Deposition Hearing Transcript

trained-seal-alsup-quotesRead the complete transcript of the hearing before Judge Alsup on 10-11-17 concerning the matter of who the Postal Service lawyers get to depose (i.e., question before trial) with respect to City of Berkeley officials and staff, and what questions they would be allowed to ask them.


It’s quite technical but here are a few, choice, non-technical snippets:

Judge Alsup in reply to the Postal Service’s lawyer:

“This is too complicated. I’m sorry, I didn’t follow anything you said for the last two minutes…”

Judge Alsup talking about expert witnesses:

They always bring somebody who’s a trained seal…

Judge Alsup talking about what might happen if former Mayor Tom Bates were to be deposed (questioned):

Or he could be a trained seal and say, I don’t know. I have forgotten everything I ever knew in my retirement.

Judge Alsup on trial procedure:

…you’re not stuck with just your own hired gun and your own trained seal…





Timeline of the Richmond Post Office Fight.

Courtesy of Alicia Gallo, a Richmond Community member.

Timeline of Events

  • January – Feb: Notice of disposal action posted
    • Jan 25 – When contacted by office of Mayor Tom Butt, USPS responded that the notice had been posted in error, intend to sell was not accurate and that action related to the relocation proposal needed to be conducted first; Many community members and elected officials sent letters.
    • On January 26- councilmember Martinez drafts an agenda item contesting the notice to sell the Nevin Street post office after being alerted to the notice by a constituent.
    • February 8- resolution passed and letter sent to post office officials.

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The Fight to Save the Richmond, CA Downtown Post Office.


Have been (at least temporarily) thwarted in Berkeley, Postal Service officials have turned their sights on Richmond, attempting to move service from their existing, centrally located downtown Post Office to a badly situated site outside of the immediate downtown.

Join us in fighting this decision and saving the Richmond Main Post Office:

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Three Years Later – A Staples Victory!

The Postal Service has announced that as of March 1st it will sever its relationship with Staples. No longer will minimum wage workers with no benfits process the US Mail, taking living wage jobs away from unionized postal workers.

A Nov. 8 ruling by the labor board [NLRB] required the Postal Service to discontinue its retail relationship with Staples… The board ruled that the Postal Service had violated the union’s collective bargaining rights by implementing the Staples deal, and said it must end the partnership with Staples upon request of the union.

The fight against the Staplization of the Postal Service may have ended with a board ruling in Washington, but it began right here in Berkeley.

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Historic Overlay District Zoning Ordinance on Trial!

Image result for berkeley post office lawsuitThursday, December 22nd, in Federal Court in San Francisco, Judge William Alsup declined to dismiss the Federal Government’s lawsuit against the City of Berkeley. The lawsuit claims that Berkeley’s new zoning of the Historic District – which includes the downtown Berkeley Post Office – is unconstitutional. This zoning ordinance, which prohibits most commercial uses of the properties around Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley, was passed in 2014.

In refusing the motion to dismiss, Judge Alsup stated something pretty close to “This case needs a trial. A real trial. With evidence and witnesses… With blood on the floor.” (Really. I’m not making that last up).

A trial date is set for December 4th, 2017.  The judge directed the Postal Service and the City of Berkeley to begin settlement discussions under the direction of a Federal Magistrate Judge.  Those could happen as early as February, 2017.

See here and here for more on the lawsuit.

Courthouse News reports on the hearing here.

The transcript of the proceedings is here: 16_12_22_transcript.

Judge Alsup’s ruling rejecting the City of Berkeley’s Motion to Dismiss is here: motion-to-dismiss-denied.

Berkeley Defends Against Post Office Lawsuit

Image result for zach cowan berkeleyOn October 19, 2016 The Berkeley City Attorney, Zach Cowan (middle), filed a “Motion to Dismiss” the US Post Office’s lawsuit against the City of Berkeley challenging Berkeley’s right to zone the 2000 Allston Way property, Berkeley’s downtown Post Office, as a part of the Historic District.

The lawsuit claims that the new zoning has dissuaded the USPS from putting the Post Office building up for sale again because it’s value has been reduced by the new zoning requirements, and that Berkeley cannot do this because it violates the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.

The Motion to Dismiss is was original scheduled to be heard in Judge Alsup’s court on December 1st, 2016, but was postponed until December 22nd, sometime between 8:00 AM and 11:00 AM ,at 450 Golden Gate in San Francisco.  Judge Alsup’s courtroom is Courtroom 8 on the 19th floor.

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