Berkeley’s Bradley Manning resolution is watered down

Bradley Manning, Photo courtesy of The Telegraph

The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday will consider a watered-down version of a bill regarding Bradley Manning, the army private suspected of leaking the WikiLeaks documents.

Instead of declaring Manning a hero, the revised bill calls for Manning to be treated “humanely” in prison.

The switch in emphasis came after there was a huge national outcry from conservatives around the country that Berkeley was once again honoring a man some considered a criminal. Berkeley city officials had also been concerned with the original bill since it declared Manning a hero for a crime for which he has not been convicted nor admitted doing.

The new proposal “doesn’t say ‘declare him a hero’ or ‘give him a key to the city’” said City Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “It says we want more humane treatment while he is confined awaiting trial. I think that this will get a lot more votes than the previous proposal.”

The 22-year old Manning is being detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia under conditions some say are akin to torture. He is being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, has a bright light shining into his eyes at all times, is not allowed to use sheets or pillow cases, and is not permitted to exercise, according to Salon.com

The Berkeley resolution points out these harsh conditions and calls for the U.S. government to ameliorate the situation:

WHEREAS, PFC. Bradley Manning is made to sleep in his boxer shorts with no pillow and no sheets and a heavy blanket so rough that he must turn carefully beneath it to avoid rug burn; and

WHEREAS, PFC. Bradley Manning is required to sleep with light shining in his eyes at night and is required to affirm every five minutes when awake that he is OK when asked; and

WHEREAS, PFC, Bradley Manning has not been outdoors for months and has not been allowed to exercise in or out of his cell and has only been allowed out of his cell to shower and walk in chains and has not been allowed to watch TV during news time nor read a newspaper nor have personal possessions in his cell, nor have a pen or a pencil at most times or see most of the mail addressed to him; and ……

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Berkeley calls for the immediate end to the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of PFC. Bradley Manning during his military confinement.

Worthington, who had concerns about the original proposal that was submitted in December that declared Manning a hero, called for him to be freed, and offered him a key to the city, said he will vote for this new measure.

“The original proposal was problematic, which is why it got so much publicity,” said Worthington. “It went too far, even for Berkeley, which is concerned about human rights, peace and justice. We don’t want to do something so extreme it’s not ready for prime time. This is more measured … and more reasonable.”

During the same meeting on Tuesday, however, the City Council is set to consider another proposal adopted by the Peace and Justice Commission: an invitation to two Guantanamo Bay detainees to come live in Berkeley. Two cities in Massachusetts, Amhert and Leverette, have already extended invites for those once detained at Gitmo, according to the resolution.

There have been 38 detainees absolved of committing any crimes and two of them  should be offered private funds to come live in the city, according to the resolution by the Peace and Justice commission. They Djamel Ameziane, an Algerian chef, and Ravil Mingazov, a Russian ballet dancer.

Phil Karmlarz, the city manger, is recommending that the council not take a position at this time since there currently is a federal ban on repatriating any of the former detainees inside the United States. There is no need to extend the two an invitation until federal law changes, he said. Only then will there be clarity for local cities.

Some city council members are not happy that the Peace and Justice Commission has put forward two controversial measures so close together.

“I feel that the P&J Commission emphasizes quantity over quality,” councilmember Gordon Wozniak wrote in an email. “Their resolutions are pushing an agenda with no attempt to achieve consensus or to assess whether the body public supports their point of view.

“I feel that their research on issues is shoddy and makes no attempt to present alternative positions. The stated purpose is often to be able to claim that Berkeley is first or the most radical on some fringe issue.”

“Finally, I feel that this deluge of ill-considered and poorly researched recomendations distracts the Council from grappling with the many messy local issues that do fall within our jurisdiction, e.g. crime, budget deficits, disaster preparedness, and business climate.”

“As an example of misplaced priorities, the city has a P&J Commission with a mandate to comment on worldwide events, but no Public Safety Commission focused on reducing crime. Thus Council spends an order of magnitude more time on resolutions from P&J and then it does on improving public safety.”

Worthington said his fellow council members should not be publically criticizing the “hard-working members” of a city commission. Moreover, Berkeley has often taken the lead in controversial measure which later became accepted norms, such as the call to divest from South Africa and recycle.

