Long-time readers of this blog will recall that, due to the stunning reluctance of the LAPD to comply with the simple mandates of the California Public Records Act, I’m running an experiment in which I requested 100 emails to and from BIDs from each of three California police departments. The SFPD was the clear winner here, supplying me with the goods in a mere 23 days. Late last week the city of Berkeley weighed in with two sets of emails (one and two). Most of the content isn’t especially interesting if you don’t know the dramatis personae; it’s the same old song about the homeless, about behaviors, about activities, about protecting investments, and so on and on and on. I did spot one interesting episode, which I discuss after the break. Also, I will note that the Long Beach PD still has not fulfilled my request (although they are discussing it with me), and of course the LAPD ignores everyone and they’re still being sued because of that. Is it a coincidence that the two cities that follow the law have municipal sunshine ordinances while the two that do not lack such laws? I doubt it very much.
Here’s one interesting item from the files, courtesy of the Downtown Berkeley Association’s John Caner, who has been discussed before at MK.org, writing to BPD officer Stephanie Polizziani:
As we discussed:
Supervisor Scott Weiner differentiates between homelessness and problematic street behaviors. We need to working on [sic] both, and not be shamed by homeless rights activists that we are trying to criminalize the homeless. As San Francisco, we are a compassionate City, if we did not want to have deal [sic] with homelessness we would move to Walnut Creek.
John Caner, CEO
Downtown Berkeley Association
Anyway, the bit about Walnut Creek just caught my eye. It fascinates me how the people that run these paramilitary booster organizations profess their love for the culture of the places they occupy while at the same time doing everything they can to destroy that culture in the name of civility, investment protection, whatever. Our local BIDs have the same syndrome. You can also spot the “if we did not want X we would move to Y” meme in discussions of homelessness in Venice. The very people who’ve moved in there over the last 30 years and destroyed the culture and ambiance of the place preface all their statements about cracking down on homelessness with hat-tips to the rebel traditions of the neighborhood: If we didn’t like living on the edge we’d move to Santa Monica1 but we still have to arrest all these homeless people because they’re scary and they smell bad. There’s no conclusion here, I just thought it was interesting.
Image of the astonishingly beautiful city of Berkeley, California, is via Wikimedia. Image of Berkeley BID Patrollie punching homeless man is a screenshot from this video and appears here under a claim of fair use.