Thanks George! A recent
analysis by the California Budget Project reveals that the benefits of President Bush's proposed tax cut fall disproportionately to the wealthiest one percent of the Golden State's population. While the poorest twenty percent of the population will receive an average cut of $59 and middle income taxpayers get an average of $580, Bush would give those in the top one percent an average tax cut of $50,563. Put another way, that top one percent of the population will receive half of the total amount of money generated statewide, while the bottom eighty percent will get about a quarter and the poorest twenty percent will receive less than one percent. · · ·
Ever since the Peralta
Community College District flunked an audit last autumn examining its compliance with the so-called "fifty percent law," a state mandate that districts must spend at least half of their discretionary funds on classroom instruction, the district's supporters and critics alike have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Now it has. Maybe. Assemblywoman Dion Aroner (D - Berkeley) has joined the fray; along with the Peralta Federation of Teachers--the district's most stubborn critics--she wants to know why nonclassroom expenditures seem to be increasing under the watch of the district's new chancellor, Dr. Ronald Temple.
Last week, Aroner sent a letter to State Community College Chancellor Thomas Nussbaum, asking him to review Peralta's budget for the last two years. She asked him to pay special attention to issues that turned up in the 1999-2000 audit, including evidence that a top tier of employees were granted nearly unmonitored access to district credit cards, that the district failed to provide legally required quarterly investment reports and that district contracts were awarded to outside businesses without a full board review, including one for a new $700,000 computer system. Other critics have pointed out that spending under Temple has also increased as administrators were sent on expensive trips to Europe and China to recruit international students and more managers were hired at top salaries. Will a letter from a high-ranking politician shake things up? As with all things related to Peralta, we'll just have to wait to find out.· · ·
We are happy to report that
not everyone in Oakland is so enamoured with Keanu Reeves that they'll let Hollywood jerks walk all over them. Kevin McFarren, who has worked as a legislative aide for mayors Elihu Harris and Lionel Wilson, reports recently catching attitude from Tinseltown puppies as he went about his business. "I was walking through Frank Ogawa Plaza where the Matrix II people were filming," McFarren writes. "Some smarmy young man told me I could not pass. I politely told him I had worked for three Oakland mayors and he wasn't going to stop me from conducting official business. He said 'So what, you can't go through right now.' I flashed a government ID and said, 'Oh yes, I can!' He stepped aside. The OPD officers standing not ten feet away were laughing at him, not me. Last I heard was the film guy on his walkie-talkie--'Body coming through.' You betcha."· · ·
The other week UC
Berkeley released its admissions numbers for next fall's freshman class, boasting of increases in the numbers of underrepresented minority groups. But while newly released census data shows increases in the numbers and proportions of almost all minorities in California, the university has not kept pace (though the numbers are starting to bounce back after the drop-off following the end of affirmative action.) Back in the fall of 1990, Caucasians represented about 38 percent of new students and Asian Americans comprised 24 percent. African-American and Chicano/Latino students made up around 7.5 percent and 18 percent respectively, while Native Americans were 1.3 percent. All told, African-American, Chicano/ Latino and Native American students comprised 27 percent of 1990 admissions. For the fall 2001 that number drops to about 16 percent, with Chicano/Latino students as 11.9 percent, African-Americans 3.7 percent and Native Americans 0.7 percent. Asian American students are now 39 percent and whites about 33 percent. Guess things have still got a ways to go.· · ·
By state mandate, the
Berkeley Police Department must give 24 hours of job enhancement training to its officers every two years. Berkeley actually offers a lot more hours, usually in the form of specific exercises for its line officers. This March and April, however, the entire department--commanding officers, secretaries, accountants, everybody--had to show up at the Emeryville police headquarters on a day off for six and a half hours of consciousness raising about lesbian/gay/ bisexual/transgender issues. Why Emeryville? Because, as one officer put it, the smart guys who crafted the new cop shop in Berkeley neglected to design in a meeting room that could accommodate more than ten people at a time.
So there we all were, parked in red zones, which kinda stuck in everybody's craw. But soon people had settled in on their hard, narrow seats and were making jokes about how there weren't any doughnuts. The department's LGBT liaison, Sergeant Kelly Gordon, started off the day with a challenge: "People say we're preaching to the choir. And in the main, Berkeley Police are respectful; we do the right thing. But if we're so open and tolerant, why are there no out gay men working here? Having out lesbians doesn't make up for the lack of gay men on the force."
Next up was Sergeant Robin Heinemann of the Concord PD, who gave a two-hour multimedia presentation on the LGB part of the equation. The cops listened politely; the only ripple of reaction came during the screening of Gay Lives, Culture Wars, when the audience seemed astonished at the religious right's venom.
During the break, people talked about their vacations. Caribbean and Alaska cruises seemed to be popular choices. One man read a book called Boat Navigation for the Rest of Us. When it was time to file back in for the T training, people looked nervous. "I myself asked if we really needed to do this training," said Gordon, speaking to the tension. "Well, if the first two hours didn't stir up stuff, the next four on transgendered folks will." But the two female-to-male presenters, James Green and Stephan Thorn, soon won over the audience--Oakland-born Green, an international authority on transgender issues, is poised and polished, and Thorn, a 22-year veteran with the San Francisco Police Department, described how he transitioned on the job. "I never would have guessed," an officer said during lunch, as others nodded agreement.
In this case, passing was good--it alleviates other people's discomfort --but there is no doubt that gender fluidity confounds policing. How do you address someone who presents as female but you can tell is male? If you have to do a strip search, who searches her? What if you run into a "surprise" during a strip search? What cell do you put her in? What name do you use on the arrest sheet, female or male? Thorn had answers: be respectful and remember it doesn't hurt to ask the person how she or he wants to be addressed. The state insists that a strip search must be performed by a person with the same genitals as the person searched, which means that if you encounter a surprise, stop and say, "Please put your clothes back on; I have to find someone else to conduct this search."
"What about if you arrest someone who won't give a gender?" one man asked. Several others nodded; they'd had this experience.
Thorn suggested that Berkeley could become the first department to put something other than F or M on its arrest forms, but then noted that "if it's just a drunk-in-public and you're going to release the person in a couple hours, there's no need to press the issue. File the experience under the rubric of cultural awareness."
Afterward, while we were cleaning up cookies and salsa, a man said somewhat defensively, "I learned stuff I didn't know."
"I'm still not entirely sure of the definitions of transsexual and transgender," a woman said.
"I didn't want to be lectured at or told our group doesn't know how to treat people," another woman confessed. "I came from a department down south, and I know how bad it can be. I've been here six years and have had no negative experiences. At Berkeley, you can be whoever you want to be."
So why aren't there out gay men in the BPD?
She shrugged. "I don't think it's because the guys are in the closet. I think it's just that dykes like to be cops."
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