The lowdown: Berkeley council on police partnerships, release of balloons, cellphone safety law, more

Councilman Jesse Arreguín would like the release by adults of Mylar balloons to be a ticketable offense. Photo: Grace Blue/Flickr
Councilman Jesse Arreguín would like the release by adults of Mylar and latex balloons to be a ticketable offense. Photo: Grace Blue/Flickr

Police partnerships, good government policy recommendations, safety sheets from cellphone retailers, and environmental admonishments from balloon vendors: It’s all scheduled to come up Tuesday night before the Berkeley City Council. Scroll down to learn about the highlights of this week’s council agenda. Not all items are included, so be sure to check the full agenda to learn more. 

The action calendar

POLICE PARTNERSHIPS On Tuesday night’s action calendar, council is slated to approve the partnerships between Berkeley police and other law enforcement agencies. Authorities say those agreements are needed to ensure that Berkeley has adequate resources available during a disaster or major incident, and can continue to provide the level of service it currently provides. According to the staff report, most of the agreements have been in place for years and are reviewed and updated routinely. Those who would like to read the actual agreements can view them under Item 12’s attachments on the posted agenda. At last year’s council meeting on the subject, many activists who oppose these partnerships — saying they pose a threat to privacy and indicate increasing militarization of local agencies, among other concerns — showed up to protest.

CELLPHONE SAFETY Councilman Max Anderson has asked the city manager to look into the issue of how to require retailers of cellphones to hand out information to customers to warn them to keep cellphones a good distance away from their bodies during use. As proposed, the warning would read “The Federal Government requires that cellphones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. Don’t carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is turned ON and connected to a wireless network. This will prevent exposure to RF levels that may exceed the federal guidelines.” See Item 14 for more information.

ARREGUÍN ITEMS Councilman Jesse Arreguín has three items on the action calendar: a proposed “Good Government” package; a fair housing policy referral to the Housing Advisory Commission that would require some landlords to accept the first qualified tenant (as opposed to the one willing to pay the most, for example); and an item with Councilman Gordon Wozniak related to street sweeping, which would require the city to prove sweeping actually occurred in the event of the receipt of a parking ticket. The governance item includes seven recommendations involving everything from the requirement that council members maintain a public calendar that will be posted on the city website, to a policy keeping former city staff out of the lobbying business for a certain amount of time, to conflict of interest disclosures and more. Read more about Item 15.


Consent calendar, information reports

BALLOON SAFETY Arreguín has two items on the consent calendar, including one referral on labor practices and another on “the environmental and infrastructural impact of the release of latex and Mylar balloons.” Arreguín would like the city’s Community Environmental Action Commission to take a stand on the issue by declaring that the balloons pose an environmental risk; explicitly prohibit the release of balloons during city-permitted events; allow adults who release the balloons to be ticketed; and require vendors who sell those balloons to tell customers that releasing them is considered littering. Read the item.

OTHER CONSENT ITEMS There are also items on the consent calendar related to the hiring of a management company to help the police deal with false alarms; and audits on overtime at the animal shelter and injury prevention at the police department.

CASH THEFT AUDIT UPDATE There’s also an information report and update related to the Parks Recreation & Waterfront Department’s cash handling audit. After the discovery of a $52,000 cash theft in the department, the city has been working to tighten practices to ensure a similar situation cannot recur. The auditor’s office made 17 recommendations earlier this year for improvements “to ensure the accuracy of collections and deposits, and implement policies and practices that protect not only the cash, but the cash handlers as well.” Seven of those recommendations have been implemented, another six are in place in part, and the rest have not yet happened.

Has something else on the agenda caught your interest? Let us know in the comments.

Meeting info

Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.
Follow live tweets of the Berkeley Council meeting by clicking the image above. Join in by tagging your tweets #berkmtg.

The Berkeley City Council meets Tuesday nights at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Special sessions generally take place at 5:30 p.m. and regular meetings begin at 7 p.m. Council agendas are available online here. Watch the meetings online here.

Berkeleyside often covers council meetings live on Twitter. Others sometimes do the same and the discussion can get spirited. Follow council coverage on Twitter via hashtag #berkmtg. Follow along in real-time here, and tag your tweets with #berkmtg to join in. You do not need a Twitter account to follow along. Just click here.

Council-related Twitter handles:
@MayorTomBates
@LindaMaio (District 1)
Darryl Moore @BerkCouncil (District 2)
@JesseArreguin (District 4)
Laurie Capitelli @berkcap (District 5)
Kriss Worthington @k__worthington (District 7)
Gordon Wozniak @Gordon_Wozniak (District 8)


Learn more about the Berkeley City Council and how to connect with local representatives via the city website.

Related:
Council on disaster prep, longterm parking in South Berkeley, ambulance issues, more (10.21.14)
Council on racial discrimination, Parker Place, curbside EV charging grant, more (10.07.14)
Council on homelessness, ride-sharing, minimum wage, solar bins, more (09.29.14)
Council on crime, homeless youth, Telegraph Channing merchants, more (09.15.14)
Council on civic center overlay, cellphone safety stickers, e-cigarettes, parking, more (09.08.14)
Council on South Berkeley pizza plans, e-cigarettes, water shortage, more (07.08.14)
Council on soda tax, medical cannabis, minimum wage task force, BART plaza (07.01.14)
Council on ballot measures, downtown post office, FY2015 budget (06.24.14)

Get the latest Berkeley news in your inbox with Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing. And make sure to bookmark Berkeleyside’s pages on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t need an account on those sites to view important information.