Category Archives: Comment

Op-ed: We trust officials to spend soda tax money wisely

Soda. Photo: dcjohn
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In “Beverage companies donate $800,000 to fight soda tax,” an article published on Berkeleyside on Sept. 22, 2014,  Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the No Berkeley Beverage Tax said that amount of money was needed because the entire Berkeley City Council is supporting the soda tax, and “extraordinary measures are needed to fight their moral authority.”

Pamela Gray, who is a volunteer for the Yes on Measure D campaign, laughed when she read that line. In an op-ed published today on Berkeleyside, she asks: “Who truly cares about the future of Berkeley’s children? The Berkeley City Council or the American Beverage Association? … Continue reading »

Op-eds cover Measure D, Measure F, UC and fossil fuels

Berkeley will vote on Measure D, the so-called Soda Tax, in November. Photo: Vox Efx
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Anyone would think there was an election coming up, the number of  op-eds that are being submitted to Berkeleyside these days!

Today our Opinionator section welcomes two op-eds on Measure D, the so-called soda tax measure. One is by Jill Herschman, the other by Dan McDunn, both of whom are members of the community with children in Berkeley Unified schools. Both are against the measure. (Scroll through Opinionator to find we have also published several op-eds that urge people to vote yes.)

Meanwhile, Berkeley Councilman Gordon Wozniak encourages us to support Measure F to “care and repair” Berkeley’s parks.

And a former UC student writes about why she believes UC should divest itself of its fossil fuel investments. … Continue reading »

Op-ed: Measure D will not reduce soda consumption

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I was visiting recently with a fellow Berkeley parent while at the Washington Elementary School Fall Fair. He wanted to know if I was familiar with Measure D, and wanted to encourage me to support it.

Rather than avoid the topic, I agreed to indulge him and struck up a conversation about the pros and cons of this measure. After all, my family does not consume soda, and we have made healthy eating a cornerstone of our lifestyle. Additionally, I have … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Support Measure F for care, repair of Berkeley parks

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Life sometimes comes full circle. Eighteen years ago, I jumped into public service in Berkeley as a novice member of the Parks & Recreation Commission, experiencing first hand the tremendous assets we have in our parks, paths, street trees, and recreational facilities. Now, as I approach my final days serving on the City Council, one of my top priorities and personal passions is to see that we preserve these assets, well beyond my tenure.   That is why I am supporting … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Why the 2014 Measure R is not “true green”

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Henry Siegel is the founding principal at local architecture firm Siegel & Strain. His firm was involved in the construction of the LEED-Platinum Brower Center in downtown Berkeley and he has worked on the development of the LEED standards themselves.

In an op-ed piece published in Berkeleyside’s Opinionator section, Siegel argues that the proposed Measure R will make downtown less green, despite what its proponents argue. The “fixes” will “unfix” the Downtown Area Plan ratified by voters in another Measure R in 2010, he writes.

By requiring most tall buildings to be LEED Platinum instead of the now-required LEED Gold, fewer buildings will be constructed, said Siegel. … Continue reading »

Op-ed: Taxing soda, like we do cigarettes, makes sense

Berkeley will vote on Measure D, the so-called Soda Tax, in November. Photo: Vox Efx
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Mansour Id-Deen, President of the Berkeley chapter of the NAACP, says his family has a life-threatening crisis with diabetes as a result of too many sugar sweetened beverages, and that this an all to common situation in this country.

In an op-ed published on Berkeleyside, Id-Deen argues that we are facing an urgent and preventable health crisis and action is needed now.

“Nationally, one in three of our children are projected to get Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes, a figure that rises to one in two among African-American and Latino people,” he writes. “Additionally, in Berkeley, African-Americans are four times more likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes and fourteen times more likely to be hospitalized.”

Id-Deen supports Measure D, the so-called soda tax on Berkeley’s November ballot, because, he says, it takes this fight to its source.  … Continue reading »

Op-ed: Berkeley schools need a facilities master plan

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In an op-ed published on Berkeleyside yesterday, Mark Lemkin, a long-time Berkeley resident with two children at local schools, says it’s time Berkeley Unified School District had a Facilities Master Plan.

