Council Members to Revisit Vote

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Some city council members say they will revisit votes cast last week against the Marine Corps recruiting center in Downtown Berkeley after receiving a large and overwhelmingly angry nationwide response.

These negative comments have included at least 1,000 e-mails and phone calls each, although 95 percent were from outside of Berkeley and fewer than 3 percent were from local constituents.

Last Tuesday, the council supported two resolutions that directly criticize the practices and presence of the recruiting center in Berkeley and allow for national anti-war protest organization Code Pink to have a reserved parking space for their Wednesday afternoon protests for six months.

City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli said he made a mistake in voting for the resolution that calls for the city manager to send a letter to the center and wanted to re-visit his first vote.

"If we could roll the clock back to last Tuesday night, I would amend that (resolution) and what (Councilmember Betty) Olds and I are doing is correcting the false impression that we don't support our troops," he said.

Capitelli and Olds have introduced a new resolution that will modify those passed last Tuesday, Capitelli said.

The new resolution will rescind the recommendation in the original item that asks the city manager to send letters to the recruiters saying they're unwelcome, Capitelli said.

This item comes after nationwide response against the city's original resolutions. This includes United States Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., saying he will introduce legislation to strip $2.3 million in earmarked spending for at least six Berkeley projects from a Senate appropriations bill.

In response, Mayor Tom Bates issued a statement Friday saying that the city's opposition to the center did not mean the city failed to support servicemen.

Some City Council members said the strong language of one of the resolutions, which says the recruiters are "unwelcome and uninvited intruders," may have generated heated response that could have been avoided.

"(Saying) that they're 'uninvited and unwelcome' is pretty undiplomatic language when you step into the national and international arena," said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. "It's not like you're just talking to your next-door neighbor ... it's not surprising that there would be a strong emotional response to something that is said in such a clumsy and offensive way."

Worthington voted against the resolution asking the city manager to send the letter to the center, but supported the other resolutions.

Many of the e-mails said council members' support for the resolutions was disrespectful to veterans and those currently serving.

"They ran the gamut-most were heated and very nasty as far as saying we should be blown off the map, that there should be an earthquake to wipe out Berkeley ... calling us socialists, it's just right-wing rhetoric," Moore said.

Some of the council members said they were not surprised by the flood of negative e-mails they received.

"Berkeley has a long history of ... taking on stands that aren't popular at the time we're taking them," said Councilmember Max Anderson. "History proves we'll be right. We took a lot of heat. These kinds of things spark a reaction."


Jane Shin covers city government. Contact her at [email protected]

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