“We spend 99% of our time dealing with the nuts and bolts issues,” said Worthington. The less than 1% of the time we spend dealing with national and international issues provides an important resource to the cause of human rights. There are times when (a city’s vote) is a building block to giving legitimacy to an idea. You get a city government to say ‘yes, this is a legitimate issue we have to take seriously,’ it builds momentum for a cause.”


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  • Name Withheld

    I agree completely with Councilman Gordon Wozniak. This is a waste of time & taxpayer money that is purely symbolic and accomplishes nothing.

  • DC

    What a massive waste of the city’s time. Even if addressing these global, non-local issues only takes 1% of their time (and I would disagree with that), that is still 1% that could better be spent dealing with the serious issues that we Berkeleyans have right at hand.

  • Eric Panzer

    The City Council should not squander its time and the image of Berkeley on this preposterous nonsense. The original resolution was irresponsible and this new resolution borders on meaningless. So…we don’t support the humane treatment of all prisoners and accused persons? We especially support the humane treatment of this individual? I don’t really get the point–especially since the “heroism” of Manning is debatable. The Peace and Justice commission has turned both itself and Berkeley into a laughing stock time and time again; I’m hard pressed to think of a reason why not to somehow demote or even abolish it. Perhaps someone can explain what the Peace and Justice Commission has recently done to substantively further the well being of Berkeley. If indeed it has a useful function, perhaps they would do better to focus solely on that, or to disband and pass the torch elsewhere.

  • Name Withheld

    It might be time to seriously consider adding a Public Safety Commission. After reading the crime reports from neighborhood groups, and comparing the amount of crime now to past years, and in light of budget cuts,, there seems to be no doubt that we need a strong and focused Public Safety Commission. And I second Eric Panzer’s response.

  • laura menard

    Commissions by their very nature are structure in a political manner. If the city intended to implement best practice in community policing they should create a Community policing advisory board consisting of neighborhood council leadership and police dept officials.

  • bs

    Just because it’s Friday and I’m goofing off at work reading Berkeleyside doesn’t mean my city council gets to engage in equivalent time-wasting.

    I think we should put P&J on ice for a few years, then revisit their charter when we have some free time to think about why we need P&J in the first place. Their current work products are evidence that they don’t get it and need redefinition of their role.

  • Peter

    I’m against the City Council wasting time and money while the Willard Pool is filled with dirt, the storefronts are empty, etc. Shut up and solve our local problems. Thank you.

  • Jim

    How much Berkeley City staff time has this nonsense consumed? And how much time is going to be spent Tuesday night when the entire Council, the City Attorney, the City Clerk, the City Manager and who knows how many other city staff sit through all the comments made by the public?

    The 2 Peace and Justice Commission measures aren’t the only time-wasters on the Council agenda for Tuesday. Worthington has two other agenda items: One is a proposal to fly the Tibetan flag from the City flagpole one day in March to express solidarity with the oppressed people of Tibet. The other (and I’m not making this up) is a proposed statement to be sent to Gov. Brown, Nancy Skinner and other local representatives, telling them exactly what should and should not be cut in order to balance the State budget. Meanwhile, Berkeley has so many empty store fronts that Telegraph Avenue and downtown look like jack-o-lanterns and Willard pool has been filled with mud. Tell these dingbats to do their jobs!

  • Bruce Love

    The various national collegiate leagues are essentially professional sports with very constricted forms of paying the labor. The universities and colleges have no proper business entering into such for-profit ventures in any capacity.

    If you want leagues of young people playing to earn their degree, funded by big media and so forth, and big stadiums and such … just professionalize those leagues and leave the universities out of it.

  • Luckypaul

    The P&J Commission should focus its efforts on local issues rather than grandstanding for Fox News and the media. They aren’t helping anyone and Worthington’s analogy to past glories is wrong for so many reasons. What has the P&J ever done that had a positive impact on anyone?

    Also, why does the P&J Commission get to communicate to the world what Berkeley is thinking? They don’t represent this wonderful and (decreasingly) diverse City.

