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Stateside with Rosalea: Ladies’ Week

Stateside with Rosalea
Ladies' Week

Tired of turbanned and beribbonned men? Here's some newsworthy ladies.

Jane Jacobs. In the days after 911, one of the images shown most often was of New Yorkers going to Washington Square Park to light candles, leave messages, say prayers, come in contact with their fellow human beings. Thank you, Jane Jacobs. In the late 1950s and early '60s she was one of the leading lights in a campaign by local people to stop the city grabbing the park's edges to widen streets for traffic, and to stop them putting an expressway through it. Some things are worth fighting for - community is one of them, especially if it's being threatened by what some see as the inviolable right of people who don't even live in the community to speed through it, leaving nothing but exhaust fumes, having had the way paved for them by the hapless city ratepayers whose very homes and businesses and livelihoods were considered worthless in the planning process.

Benazir Bhutto It must be hard being taken seriously in world politics when your family name in certain neighbouring languages is also a slang term for part of a man's anatomy, but it's never fazed old Benazir. She's kept her hanged father's name through two prime ministerships of her own and from self-imposed exile has re-emerged into the spotlight since 911 to make a bid for a third. This week she spoke at a public meeting at Stanford University, and to the local media, who've given her ample air-time as part of their regular news bulletins. US local television news doesn't normally cover political - particularly overseas political - stories unless they involve a scandal of some sort, but in this case it seems a genuine effort to give a wider background and context to what's playing out in Central and South Asia. Go, newshounds! BTW, was the day she spoke to a women's group in Sacramento the same day President Bush stopped off in Sacramento on his way to Shanghai?

Dona Spring Surrounded, perhaps coincidentally, by Trekkies in full alien get-out, one of them waving a US flag from his weapon, Dona Spring wheeled her way along in the "How Berkeley Can You Be" parade a couple of weeks ago, sandwiched in between B25 and Birthways. B25 is the local cable tv channel which transmits, among other things, the city council meetings that Berkeley is so famous for. There are nine councillors including the mayor, and hopes that last year's election would mean an end to the PC bacillus the council is seen as being infected with to the detriment of ever getting on with council business have apparently gone unfulfilled.

Just in the past two months alone, the council has made local and national news with internal controversies about hosting boy scouts (making it look anti-gay), asking its fire engines not to fly the Stars and Stripes when they attended an anti-war demonstration after 911, and this week with the resolution Dona Spring introduced asking congress to halt the bombing of Afghanistan and find a just solution to the terrorism problem. In the face of a Berkeley Chamber of Commerce claim that people had been threatening to boycott local businesses if it passed and a rain of outraged email - including death threats, according to Mayor Dean - Dona amended her resolution somewhat and it passed without anyone voting against it.

The ladies in the band But not before a competing resolution was introduced and defeated. According to 'The Berkeley Voice' - a Friday freebie community paper - Polly Armstrong, who introduced the counter-resolution, said the original one made the council look stupid to the rest of the country, but declined Spring's offer to have some of her own resolution included in the one Spring introduced. Armstrong abstained from voting on Spring's amended resolution as did Miriam Hawley who reportedly wavered several times when deciding how to vote and then decided it didn't adequately reflect the various opinions of the people of Berkeley.

Betty Olds, having seconded the counter-resolution, then abstained from voting on it. Mayor Shirley Dean abstained on everything except condemning the attacks on the US, praising emergency workers, and lessening the US dependence on Middle East oil. I'll wager a more abstinent gaggle of gals cannot be found outside a nunnery, but they did issue a statement criticizing the nature and timing of the resolution - the political equivalent, I suppose, of clasping an aspirin between your knees instead of saying no and meaning it. To be fair, I must say I have some sympathy with Mayor Dean's comments on tv earlier in the day that it wasn't the place of the city council to take a decided stance on an issue that had the city's opinions so divided.

So you can see the many threads that form the river of public opinion here in the United States, here is the council's official summary of the votes on the resolutions, taken from its website:

Bombing of Afghanistan
From: Councilmember Spring

1) Request the City Manager send letters to our elected national representatives asking them to take whatever action they can to cease the bombing of Afghanistan and to seek a legal, nonmilitary resolution;

2) Endorse and send to these officials, the attached letter recently presented by Vice Mayor Shirek to the Congressional Black Caucus, which acknowledges and grieves the tragic events of September 11th; and

3) adjourn this Council meeting in memory of the innocent civilians in Afghanistan being harmed and made refugees due to the bombing. Contact: Dona Spring, Councilmember District 4, 981-7140

Actions: Moved, seconded, failed (Armstrong/Olds; Noes – Shirek, Worthington; Abstain – Breland, Hawley, Maio, Olds, Spring, Dean) to commend our elected officials and our President for performing the difficult task of bringing together more than 60 countries to join with us in the fight against terrorism in the world and to ask the City Manager to communicate with our President commending him for refusing to rush into a thoughtless response to the 5000 deaths that occurred on September 11th, but instead taking the time to bring together an international consensus of countries from Cuba to Canada and from Saudi Arabia to Russia all joining with us in our fight to defeat terrorism worldwide.

Moved, seconded, carried (Shirek/Breland) a revised motion presented by Councilmember Spring to adopt Resolution No. 61,310-N.S. consisting of five parts. The motion was severed and voted on as follows:

1. Condemn the mass murder of thousands of people on September 11, 2001, and express our profound grief at the atrocities last month that killed thousands of innocent people in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, and acknowledge, honor, and support the heroic rescue efforts on the part of dedicated police and fire departments, and the city, state, and federal governments (Abstain – Armstrong, Hawley, Olds)

2. Ask our representatives to help break the cycle of violence, bringing the bombing to a conclusion as soon as possible, avoiding actions that can endanger the lives of innocent people in Afghanistan, and minimizing the risk to American military personnel (Abstain – Armstrong, Hawley, Olds, Dean)

3. Urge our representatives to concentrate all available resources on bringing to justice all of those who were complicit in last month’s violent attack, and work with international organizations toward the same end (Abstain – Armstrong, Hawley, Olds, Dean)

4. Urge our representatives to devote our government’s best efforts in collaboration with governments throughout the world, to addressing and overcoming those conditions such as poverty, malnutrition, disease, oppression, and subjugation that tend to drive some people to acts of terrorism (Abstain – Armstrong, Hawley, Olds, Dean)

5. Request that we engage in a national campaign to lessen our dependence on oil from the Middle East and to commit to a nationwide conversion to renewable energy sources such as solar and fuel cells, within five years (Abstain – Armstrong, Hawley, Olds)

Go, Berkeley City Council! If not you, who? If not now, when?
Lea Barker
Saturday October 20, 2001

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