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Friday, December 03, 2004


Biting the Hand That Feeds You?
In response to a Genetic Mishap blog entry on Vancouver, British Columbia's status as a nuclear-free zone, I researched and found some U.S. cities that are also nuclear-free zones. The situation in Berkeley, California is interesting:


Opinion
Berkeley City Council Is A Nuclear Weak Zone
BY ELLIOT COHEN
Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is clearly in violation of the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act ("Nuclear Free City or Not?" Aug. 31). LBNL's protestations to the contrary are nothing more then lies told by a guilty party who has been caught.

Under the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act it is the city council, not LBNL, who decides what constitutes nuclear weapons work. And the Berkeley City Council has twice made its position known. First, in January 1998, by passing a resolution that cited the Nuclear Free Zone Act and condemned LBNL's work on Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Testing for facilitating the development and design of new nuclear weapons and thereby violating the historic purpose of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and again, by letter dated May 12, 1998.

That letter advised both LBNL director Charles Shank and the Regents of the University of California that after assessing the information LBNL has provided, the city council had "...concluded that the LBNL and Regents of the University of California are engaged in nuclear weapons work."

The letter, which is considered a sanction under the Nuclear Free Zone Act, reminded LBNL and the University that the overwhelming majority of voters approved the initiative-ordinance declaring the City of Berkeley a Nuclear Free Zone, and clearly stated that the City of Berkeley "... formally requests that the University of California and LBNL cease and desist from all work for nuclear weapons, including work on the DARHT facility."

Unfortunately, despite this promising start, the city council lacked the political will to take further steps. The council not only lacked the courage to enforce the law, but voted to weaken it, ending citizen commission review of proposals to waive the law as it related to the University of California....

LBNL...points out that the city lacks legal authority to regulate or prohibit nuclear weapons work. But this is no excuse for inaction. The city council can still enforce the law because the type of sanctions imposed for violating the Nuclear Free Zone Act consist mostly of First Amendment steps the city can take to embarrass, pressure, censure and disassociate itself from entities engaged in nuclear weapons work. Thus, the Nuclear Free Zone Act can be enforced, if only the city council had the will.



From Wikipedia:


In 1986 Berkeley officially became a Nuclear Free Zone after a local vote, disallowing the operation of nuclear reactors within city limits and preventing work from being done on nuclear weapons within its borders. While this can be seen as a logical extension of its radicalism, it also is an ironic play with Berkeley's past: the University of California, Berkeley played a major role in the development of nuclear weapons during World War II, a DOE National Laboratory still sits above the city. Signs posted at the city borders declaring its Nuclear Free Zone status are the most noticeable effect of the measure.


On September 8, 2003, the city's Peace and Justice Commission discussed the issue:


I (Commissioner Cohen) am abstaining from this recommendation to waive the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act with regard to the Berkeley Mariana lease agreement to protest the unlawful manner in which the City Council completely ignored it's obligation to waive the Nuclear Free Act before entering into a previous agreement with the University of California. Under the Nuclear Free Act, the City is generally prohibited from entering into contracts with entities that engage in nuclear weapons work. This general prohibition may legally be waived by the City Council based upon a "specific determination" that the three criteria set forth in section 12.90.070 A of the Nuclear Free Act are satisfied. Since the University of California engages in nuclear weapons work the City Council must approve a waiver of the Nuclear Free law before the City can contract with the University of California

The Peace and Justice Commission recommended a waiver of the Nuclear Free Act so the City could accept an offer by U.C.S.F. to provide rapid HIV testing services. In doing so the Peace and Justice Commission undertook the time and effort to detail how the proposal to accept rapid HIV testing qualified for a waiver pursuant to the three criteria contained in the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act. The first such criteria, is to determine if entering into the contract conforms to the intent and purpose of the Nuclear Free Act. The Peace and Justice Commission determined that directing funds to rapid HIV testing services, provided needed human services involving health care, a purpose specifically mentioned in section 12.90.030 E of the Nuclear Free Act. Since the contract conformed to the intent and purpose of the law the Peace and Justice Commission evaluated the second criteria, which requires a determination of, whether or not alternative sources of the goods or services are available. Because the rapid HIV testing was a new procedure just approved by the FDA it was unlikely that alternative sources of services were available, but, more significantly, even if alternative sources of services were available the Peace and Justice Commission could and did recommend approving the waiver because it also satisfied the third criteria, which requires a determination as to whether or not use of alternative services would result in quantifiable additional cost to the City of Berkeley. Because the services were being offered to the City of Berkeley at no cost to the City, there would clearly have been quantifiable additional cost to the use of alternative services. Accordingly, the Peace and Justice Commission correctly concluded that a waiver of the Nuclear Free Act for the purpose of accepting rapid HIV testing services from the U.C.S.F. was appropriate.

Since there was never any dispute about the fact that the City should accept U.C.'s offer of rapid HIV testing services a City Council vote to waive the Nuclear Free Law should have been a mere legal formality. But the idea of issuing a waiver was objected to by City Council members who believe the University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory should be immune for criticism despite the fact they engage in nuclear weapons work that violates both the Berkeley Nuclear Free Zone Ordinance and international law. The Mayor and other members of the Council, faced with the inconvenience of doing their job, choose instead to simply ignore the law....