  • Bruce Love

    (oops… wrong damn thread. College sports on P&J? Yikes. Sorry)

  • Phoebe Sorgen

    Bruce, I Love that you were honest enough to take responsibility for your statements by using your full name. That is the case with only one of the negative comments above, EP’s. Many people place no stock in anonymous comments. EP, of course we support the humane treatment of all prisoners and accused persons. There is no reason to keep this young person in solitary confinement and subject him to other harsh treatment that is on-going. Or is he guilty until proven wealthy?

  • Todd

    Look at it this way, Bradley Manning was working a job and broke the company rules.
    He WILLINGLY went to work. He is no hero, just an employee that does not follow company policy.
    This is a waste of time & taxpayer money. Solve the problems of Berkeley first. THERE ARE MANY!

  • DC

    @Phoebe: many of us don’t disagree with the city’s position on Manning. What we disagree with is spending council time on work completely unrelated to city needs. This type of political yammering draws energy and time away from immediate, real, serious demands affecting our city day-to-day.

    There are many politically vocal people in Berkeley. In the internet era in which a blog can become a national mouthpiece in a mater of moments, there is NO need to have a city commission to spout off political opinions for us on matters of national and international politics. None. It’s arrogant to assume it speaks for everyone, and frankly it doesn’t do anything we can’t each do ourselves. I am angry that council agenda time is being on this type of thing.

  • DC

    Plus, here’s the other thing…how much credibility do YOU give government-sanctioned messages from other cities/states/countries, large or small? Do you find them resonant and meaningful? I generally don’t. Messages from individuals, sure. Messages from Presidents, Prime Ministers, sure. Messages affirming a political position from a political council of any kind? No thanks. That’s just propaganda.

    And turn this around – Would you honestly care what the “city of Dallas” says on a political matter? I wouldn’t any more than I do Berkeley.

  • Bruce Love

    What about something like inviting acquitted but now essentially stateless gitmo prisoners to Berkeley? That’s not just a matter of spouting opinions.

  • http://twitter.com/Weezus Rachel A.

    I appreciate LuckyPaul’s post. There are real issues of justice/injustice here in Berkeley. How about a focus that all of the commission’s work focus on issues within the city? It might help reconstitute the committee.

  • Bruce Love

    @Phoebe Sorgen, re: “Bruce, I Love that you were honest enough to take responsibility for your statements by using your full name.”

    Bruce Love is a pseudonym. I can be reached at bruce.thad @ gmail.com, which is also not my real name. I prefer my (semi-) privacy here for a variety of reasons. Berkeleyside has been informed who I “really” am. I don’t extend a general promise to everyone but if you are really curious, you an email me.

  • TN

    Those of us in Berkeley have elected a politically progressive representative to officially speak for us on national and international issues. She is our Congresswoman, Barbara Lee. And she is not afraid to speak out. She is one of the few in Congress to vote against the war. There is no question that she represents the balance of our views in our congressional district.

    We don’t vote for City Council members to represent us on international and national affairs. We elect them to represent us to work on our city’s issues. I wish we could convince the City Council to focus on the jobs they were elected to do.

  • Bruce Love

    @TN: “Those of us in Berkeley have elected a politically progressive representative to officially speak for us on national and international issues. She is our Congresswoman, Barbara Lee.”

    The Peace and Justice commission was established by a 1986 ordinance and, consequently, ever since, all voters in Berkeley have elected politicians to control political appointments to the commission and to vote on commission recommendations. I think that few (any? there must have been some?) candidates have ran on a platform that included decommissioning Peace and Justice. Literally speaking at least, we do elect people to council and the mayor’s office for that purpose.

    So, re: “We don’t vote for City Council members to represent us on international and national affairs.”

    That appears to be false, as I say. Also, in this case, the resolution was to send a letter to, among others, Representative Lee. In other words, the same electorate that you want to say is spoken for by Lee is, through a resolution like this, giving Lee some support to do so.

