University, City Funds at Risk

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Even though the Berkeley City Council revisited their vote against a Marine Corps recruitment center at Tuesday night's meeting, state and federal legislators say they will continue their efforts to strip funding from Berkeley programs.

Two weeks ago, the council voted to call Marine recruiters "uninvited and unwelcome intruders" and reserve Code Pink, an anti-war group, a parking spot in front of the center in Downtown Berkeley.

The vote caused a national uproar. Both United States Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and California State Assemblymember Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, proposed separate plans to strip Berkeley state and federal funding totaling more than $5 million.

As a result of the mostly angry nationwide response, the City Council voted Tuesday night not to send the Marine recruiters the controversial statement. But many were upset the council did not issue a formal apology.

Yesterday, representatives from both DeMint's and Houston's offices said the legislators would pursue their separate plans to remove funding.

In a statement, DeMint said he would pursue his plan, in part because the council refused to apologize.

"It's a national embarrassment that these officials refuse to apologize to our troops and their families and continue to support actions against military recruitment," DeMint said in the statement.

If passed by the Senate, DeMint's plan, which is cosponsored by 10 senators, will remove about $2.3 million in earmarks for programs in Berkeley, including $243,000 for the Chez Panisse Foundation's school lunch program and $975,000 for UC Berkeley's Matsui Center on Politics and Public Service.

A similar resolution in the House of Representatives currently has 71 cosponsors, according to the statement.

Since DeMint introduced his resolution, campus officials have stressed that the campus and the city are separate entities.

In a letter to DeMint and other legislators who sponsored resolutions to revoke UC Berkeley's earmarked funding, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau said he did not support the council's actions.

"I see no value in eliminating (the funding for the Matsui center) over the actions of a few City Council members who have no authority over the University of California, Berkeley," Birgeneau wrote.

While a spokesperson for DeMint said he did not know about the letter, he said DeMint wanted to remove funds for items that would benefit Berkeley.

"As the senator keeps saying, actions have consequences and the senator (will keep targeting) tax payer funds that benefit Berkeley," said DeMint's spokesperson Wesley Denton.

Democratic legislators in the Senate could not be reached for comment.

But some Berkeley City Council members say DeMint's continued pursuit of the issue is pointless.

"I think, to me, that it's just as useless as the letter would have been," said City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who opposed the statement from the beginning. "The city supports and recognizes the Marine's right to recruit. What is there for him to be mad about for that?"

At the state level, Houston will continue to seek the removal of $3.3 million in state funds designated for street maintenance in response to the fact that the council reserved Code Pink a parking spot, said Houston's spokesperson Aaron Bone.

"(The spot) is on a publicly funded street," Bone said. "It is being given away to a group with a private agenda and that has not been rescinded.


Contact Ashley Trott at [email protected]

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