Berkeley’s political firmament rallies to keep post office

Caption here

Mayor Tom Bates, flanked by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and State Senator Loni Hancock, mails a letter to the US Postal Service appealing the planned sale of Berkeley’s main post office. Photo: Lance Knobel

Mayor Tom Bates, State Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, and just about a full complement of Berkeley councilmembers gathered on the steps of the city’s main post office this morning to protest its planned sale.

Bates, Hancock and Skinner jointly signed a letter appealing the decision by the U.S. Postal Service. Bates said it was the beginning of a long fight that will include a lawsuit and appeals to the U.S. Congress.

“We’re not going quietly. We’re going to fight this every step of the way,” Bates said. “We are against it and the people of Berkeley are against it.”

“This is the very heart of our civic life and postal services are part of our civic life,” Skinner said. “We want to maintain this in the core of our civic downtown.”

Hancock said the selloff was part of a larger plan by Republicans in Congress to privatize the postal service.

“It will lead the the privatization of a publicly mandated organization,” Hancock said.

In front of television cameras, radio microphones and a crowd of a couple of dozen supporters, Berkeley councilmembers echoed the statements by Bates, Hancock and Skinner.

“The city council often doesn’t agree,” said Councilman Kriss Worthington. “There are things we disagree about every week. But on this we’re unanimous.”

Post Office to sell its downtown Berkeley building [04.22.13]
Council asks for 1-year moratorium on post office sale [03.06.13]
USPS hears vocal opposition to sale of downtown building [02.28.13]
Post Office public hearing to focus on Berkeley sale plan [02.26.13]
Berkeley discusses future of main post office [02.13.12]
Protesters take Save Post Office demo to San Francisco [12.05.12]
Rally held to protest sale of Berkeley’s main post office [11.15.12]
Developer eyes Berkeley’s historic post office [08.01.12]
Chances are slim of stopping sale of Berkeley’s post office [07.23.12]
Postal Service plans sale of Berkeley’s main post office [06.25.12]

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  • The_Sharkey

    Interesting point, Charles.

    I think the key difference is that I’m not saying that Anthony doesn’t have the right to cast aspersions and make claims he can’t back up, but simply pointing out that it’s a crappy thing for someone so involved in our local politics to do.

  • The_Sharkey

    If I had to guess I would say that PragmaticProgressive’s really obvious point would be that trashy political discourse is trashy no matter who’s disseminating it.

    If a Republican was casting aspersions about the “legitimacy” of opinions and making claims of fact without proof the way you are (“strong indicators” ain’t fact), you’d probably think they were a Grade A D-bag.

  • The_Sharkey

    Nah, it doesn’t imply that at all.
    All it implies is that Berkeleyside readers are generally informed enough to know that the City Council doesn’t always match the majority will – or act in the best interests – of Berkeley residents.

  • AnthonySanchez

    You misunderstand the rhetorical intent. “May or may not” would have been better, but it was meant to sidestep the merits of his POV on the post office to focus on the narrower issue of the position of “the people” In other words, you interpreting my rhetoric in the exact opposite way I intended (I guess that’s my fault for not being clear, though I still think that it is). It was meant as a non-judgement, a “I’m not getting into that,” so as to not open the wrong can of worms.

    I apologize if my rhetorical skills need some brushing up, but I also think some people are prone to interpret whatever I say in the worse way, or as a way to constantly bog me down and distract me due to a bias against my perceived position, political affiliation, etc. Such is life.

    I hope that now that I’ve provided background into what I meant, and with the evidence on hand, I hope it is clearer now that I meant to purposely NOT pass judgement on Guest’s point of view.

    Thank you.

  • AnthonySanchez

    Thank you, Sharkey. Please read below re: aspersions of legitimacy.

  • AnthonySanchez

    Political positions of representatives are, in fact, a data point, and though they do not definitively prove a position of various populations, they are a strong indicator when all those data points align, and it is unanimous throughout the representative chain. It is no less a data point that, say, limited vectors from which to extrapolate a likely path of an object. In the latter example, it is more formalized, but nonetheless, data points are used to indicate previous patterns and predict outcomes. And I am only used the datapoints of Elected positions -I haven’t even factored in poll data that does exist and past ballot votes relating to issues of privatization, historical preservation, etc. -all supporting indicators that alone are small in value, but when combined and consistently supporting a vector, it’s reasonable to derive a likelihood.

