Post Office Battles

Mon Oct. 3, 2005 8:09 PM EDT

Last week, House Republicans protested a proposal to name a post office in Berkeley after a former councilwoman and peace activist, Maudelle Shirek. Although most such proposals pass without comment, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) opposed the resolution, demanded an unusual roll-call vote, and rallied Republicans to shoot it down, denouncing the 94-year old Shirek as "un-American." Chip Johnson, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, noted that it was the first such rejection in history:

Shirek's supporters could make a pretty strong argument that she has done as much for Berkeley as Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Jay Hanna "Dizzy" Dean did for his hometown of Wiggins, Miss., or Chick Hearn did for the Los Angeles community of Encino, which honored the longtime voice of the Los Angeles Lakers with a post office in his name.

Defending his opposition to Shirek based on her "affiliation" with a Marxist library, King told the Chronicle, "I think that if Barbara Lee [a defender of Shirek's] would read the history of Joe McCarthy she would realize that he was a hero for America." Lee, who proposed the resolution, vowed to continue fighting for the dedication.