Contra Costa Times: Barnidge: Are space weapons disturbing peace among Richmond City Council members?


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Today's special is three topics for the price of one:

  • It goes without saying that the next Richmond City Council meeting will be entertaining. Every Richmond council meeting is. Tuesday's session is special because the forecast calls for intermittent tension with a chance of emotion.

    Since Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles rallied to the cause of persons "targeted by technology" with a May 19 resolution "in support of the Space Preservation Act and Space Preservation Treaty to permanently ban space-based weapons," she and Mayor Tom Butt have been on the opposite sides of a tin-foil-hat divide.

    He not only voted against the measure, which somehow passed 5-2, but later poked fun at the unintended consequences of the city announcing its opposition to attacks from exotic airborne weaponry.

    "If you find the Richmond Police Department slow to respond to calls for service these days," he wrote in an email blast, "it may be because they are tied up taking police reports from the nation's 'targeted individuals,' for whom Richmond has become the last great hope ... I am trying to figure out how we can use this newfound fame to help market Richmond, much as desolate eastern Nevada has used the Extraterrestrial Highway to lure tourists to an otherwise deserted stretch of desert highway."

    Beckles subsequently admonished him in an email sent to all council members -- no, I didn't learn about it from Butt -- saying that he was insensitive to alleged victims and distorted her intentions by suggesting the council is "preoccupied with rays from space and chem. trails."

    She's right. The council's not concerned just with space rays and chem. trails. It also has to worry about electromagnetic radiation and particle beams.

  • When Concord voters were asked last year to extend the Measure Q half-cent sales by nine years -- keeping it in effect until 2025 -- one of its oft-mentioned sales features was the City Council's option of terminating the tax if a recovering economy eliminated the need for it.

    A quick look at the city's long-range financial forecast, on page 42 of the "Proposed Biennial Operating Budget," shows that Concord officials don't really expect that to happen. A sizable chunk of Measure Q receipts -- they total about $12 million a year -- is included as part of each year's operating revenue for the next 10 years (with the remainder targeted for reserves, debt service or capital projects).

    Granted, the amount of Measure Q money going into the general fund is forecast to decrease from $7.8 million to $3.7 million in 2024-25, but that's still more than Concord expects to generate from business licenses or hotel taxes.

    Remember when this was supposed to be a temporary, stopgap measure? 

  • It doesn't happen often enough, but sometimes sanity prevails. Exhibit A is the failure of Antioch petitioners to gather enough signatures to force a recall of Mayor Wade Harper. Those who sought his ouster blamed Harper for not being tough enough on crime. Why he was singled out from other council members, whose votes count as much as his, is a question that will leave political scholars scratching their heads. 

    What Antioch needs is more police officers -- its force is less than half that of Concord -- but it's not Harper's fault. He supported the recruiting process that's now under way.

    To all those smart enough not to sign the petition, congratulations!

    Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com.


Reposted from Contra Costa Times

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