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Measure U: "Sunshine" Initiative (requires majority vote)

By       Message James Armstrong II     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 10/23/12

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The wording in this measure is quite lengthy for this column, so I will only write "The Question," "What Measure U Would Do," Opponents" and "Proponents," and then I will cliff note the rest of it.  Don't worry, I cleared it with Cliff.

I will give you a detailed sermon on their very own words.

"The Question: Should an ordinance be adopted to expand agenda and meeting requirements for the City's legislative bodies (Council, Rent Stabilization Board and all 36 commissions); increase disclosure requirements for public records; and create a commission with authority to take enforcement action against the City?"

For me this an easy choice.  And the answer is yes.  That is because the ordinance voted upon previously did not give the citizens enough authority (or 'teeth') to get the job done.  Whereas, this ordinance does give the citizens a council to work with... and arbitrating body that has zero vested (financial) interests (i.e. 'conflict of interest') in the outcome of any such examinations or review board.

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"What Measure U Would Do: Initiative Measure U would require the City Council, Rent Stabilization Board, Board of Library Trustees, and Berkeley commissions to make changes in their agendas and meeting procedures and to significantly expand the range of written communications by staff, Council  and Commission members that would be open to the public, including some currently considered privileged or proprietary.  A Commission would have new powers to enforce its provisions--including taking the City to court at City expense.  Most provisions could not be change without voter approval.

M (sic) (I believe they meant "S" instead of "M.") requires that: all meetings, including short and/or informal committee meetings, be recorded and minutes made available; the mount of time be equal for presentation of both sides and a land use or other issue; meetings must be in or moved to locations big enough to hold all those who appear to speak; and 'Lobbyists', defined as anyone paid to influence City policy, register and pay fees."

Yeah... I can see why the mayor and his criminal-enterprise buddies would not want this measure to pass.  Even if mayor ('Master') Bates doesn't get re-elected, he (and his boys) could still face charges and prison time if the books show something... askew.

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"Fiscal Effects: The cost of additional requirements is much debated.  The City Attorney estimates are between $1 and $2 million annually.  Any lawsuits would add substantial costs.  Some requirements of U could also reduce costs."

Now that is a good, common-sense method of using tax dollars.  Because, in the long run... down the road, on the back end, the taxpayer will save money.  Because, eventually, there will be no reason for lawsuits, because we (The People) will install those who want to help instead of harm, and they won't want to go to jail; prison is a huge deterrent to theft.  For the money these Intolerant Jackasses are spending on Measure S, they could save it for Measure U, so we can find out what they are doing with our tax dollars.  Probably trying to "get rid of" people they do not like or want in their direct vision.

Silencing your opponent is an old Nazi tactic.

Continuing on:

"Supporters Say:

-Citizens need timely access to information the Council and staff use to make decisions and the opportunity to comment in public meetings before decisions are made.

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-Other cities' 'Sunshine' initiatives have failed because they lack enforcement, as the current Berkeley Open Government Ordinance has failed.  U has the enforcement necessary to succeed.

-We need fairness in presenting both sides of issues, particularly for land use issues.  U would require equal time for both sides in presentation of any issue.

-The City's estimate of $1-2 million per year is based on speculative and out-of-date information; the estimate includes costs now spent for the Open Government Ordinance.  Costs could go down because the new early alert and Commission hearings would prevent lawsuits and might otherwise be brought against the city."

The first point is valid.  I don't see how the mayor or anyone else could be against this sort of implementation, unless they are hiding something.

The second point is why we (The People) are here now.  The previous measure was toothless for a reason... the city council (the ones hiding stuff from you, anyway) designed it that way to keep you away from them and their curtain of deception.

The third point is also valid because the lack of representation on the People's side is appalling.  And since there are clear conflicts of interest going on here, with the mayor being a former land developer and continued ties with current developers, like Gordon Realities, a balanced representation in front of a arbitrating council is necessary for "open and transparent government" to operate and succeed.  The Framers of Our Constitution did not hold any of what we are seeing today with our government today as Principle.  They would consider today's government and implementation of said governance a raping of Justice and Unconstitutional by application... yet, here We (the People) are... so let's let these Bastards have it!

