City council member wants to repeal parts of Berkeley’s nuclear free act

This sign on College Avenue indicates Berkeley's status as a nuclear free zone, which it has been since the 1980s.
Faith Buchanan/Staff
This sign on College Avenue indicates Berkeley's status as a nuclear free zone, which it has been since the 1980s.

Berkeley City Councilmember Gordon Wozniak is working to repeal key portions of the Nuclear Free Berkeley Act — a measure that blocks the city from dealing with anything related to nuclear power.

Wozniak takes issue with the section of the act, passed by voters in 1986, that prevents the city from investing with any organization with ties to nuclear energy or nuclear weapons — including the federal government.

The city’s Peace and Justice Commission has upheld this aspect of the law, preventing the city from investing in U.S. Treasury financial instruments because they are products of the federal government.

“This is just kind of crazy,” Wozniak said. “For some reason historically the Peace and Justice Commission has decided that the U.S. government was evil and got the city to not purchase U.S. treasuries — some of the safest assets there are.”

Wozniak has already made progress in obtaining a partial repeal. At a Sept. 20 council meeting, council members approved a resolution allowing the city’s finance director “to make investments, including U.S. treasury bonds, pursuant to the investment policies” for the 2012 fiscal year.

Wozniak also said he plans to put U.S. treasury financial instruments, which include notes and bills in addition to bonds, on the table for approval at an upcoming meeting.

However, Wozniak will most likely face opposition from community members and some council members.

“I think (the act) is actually good,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “It reminds people that there’s still the threat of nuclear war that faces people and the earth.”

The Nuclear Free Berkeley Act originally passed 25 years ago by referendum and with little controversy, according to Cathryn Carson, a UC Berkeley associate professor of history who specializes in nuclear history.

“(The act) was created with some very strategic calculations on how to launch a protest against the military industrial complex,” Carson said.

Around the same time of the passage of Berkeley’s act, Oakland, Hayward and Davis also passed nuclear free acts.

“We are part of a much larger movement,” said George Lippman, chair of Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission.

Berkeley’s act also places limitations on the city’s interactions with UC Berkeley.

“When the city wants to hire a UC consultant you have to get a waiver from the Peace and Justice Commission, because he works for the UC which is related to nuclear weapons,” Wozniak said.

City government agencies can bypass some of the act’s restrictions by applying for a waiver from the Peace and Justice Commission, according to Lippman.

He said that in his more than three years on the commission, no projects from the campus have been turned down.

“I am certain that the people of Berkeley still support having a nuclear-free Berkeley,” Lippman said.

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  • reztips

    Gordon Wozniak has genuine courage to make this reasonable proposal in PC Berkeley. This kind of integrity is so rare in a politician and I hope that when Tom Bates is ready to ultimately leave office (he has been quite a good mayor), that Wozniak will run and be elected the leader of our city. We truly could lead someone like Wozniak at the helm. 

    And perish the thought of another so-called progressive like Worthington becoming mayor. If you like Peoples Park, you love Worthington. Or the moderate Capetelli, who-to curry favor with the KPFA idiot kind-has a radical lunatic as his representative on the Peace and Justice Commission.


  • Get what you deserve

    “some of the safest assets there are”

    Unless you count that annual 5-6% devaluation by the real (unreported) inflation rate. Yeah.

    Buy the gold, dickpump, and when you’re done buying the gold, you’re going to want to buy…more of the gold.

    If you’re going to support an institution as corrupt and criminal as the U.S. govt with other people’s money, you’ll have nothing to say about mining, so take the plunge. Getting locked into that 2.0% yield on Treasuries when the Fed has said it will print as much as it takes to keep the banks solvent is going to make you look like an A$$hat which in the Bay Area will probably get you elected to statewide office.

    • U_Got_An_F_In_Econ

      On the other hand,
      you are clearly a madman.

      “Unless you count that annual 5-6% devaluation by the real (unreported) inflation rate.”
      That has nothing to do with buying, or not buying, treasuries.
      You are pretending that one would somehow avoid inflationary depreciation in value by not investing in T-bills, but it’s obvious that dollars are dollars at any given point in time, so your objection makes no sense at all.

      Unless you are such a retard that you are actually advocating a return to the gold standard – which you seem to be doing.

    • “Dickpump?” Really?
      What does that even mean? Is this some sort of half-assed way of calling someone you disagree with a “fag” for having a different opinion?

      If you hate the US so much, feel free to leave. Nobody is forcing you to stay here.

    • Guest


      what the fuck does that mean, asshole?

      are you trying to call him a “faggot” because he disagrees with you?