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The DBA, Their "Annual Report," and Mine...

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"Truth is the best defense."

-Ward Churchill

Okay, just when I thought I had read and heard enough where Block By Block and the Downtown [Berkeley] Business Association (DBA) was concerned, I pick up the "Downtown Berkeley 2012 Annual Report"?  So, this column will be about their "annual report," and mine.  A year has gone by and not much has changed.  At strategic times out here, the poor and "homeless" have been harassed by this corporate menace out of Kentucky.

That's right... they have an "annual report."  Well, it has been one year.  One year since a union-busting corporation out of Tennessee sent their guard dog and systematic spying from Kentucky out here to "Californee!," in an attempt at a full insurrection of a blue state by the evil hands of a red state and its corporate minion.  So why wouldn't they push the fa├žade in a report.  I mean, if this thing is going to look "legitimate," right?

Upon opening the report I see a picture of their fearless leader, CEO of the Berkeley Association, John Caner.  And the sign behind him, to his left-side, reads, "Create," and shows some cat plucking a classic stand-up bass, jazz-style, of course.  Because the DBA is all about jazz and pizazz, as the photo in the back of the report shows the entire brood of Block By Block, most of them I know, personally, standing around their makeshift hot dog vendor's cart, where you can often hear the contradictory, anti-establishment sounds of the '70's punk rock band The Clash's, "Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now"?

But enough about moronic, self-induced irony, let's get to some of the juicy stuff... their very own wording. 

John Caner's words, actually, as his name is penned to them, with a "Sincerely," just above that signature.  Thank you, John!  And just when I thought I was going to be able to get back to my book... I find this... "report."  Thanks again, John!  Just when I thought I couldn't exasperate myself further, just when I thought I couldn't expand on it, or elaborate on it, I read their report, and I realize that, I must have done something in a former life to deserve this punishment. 

"Since April, Ambassadors have cleaned and 'patrolled' the Downtown, maintaining  high standards established in the 'Big Splash.'"

-John Caner, CEO Downtown [Berkeley] Business Association (DBA)

Okay, there are only three types of folks who have ever "patrolled," and they are police officers, security guards, and the GestapoPatrolled?  I didn't know janitors "patrolled."  I thought the job of a janitor (You can call them 'Ambassadors' all you like, but they are still janitors with a fancy title.  And me writing 'janitors' is not a pejorative, either... it's a fact.) was to pick up trash?  And you guys said you weren't going to be spying on anyone, yet... there you go, and you "patrolled"? 

"With the support of our property owners we launched the new Property-based Business Improvement District (PBID), and working together, we made a 'significant change' in the 'quality of life' and perception of Downtown Berkeley.  We hear repeatedly, 'Wow, I see a real difference in the Downtown!'  And we are seeing more visitors, businesses, and investment here."

-John Caner, CEO Downtown [Berkeley] Business Association (DBA)

Okay John, if this is indeed factual, that you have "made a 'significant change' in the 'quality of life' and perception of Downtown Berkeley," then how was it our fault, all this financial instability?  It seems that I (and others) was (were) correct, that we were being scapegoated, by you and your financial and political backers.  How else can you explain your (relative) "success"?  Either that, or you're lying now, too?

Last night, I received a piece of information from a source close to this story.  For a couple weeks now a few of us have noticed the "Ambassadors" have been wearing different-colored uniforms.  They were donning a maroon-colored top, instead of the usual ugly, neon-yellow (or is it green?), tennis-ball shirts.  I didn't think much of it at the time, but what I found out was the change was purposeful.  Apparently, they have been "patrolling" the north side of Berkeley, and the money up there doesn't like the loud colors we here in the downtown area are subjected to daily, apparently, allegedly.

I also heard there was harassment of the panhandlers up that way, telling them they couldn't be there doing what they've been doing for years now.  There are Foreign (Vietnam) War Veterans on that side of town, and the locals in that area have known them for years.  And those locals don't have a problem with them up that way... but apparently, they did have a problem with Block By Block (employees) harassing them, though.

"The DBA also endorsed Measure S, the 'Civil Sidewalks' ordinance, which was on the ballot in November.  While the measure 'failed to gain sufficient electoral support,' it changed the dialogue around the need to help our merchants and help people living on the streets receive the needed services.  The DBA is continuing to work with the City and community partners to make our sidewalks and public spaces welcoming to all Berkeleyans."

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