    I’m especially alarmed by the banality with which people are ready to declare this item a waste of time. I speak as someone embarrassed by some P&J actions and not comfortable with the first draft that council rejected in this matter – I’m not reflexively “pro-P&J”. But, what is at issue here?:

    What is plausibly and apparently without dispute alleged here is, at the very least, what I would describe as the cruel and unusual treatment of a detained citizen in jail awaiting trial, and a citizen whose Habeas rights are in doubt, by the federal government. This is in response to his alleged role in helping to expose the federal government engaging in what is (though P&J badly overstated it in the first draft) cover-up of their crime (both domestic and international). It seems fitting to me that such a circumstance, regardless of one’s feelings about the charges against Manning, is precisely the time when state and local governments should directly address the federal government to strongly object. We have here a case where, by many accounts, the feds are isolating and abusing a political criminal. Shouldn’t we wish to live in a country where, when the stakes are such, we would expect all levels of government to light up like a christmas tree in defense of liberty?!?

    There is also, and I don’t mean this specifically as a criticism of TN but of the critics in general, apparently no attempt among the critics to actually review the complete record of P&J resolutions over the years, or to objectively assess how much the city spends on P&J issues either in dollars or council “focus”. I really dislike some of what P&J has put forward in the past couple of years, from what I read, but I am far more skeptical of the kind of backlash evinced in comments here. Will the critics please make their case a little more convincingly and factually based, please?

    I did notice that, before there was P&J, Berkeley’s “radical mayor” Loni Hancock and her husband Assemblyman Tom Bates made national news supporting (with some kind of “citizenship award” and a party, they say) Huey Newton on his decision to return from self-imposed exile to Cuba to face murder charges of which he was later acquitted. Throwing the weight of official Berkely-dome behind sides on national and international issues is the kind of thing that will happen regardless of the existence of a P&J commission, apparently. I bet it goes back much further than that, too.

  • Name Withheld

    I would be happy to vote to get rid of the Peace & Justice Commission. Unfortunately the extremely vocal anti-change minority here in Berkeley that screams and hollers at every City Council meeting would make it their mission to torpedo the campaigns of anyone who suggested doing so.

    What does the P&J Commission actually think they will accomplish with this resolution? We all know that the P&JC is powerless, and as such this kind of resolution is just meaningless show. A political affectation and nothing more.

    I don’t care if it doesn’t cost the taxpayers a dime, it makes the City look idiotic and draws attention away from more pressing city matters.

    __________
    PS: I agree with DC. I think the treatment of PFC Manning is atrocious. But a resolution like this is pointless and a waste of time, and it is unfair of them to engage in grandstanding on a National stage without checking to make sure that the opinions they are putting forth really represent those of the majority of Berkeleyans.

  • Bruce Love

    @Name: re: “Unfortunately the extremely vocal anti-change minority here in Berkeley that screams and hollers at every City Council meeting would make it their mission to torpedo the campaigns of anyone who suggested doing so.”

    I think that that minority is a figment of your imagination. You talk about it a lot. They are guilty, apparently, for many gov’t actions of which you disapprove. I don’t think they exist. You attribute to them an apparent super-human ability to overwhelm the will of the otherwise more sensible majority, at least.

  • Name Withheld

    Peace and Justice for all, but let us begin at home. What could P&J do if they focused on what could be done in Berkeley? Redeem your image by coming up with projects that can be achieved in Berkeley. There is so much to be done right her in our own backyard.

    I have no hope that my plea will be heard as P&J’s reactionary view is that all views without names are not recognized. My view? The emperors have no clothes.

  • Jules

    This is a waste of time and is the reason why the rest of the world laughs at us – we try to be controversial just for the sake of being controversial. It’s like the P&J Commission sits down and deliberately tries to think up ways to make this city look ridiculous. Besides, Berkeley can’t even house the people who already live here!

    Berkeley is just one gigantic cliche, and worse, people seem proud of that.

  • Name Withheld

    @ Bruce Love ––– Of course you think that. You’re part of the vocal anti-change minority I’m talking about. People like you think you’re a majority and think you’re representing “the will of Berkeleyans” because you don’t see a lot of opposition at City Council meetings, but if the people in my neighborhood and the average workaday folks I know in Berkeley are any indication the majority of Berkeleyans are sick and tired of pointless garbage like this from elected officials who think that political grandstanding is more important than finding funding to fill potholes, working harder at attracting business, finding ways to keep our public pools full of water instead of mud, etc.

