Public Comment

Berkeley Mayor Proposes Private Contractor for Traffic Patrol and Citations

Glen Kohler
Friday July 10, 2020 - 04:16:00 PM

Mayor Jesse Arreguin wants to allow a private, for-profit vendor to field 'officers' on Berkeley's streets to monitor traffic and write citations. Claiming such service will be 'free of bias', the mayor seems to overlook the obvious business formula: more citations equal higher profits. I'm sure some language is being crafted to obscure or hide this inconvenient (to citizens) aspect of this deal.

Private employees will not be bound by the same laws and standards as sworn professional police officers. The 'defund the police' meme that has suddenly swept the nation thanks to intensive coverage by the corporate-controlled media—conveniently gives municipalities reason to off-load the burden of paying police salaries (another topic that deserves consideration). Strong police unions have increased cops' pay to very high levels. 

In Berkeley, a (growing) number of retired city employees enjoy 100%-of-salary pensions with gold-plated health plans. These 'unfunded liabilities' eat up the general fund, leaving us with pot-holed streets; no swimming pool at Willard Park; no warm pool at Berkeley High for seniors, disabled and recovering injured people; a closed, deteriorating Berkeley Pier; and ever-less money for parks and waterfront. 

Previous Berkeley mayor Tom Bates did everything in his power to scuttle the ballot initiative that would have made him come clean on Berkeley's financial state. Maybe it is time to demand that the city disclose its financial condition to the citizens who pay taxes in this town. 

The notion of private rent-a-cops will be discussed at the City Council meeting on July 14, scheduled to begin at 6:00 pm.