The price tag for this measure is acceptable, considering the price tag of our future and how we are strapping the future generations with larger more exorbitant debt, I'd say this is a steal at $1-2 million dollars.  Maybe we should drop unconstitutional measures, like Measure S, so we can save money for more investigating of our elected officials.  Measure S shows everyone why we need Measure U to pass!  If Measure U had already been in existence, Measure S may have never gotten on the ballot, because of the potential for unconstitutionality therein, setting up future lawsuits (by the A.C.L.U.) that would (and will, if voted upon) cost the city more on the back end, again. 

"Opponents Say:

-Measure U adds new, complicated, costly record-keeping requirements of the staff, the council, and volunteer and elected commissioners.  The current Open Government Ordinance protects citizens' right to know.  Any needed changed can be proposed to and adopted by the Council.

-Measure U gives an appointed commission unprecedented power over the elected body that points it.  The City council is elected by the people and can be removed by the people; it should have the ultimate authority.

-Voters do not have the time to read and fully understand Measure U.  At thirty-odd pages it is too long and complex.  If provisions create problems, they cannot be changed except by going back to the voters. 

-Measure U would be expensive.  Cost is estimated at $1-2 million per year; more if the Commission files lawsuits."

The first point is off because they tell you to go to the "Council," yet you cannot access a Council, and that is the crux of the matter, really.  This is why this new Measure U is so important.  It gives the citizens that power.  They (the City) are acting as though you can access it already, when you can't.  And that's just how they want it.  You will see a pattern of (worded) behavior with every extrapolation I make.  And this is just the first point!  As for "costly record-keeping," it won't be that big a deal after we root-out the corruption.  That will save the taxpayers a crap-load of cash.  And I am sure the "costly record-keeping" will not have any bearing on the budget, because of the killing of the aforementioned corruption.

Point two is where they (corrupt city officials) hide behind the illusion of the democratic process.  This is also, by the way, the very same way those Bastards up on the Hill get away with their nonsense, over and over.  They tell you to "vote us out if you don't like it!," but the system is set up that their cancer gets in and you can't make any moves without having to extract entire areas of the host, which is all of Us, by the way.  And sometimes, these cancers hook themselves to vital areas, and are henceforth inoperable, for fear of having to cut out too much of a vital organ... this is where they get you.

Therefore, the People need a tool in their toolbox to extract this cancer without losing anything vital.  And since these Cancers have figured out a loophole for staying in power, we have to do what is known in the N.F.L. (National Football League) as an "end around."  An end around is a football play in which an offensive end comes behind the line of scrimmage to take a hand off and attempts to carry the ball around the opposite side.  This move is to fool the defense and, if conducted properly, will net points for your side of the ball.

So Measure U would give The People that end around their (corrupted) defenses.  I see no issues with having an arbitrating board of citizens review what these elected bodies are supposed to be spending their monies on.  The only reason I could see for not wanting Measure U to pass is corruption and not wanting that corruption to be brought to light.  Everything else falls into the excuse box and on the deaf ears of the angry, jaded citizenry.

Point three is condescending and shows you the unmitigated arrogance of which I have been writing.  It's a pat on the head and a dismissive tone we all have grown to expect from such bourgeois horse sh*t.  "At thirty-odd pages it is too long and complex"???  Really?!  Because I took the Downtown [Berkeley] Business Association's (DBA)  "strategic plan" and extrapolated all that bigotry and hatred, no problem!  And I'm just some jagoff homeless guy!  But way to patronize your citizens!  And there it is again, the excuse: "If provisions create problems, they cannot be changed except by going back to the voters."  That's their out.  That's always their out.  They hide behind the very thing they are violating.  More irony, again.  So We The People need to step up to the plate and make adjustments... amendments, if you will.

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And the final point, about the "costs"... boo. freaking. hoo.  We're al ready spending way too much money on allowing them (some in the City Council) to operate too freely as it is!  If we cut out the malignancy, we will not have to worry about "costs," because we would have fixed it, and we will have plenty of money... on the back end.  You see, these corrupt douche bags want you to see only short-term... they want you to be myopic in your approach.  Don't be that.  If for no other reason than spite!  But don't be thatStop buying into their (self-serving) lies and deceit and start standing up for yourselves! 

And you can start by voting HELL YES! on Measure U!

That's my beef; that's my b*tch; that's my rant.

-James Richard Armstrong II


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I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).

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