Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Must Reads: Large Majority of Berkeley Residents Back Soda Tax; San Franciscans Overwhelmingly Support $15 Minimum Wage

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. A large majority of Berkeley residents back a proposal to begin taxing soda and other sugary beverages, Berkeleyside reports, citing a new city survey. The proposed one-cent-per-one-ounce tax garnered 66 percent support. However, the soda industry is expected to spend huge amounts of money trying to defeat the measure if the city council puts in on the ballot. Big Soda spent about $2.7 million in 2012, successfully beating back a similar tax initiative in Richmond. San Francisco also will have a soda tax measure on this year’s ballot.

2. A strong majority of San Francisco residents, meanwhile, say they want the minimum wage raised to $15 an hour, the Chron reports, citing a new survey. The proposal garnered 59 percent support. The current minimum wage in San Francisco is $10.74 an hour. Organized labor groups are currently collecting signatures in Oakland for a ballot measure to raise the minimum wage to $12.25 an hour.

3. The Berkeley Student Cooperative voted late last week to evict about 150 students from the campus Cloyne Court co-op and turn it into a drug-free house, the Chron reports. The move stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the family of a 21-year-old Cal student who overdosed at Cloyne and suffered severe brain damage. The Berkeley Student Cooperative ended up paying the student’s family nearly $1 million to settle the case.

4. A top California energy official said he was unaware that oil companies in the state have been receiving crude oil via rail — even though the practice is well-known and has been going on for some time, including in the East Bay, the SacBee$ reports. Gordon Schremp, senior fuels specialist for the California Energy Commission, said oil companies did not tell his office about oil-by-rail shipments, which can be dangerous and have resulted in catastrophic accidents elsewhere in the country.

Dianne Feinstein
  • Dianne Feinstein
5. And US Senator Dianne Feinstein has done a complete about-face on federal government spying and drones — now that she has personally experienced both. Feinstein, a staunch supporter of government spying, contends that the CIA spied on her Senate Office computers and that she saw a drone flying outside her San Francisco home. The senator is now calling for tighter controls on government surveillance.

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