City Council Approaches Haiti Item Vote With Caution

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Berkeley City Council members paid extra attention to detail Tuesday night by requesting more information on an item from the Peace and Justice Commission.

The commission submitted an item to City Council that supports the people of Haiti and calls on authorities to make changes to foreign occupying forces.

Instead of passing the resolution, the City Council requested a meeting with commissioners to gather more information. Some said they were concerned with details of the wording and expressed interest in receiving more information about the item from the commission.

The increased attention comes after the Marine recruiting center controversy, in which the City Council decided to call Marine recruiters in Berkeley "uninvited and unwelcome intruders," following a recommendation from the commission.

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak said he was concerned about the lack of background information and the fairly detailed charges in the item.

"I think there were several council members, myself included, that would like to see the commission being a little more deliberative in the wording," Wozniak said.

Bob Meola, chairperson of the Peace and Justice Commission, said that he supports the idea of the meeting and hopes that it will instill confidence in the Haiti recommendation.

"I understand that some of them require more knowledge on the subject and they should receive that before voting," Meola said. "The motion to have a workshop educating them could end with a greater vote in favor of it."

The meeting will likely take place between citizens who are knowledgeable of the situation in Haiti and a small group of council members.

Several City Councilmembers-including Wozniak, Kriss Worthington, Linda Maio, Max Anderson and Laurie Capitelli-have already expressed interest in attending, although it is still uncertain who will attend.

Worthington said that he is glad the council is being careful, but he wants to make sure they are still active on issues.

"I think that the message of the recruiting mistake is not to abandon state and national activism," he said. "The message is to make sure you study things carefully."

Peace and Justice Commissioner Elliot Cohen said he is glad the council is paying attention to detail.

"It's fine with me if the council feels they need more information on something-that's their prerogative," Cohen said. "I wish they would do that with a lot of things actually, not just with our commission."

Wozniak said he sees the attention to detail as a positive change.

"In the past, things would go on the consent calendar without discussion and council wouldn't pay much attention to what was said," he said. "People are learning that words do matter."


Contact Emily Grospe at [email protected]

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