Public Comment

Toto! Are We in Kansas?

Winston Burton, Board of Library Trustee
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 06:35:00 PM

I’m in a dream or maybe a nightmare. The Board of Library Trustees, Berkeley Public Library staff , the City Council and even community members are being berated by the Tea Party and the Birthers, and misinformation is being masqueraded as the truth. Are they going after Obama? No! It’s the library plan to develop safe, up to date and more spacious branch libraries. I realize that I’m actually awake and a few individuals are presenting themselves as speaking for the people, while attempting to deny and negate a transparent process – endorsed by a substantial representation of the community, supported by their words, presence and their actions. A contentious few seem to continuously want to slow or derail the much anticipated upgrade and construction of the 4 branch libraries, by any means possible, although most of them don’t even live in the neighborhoods they are obstructing. 

I also must admit I am truly disappointed by the commentary in the Daily Planet from Steve Finacom as follows, “As I wrote in the original article, Linda Schacht.. denied that she would want to portray those who filed the lawsuit as working against minority communities in South and West Berkeley...then she walked into a private meeting that selectively included Berkeley’s two African-American Council Members, two African-American Library Trustees, and African-American community leaders-including a NAACP representative... which is quite different from the "community engagement" veneer laid over the public invitation.” 

Duh! The two African-American Council Members in question happen to represent the flatlands and their districts include or border the two neighborhood libraries under attack by a small number of people who seem to be trying to press their own agendas. Should Darryl have invited Council Members from the Berkeley hills instead, so our meeting would be less black (oops I mean selective) –what hogwash! 

As one of the African-American Library Trustees mentioned, I guess the other trustee in question (Darryl Moore) conveniently fits three categories on his own. He’s black, a Council Member, and a trustee. If he would have selectively invited another trustee I would have either been excluded or we would have violated the Brown Act. Also I can’t forget or understand Steve’s comment, “Including a NAACP representative.” What’s that suppose to evoke? For me I’m glad they were in attendance! I and my family are proud long standing participants, members and advocates for the NAACP, and what they stand for to me is fairness for all. Steve - what a distortion and a bridge too far! Even if everyone at the meeting were black, which it wasn’t, why does it have to be selective or a black thing when people of color meet - there was also Hispanics representation there. There are meetings in Berkeley daily without any African- Americans or people of color in attendance – does that make it selective ora white thing? I am not new to these characterizations, and I understand these types of implications and hoped they were a thing of the past. Let’s not go back in time. We live in Berkeley! We’re better than this!