    Even though it’s pointless, this new resolution is sort of OK, but the only reason we got it is that the original proposal was so ridiculously over the top that it sparked outrage from the local and National citizenry. Declaring Manning a hero, calling for him to be freed, and offering him a key to the city? What? Anyone who is so out of touch with reality that they thought that was a good idea ought to be recalled from office.

  • Name Withheld

    @ Jules ––– It’s not just you. A lot of us are sick and tired of it. Speak up, make yourself heard, and get involved in local politics when election time rolls around again. Find a candidate whose ideas you like and whose position you support, and work hard to get them elected. Getting rid of things like the P&J Commission may not be possible, but at the very least we can elect more sensible members for it who will focus on things that aren’t quite so laughably ridiculous.

  • Bruce Love

    @Name,

    Let’s see, you declare that I’m “anti-change”. I am not pro-change or anti-change. Things change with or without political action. Change is something that happens, not something to be for or against. Now, if you want to propose a specific action, I might be for or against that. I’d be against the first draft of the Manning resolution. I think the new one might help do some good. Another example: while I would like to see the City learn to operate a serious business development plan for West Berkeley, I think that the proposed West Berkeley real estate development will more likely do more harm rather than good to the City’s economy. See how that works? Pro some kinds of “change”, if you want to put it that way, against others. Personally, I don’t see any value to talking about some abstract “change”, though: I’m pro on some proposed council actions, against others — the specifics matter, not the “change”.

    You outrageously claim to have mental telepathy when you say: “People like you think you’re a majority and think you’re representing “the will of Berkeleyans” because you don’t see a lot of opposition at City Council meetings,” That’s news to me! Here I was thinking that I disagreed with quite a bit of the public commentary and the comments from the dais at the council meetings I’ve watched. Thanks for setting me straight on that.

    More seriously, though, this is a bit worrying. There’s a subtle but important reason its worrying that I’ll try to point out to you. Please be patient. You wrote, in the context of the above: “but if the people in my neighborhood and the average workaday folks I know in Berkeley are any indication the majority of Berkeleyans are sick and tired of pointless garbage like this from elected officials who think that political grandstanding is more important than finding funding to fill potholes, working harder at attracting business, finding ways to keep our public pools full of water instead of mud, etc.”

    Let me say straight up that I am partly with you there. If I do guess then I guess that the majority of people in Berkeley are at least not satisfied with some of what they see as government failings. Makes sense, right? A lot of people miss the now closed pools. Pretty much everybody hates potholes.

    Even on the issue of the Peace and Justice commission, I’m not sure I would venture to guess at any “majority view”, but certainly there’s a lot of people who have been unhappy with particular actions it took, and a lot of people who are unhappy it exists at all.

    But, there’s still a problem with what you are saying.

    First, there’s a logic error there when you try to connect the existence of Peace and Justice to, say, the pools closure. I think if you go back and look at the record you’ll see that the pools plan was mostly criticized for being too damn expensive, especially during a recession. Some people said that was because it included a new warm pool. Others said it was because the plan had too many “premium features” at all pools involved. Some argued that the structure of the financing package had problems. Now it wasn’t as if the city didn’t lavishly fund the needs of a serious committee that spent a long time working on the proposal. And politicians sure appeared to focus on the issue quite a bit: there’s no indication they were distracted by Peace and Justice. Problem is, they came out with an expensive plan, just as the recession was hitting hardest, and had not thought to prepare a less costly alternative.

    Frustrating, yes. The result of political grandstanding on national issues? That’s a stretch.

    That’s the logic error but there’s a more serious error that it gives rise to:

    You’re saying that your “neighbors and the average workaday people you know in Berkeley” somehow fall victim to this sinister minority of evil doing oppressors who think they are the majority and who manage to fill the elected posts with grandstanders. It permeates your writing: “You’re part of the vocal anti-change minority I’m talking about. People like you think [….]”.

    So, I’m “one of them” to your “us”, is how you’ve described things. Do you have in your pocket a list of 57 names of my fellow travelers? Perhaps an informational pamphlet to help the upright people of Berkeley learn to recognize my devilish tribe, perhaps by typical manner of dress or facial feature?

