In almost every culture gangs of street thieves work this scam:
One gang member approaches the victim and picks a fight with him over some trivial matter. While the victim is busy dealing with this assailant, another gang member sneaks up from behind and lifts his wallet from his back pocket. Happens all the time, all over the world.
At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting it suddenly occurred to me that this is what’s going on in Berkeley right now.
There’s an election in November. A number of citizens are incensed about a variety of topics—the list is long and getting longer:
- the push to rezone West Berkeley for the benefit of big landowners;
- a chronic shortage of affordable housing
- the University of California’s increasing colonization of the city’s downtown;
- diversion of public funds from infrastructure maintenance (pools, streets, sidewalks, sewers) toward extravagant pensions for executives in the city bureaucracy;
- lack of sunshine in city government;
- use of bond funds for purposes not revealed in the ballot measures which authorized them;
- a “downtown plan” which breaches CEQA and makes it easier to destroy historic buildings;
- and that’s just for starters….
Could there be a better time for Tom Bates and his cronies to pick a fight with civil libertarians and homeless service providers and their clients over sitting on the sidewalk? Those in charge have been picking the public pocket in a variety of ways, but if they raise enough of a ruckus over the annoying behavior of hapless homeless and wayward youth perhaps we citizens won’t notice. -more-