Michael Bloomberg has now spent $370K in support of Measure D; other Berkeley election news

A still from the Yes on Measure D ad paid for by Michael R Bloomberg. It ran during the 4th game of the World Series

A still from one of two Yes on D ads paid for by Michael R. Bloomberg that ran during the World Series. (Watch it below.)

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, contributed another $285,000 in support of the Yes on Measure D campaign in the last few days, bringing his total contribution to $370,000. More may be coming, according to Howard Wolfson, his senior aide.

All you need to know about the elections is at Berkeleyside’s Election Hub.

Bloomberg paid $200,000 for television ads, including one that aired during the fourth game of the World Series, according to Wolfson. (Campaign finance statements had not been filed as of press time). A second ad will run on Berkeley cable television through the election, he said. Bloomberg also gave a second $85,000 directly to the Yes on Measure D campaign.

“We have obviously been watching what the folks in Berkeley have been doing with real interest and think there is an opportunity for success here, and are concerned the effort on the ground was being swamped by the resources of the soda industry,” said Wolfson. “So we wanted to come in and try to level the playing field a little bit.”

The soda industry has spent $2.3 million so far to defeat the proposed measure, which would assess a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks. That includes an $877,000 donation to No on D that was made Oct. 23. Distributors, not retail customers, would be taxed, although industry officials say distributors would pass on the tax.

The Yes on D campaign has raised about $549,939, including the Bloomberg contributions, according to campaign finance records. (Bloomberg’s payment for the ads will be counted as an in-kind donation to the Yes on D campaign. One of the advertisements appears above; see the other one on YouTube.)

Bloomberg’s donation undermines the argument that the push to tax soda is a local effort, said Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the No on Measure D campaign.

“This ad proves that this has never been a local grassroots effort,” he said. “From the outset, these attempts to punish people by taxing their food and beverage choices have come from a well-orchestrated campaign by a national activist lobby. This is the 1% pushing a tax on the 99%, and exempting themselves from it.”

Bloomberg has not donated to a measure on the San Francisco ballot that would tax soda at 2 cents per ounce. That measure needs a two-thirds majority vote to pass because the proceeds would go into a special fund. The Berkeley measure only needs 50% of the votes to pass because the money would go into the city’s general fund, although the Berkeley City Council has said it will spend the money it raises to educate residents about diabetes and obesity. Wolfson declined to comment on why none of Bloomberg’s money had gone to San Francisco. Bloomberg gave $10 million to help pass a soda tax in Mexico.

“There is a real opportunity to advance the cause here,” said Wolfson, of Berkeley. “It would be the first time in the country any municipality has done this. It will send a signal to other municipalities that it is, in fact, doable.”

The soda industry has defeated 30 soda tax measures around the country in recent years.

In addition to the Bloomberg ad, UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich has made a video of a blog post he wrote that was published on Berkeleyside and elsewhere, titled “If a soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America it can’t pass anywhere.” Reich made the ad in connection with Upworthy, the website that is famous for click-worthy headlines. The headline of his video is “Like Coke Or Pepsi? You Might Not Like Them As Much After You Hear What They’re Doing.”

District 7 candidates do it their own way

Sean Barry and Kriss Worthington talking to potential voters at Cafe Med. Photo: Ted Friedman

Sean Barry and Kriss Worthington talking to potential voters at Café Med on Telegraph Avenue. Photo: Ted Friedman

Instead of holding a traditional debate where candidates stand at a podium and talk about their campaign platforms, the two candidates for Berkeley’s District 7 held an informal discussion at Caffe Med on Telegraph Avenue on Oct. 21. Kriss Worthington, who is running for re-election, sat at a table with his challenger, Sean Barry. Other Telegraph regulars were on the scene, including Craig Becker, the owner of the Med, and Ken Sarachan and his wife, Laurie.

Barry is making a serious run for Worthington’s seat, but it remains to be seen if he can overcome Worthington’s name recognition, particularly with students at Cal. Barry has raised $35,177 to date and has sent out numerous flyers. The Berkeley Police Officers PAC also paid for a mailer supporting him. (See below for other support it is giving.) Worthington has raised $19,966 to date, according to campaign financing reports.

