Marine Protests Cost City Over $200,000

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Berkeley officials say more than $200,000 from the city's general fund has gone toward the protests concerning the Marine recruiting center controversy.

Since Feb. 12, the city has spent $210,814 from the general fund as part of overtime costs to provide additional support and safety for the protests, said city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross.

The controversy stems from a Jan. 29 decision by the City Council to call Marine Corps recruiters in Downtown Berkeley "uninvited and unwelcome" intruders.

When the council met on Feb. 12 to reconsider their decision, more than 2,000 protesters had gathered outside the City Council chambers.

Approximately $93,000 of the $210,814 went towards providing enforcement that day, Clunies-Ross said.

The council voted to rescind the language calling the recruiters "intruders," but did not apologize for their vote.

Since then, protests from both

pro-military and anti-war groups have continued in front of the center.

Overtime costs for police who must monitor the protests have cost the city $205,924. The remaining $4,890 went towards food for the officers, Clunies-Ross said.

Since the $200,000 is taken from overtime costs as part of the general fund, more anticipated spending for routine things are cut, said Lisa Caronna, deputy city manager.

"Two hundred thousand dollars is a huge chunk of money for any unforeseen circumstance," she said. "The overtime we budget for is what we need in a normal course of life."

Caronna said the costs impact the general fund because the budget is limited and the unexpected cost of $200,000 could have been spent elsewhere.

"Generally, here is $200,000 we could have spent on something else, but we spent it now on ... the protests and Marine center ...," she said. "We don't like to spend frivolously, and there's a shopping list of things that we want to see happen, a million things that $200,000 won't pay for."

Some council members say Berkeley taxpayers may be impacted because the general fund comes from various taxes.

"It's too bad, and it may affect how people feel about tax measures this fall when we vote," said Councilmember Betty Olds. "It's our extra money, and there isn't too much of it."

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak also expressed concern over how taxpayers would be affected.

"I don't think it's fair to have this thing going for (long)... It'd be a huge burden for Berkeley taxpayers to cover," Wozniak said. "You can make your point without being there every day or every week."


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

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