Hey, Berkeley! You Suck!

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Protests Cost Berkeley $200K in Police Overtime Pay 

BERKELEY, Calif. — The city of Berkeley has spent nearly $211,000 on police overtime to try to keep the peace during protests at the U.S. Marine Corps recruiting center and Old City Hall, police spokesman Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said Friday.

The overtime was racked up over 16 days so far this year in which officers have had to work overtime to deal with protests, Kusmiss said.She said the total of $210,814.13 so far this year includes about $93,000 during an all-day protest at Old City Hall on Feb. 12 that drew about 2,000 people…[click headline for full article]

If USA Today ran a poll to determine the most annoying cities in the United States, Berkeley would definitely top the list. For anyone who is unfamiliar with it, Berkeley is a college town filled with snooty Prius-driving, composting, organic-eating, Birkenstock-wearing, I’m-Better-Than-You types. They actually have signs around town that read “nuclear free zone” which always cracked me up because one of my friends is a graduate of Berkeley’s nuclear engineering program. The only good thing in the area, in my opinion, are Top Dog hotdogs. Given the long line out of the shop, my feeling is that most of the town’s undergraduate populace would rather eat saurkraut-slathered meat than stomp around protesting it. So I don’t blame the students (mostly). I blame a sub-group of residents, university faculty, and weekend warriors from other surrounding areas who make their way into Berkeley specifically to make fools of themselves. 

Some people (typically the ones who don’t work two jobs to keep food on the table) will get angry and protest anything in Berkeley, from the war in Iraq to gasoline-powered SUVs. While I think there are some very good causes to stand up for, these boneheads never seem to go any deeper than a few soundbytes they hear in the media. The deeper connections just never seem all that interesting to them. Instead, they just trounce around holding signs with tired slogans, running up county taxes for police protection, and yelling stuff nobody even hears them saying. It’s annoying, it’s costly, and it is sucking up badly needed resources that could be used elsewhere.

You see, right next to phony-ass Berkeley is the real deal — Oakland. Consistently rated within the top ten of violent cities in the United States, Oakland is a troubled city of some 400,000 mostly struggling (by N. CA standards) residents. Median income is around $40k. To put that in perspective: the Toyota Prius is the most popular car sold in the Silicon Valley. MSRP for the basic model is $21k — more than half the median income in Oakland. Hybrid cars and overpriced organic foods? These folks are just plain trying to keep the lights on and the cops on the streets.

What’s more, Alameda County also includes other cities with their own challenges and needs; Hayward, Union City, Emeryville,… the people in these towns deal with encroaching crime and decreased availability of cash for social programs. And yet Berkeley thinks it’s just fine and dandy to dance around with their signs, wasting $200k+ in the first quarter of 2008 for their own indulgent little protests and holier-than-thou bullcrap.

I think I want to protest Berkeley.

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