Following the City Council's lawless action I spoke to the Mayor's aide, Cisco DeFreeze, in an effort to have Council approve the waiver. Mr. DeFreeze was confused about the law and told me that the Peace and Justice Commission had issued a waiver. I explained that the Peace and Justice Commission had no legal authority to approve a waiver, and urged him to speak with the Mayor about getting a waiver approved. He never spoke to me about the matter again. Several weeks later I told Mayor Bates that the City Council was acting in violation of the Nuclear Free Act he responded by saying "there is nothing I can do about it."

Since the City Council never approved a waiver of the Nuclear Free Act acceptance of the service contract is technically illegal. But because programs which direct funds to vital health needs clearly conform to the intent and purpose of the act I was unwilling to endanger the acceptance rapid HIV testing services by making an issue of the City Council's unlawful action.

Instead I choose to abstain from voting on tonight's request to waive the Nuclear Free Act to make the point that the City Council should stop acting in a lawless manner and should comply with the Nuclear Free Act by undertaking the effort to waive the law before entering into agreements with those who engage in nuclear weapons work. All the Nuclear Free Act requires is that the City Council have the courage to officially condemn nuclear weapons work, even if it means offending those who wish to enjoy respectability while they pervert the purpose of higher educational to find better ways to maim, kill, and destroy.

It is my hope that in the future the City Council adheres to the will of the electorate and the spirit of the Nuclear Free Act. This abstention illustrates, by reference to the rapid HIV testing contract, how simple it is to apply the criteria set forth in section 12.90.070 of the law, and thereby articulate the reasons for granting a waiver. Almost every contract the City of Berkeley has with the University of California qualifies for a waiver under the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act. Since the City Council has the legal authority to waive the Nuclear Free Act for the purpose of contracting with the University of California, the only practical effect of the Nuclear Free Act is to remind us that entering into contracts with those engaged in nuclear weapons work should not be a routine affair. The Nuclear Free Act seeks to insure that doing business with those who bring nuclear evil to the planet is something we are at least required to think about. That is why the law requires every waiver to undergo a "specific determination" involving the examination of the three criteria stated in section 12.90.070, but the most important feature of the law is that it requires that we "...not remain silent while policies of global death and destruction are carried out in our name. "

What the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act could accomplish, even when the City Council does make a decision to grant a waiver, is to remind us that contracting with unsavory entities that engage in nuclear weapons work is a significant event, that should, if only for the sake of ceremony, be recognized as such, and should not be conducted without taking special notice of the fact.

The ideals expressed by the voters who adopted the Nuclear Free Act in 1986 are immense; in typical Berkeley fashion the law seeks nothing less then to change the world by using Berkeley's voice to speak out in favor of nuclear disarmament, and a redistribution of wealth by channeling military funds to human needs. But the manner in which the Nuclear Free Zone Ordinance seeks to bring about such change is modest enough: Signs proclaiming our City is a Nuclear Free Zone, letters officially requesting that those engaging in nuclear weapons work cease and desist, educational efforts, and obtaining a simple waiver as a deterrent to remind us that we should not feel good about doing business with those who engage in nuclear weapons work

In 1986, when the voters adopted the Nuclear Free Act many feared the that a nuclear war between the United States and the former Soviet Union could plunge the planet into a nuclear holocaust. Today that danger seems far behind us, but in many ways the danger of nuclear war may be closer then ever before. Today we are at war with two nations in the most volatile region on the planet; the Bush Administration has used unsubstantiated claims that development of nuclear weapons by Iraq justified one of those wars. Today the soil, water and air in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq are contaminated as a result of the use of tons upon tons of depleted uranium munitions. Today the Bush Administration is threatening to develop new nuclear weapons based on science and technology developed by the University of California and today North Korea claims to be a nuclear power and threatens to test nuclear weapons. Today is not the day for the Berkeley City Council to abdicate their responsibility to enforce the Nuclear Free Zone Ordinance. Today we are at a moment in history when we should redouble our efforts, and call out, louder then ever before, for an end to nuclear weapons research, and end to war.

Speaking out is such a small thing to do. The horrors we seek to prevent is so large. Under such circumstances mustering up the courage to do nothing more then adhere to the provisions of, what is, after all, the law, shouldn't be so difficult for the Berkeley City Council. For the reasons stated above I abstain from this recommendation to waive the Nuclear Free Act, and hope the reasons for that abstention will cause Council Members to think about their responsibility under the law and to adhere more faithfully to the provisions of the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act.


Comments:
OK I kinda get it now. The city council (or whatever it's called up here) decided to have no part in anything that has anything to do with nuclear weapons: using for power, research, factories, etc. Thanks!
 
No, thank YOU. If it weren't for you, I never would have heard about the Millionaire Mom.
 
you're crazy about that millionaire mom...
 
She's not as rich as Paris Hilton, but she's not as sleazy, either...
 
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