Berkeley software company relocates over protests of Marine recruiting station

A bold stand in defense of the troops? Nah. All the commotion is killing their business.

The city’s decision to support Code Pink and other anti-war groups protesting the center by granting noise and parking permits has been detrimental to the business climate, according to Brian Webb, Avontus Software chief executive officer.

“All they’re doing is giving our city negative press-they’re removing our businesses,” Webb said. “I actually have had to remove our address from our Web site because we received negative feedback from our customers about being here.”…

“There definitely are a lot of businesses, particularly in that area, that are concerned with the noise,” said Dave Fogarty, the economic development coordinator with the city. “Customers are being driven away because of the lack of parking and the difficulty of getting to the businesses.”

But Webb said it was not the noise but the high crime rate that prompted his decision to relocate.

Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss acknowledged that the increased manpower at the protests has sometimes taken away from other police roles.

Yeah, but on the bright side, those must be some awfully well-policed protests, though, no? (No.)

I’d be sympathetic to them if the protests had been foisted upon them, if Code Pink had simply decided to make the recruiting station a cause celebre, descended upon the city to protest, and turned it into a circus worthy of media attention and the inevitable counterprotests. In that case, the city’s stuck; if protecting speech rights means sucking away police resources, hey. In reality, it’s the city that made it a cause celebre: The catalyst was that dopey resolution they passed asking the Corps to take a hike and then giving Code Pink a de facto private parking spot on the city street right outside the recruiting center to hassle them. They sowed the wind and now they’re a-reaping. The boss has been following the economic fallout for the past few days, starting with the cost of police overtime and boycott threats from consumers and companies and on through the cool mil flushed down the toilet each year on “citizen commissions” dedicated to important city business like issuing proclamations denouncing Bush’s crusades. Their choice? Be a little choosier about their diktats in the future or hire more cops, either by applying the savings from closing down a few of those commissions or raising taxes to pay for it. Or have the city taxpayers already voluntarily donated all their excess income to the city treasury?