey, that program must be doing some actual good if it got funding in such a tight budget situation”.

  92. The costs of potholes affect buses, cyclists, and poor people too. I agree that there are important value judgements and questions of cost/benefit to be decided here. On the other hand, I think it’s very unfair to make it sound like people who want to maintain our infrastructure are somehow unsympathetic to the poor.

  93. In that case, you should be sure to provide the City Manager with your address so as to volunteer your street to be part of the 2.4% that don’t get repaved.

    How is my pointing out inaccurate or misleading language “sarcastic” or “hyperbolic?” I think it is disingenuous to try to delegitimize valid questions by trying mischaracterize impacts as inconsequential.

    For the record, any time someone feels that I am being misleading in a way that isn’t part of a joke, they are more than welcome to call me out for it. I don’t run from criticism.

  94. Except that those roads still have to be paved at some point and as Councilmember Capitelli points out, putting off the repaving of roads will dramatically increase the cost to do the repaving later on.

    Perhaps instead of trying to grab funds from crucial infrastructure, you and Arreguín should have followed Eric Panzer’s advice and gone after the $21.7k that’s being spent on bogus “Acupuncture Detox.”

  95. I dislike your use of sarcastic hyperbole regarding the use of infinitesimal.  You write as if it is a standard norm at all council meetings in Berkeley to avoid imprecise, emotional or evocative language to make a point.  You seem to suggest that the people you agree with never manipulate language. 

    In the big picture of Berkeley’s budget, the $105,000 is infinitesimal.

  96. Just to clarify, I think you’re referring to the Mayor’s allocation in your calculation, not the proposed allocation (an extra 105k taken from Paving) I’m sure you meant.

  97. Thank you for pointing that out, Anthony; the budget numbers are indeed confusing. In that case, $104k would instead constitute a 2.4% reduction. I intended no sarcasm when I pointed out that calling it infinitesimal was misleading. Your intelligence, Anthony, is one thing about you I would not question.

  98. Let’s agree that our roads are inadequate. Our services to the poor are deplorably inadequate. And our budget is woefully inadequate. The question is, then, how do you allocate that inadequacy? Do we pass more of the inadequacy onto the poor or onto the pavement of our streets?

    This is truly a values question and how it is answered shows those values.

    And again, it is interesting to note that we still have more funding than in previous years for paving. The proposed reduction to paving is “infinitesimal” compared to the very real impact many communities will face by cutting our social services.

    I’d trade the comfort of my ride on berkeley streets to help those in need in these hard times any day. If it weren’t for social safety nets, I wouldn’t be here today -I wouldn’t have gone to school where I went, I wouldn’t have the job I have now, and I wouldn’t be one of the few on the 5th floor at City Hall actually fighting for poor people (frankly, not many care because the City is increasingly pricing them out of sight, out of mind).

  99. Thank you for defining infinitesimal for me, even though I am quite aware of its definition. I won’t take that as a slight against my intellegence/education, but rather as unecessarily sarcastic rhetoric.

    Also, the proposed allocation from Paving was originally 150k, but after YEAH gave up their allocation, it was 105k.

    Stonewall and Cinco de Mayo were already included in that allocation, so 123k is incorrect. However, with all the different numbers, its very easy to get some of those numbers confused. Even took me a while to figure it all out and I was there.

  100. No pool money, eh? Seems to me that pools are a better expenditure than festival funding. Events come and go, pools are a resource for children, for health and safety, and for therapeutic purposes for older people.  Of course, I may be biased, since I live close to what used to be a public pool but what is now essentially a vacant lot.

  101. While I agree that there is a case for slightly reducing the paving
    budget to fund important community programs, I disagree both with how
    the funding was allocated (as per my earlier comment, among other
    things) and with the characterization that the reduction was
    “infinitesimal.”

    Infinitesimal

    1: taking on values arbitrarily close to but greater than zero

    2: immeasurably or incalculably small

    I performed the calculation, so I know its not incalculable. If the
    final reallocation was $123,000 ($114,000 + $9,000 for the Latino and
    LGBT festivals) this represents a roughly 2.9% decrease in the paving
    budget. Small, but hardly inconsequential. Even if the reallocation was
    completely justified, we shouldn’t pretend that it was so minute as to
    be unworthy of discussion or immune to criticism.

  102. As bad as all that is, the idea that we should neglect the most basic infrastructure obligations of the city in order to pay for these programs (which will make the eventual costs to fix this infrastructure even MORE expensive) is just absurd.

    It’s like getting a new credit card to pay off the debt on the ten you maxed-out cards you already have.

  103. Fully funding these programs for the “needy” has more to do with fully funding the payroll of those who administer these programs.  These service organizations and their employees (who never fail to materialize at Council Meetings to advocate for their interests while you are making dinner or putting your kids to bed), in turn, help fund the reelection of the council members who advocate “so passionately” for these programs.  It’s sort of a perpetual motion machine with public funds.

  104. Even if it’s only a “nearly infinitesimal reduction” it’s a reduction to a budget that is clearly already inadequate.

    Unless some radical new solutions are suggested I don’t think shoveling more money at the homelessness problem in Berkeley is going to solve much. It hasn’t worked yet, and folks have been trying that for decades.

  105. Jesse and I actually live off of Cedar, so we’re keenly more aware than most how much our streets need paving. In fact, even after the nearly infinitesimal reduction in paving funds for essential social services, more than 2 1/2 million dollars would still be committed to paving our streets. Additionally, it should be mentioned that many of the bad streets mentioned in the budget battle as needing repaving are already funded, slated and underway (Milvia, e.g.).

    Ultimately, at the most, one small street may have repaving delayed for 2 years while we assure that out most neediest in our society are tended to, such as homeless, low-income high school students, and people of color. That’s a decision and value judgement I would never ever hide from. Period. People are more important than paving in any equation.

  106. I could kick myself for not having spoken on this. My biggest criticism of this spending is the utter wastefulness of the second largest expenditure, “Accupuncture Detox.” Accupuncture is controversial at best and an utter sham at worst. Even if one believes accupuncture has some marginal medical value, this $21,700 could have been much better spent on an early childhood vaccinations, HIV prevention, or any number of programs with more strongly demonstrated medical benefits. Deciding to transfer money from pavement to community programs is one thing, but having nearly a fifth of that money go to medical treatment that is, at best, only marginally beneficial is objectionable indeed.

  107. What magical, pothole-free part of town do Councilmembers Anderson & Arreguín live that they think Berkeley should be cutting money from the paving budget?

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