This news story makes me absolutely furious. It points to the abusive employment of power and the moral vacuity of six Republican Senators with Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina at the lead.
Whether or not one agrees with Berkeley City Council's decision to oust a U.S. Marine Corps recruiting station from the city limits, the punitive legislation introduced in response is sickening.
Senator Jim DeMint introduced legislation that would transfer federal monies totaling $2.3 million from Berkeley institutions to the U.S. Marine Corps. $243,000 would be stripped from the Chez Panisse Foundation, which provides 10,000 daily school lunches for Berkeley public schools. An additional $243,000 would be robbed from the Ed Roberts Campus whose mission is to ensure that people with disabilities can live independently and without discrimination. And $94,000 would be ripped away from police and fire emergency communications systems. The remaining money would be taken from water ferry service planned from Berkeley to San Francisco and nearly a million dollars from U.C. Berkeley - a university with an active ROTC service and that allows military recruiting on campus.
How do these men sleep at night, knowing that they are taking food out of children's mouths and denying services to those living with disabilities and those in need of police and fire services? How do any of the programs they have targeted relate one bit to city government? There is no relationship, no correlation! It is a mean-spirited and spiteful action that attacks the most vulnerable citizens of the City of Berkeley--people who had nothing to do with the decisions of Berkeley's City Council.
The senate bill was introduced by DeMint, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Sen. John Cornyn, R.-Texas; Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.; and Sen David Vitter, R-La. Rep. John Campbell, R-Newport Beach, introduced the companion bill in the House.
If you live in any of these states, please contact your senator and express your outrage at the hateful and harmful way they chose to respond to this situation. The children in Berkeley, many of whom come from poor families and rely on the healthy meals they receive at school, will be profoundly grateful.