Yes on Measure R – Which Includes the Zoning Overlay for the Post Office – Comes Out in Full Regalia for Solano Stroll.

Solano Stroll is a yearly street fair in North Berkeley and Albany. Happening close to the election, it attracts political action groups, and this year was no exception.

The ‘Yes on Berkeley Measure R‘ Committee, which includes members from Berkeley Post Office Defenders and Save the Berkeley Post Office, put on quite the show, marching down Solano with a stiltwalker, streamers, umbrellas and green and white signs, passing out flyers supporting Measure R along the way.

Sallie Nelson, BPOD and SBPO veteran, organized the entire march.

JP Massar is riding shotgun in the car in the first picture, Harvey is driving with the ‘Stop Staples’ T-Shirt, and the stiltwalker to the rear. Sharon is in the right front in the 2nd picture, with a ‘Save Our Public Post Office’ sign in the background. There was also a booth, as you can see in last picture below, up Solano at the old Oak Theatre, masterfully put together by Sophie Hahn (not pictured), one of the measure’s proponents.

measure-r-solano-car-jp

measure-r-solano-save-pomeasure-r-solano-booth

Fourteen Months Later – Berkeley City Council Passes the Zoning Overlay Ordinance!

On September 9th, 2014, approximately fourteen months since the idea of a zoning restriction was proposed, The Berkeley City Council passed (by consent, unanimously) the Civic Center Zoning Overlay Ordinance, restricting the Civic Center area, including the Downtown Post Office, to civic uses.

In other words: Ding!

(It’s not quite soup yet; it still needs a second reading at their next meeting)

Also, again by consent, the resolution supporting the boycott of Staples was passed.

Susan Hammer of the APWU spoke in support of that resolution and got a big round of applause.

No one spoke in opposition to either motion.

Thanks go to Greg Jan, who came up with the idea those fourteen months ago; to those who planned and carried out the initial Post Office Occupation, drawing national attention to the fight to Save the Berkeley Post Office, to everyone who gathered petition signatures directed at the Mayor back in January; to those who spoke at City Council meetings and public hearings for almost two years now; and to those who gathered petition signatures for the Green Downtown Initiative (which includes the Zoning Ordinance). Getting that initiative on the ballot ultimately forced the City Council’s hand, at least those on it who had betrayed us in March by burying the ordinance in committee.

The USPS can still sell the Post Office; this just makes it harder for them and less attractive for potential buyers. There is no indication as yet that they will stop being pig-headed about wanting to sell it, as the example of the recent sale of the Bronx Post Office indicates.

The fight will continue until the privatization of our public commons ceases. But we can say – on this day – we won!
BeUDcpDCYAAmma8

A Letter of Solidarity from Vicenza, Italy!

