Category Archives: Politics

Soda tax raises $116,000 of revenue in first month

Councilman Laurie Capitelli speaking at a press conference held in Berkeley Monday to report on how the soda tax was working. Photo: Melati Indah Citrawireja
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Berkeley’s soda tax has generated $116,000 in revenue in the first month of its operation, according to Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who announced the figure at a press conference May 18 in front of Old City Hall.

The money was sourced from 36 different sugar-sweetened beverage distributors, and is on target to raise $1.2 million in its first year, according to Capitelli.

Proceeds from the tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which was passed overwhelmingly by Berkeley voters with 75% approval in November, go into Berkeley’s General Fund. They will be allocated by a newly appointed panel of experts, operating with input from the community. The panel will hold its first meeting tomorrow, Tuesday May 19, at 6 p.m.

Read more on Berkeley’s historic soda tax.

“We’re well on our way to a smooth implementation,” Capitelli said at the press conference. “We wanted to get it right.”  … Continue reading »

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Around $3.4m spent on Berkeley soda tax campaign

The No on Measure D campaign covered the Ashby BART station with signs - on the floor, on the walls, and next to the ticket machines. BART made the campaign takes some of the signs down on Oc. 8. Photo: Marian Mabel
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The tally is in: the campaign surrounding Measure D, the one cent per ounce tax on sugary beverages, cost $3,374,155, according to recently filed campaign statements.

The soda industry spent $2,445,107 to unsuccessfully battle Measure D in the November election, with most of the funds going to campaign consultants and media companies, according to the campaign statements.Continue reading »

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Black Cal students repaint The Big C to reflect African flag

The students from Black Student Union who painted Cal’s “C” the colors of the Pan African flag. Back row: Isis Dillard, Eniola Abioye, Blake Simons.
Front row: Alana Banks, Gabrielle Shuman, Lauren Butler. Photo: Mara Van Ells
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Six UC Berkeley students woke up before dawn to climb into the Berkeley Hills to paint a school symbol red, black and green.

The students, members of the Black Student Union, lugged cans of paint and other supplies up the hill in darkness to paint the formerly golden giant letter C the colors of the Pan African Flag.

The Big C is a large concrete block that was built into a hill overlooking campus in 1908. Since then, it’s become tradition for opposing teams, such as Stanford University, to paint the Cal symbol their own school colors and for Berkeley students to repaint the structure gold. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley seeks experts for ‘soda tax’ advisory panel

Vicki Alexander, co-chair of the Yes on D campaign, spoke at a pro-soda tax demo outside Old City Hall in July. Photo: Berkeley vs Big Soda
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The city of Berkeley has put out a call for experts interested in joining a new advisory panel to set spending priorities for “soda tax” dollars approved by voters in November.

Four Berkeley City Council members who make up a subcommittee focused on Measure D, the sugar-sweetened beverage tax, released the application to the community in late December. The deadline is Jan. 17.

The 1-cent-per-ounce tax on the distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages has been conservatively estimated to bring perhaps $200,000 into city coffers each year, according to Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. But that number is very much hypothetical, due to the numerous variables — such as local consumption figures, how the city collects the money and whether UC Berkeley will also collect the tax — that will impact the final tally.

Read complete Berkeleyside soda tax coverage, and see the text of the measure.

Berkeley Councilman Laurie Capitelli said previously that, though the tax went into effect Jan. 1, the city will wait to spend any of the money until all legal questions about the tax have been resolved. Officials had earlier expressed some concern that an opponent of the tax might file a lawsuit to challenge it. City spokesman Matthai Chakko said, as of Monday, no legal action has been filed. … Continue reading »

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Lori Droste takes District 8 council seat by 16 votes

Lori Droste is the new District 8 councilwoman. Photo courtesy of Facebook
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Final tallies released Wednesday night make Lori Droste the narrow winner in what became a tense and protracted race for Berkeley City Council District 8.

Alameda county will certify the results by Monday, but all votes have been counted, leaving Droste with 2,072 votes, or 50.19%, compared to opponent George Beier’s 2,056 votes, or 49.81%.

Beier has said he will not challenge the results.

“I’m humbled by the support of District 8 and I look forward to working hard on Council,” Droste said. “I want to congratulate all my opponents for running a great race.” … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Berkeley overrules Citizens United!

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The biggest vote-getter on the Nov. 4 ballot in Berkeley was not the tax on sugary soda, which got 75% of the vote and national attention. Nor was it a candidate for any office. It was Proposition P, which called for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision. Prop P got 85% of the vote.

The proposition was, as California propositions go, remarkably simple. It asked if the United States Constitution should be “amended to … Continue reading »

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Berkeley election 2014: Voters pass historic soda tax, reject downtown initiative; Droste takes District 8

Lori Droste is a candidate for District 8
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Berkeleyside covered the local 2014 election results live from 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4, through 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5. See the live blog below, with continuing coverage through Tuesday, Nov. 11. See complete Berkeleyside election 2014 coverage.

Nov. 12, 6:39 p.m. And the votes are in! The final tallies have just been posted on the Alameda County registrar of voters website. The one race still in play as of Tuesday was Berkeley’s City Council District 8, with Lori Droste and George Beier battling it out for the top spot.