League of Women Voters tells mayor its name is misused in connection with Measure S

The League of Women Voters has sent a letter to Mayor Tom Bates and the City Council protesting the use of its name in the ballot argument for Measure S, which would codify council districts adopted by council in December.

Although the ballot argument and rebuttal to the argument against Measure S state that the League of Women Voters of Berkeley/Albany/Emeryville was involved in organizing meetings to shape new district boundaries, that is incorrect, according to the letter sent to Bates on Oct. 23. Nancy Bickel, the League president, and Carol Stone, the action coordinator, signed the letter.

“We were not asked nor did we approve the inclusion of our name in the argument and rebuttal,” stated the letter. “In fact, the LWVBAE is neutral on Measure S. The proponents of the measure and/or the City Clerk should have asked us to sign to give permission for the use of our name.

“Our participation in the adoption of the redistricting plan was brief and superficial. Our past president, Sherry Smith, at the request of the City, officiated as moderator at two or three meetings. The League had no role in arranging the meetings nor in the Council’s decision to adopt its plan.”

The ballot argument makes it look like the League was deeply involved with the redistricting process. It states: “Voting YES on Measure S supports citizen participation. Berkeley citizens were encouraged to submit their own map proposals. The City Council considered a total of seven (7) maps drawn by Berkeley residents. The City Council and the League of Women Voters held seventeen (17) forums, community meetings, and public hearings on redistricting. In the end, the Council adopted a map drawn by Berkeley citizens.”

The letter asks that Bates and supporters of Measure S refrain from using the League’s name in any mailers or door hangers.

Update, 3:06 p.m: Berkeleyside reached Mayor Tom Bates this afternoon who said he had nothing to do with the ballot argument: “I was surprised when the League raised the objection. I don’t know how you rectify it. It’s gone out to everybody,” he said. “It’s an unfortunate situation but I don’t think it’s a major problem.”

Update, Oct. 28, 3 p.m. Kristin Hunziker, campaign manager for Yes on S, who was once an aide to City Councilman Gordon Wozniak, wrote the ballot argument for S. She disagrees with the League’s recollection of events. The League, along with the city clerk’s office, city manager’s office and city attorney’s office, held meetings in 2011 and 2013 to explain the redistricting process and encourage citizens to participate, she said.

“The ballot statement says they helped put on meetings. It’s definitely a factual statement that the League and city put on these events,” said Hunziker.

Berkeley Police Officers’ Association PAC weighs in on local campaigns

The Berkeley Police Association, which previously paid for mailers for District 7 candidate Sean Barry and District 8 candidate Michael Alvarez Cohen, has increased its spending in the District 7 and District 8 races.

The PAC paid for a mailer against Berkeley Councilman Kriss Worthington, bringing its total contribution to challenger Sean Barry to $5,616, up from $3,460., according to campaign finance records.

The police PAC also paid $3,399 for a slate mailer for Berkeley Councilwoman Linda Maio, who is running against Rent Board member Alejandro Soto-Vigil. It contributed $250 for Lori Droste, who is running in District 8, and paid $500 for a robo-call campaign to urge voters to support Michael Alvarez Cohen as their first choice, and Droste as their second, in ranked-choice voting, according to Sgt. Chris Stines, association president.

[Editor’s note: Late Monday, Berkeleyside learned about an Oct. 23 campaign donation from the American Beverage Association to the No on D campaign. That information was added to the story.]

Berkeley ballot snafu, more money for 2014 election (10.22.14)
Bloomberg donates $85k to support Berkeley soda tax (10.16.14)
Beverage companies spend $1.675m to defeat soda tax (10.09.14)
Campaign donations reach record levels in Berkeley (10.07.14)
Beverage companies donate $800,000 to fight soda tax (09.22.14)
Op-ed: If soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere (09.10.14)
Judge changes Berkeley soda tax ballot measure (09.04.14)
Berkeley councilman faces PR man in ‘soda tax’ debate (07.30.14)
Rend Board commissioner Soto-Vigil challenges 22-year incumbent Maio in District 1 (07.22.14)
Berkeley puts sugar tax on November ballot (07.02.14)
Plans firm up for Berkeley soda tax, city parks measures (05.21.14)
Community survey shows difficulties for ballot measures (05.06.14)
Sugar tax hits the sweet spot for Berkeley residents (03.14.14)
Will Berkeley be first in nation to impose soda tax? (02.12.14)

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  • Guest

    Typo? “The letter asks that Bates and supporters of Measure R refrain from using the League’s name in any mailers or door hangers.” I think you mean Measure S.