TO BERKELEY POST OFFICE DEFENSE
(formerly Direct Defense Action Team to Save the Berkeley Post Office in coalition with Strike-Debt Bay Area)
on the occasion of the talk by
RALPH NADER
on the steps of the Berkeley Main Post Office, July 29, 2014
July 28 2014
We citizens of the town of Vicenza, Italy, are aware of the struggle of the citizens
of Berkeley, California, and of other towns in the USA to retain the US Postal
Service as a service for the public, to prevent its privatization, to defend the jobs
and the rights of its postal workers as part of the public sector, and in particular to
stop the sale of its precious historical buildings to private investors who will make
large profits off them by providing expensive private commodities instead of
public service.
We appreciate the need for Direct Action to defend these public buildings and the
universal rights they represent. Essential as is legal challenge in courts, only
Direct Action can make all citizens aware of what is at stake here. In particular
we appreciate the Musical Mobilization as a remarkably inventive and joyous
form of struggle worthy to be adopted also in our own initiatives.
We citizens of Vicenza live in a town designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site
mainly for the masterpieces of Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio.
Palladio remarkably shaped the relations between the town and the hilly
countryside where he built famous villas, such as “La Rotonda”. However, since
the end of WW2, several US military bases have been located in Vicenza,
hosting thousands of US personnel. A decade ago another US military base
began being planned and executed in place of the former airport Dal Molin, an
area not far from the city center, rich in natural springs where water from the Alps
resurfaces. The decision to develop that area for US military purposes has been
imposed against overwhelming opposition of the citizens of Vicenza in the name
of alleged secret post-WW2 agreements between Italy and the US, and despite
huge demonstrations, to which citizens from Berkeley and San Francisco,
including representatives of Code Pink, brought their solidarity. In Vicenza then
as in Berkeley now, governing members of the Democratic Party refused to
represent the view of citizens and obeyed instead the diktat of the military and
financial establishment.
Privatisation measures like those you are fighting against in Berkeley have been
imposed on us by technocrats of European institutions in the past decades,
presented as inescapable financial necessities beyond public debate. Since the
financial crisis beginning in 2008 further draconian privatizations and spending
cuts have been implemented. In addition, the obligation to balance the State
budget has been foolishly included in the Italian Constitution; the delicate balance
of powers between executive and legislative powers it established is being
tampered with in order to give investors guarantees that a strengthened central
government will implement whatever measures the “financial markets” impose on
us. At a time when increasing numbers of European citizens turn their back on
the noble ideals of the European Union, the main Italian parties, themselves
directly controlled or indirectly influenced by media moguls, are now joining
forces to implement unpalatable measures as the only way out to “save the
country”. The same notion of public service begins to be dismantled and replaced
by the rule of private management following a process vigorously implemented
decades ago in the USA. Only the commitment to universal medical care is here
not openly questioned, although it is questionable whether even it will survive
present financial trends.
Local governments, starved of money by spending cuts, are no longer able to
implement rational city planning and must bow to the requests of private real
estate investors. The citizens this committee represents are fighting the
pathological consequences of the financial crisis from the grassroots. Ugly
buildings are growing near the city center and sprawling industrial and residential
building are disfiguring the surrounding villages. Disregard of regulations
protecting river banks is causing frequent disastrous floods in our region. The
altered equilibrium between nature and urban sprawl is making our region among
the most polluted in Europe.
These considerations show a startling convergence between the goals stated in
your Rationale for Direct Defense and our goals. Therefore our solidarity with
your action is also a plea for cooperation in a common struggle in the years to
come.
Gianlugi Bellin,
a nome di Comitato di Quartiere Borgo Berga

Ralph Nader’s Speech at the Berkeley Post Office.

Transcript:

I want to ask you, at the next rally, how many of you can get one additional person? How many can get two? You get the idea? It’s got to be a momentum, growing and growing. Those of us back East, we look to Berkeley for leadership [applause].

So you saved this wonderful, majestic building, that’s got historic significance. The inheritance of Benjamin Franklin, who didn’t exactly think that after a couple centuries and a half the PO would mutate into Staples, or other big box stores where they want to have kiosks, and get rid of the local PO. There are 32,000 branches and central offices, more than Walmart and MacDonalds and a couple of other big chains combined. You’ve got 32,000 outlets, community outlets, non-profit outlets, gathering places, places where federal information about your needs and your rights can be posted, where people can talk things up, and meet, as well as get postal services. So this is not just a matter of stamps, or delivery on Saturday, important as that is. This is a fundamental institution that binds the country together. It can be updated, it can be freed from the shackles of UPS and FedEx and others who have made sure that the PO is prevented from delivering beer and wine, for example, and other things it can’t do to get revenue increases.

Now watch what happens when the myth, the propaganda of the collapsing PO, is exposed. The USPS is a public corporation. It’s the only major corporation in the US that is a creditor of Uncle Sam; a creditor of the US Treasury. Since it was established in 1970, it hasn’t received a penny in subsidy from the taxpayers. Very few people know that. In 2006, a Trojan Horse bill was passed through Congress that requires the PO to overpay – vastly overpay – for its pension benefits for which it has a $60 Billion outstanding credit to it from Uncle Sam, or the US Treasury. That’s where being a creditor. Of course, the US Treasury has already spent the money on wars, like supporting Israeli imperialism, or the military-industrial complex, and the F35, and the Trident submarines, which can blow up 200 cities per submarine, around the world in 45 minutes. They don’t have any money for the USPS, but they don’t need that money. They just need to repay the overpay on retiree benefits, and the huge overpay for health insurance. There’s no corporation in the country that is required by law to prepay 75 years in advance of health benefits. So, if you eliminate these prepays and get down to normal, crude accounting, the PO about breaks even. Can you imagine, even with the Recession, even with the internet, even with all the young people abandoning the PO, imagine if they would ever send a thank-you letter, by postage – they don’t even know what postage is – even with all that, according to the data, and Senator Bernie Sanders has put this out – go to his website – it’s about breaking even in the last 5-6 years, just about breaking even. So this is an exaggerated crisis, built in with Trojan Horses, in order to fulfill a number of purposes.