Currently, Droste has 2,072 votes to Beier’s 2,056, with no more votes to count. The results have not yet been certified, however. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: No on Measure R isn’t nearly enough

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I am thrilled that we voted 3 to 1 to defeat Measure R, and that the building of new housing in downtown Berkeley will continue. Let’s build on this momentum, and get serious about addressing the massive housing shortage in our community that is hitting working families hard. Downtown is great, but we have to do an order of magnitude more to bring supply and demand into balance.

Only 18% of Alameda County families can afford to buy the … Continue reading »

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Berkeley elections: Kriss Worthington retains District 7; nail-biting race continues in District 8

Counting ballots at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters in November 2014. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Election day may be nearly a week behind us, but votes are still being counted and the results of some Berkeley races are still being determined, including District 8 where Lori Droste is currently very narrowly ahead for that council seat.

Absentee ballots are still being processed and will likely continue through the week. The latest counts are posted to the Alameda County registrar of voters website around 5 p.m. daily. Under state law, Alameda County has until Dec. 2 to certify its election results.

Berkeleyside is keeping results updated daily on our main Election 2014 results post, and will continue do so so until all races have officially ended.

In District 7, incumbent Kriss Worthington has kept his seat on the council after Sean Barry, who was the only candidate running against him, conceded the race.

“I’d like to congratulate Kriss Worthington and thank my supporters. The outcome is clear even if the final tally is not,” Barry said today. … Continue reading »

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New hotel project is a go again after defeat of Measure R

The developer for a downtown Berkeley hotel proposal at Shattuck and Center said his plans are on hold pending November's election. Image: JRDV Urban International
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Now that Measure R, the initiative that aimed to impose stricter standards on tall buildings, has been defeated, the project to build a hotel downtown is back on track.

Developer Jim Didion of Center Street Partners LLC had stopped all design work on the hotel planned for the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street pending the outcome of Tuesday’s vote. Didion had contended that the requirements called for by Measure R would make the project financially infeasible.

But after Measure R was delivered a resounding defeat — No on R captured almost 74% of the vote, according to the most recent tally — work was set to resume, said Matthew Taecker, one of the hotel’s consultants. He said revisiting the design will be one of the team’s first tasks. … Continue reading »

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Tony Thurmond victorious in 15th District Assembly race

Tony Thurmond and kids
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Tony Thurmond, a former Richmond city councilman, is driving up to Sacramento today to start his orientation as one of the state’s newest Assemblymen.

Thurmond won a resounding victory Tuesday in the race for the District 15 Assembly seat. He garnered  54.3% of the vote while his opponent, Elizabeth Echols, got 45.7% of the vote.

Thurmond swept the Contra Costa County vote with 61%, and just barely came out on top in Alameda County with 50.4% of the vote.

“We’ve run a campaign on issues about progressive values — education, and environment, and expanding healthcare for those who’ve been left out,” Thurmond said late Tuesday night when partial results showed him in the lead. “So I’m excited that the voters have responded.”
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District 8 race a toss-up, Barry says he is still fighting for District 7, other council races settled

Sean Barry and Kriss Worthington campaigning at Cafe Med. Photo- Ted Friedman
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Nov. 9, 5:10 p.m. After several days in second place, Lori Droste has pulled into the lead in Berkeley’s Council District 8. She has 1,995 votes, compared to George Beier’s 1,983. Read more.

Original story, Nov. 5 While residents of District 8 may not know for days whether George Beier or Lori Droste will represent them on the Berkeley City Council, the results in two other districts are more clear-cut. But in District 7, where Councilman Kriss Worthington has the lead, his challenger Sean Barry is not willing to concede the race yet.

Jesse Arreguín won handily in District 4, as he ran unopposed.

See the latest figures in Berkeleyside’s election 2014 live blog.

Linda Maio won re-election in District 1, an area she has represented for 22 years. She garnered 55.35% of the vote (1,779 votes so far) while Alejandro Soto-Vigil got 39.98% of the vote (1,285 votes). A third candidate, Merrilie Mitchell, got 4.67% of the votes (about 150 votes).

Maio, who, before Soto-Vigil, had not faced a serious challenger since she first ran for office, said she spent a lot of time walking her district. When she spoke to people she emphasized Measure D, the proposed soda tax, and left literature behind that described her accomplishments, she said.

Soto-Vigil made the environment a centerpiece of his campaign, arguing that Maio had not done enough to address the issues surrounding air quality in the district’s asphalt plant, among other things. … Continue reading »

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Challenger Ty Alper gets seat on Berkeley School Board; third seat too close to call

Ty Alper (second from left) on the campaign trail in September. Photo Ty Alper for School Board
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Ty Alper, a challenger, has won a seat on the Berkeley School Board with the most votes – so far — in a close race, while incumbent Josh Daniels received the second-to-most votes.

The race for the third board seat, between incumbents Karen Hemphill and Julie Sinai is so close — about a half of a percent — that it is too close to call, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office. Vote-by-mail ballots dropped off at the polls on Election Day are still uncounted.

More information may be available by Thursday evening, but the registrar has 28 days to tally the results.

See Berkeleyside’s live election night blog for the latest vote tallies.

Alper was reached while cleaning his house today.

“Campaign HQ was my living room, and I had promised the family I would put it back to normal,” Alper said. “I’m sure we’ll celebrate, but I want to wait to see how these last votes come in before really celebrating.” … Continue reading »

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