Councilman Laurie Capitelli has urged good citizens to question the need for, and motives of, the people seeking signatures on initiative petitions, and by implication, to vote against them. That would include the Overlay Petition which seeks to prevent the privatization of our public buildings (including but not limited to the U.S. Post Office).

I urge you to obey him and question the motives behind that ordinance before you sign it.


First: Because it is good for you to have your public spaces taken away from you. You don’t deserve them. The less public space there is the more room there will be for private profitable use; and

Second: Public spaces just encourage public meetings which are a thorn in the side of your public officials who want to sell the City; and

Third: There are better uses for public property if they are privatized such as campaign headquarters for Laurie Capitelli and his buddy, Mayor Bates, who just told a meeting of developers that he foresees great uses for the Post Office site such as a high-rise hotel and office buildings.  (The very same Mayor who stole many copies of a local newspaper that endorsed the opposing mayoral candidate. And who later helped the demise of The Daily Planet by claiming that the newspaper boxes were a  blight on the streets. The other papers in those boxes are not a blight. Why can’t you understand the difference?) But I digress. Your public buildings would be better served by high-rise hotels and condominiums; and

Fourth: Councilman Capitelli can read those petitions and then he’ll know you signed them and he’ll know your name and address. And then try to get a street light on your block or have your garbage collected. Good luck. Maybe the Council will sell your house; and

Fifth: You needn’t question the motives of those who want to build privately owned hotels and office buildings on public property. They must be thinking only of you. But surely you must question the motives of those who seek to protect public space. And how can you question the motives of a public official/councilmember who opposes an initiative petition to save the public commons?

Sixth: There may be unintended consequences of the use of public spaces: You might catch the flu.

Conclusion: So I urge you not to sign any petition at all in Berkeley.  

If you do sign anything your name and address will be reported to the Secret Task Force For Active Investigation (STASI for short).

Furthermore, I urge you not only not to sign the Overlay Petition but to urge your friends and neighbors and family not to sign the Overlay Petition. If they are misguided enough to sign it, please be  good citizens and report their names and addresses to Councilman Laurie Capitelli who can protect our democracy and  inform the Secret Task Force for Active Investigation (STASI).

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Julia Ross is a Berkeley resident and member of the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association.
Julia Ross is a Berkeley resident and member of the Berkeley-Albany Bar Association.