“For the past 14 years, BUSD has authorized $327 million in capital improvements,” he writes. “That represents approximately $15,000 in taxes per household, or about $35,000 per student, a generous investment by Berkeley residents. Most people are surprised to learn, however, that BUSD has allocated these resources without a Facilities Master Plan.  … Continue reading »

Berkeley’s Measure R: Two conflicting opinions

Four years after voters adopted a new vision for downtown, they may be asked to refine it. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Recently, Berkeleyside has published two op-ed pieces in its Opinionator section on Measure R, the ballot initiative supporters say will put more “green” in local development, but which opponents argue will stop new projects that are contributing to a downtown renaissance and are bringing critical amenities to the city.

On Sept. 9, Jacquelyn McCormick, the President of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association and a candidate for City Council in District 8, wrote about why she was supporting Measure R.Continue reading »

Op-ed: ‘In its battle with Big Soda, Berkeley may once again make history’

Robert Reich. Photo: Victoria Bernal
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As election season approaches, the Berkeley vs Big Soda battle is heating up. Measure D, which is on the ballot, would see a tax put on sugar-sweetened beverages. An op-ed on the subject by a Berkeley parent published on Berkeleyside on Monday has generated over 370 comments and counting.

Today, in our Opinionator section, we publish a piece on the issue by Robert Reich who says that, if a soda tax can’t pass in the most progressive city in America, it can’t pass anywhere.

“Big Soda knows that, which is why it’s determined to kill it here,” writes the chancellor’s professor of public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Support Measure R — true green not green-washed

Downtown Berkeley, May 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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In November, Measure R, a proposed downtown initiative, will go before Berkeley voters. Among other things, the measure addresses issues like building height and the approvals process for developers, including transportation and affordable housing. (See Berkeleyside’s downtown initiative cheat sheet.)

In 2010, Berkeley voters overwhelmingly approved Measure R, but, in an Opinionator piece published today on Berkeleyside, Jacquelyn McCormick argues that the City Council has not delivered on its promises.

McCormick, President of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association and a candidate for City Council in District 8, delineates in what ways she believes our local government has failed to deliver, and urges people to support Measure R. … Continue reading »

Op-ed: Soda kills — why we must vote yes on Measure D

Berkeley will vote on Measure D, the so-called Soda Tax, in November. Photo: Vox Efx
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In two months, Berkeley voters will decide whether their city will be the first in the country to enact a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (or tie with San Francisco which has a similar measure on the ballot).

When Berkeley parent Erica Etelson heard about Measure D, the so-called Soda Tax, she immediately volunteered “to help the Healthy Child Coalition trounce Big Soda.”

In an Opinionator piece published today on Berkeleyside, Etelson explains why she was an easy recruit. Sugary drinks are the number one source of calories for low-income Americans, she says. “In addition to diabetes, sugar is now known to cause heart disease, fatty liver disease, hypertension, obesity and stroke. Once upon a time, drinking a Coke seemed a harmless enough activity, but now we know better. Soda kills,” she writes. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Are Berkeley schools victims of their own success?

Students eating lunch at Malcolm X Elementary School. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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In the past few years, Malcolm X Elementary School has gone from a student population of about 400 students to nearly 600. It’s not alone. Many of Berkeley Unified’s schools are grappling with increasing numbers of kids and not necessarily seeing a corresponding growth in resources to handle them.

In an Opinionator piece published on Berkeleyside, Joshua Room, a BUSD graduate himself and former president of Malcolm X PTA, argues that our schools are bursting at the seams and there do not seem to be good short- or long-term alternatives for accommodating the increase. Why, he asks, does BUSD seem “to be repeatedly caught off-guard by this continuing, explosive growth?” … Continue reading »

Op-ed: Berkeley restaurant is approved: Let it open

Comal's owners are planning to open a new restaurant at 2635 Ashby, but may be delayed by a lawsuit. Photo: Google Maps
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Last year, the owners of Comal restaurant in downtown Berkeley applied to the city to open a new restaurant in the Elmwood neighborhood. Community meetings were held, the proposal was vetted by the city’s zoning board, there were public hearings, as well as an appeal. Ultimately, the plan was given the go-ahead.

Then a group called the Elmwood Neighborhood Association filed a lawsuit against the city and the restaurant’s owners, claiming that Berkeley violated environmental laws when it made a “negative declaration” that determined the new restaurant, at 2635 Ashby Ave. near College Avenue, would not create significant noise, parking or odor problems.

April Gilbert, who has lived in the Elmwood for eight years, and Berkeley for 40 years, had never heard of the association. In an Opinionator piece published by Berkeleyside, she argues that this small group does not represent her, nor, she believes, the many local residents who support the idea new restaurant. … Continue reading »