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Recalling Berkeley mayor tops activist's busy agenda

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.insidebayarea.com/trivalleyherald/localnews/ci_7286705 Recalling Berkeley mayor tops activist s busy agenda Runningwolf has court date to face
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 26, 2007
      http://www.insidebayarea.com/trivalleyherald/localnews/ci_7286705

      Recalling Berkeley mayor tops activist's busy agenda
      Runningwolf has court date to face charges against himself

      By Kristin Bender, STAFF WRITER
      Article Last Updated: 10/26/2007 02:36:56 AM PDT

      BERKELEY — There's so much going on in Zachary Runningwolf's life, it's
      hard to know where to begin.

      First, he's trying to recall Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, a man who trounced
      Runningwolf in last year's election. Bates collected 62.9 percent of the
      vote and was elected to a second term with the largest margin of any mayor
      in Berkeley in 40 years.

      Bates previously served more than 20 years in the state legislature.

      Runningwolf, who in 1999 served a stint on the city's Peace and Justice
      Commission and staged his own run for mayor, took 4.7 percent of the vote.

      Secondly, Runningwolf has been dodging a $100 fine from the city for
      missing a deadline to file the proper paperwork showing last year's
      campaign contributions, said City Clerk Pam Means.

      Runningwolf, who said he did not collect any contributions, was still
      required to file a statement by Jan. 31, but was a month late, drawing a
      fine, Means said.

      "It's all just political payback," Runningwolf said. "I filed it in delay
      maybe four or five months ago. There are so many things that are going on
      right now. ... Time is flying by."

      Runningwolf has also been spending much of his time this year supporting a
      group of people who are living in trees near Memorial Stadium at the
      University of California, Berkeley. They are protesting a plan to raze the
      trees so Cal can build a $125 million sports training center. He's been at
      the grove nearly daily since last December.

      But, last week, Runningwolf spent the night in jail after he was taken in
      by UC Berkeley police, at the grove, on an outstanding warrant stemming
      from a July 23 arrest on a charge of possessing illegal hallucinogenic
      mushrooms and on two traffic warrants, UC Berkeley Assistant Police Chief
      Mitch Celaya said.

      Runningwolf will be back in court next week on that issue and declined to
      comment on the drug charge.

      Out of jail, Runningwolf seems most focused on his recall effort, which
      would require that he collect 17,500 signatures from Berkeley's 70,000
      registered voters by mid-December to put a measure on a 2008 ballot.

      Some say that would be a nearly impossible feat.

      "Getting that many signatures is very, very hard," said City Councilmember
      Betty Olds. "I'm sure, like me, if you saw him coming toward you, you
      probably wouldn't sign it."

      Olds, a moderate on the council who does not always vote in line with
      Bates, said, "I don't think it's going anywhere."

      Runningwolf served Bates the paperwork at a City Council meeting Tuesday
      night — two weeks after he announced the recall effort. Runningwolf walked
      up to Bates in the meeting and handed him the recall paperwork, which Bates
      said he will respond to early next week.

      Later, Runningwolf, who is American Indian, spoke on a few issues and then
      went outside to burn some white mountain sage, he said.

      "It's how we brush the bad spirits off of us," he said.

      A short while later a Berkeley police officer asked him to extinguish the
      sage because the smoke was wafting into City Hall and people complained
      that it smelled like marijuana smoke, city officials said.

      Runningwolf complied.

      Runningwolf is no stranger to dealing with police.

      In addition to his arrest last week, in February he spent a weekend in
      Berkeley city jail in lieu of $40,000 bail after he was arrested on a
      charge of threatening a UC Berkeley police officer. The charges were later
      dropped.

      Runningwolf denies that the recall effort is a ploy to gear up for next
      year's mayoral race, which he plans to join.

      Instead, he said that the effort is based on an eight-point plan that is
      critical of Bates' support for high-density development and the mayor's
      stance on global warming.

      "Bates' promises to address global warming are bad because he's supporting
      the (British Petroleum) deal," Runningwolf said in an interview Thursday.

      Under a $500 million research plan, UC Berkeley is partnering with BP Amoco
      PLC, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois
      to study ways to increase energy production and reduce energy use.

      Bates actually has been a leader in reducing global warming.

      Under his leadership, the city last year passed a first-of-a-kind measure
      to reduce global warming by 80 percent by 2050.

      The city this year launched an aggressive campaign to get as many residents
      and businesses involved in doing their part to reduce greenhouse gas
      emissions.

      Bates on Wednesday was presented with a Global Citizen Award by the United
      Nations Association for the city's "innovative and aggressive efforts" to
      address the climate crisis.

      Much of what Runningwolf presented in the plan he delivered is erroneous
      information and does not accurately reflect Bates' opinions of stances,
      Bates said.

      "Any citizen has the right to bring any action that is appropriate," Bates
      said Thursday. "But all of these issues that were raised are a rehashing of
      misstatement and falsehoods that were discussed and debated in the last
      election."

      Contact Kristin Bender at kbender@... or 510-208-6453.
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