News In Brief: Housing Advocacy Project Aims To Encourage Voters To Register

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The Affordable Housing Advocacy Project will be holding a Voter Registration Drive Kickoff this Saturday to increase voter participation among low and moderate-income individuals.

At the voter drive, the project, funded in part by the city, will accumulate a pool of volunteers that will knock on doors and register as many people as possible to vote in the upcoming November election.

"Our goal is to do outreach and educate people who live in subsidized housing as to what's happening about their housing," said Wanda Remmers, a Housing Rights spokesperson. "The purpose is to talk to folks about how important it is to vote."

Along with the voter drive, the project will be holding a campaign in which low to moderate-income residents will have the opportunity to express their concerns about housing in Berkeley on postcards to be sent out to presidential candidates.

According to Remmers, the project is hoping to get a local representative to come and talk to these Berkeley residents.

"There's a two to three-year wait for people to get into housing and there is no more housing being built. We need housing," said Norma Hotaling, a volunteer at Housing Rights.

Hotaling added that she has learned about the city's housing crisis from personal experience.

"I'm in assisted-living housing and we are all just living from day to day," she said. "It's a critical situation. It'll help a lot if we can get people to go out and vote."

Gretchen Adelson

Trial Date Set for Parking Lot Protester

A state judge yesterday postponed the trial of a UC Berkeley student who camped out in Underhill Parking Lot to protest the university's plan to build additional parking there.

Boalt Hall School of Law student Rick Young, 34, was arrested three times in May for trespassing on the lot. His trial is now set for October 23.

While waiting for his trial to begin yesterday, Young called the case a "First Amendment issue" and said his protest will help draw attention to the matter. He camped out in the lot as a public way to press Chancellor Robert Berdahl to meet with activists on a host of issues, ranging from fewer greenhouse gas emissions to a safer Southside.

A Superior Court judge ordered Young May 25 to remain off the lot until the matter is resolved.

In recent court appearances, Young has repeatedly refused plea bargains that forbid him from returning to the lot. He has also requested a jury trial.

Sasha Talcott

DNA Database to Aid in Search for Missing Children

State officials came to Berkeley Tuesday to herald the state Legislature's passage of a bill that would create a statewide DNA database.

The bill, spearheaded by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer and state Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, is designed to identify missing people by matching their DNA with those of relatives.

"This is trend-setting legislation for the entire country," said Gary Gartiner, a spokesperson for Speier. "It is our hope for California to lead the way for other states to set up a national database."

Seven relatives of missing children also came to the Berkeley DNA Lab, located on Bancroft Way, to take a DNA test. The DNA, extracted from inside their cheeks with a cotton swab, will be used to try to match the DNA of unidentified children.

"It was moving and heartfelt for them to do the DNA sample," Gartiner said.

The bill now awaits the signature of Gov. Gray Davis. He has 30 days to approve this new legislation. If it is approved, the database program will be incorporated at the Berkeley Lab in early 2001.

Abby Chau

Concert Series to Showcase City's Diversity

Free music and dancing will spice up Berkeley's downtown BART plaza today as part of eight free concerts designed to highlight the city's cultural diversity.

The music ranges from jazz and traditional African music to swing, folk songs and classical ensembles.

The first band to perform is the Wayne Wallace Quintet, which will play a mix of jazz, salsa and Afro-Caribbean music. Wallace, a teacher at UC Berkeley's Jazz School, will play songs from his recently released compact disc.

"Downtown Berkeley is experiencing a true cultural Renaissance with the expansion of the arts district on Addison Street, the new streetscape improvements and the new mix of businesses downtown," said Carrie Ridgeway, marketing director for the Downtown Berkeley Association, which also funded the event. "This concert series is just one of several events that showcase the culturally rich performing arts in Downtown Berkeley."

Future performances, which all start on Thursdays at noon, will include the UC Men's Octet, the California Golden Overtones and Pascal Bokar.

Nikki Brown


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