    Thanks for the updates on the 2014 Election! We’re getting down to the wire– it’s appreciated that your coverage game is strong.

  • Oops. Thanks for the catch. All the letters are swimming around in my mind. And thanks for the shout out too.

  • guest

    Wow. Big money from Wall Street banker billionaires being spent on propaganda trying to tell me what to think? No thanks.


  • Lyle Delp

    Not our ballpark!

  • guest

    “This ad proves that this has never been a local grassroots effort,”

    This is the biggest lie of the campaign. Everyone knows that Measure D began as a grassroots effort in Berkeley. Bloomberg came in only after the ABA made this the biggest spending campaign in Berkeley history – and the ABA money comes from Coke and Pepsi, which is as far as you can get from grassroots.

    Doesn’t Salazar realize that everyone who reads this statement will see that he is a liar?

  • guest

    Measure D didn’t come out of a long community-driven process like many Berkeley measures. It began as a poorly-considered appeal from a tiny number of anti-sugar, anti-vaccination activists.

  • Guest

    You apparently did not read the text you linked, and have been living in isolation. Bloomberg made his gigabucks on an information service. His public service is widely known. His philanthropy, in this case at least, has nothing to do with promoting Wall Street interests.

  • Guest

    However it began, it has become broadly popular in Berkeley, probably to a significant extent because of the activities of the soda industry.

  • guest

    …an information service for Wall Street bankers and traders, helping the 1% further distance themselves from the rapidly declining middle class.

  • Akkizza

    This is 100% false. It came out of a broad coalition that only got broader over the course of two years. Check out the endorser list and say this again with earnestness.

  • Sally

    Good information, thanks for keeping up with this. Now can you ask around City Hall who IS responsible for putting the untrue connection with the LWV on the ballot argument, and also ask the city attorney’s office what the consequences will be?

  • Guest

    What is the lawsuit going to cost us if we pass this?

    Also, can someone explain this one to me?

    Chapter 7.72 Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Product Distribution Tax

    2. For added caloric sweeteners, the largest volume, in fluid ounces, of Sugar Sweetened Beverages that could be produced from the added caloric sweeteners. In accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the city pursuant to Section 7.72.040, the largest volume, in fluid ounces, that would typically be produced from the added caloric sweeteners shall be determined based on the manufacturer’s instructions or, if the Distributor uses the added caloric sweetener to produce a sugar sweetened beverage, the regular practice of the distributor.


    This is just one of many poorly worded nonsensical elements to this measure.

  • another Berkeley native

    This may be the glamor issue among propositions on the upcoming Berkeley ballot but Measure R matters more to Berkeley (that is, Berkeley). Elsewhere on Berkeleyside there is a link to an article in the Contra-Costa Times 10/24/14 by Judith Scheer, “Hefty outside contributions pour in to defeat Berkeley zoning measure,” which reports that out-of-town and out-of-state “development” and “real estate” interests are pouring funds into defeating Measure R. Which is an excellent indication of what interests Measure R serves. The trouble with Measure D isn’t the problem that it targets or the essential viciousness of the peddling of toxic addictive pseudo-foods and their peddlers, but its problematical method: a sin tax, and where the lucre goes once the tax is levied. These give me pause.

  • Diogenes

    Salazar’s JOB is to lie, only it’s not called “lie”, it’s called “spin.” That’s what politicians do, essentially, is spin — that is skew, that is, misrepresent, that is, lie about, facts, in the service of the “side” they “represent.” Which is, by definition, not the “general welfare.”

  • Rob Wrenn

    If it weren’t for Measure D, No on Measure R would have the dubious distinction of having raised by far the most money (almost all of it from special interest groups) that has ever been raised before for or against any local ballot measure. At $250,000 and counting, No on R has raised about double what Yes on S (the anti-sitting measure) raised in 2012. But No on R will have to settle for third place, a distant third after No on D and Yes on D. As for Measure D, I don’t see anything wrong with a sin tax on soda given the negative health impacts of the concentrated liquid sugar in soda. I prefer a sin tax to yet another parcel tax like Measure F.

