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Telegraph Avenue started a steep decline starting around 1995. Cody's Books owner Andy Ross with support of the TAA started agitating for the removal of undisirables from the Ave. At the time I told Andy that "If you run off the characters of Tele, someday you will have to hire actors to play them." That day has come. Telegraph Ave. was at that time a world famous "scene" a little (O.K. a lot) unruly, but interesting and vital. Merchants did well and rents reflected that. Then the geniuses at TAA made sure our police ran everyone off. People that came looking for that fabled place welcome to people of all stripes, found a ghost town. No "scene" at all and people never even parked. Business, starting to suffer and business leaders, getting criticism, compunded their error by pointing the finger and cracking down on what little was left. Hence the "ghosttown" you see today. People can shop anywhere, but there was only one Telegraph and your leaders threw the baby out with the bath water. Prospective renters look at the rents, and Telegraph rents are still at Tourist Attraction prices. I've had a great plan to revitalize Tele in a drawer here for years, but when you have business people put faith in leaders like Roland Peterson and that wacko at the Med. Craig Becker (Who wants to have "sitting schools" for illegal sitters,like bad drivers schools.) and John Caner with his hilltop Sonoma County retreat (TipTop) stepping over and on our most vunerable people. Coupled with supposed service providers like Davida Coady who says. "Pay me, I'll set it up!! People that are only too happy to take huge sums of taxpayer money to give you the same old song and dance that has been shoveled year after year. Business and supposed civic leaders (Bleeders) that have no idea of what makes a place like Telegraph tick and feed on the dysfunction.
Scenes evolve, and sometimes they are killed. They take roller-coaster rides depending on the times, the participants ect. I've heard the lame stories about how much better people were in the old days. How the activism of today just copies or shadows the past glories of Berkeley. There are no copies or shadows. After the rich "beautiful" people have their fun the people that these changes matter to, are left to trudge on. Here's a pro tip for you. The movements in Berkeley come about not because it is such a great place filled with beautiful people, precisely the opposite. The repression of speech, brought the Free Speech Movement. The neglect of the disabled brought the Independant Living Movement and the rapacious taking of land by eminent domain, led to People's Park. Just as the "No Blacks above Grove Street, led to our local addition to the Civil Rights Movement.
Things like SITTING LAWS try to turn the clock back. To a time of intolerance, racism and elitism. Berkeley is a place where the excesses of the rich and parasitic, can't keep out of the public eye, and that's too bad....For them.
What's grungy to some is colorful to others (see Nirvana) My point is. Don't cry about your not making money when you have no comprehension of where your bread is buttered and don't go scapegoatin' 'round here.
Vote NO, NO, NO on SSSSSSSsssssssssss.
The San Francisco Chronicle had a front page story that put in writing what many of us have known for a long time. Sitting laws, touted as a way to run off legions of wayward youngsters, have mostly come down on the grey and balding heads of the aged and disabled. The ones too addled to get out of the way.
Our Berkeley Mayor and his Republican rubber stamp council has known these results and have still pressed on because the Berkeley law on the November ballot is not about sitting at all.
It's about favors to campaign contributors (Berkeley Chamber of Commerce) and a sly way to transfer an unequal amount of Police protection to Shattuck Avenue and other commercial zones. While the police are “move along, move alonging” on the avenues, transferring no-shows to court, testifying, etc., we are being told there will be a wait for a police response to the psycho in our driveway.
Hundreds came out to city hall in July to express what a bad idea this is. But one man from the chamber sealed the deal. In my neighborhood we know that if you need help from the City, you don't call Councilman Darryl Moore, you call Kriss Worthington. Kriss, Jesse and Max are the only ones not wrapped up in the cocktail circuit and begoggled by real estate tycoons.
The Mayor and the council members that support this tell me that it is only $27,000, like $27,000 is nothing. But $27,000 is a ton of money when you are feeding the hungry, saving a mortgage or keeping a shelters door open. And that $27,000 is a lie. That's just to put it on the ballot. That doesn't factor in the police hours, court costs, lawsuits and the untold suffering visited upon people already at the end of their rope and the costs to our neighborhoods in losing more police availability at a time when property crimes and shootings, unheard of on Shattuck Ave. Are a source of concern in our neighborhoods.
Dan McMullan is the director of the Disabled People Outside Project.
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