    Now, does anyone know definitively if the “people” of Berkeley support the Post Office? No. But until I am presented with “data” suggesting otherwise, my “calculation” is the most reasonable one. An honest person who doesn’t agree with saving the Post Office would have to admit that my assertion is far more likely than the opposite.

    Frankly this is my job. I am naturally good at math and physics (and I probably should have stuck with it), but I loved humanities more. Luckily, that mathematical orientation has helped me accurately, to a degree, assign values to the qualitative variables of actors and organizations, such interests, orientation, cognitive dissonance, etc. For me, it’s intuitive to map these out in a way that allows me to reasonably predict outcomes like one would do physically with a pool table -the intersection of different vectors can allow you to know which balls will likely go where, and how to stroke the cue ball to get what you want. When it comes to political happenings, I am usually right or pretty damn close to it. It’s all physics to me, but with unique laws.

    I say this because, yes, I may BS on qualitative issues, such as the merits of a political position (I work in politics, after all), but I do not BS when I describe how and why things are happening, and I value my intellectual honesty very much.

  • The_Sharkey

    I get where you’re coming from and believe your sincerity.

    The word “legitimate” is best avoided in more or less all situations these days, what with that “legitimate rape” comment from Todd Akin and all.,_2012#Todd_Akin:_.22legitimate_rape.22

  • The_Sharkey

    I think you’re wasting your time trying to defend a questionable comment from Bates. After all, you’re not the one who made the original comment proclaiming that the majority of Berkeley residents opposed the sale. You’d be better off deflecting the attention back to him for making the original statement rather than trying to defend it.

  • AnthonySanchez

    That’s actually great advice, but I purposely chose to do so, because I am a glutton for punishment, and Bside comments are fun to interact with (mostly). I recognize that I had to do nothing, but I did.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Call it logic – or logicism if you prefer.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Anthony, what do you think about the idea of landmarking the post office lobby? It was originally suggested by Jim Novosel, who pointed out that the exterior of the building is landmarked, but the interior lobby is not.

    I don’t see why the council is not pursuing this obvious tactic.

  • The_Sharkey

    Because that would require doing hard work and making potentially unpopular decisions, whereas this just requires grandstanding and photo-ops.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Look at the election returns, and you will see that majorities voted for the mayor and councilmembers.

    Maybe you should try running for council, so we could see how large a share of the vote you would get.

  • AnthonySanchez

    I honestly don’t know and I honestly didn’t know we can make such a designation for the lobby.

    There’s only a few explanations for why “we” haven’t:

    1. The option has not occurred to Council
    2. Council is not really interested, knows the PO will never change its mind, has preferred buyers/uses lined up, and this is just a hot political issue du jour (some people are jumping on the bandwagon having never done anything when this first happened last year, and some people have been denying PRA requests re: potential buyers under the inappropriate “deliberative process privilege,” while coming to Jesus on the issue, despite initial public comments).

    I’ll bring this up with Jesse to see if this is, in fact, an avenue, but it’s also an issue of timing (if we can do this, let’s hope it not too late).

  • Guest

    A wee bit touchy are we? Mr. Seigle? Look at the margins of victory against all opponents and you’ll see how few it takes to get on the council. Incumbency corrupts. Lifelong incumbency corrupts absolutely.

  • Guest

    If it was, I would. Perhaps a friend can explain the difference? The reference librarian?

  • Charles_Siegel

    Thanks for bringing it up with Jesse.

    If the USPS does not already have a preferred buyer lined up, landmarking the lobby would make it more likely that they will find a buyer who wants to lease back the lobby for postal service – since there would not be much else they can do with the lobby. The USPS has said that this leaseback is their preferred option for continued retail service downtown.

    Even if they do already have a preferred buyer lined up, landmarking the lobby would prevent the buyer from destroying it.

    You might be right that there is an issue of timing. I also hope it is not too late. I believe I have heard of cases where the Landmarks Commission did not begin landmarking until after a developer had applied to the ZAB to alter the building, and we are ahead of that schedule for the PO.