    You yourself, my friend might be in moral danger for in another thread today you remarked that the 75 foot hight limit almost swayed you against the West Berkeley plan. Had you toppled, would you have yourself then be among the ranks of the “anti-change minority”? Or, would the line between “them” and “us” have stepped out of your way to keep you on the right side?

    If I may opine: “We,” if we are such, don’t really need this kind of polarization. We don’t benefit much from vague conspiracy theories about “vocal anti-change minorities”. The City faces a lot of hard challenges in the coming years and this is a City that has had a pretty cush life in recent decades. Calm deliberation. Creative suggestions. Mapping out of the certainties and uncertainties of proposed options. These kinds of things help. Reflexive, shallow, and angry polarization does not help.

  • Name Withheld

    Good God, you love to hear yourself talk.

  • Name Withheld

    And PLEASE knock it off with the specious logic and weird straw man nonsense. I know that’s your shtick and the only way you seem to know how to discuss issues, but it’s annoying.

    I did not say that the existence of Peace and Justice caused the pools closure. Saying that I did is, frankly, bullshit.

  • DC

    Pro-change, anti-change whatever. That’s not the main issue here.

    The main issue is that at the end of the day there’s only so much time and mental energy and focus that is available to a person, a city council – whatever. And all this stuff with P&J draws down against that. Even if it’s only taking SOME of the council’s time and energy, it’s still taking it. It probably takes more energy that time, but it takes both. These issues od national and international affairs are not central or core to the mission of running the city effectively. The whole hoo-hah with the West Berkeley Plan is totally different. That IS core to our city and its future. That IS worth time and energy and discussion, and debating. This P&J stuff is a distraction.

    And for those who think it’s important, well they can create their own advocacy forums to elevate the issue, or join the many vocal political organizations out there. They do not need Berkeley P&J to do it for them.

  • Bruce Love

    @Name: You quite plainly complained about politicians who (you say) think “grandstanding” on issues like P&J items is more important than, for example, working on the pools issue. Nevermind that you don’t really know which the officials think is more important (if either), there is also no evidence at all to believe that the P&J items contributed to failure to keep pools open.

  • Name Withheld

    “…there is also no evidence at all to believe that the P&J items contributed to failure to keep pools open.” – Bruce Love

    Great, because I never said there was and only a raving idiot would think that.

    My point was that the time and effort spent making up pointless resolutions that make Berkeley a National-level laughingstock could be better used trying to come up with creative ways to solve real community problems instead of political grandstanding.

    @ DC ––– Precisely. I think my point was clear to everyone except Bruce Love, who apparently needs to have things written out in excruciating detail to keep him from “reading between the lines” and derailing discussion with non-issue arguments.

  • Eric Panzer

    Perhaps we can get the Peace and Justice commission to recommend to the council some sort of anti-trolling ordinance. Seems just the sort of controversial and impractical action that really floats their boat. Or we could agree to stop feeding them–something I’ll happily sign on to immediately.

  • http://twitter.com/tereneta Tim

    What would it take to implement one of the following suggestions?

    1) limit the mandate of the Peace and Justice Commission to deal with peace and justice issues within the geographic limits and the legal purview of the city of Berkeley;

    2) give the Peace and Justice Commission their own blog, and let that be the final platform for the Commission’s recommendations, rather than the City Council.

    (Comment, or troll away!)

  • Name Withheld

    @ Eric ––– Yes, but who are the trolls? I’m certainly not one, and despite the fact that we seem to vehemently disagree about almost everything I don’t think Bruce Love is one either.

    @ Tim ––– Good ideas, both. But I’d expand their purview to the Greater Bay Area. Possibly even all of California. But they should definitely stick to California issues at the very least.

  • DC

    Tim: Your first suggestion is intriguing and right on point. I disagree with the other poster however that it should be all of CA (that would end up being the west, and then the west and mountain central, then west, mid-west and central and before you know it here we are again). We don’t have any effect on things in Irvine or San Diego. But to limit it to Berkeley – or Alameda County – that might be OK. I still don’t see much need for it really, but I could be convinced it was at least related to the city’s core mission if it was P&J for Berkeley.

