Berkeley City Council urges against federal military spending

In an attempt to officially address the nation’s defense budget, the Berkeley City Council could soon join a movement to influence U.S. Congress to redirect resources from the Pentagon to local communities.

In its meeting tomorrow, the council will discuss a resolution that supports the New Priorities Campaign to Reduce Military Spending, an effort to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and reduce the military budget by raising pressure on Congress from local governments.

“We’re just trying to give them a little bit of encouragement and support for their efforts in a time when there are so many people needing jobs and so much money being spent on wars — trillions of dollars being spent on wars — which don’t seem to be making our country safer,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, a sponsor of the resolution.

The resolution will have no financial implications for the city, Worthington said, but the council is looking into some follow-up actions that might. One action under consideration is the purchase of a digital counter that constantly updates the city’s amount of taxpayer money that is being spent on the wars, as Matthew Ryan — mayor of Binghamton, New York — did.

Berkeley is one among a number of cities who have already adopted similar resolutions, said Michael Eisenscher, co-founder of the campaign.

And while it’s unsurprising for the city to adopt a resolution like this, Eisenscher said, support of the campaign is a highly controversial issue for more conservative cities and their leaders.

“We want this to filter to the grassroots (organizations) but also upwards to our representatives in Congress, and obviously to those who are studying the federal budget,” said John Lindsay Poland, research and advocacy director for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a grassroots organization focused on demilitarizing the country’s policies that is also part of the New Priorities Campaign network.

Besides adopting resolutions in support of the campaign, groups involved with the effort focus greatly on educating people about the federal government’s budget and how much is spent on military funding, Poland said.

“People across the country are crying out for resources and those resources are going off to war, and often going to uses that are corrupt and wasteful,” he said.