One is to deliver more business to the parasite private corporations. The second is to deliver real estate to the developers, and their brokers. This is not just a historic PO; this is a piece of valuable real estate. All over the country they want to convert, if they don’t knock them down, they’ll convert them into other commercial operations.

Continue reading

RALPH NADER WILL SPEAK ON THE POST OFFICE STEPS!

RALPH NADER

WILL SPEAK ON THE STEPS OF THE BERKELEY POST OFFICE.

ABOUT THE POST OFFICE, PRIVATIZATION OF OUR PUBLIC GOODS AND SERVICES & THE FIGHT TO DISMANTLE THE CORPORATE STATE

TUESDAY, JULY 29th 

MUSIC FROM 2:00 PM
TALK AT 2:30 PM

2000 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA


“Postmaster General Donahoe has demonstrated that he lacks the political courage
 to stand up to Congress and tell them that they caused this mess and they need to fix it. Instead, time after time, he has chosen to take the easy road and dismantle the USPS piece by piece – whether it is by cutting post office hours, closing post offices, cutting service and delivery standards, increasing postage rates, or now ending Saturday delivery.”

-      Ralph Nader, February 6th, 2013.

 

Not Bending, Not Folding, Definitely Not Spindling; Just Keepin’ it Lively Outside of Staples.

This is the one week anniversary of the Berkeley Staples table and outdoors occupation, staffed continually.  Dave Welsh honored that one-week anniversary by bringing his keyboard and playing from his repertoire of resistance songs, along with other musicians.

Meanwhile, a number of people, some from Berkeley Post Office Defenders, some from Save the Berkeley Post Office, passed out flyers to passersby, engaging them and convincing them not shop at Staples, while Occupy SF / First They Came for The Homeless peeps continued to staff the table.

 

Why We Are Here At Staples.

We are the Berkeley Post Office Defenders.

We are here to say

  • “No!” to union busting,
  • “No!” to McJobs,
  • “No!” to privatization of our constitutionally-guaranteed Postal Service,
  • “No!” to austerity,

Not only is Postal Service management selling off historic Post Offices like ours in Berkeley and others all over the country, they are engaged in an unheralded attempt to privatize the entire Postal Service workforce.

Starting Oct. 2013 eighty-four Staples stores began operating full-service Post Ofice counters, commencing a “pilot program” for the USPS. These counters are being staffed NOT by trained and Postal Employees making a living wage ($20-$30/hr with benefits) but with near minimum-wage Staples clerks ($9-$12/hr with few or no benefits) with no training in safe mailing handling.

This is just a first step. If Postal Service management is successful in this, their initial attempt to replace living wage, union jobs with low wage employment the program will roll out in over 1500 Staples all over the country; then management will certainly demand that something similar be extended into other kinds of postal employee work and large numbers of Post Offices will be sold off. Up to ½ million good-paying jobs are at stake!

The principle that government services should neither be privatized nor provided by employees who don’t make enough to keep themselves out of poverty is being directly challenged! We already provide food, housing and health subsidies to half of Walmart’s workforce because they can’t make ends meet on low wage jobs. Does it make sense to do the same for USPS workers?

We are here to demand

  • That Staples remove their Postal Service counters and cancel this pilot program, in Berkeley and across the country.
  • That the Postal Service stop playing the privatization game and pay all those who process the mail a living wage.
  • That the Postal Service discontinue its attempt to sell the downtown Berkeley Post Office and other Post Offices around the country, That the Postal Service provide adequate services at these beautiful, historic, centralized public buildings.

 

Lots more pictures here.