Public Comment

New: Suing Self is Senseless and Silly

By Councilmember Kriss Worthington
Monday March 24, 2014 - 05:32:00 PM

You might think it goes without saying that suing yourself is senseless or silly. If you heard that the City of Berkeley is suing itself you might think it was an April Fool’s prank. Sad to say, this is happening in the real world. Seriously, and it’s only March.

The City Council just voted to sue itself to attempt to immediately implement the controversial redistricting plan. The only stated goal of the lawsuit is to get the court to overrule the voters’ signatures for a referendum letting the voters vote on the politicians controversial plan kicking out coops, keeping out many dorms from the student district, and splitting neighborhoods. When people laugh at Berkeley for being first in the nation to adopt progressive policy, I feel proud of Berkeley’s trailblazing. When people ridicule and laugh at Berkeley for suing itself, there will be no reason to feel pride. I feel sadness and shame that the political effort to kick out the coops and keep many dorms out of the student district has stooped to a new low. Instead of laughing out loud or laughing behind their backs, please tell the City Council to stop suing itself. 

10 Reasons to Stop Berkeley from Suing Itself:

1. The public was not given a chance to comment. Two other possible actions were listed on the agenda – this lawsuit was not. 

2. No written proposal was presented to the Council before the vote. 

3. No grounds for a lawsuit were stated. It appears to be an end runaround Berkeley Charter Section 93 which gives voters the opportunity to prevent controversial actions by the City Council. 

4. Surprising Council members and the public with an unexpected agenda item is not good government. 

5. Squandering the taxpayers money is not justified. The money spent on outside attorneys is needed for more practical, legitimate uses. 

6. Legally, the City does not have standing to sue as the City has not technically been harmed by the City Council’s failure to adopt either a permanent or temporary compromise. 

7. Legally, the issue is not ripe. The Registrar of Voters office says the City has time to consider alternatives to its redistricting plan and submit it to be used for the November 2014 election. 

8. It is very strange for the City to sue itself ostensibly to create a student district. Numerous major student groups prefer an alternative map. These include RHA, BSC, Cal Dems and Young Dems. The Daily Cal has also editorialized in favor of keeping Northside in any redrawn district 7. 

9. The USDA compromise has been fully vetted by City staff analysis and nine months of public review. The USDA meets the publicly stated goals of the adopted map. Additionally, it does not kick out most of the coops and includes more students, more dorms, as well as Northside tenants and I-House. 

10. Additional alternatives are available. 10 compromises have been presented by the student/neighborhood/progressive coalition. We are happy to discuss other possibilities, while being clear that kicking out so many coops and keeping out so many dorms are obstacles to genuine compromise. 


It is time for the City to drop the Mayor’s controversial lawsuit, which is unwise, unwarranted, and unwinnable. If it drops the suit before wasting too much money, we can remember it as a premature April Fool’s joke and we can all laugh along.