  • bs

    @Tim is right, and this has been my point as well — the jurisdiction of the Berkeley city government is Berkeley, California and the P&J needs to limit the scope of their efforts to issues that are relevant to that end.

    Now — that doesn’t preclude taking a position on international issues, if there is a Berkeley hook. Divesting from South Africa is one thing, but espousing an arbitrary point of view on matters that have no direct relevance to local policy is just wasting everybody’s time (whether you agree with the position or not).

    P&J should STFU and spend a year or two in the penalty box until we sort this out.

  • Bruce Love

    re: “Divesting from South Africa is one thing,”

    How can you insist on divesting from South Africa on human rights principles, and not hold our federal government to the same standard?

  • DC

    It’s quite simple:
    Presumably Berkley’s FInance Manager has either direct or advisory control over where and how city funds are invested. Therefore he/she can actively choose not to invest in funds that would be South-Africa based or supportive. That’s direct action by Berkeley with respect to something that is under Berkeley’s control.

    As far as I am aware, aside from our normal role as individuals with a franchise to vote, the city Finance Manager, council members and any other people on the P&J commission do NOT have any direct control or influence in how Federal policy is set or Federal dollars are invested.

  • bs

    @Bruce, it’s a simple distinction — in the case of SA there was a city policy at stake; where to invest and whether those investment decisions were aligned with certain principles and values. By contrast, many (most?) of the issues P&J takes up lately have ZERO bearing on city policy or administrative decisions .. they are simply positions or resolutions offered strictly for sake of making a statement on principle. In other words it has dick-all to do with city business, and that’s what I find inappropriate. Despite the fact that I’m generally on-board with the actual positions, I’d even go as far as to label P&J’s usurping of our “civic voice” as a misappropriation.

    Again, I think they need to be disbanded for a couple years, and then let’s revisit the idea with a clear charter…

  • bs

    Oh and @Bruce, from here out you are limited to 200 words max. Brevity is clarity; if you can’t get your point across in a paragraph or so, then your message is a mess. Just sayin’

  • Name Withheld

    I have to say I agree completely, BS.

    Don’t often see someone use so many words to say so little.

  • Bruce Love

    The city does plenty of business with the federal government and makes many policy decisions about when and how to cooperate with it, participate in federal programs, and so forth. The relationship to the federal government is more complicated than was that to S. Africa. The particular human rights offense and opportunities for redress are different. Both cases, though, call into question Berkeley’s politics of participation with states with human rights problems. A very similar moral imperative is in play here. It would be hypocritical to ignore it. Sending a letter is a reasonable place to start.

    To say “In other words it has dick-all to do with city business,” is just not true. If the situation with Manning is not improved, for example, to my mind it raises questions about what our policies ought to be about discretionary cooperation with federal law enforcement efforts.

  • Name Withheld

    Yet nothing about how the City relates to the Federal Government of that was in either of the proposed resolutions. No talk of any action, just pointless political punditry.

    If the P&J Commission had been working on resolutions refusing to send the Federal Government funds to support the Iraqi war or something, then that would be political grandstanding that actually had some teeth to it.

    But this? This is just pointless.

  • http://exiledinhollywood.blogspot.com C. Burkey

    Thanks be to God for the Berkeleys of this world, the Barbara Lees, the will of a city to engage itself on civic issues that have global importance. Thank God someone is recognizing the depth of importance that Bradley Manning’s situation has for all of us. That is what makes Great Americans, not the mere ability to call in to some talk show. Being willing to stand up against floods of propoganda is evidenced in so few public resolutions. They do get noticed. In particular, they speak, through the Internet, to nations around the world who need to know that some in America believe peace is patriotic, that truth is essential to governing, and that justice for the accused is a measure of we ourselves can expect to be treated in return-and a measure of how just our society really is. And thanks to Bruce Love, whoever he is, for speaking so articulately and passionately for the record on this site, saying much more than a previous poster flamed him for.

    In Southern California, we thank you.

  • Name Withheld

    C. Burkey says: “Thank God someone is recognizing the depth of importance that Bradley Manning’s situation has for all of us.”

    Can you please provide an example of the depth of importance that Bradley Manning’s situation has for all of us?