    Here’s the link to Judith Scherr’s article: http://www.contracostatimes.com/west-county-times/ci_26792611/hefty-outside-contributions-pour-defeat-berkeley-zoning-measure

  • guest

    So sweet alcoholic drinks, sweet juices made from concentrate, coffee drinks with milk, and diet soda will go untaxed, yet Coconut water and Kombucha will be taxed. How is that sticking it to Big Soda? Please tell me the benefits of taxing the distributors rather than the purchasers at the cash register. I support the health message but I don’t support the tax. The 60 minutes program last night said that 1/3 of our sugar intake is from beverages. That still leaves the other 2/3 of our sugar intake from food. Will some up their intake of sugary food to still get their fix, assuming they cut down on sugary drinks? Don’t we already pay extra taxes for our own City’s Health Department? What have they been up to in the last several years? I just hope that if this passes, some of the funds will pay the salaries of the city health department workers without hiring any more since they apparently have not been successful in getting the message out about sugar being a health hazard as yet.

  • Guest

    Duh, their making the money isn’t the problem: if we restored a progressive tax code it would flow to everyone. Don’t make the mistake the Communists (remember them?) made – suppressing economic activity just impoverishes everyone.

    Bloomberg’s business has enriched this country, and many many people within it – when you can figure out how to do something like that, let us know.

  • guest

    I’ve thought about it and heard your arguments and decided that you are correct below. Measure D will help curb obesity and diabetes and it is a good and solid measure and I’m going to vote for it after all and urge everyone else to do the same.

  • Gordon Wozniak

    The City Clerk approved the mention of the League of Women Voters (LWV) because the mention of the LWV was in the context of a statement of fact and did not indicate or imply the support of the organization for the ballot measure.

  • John Freeman

    Gordon I don’t see an answer in your reply. Who wrote the untrue language? Who decided to submit it for the ballot?

    The untrue language may not imply a specific endorsement by the League but it is a deceptive account of the public process. It appears to make unjustified claims to the legitimacy of the League.

  • guest
  • guest

    I know, but if they are good at their jobs, they tell lies that have a chance of convincing people. You have to be very inept to tell a lie that everyone knows is a lie.

  • Sally

    Berkeleyside, please get a reporter to track this down. What does “in the context of a statement of fact” mean in English? Who wrote, who approved it?

  • guest

    Thank you. You actually helped me to understand why I am uncomfortable with Measure D. I don’t know if it’s about Berkeley vs big soda”, about obesity, or diabetes, the general fund, school gardens, the Berkeley Health dept, why it’s a distributor tax vs a sales tax, why its taxing soda but not diet soda, why it’s taxing a coconut water at 35 calories and not a bottled Starbucks Coffee drink with 5x more sugary calories than a coconut water. I know some of the push is ego driven and some is concern for our fellow man. I know that I trusted our council members and city manager to require city employees to contribute toward’s their pension shortfalls, so far that trust has been misplaced. So why should I trust council with the funds from this measure? I’m glad for supporters heightening the message for awareness of sodas as empty calories and harmful and a personal wealth deflater. I’m just not thrilled with the way this measure is written at the present time, especially when a tax is rarely revoked once instituted.

  • EastBayer

    Except, once again, sugared soda is directly linked to obesity. Perhaps if your concerns were valid you could find a Public Health professional to endorse them. Good luck…

  • agillator

    If Measure D fails in Berkeley it won’t be because of the clumsy efforts of the American Beverage Association. It will be because (1) voters see D for the regressive, racist, classist, paternalistic and patronizing measure that it is, and/or (2) voters are revolted by the tactics of the Yes on D demagogues, attempting to herd the weak-minded with the illusion that everyone who opposes Measure D is a shill of “Big Soda”.

    This is the ugliest ballot measure since Proposition 8. If it passes the less fortunate will indeed lose weight, albeit from the reduction of money in their pockets. We well-heeled will continue to suck down our lattes and artisanal morning buns with fiscal impunity. As a Berkeley resident I am embarrassed that Measure D even made it to the ballot.

  • We have updated this story twice to get comment on what happened.