[Berkeley] Today, Judge Evelio Grillo upheld language in Berkeley’s Measure D that describes the sugary drink tax as a tax on distributors, not consumers. “We are very satisfied with the outcome,” says Eric Gorovitz, a Berkeley parent and Measure D supporter who attended Friday’s hearing. “This lawsuit was an expensive tactic to bully Berkeley and distract from the fact that Big Soda’s products are causing serious health epidemics in our community.”
Berkeley vs. Big Soda: Measure D language settled
“The language of the measure is settled and sound, and we are on a roll, picking up important community endorsements,” says Sara Soka, Campaign Manager for Berkeley vs. Big Soda. The night before the hearing, Measure D received the endorsement of the Berkeley Democratic Club, which voted overwhelmingly (183 to 13, with 5 abstaining) to support Measure D after hearing a debate between Berkeley Council Member Laurie Capitelli and Matt Rodriquez, a PR consultant hired by the American Beverage Association. The League of Women Voters also recently chose to endorse Measure D.
Both of the plaintiffs who brought the lawsuit against the City are affiliated with the American Beverage Association. Leon Cain is employed by Rodriguez Strategies, the LA-based PR firm hired by the soda lobby to fight Measure D. Cain registered to vote in Berkeley on August 4, 2014 and sued the city ten days later. Anthony Johnson, is employed by Edelman, the San Francisco firm with expertise in litigation communications that boasts of “preserving the reputation of the American Beverage Association when threatened with a childhood obesity lawsuit.
“The soda industry knows that they can outspend us, but they can’t out-campaign us. Measure D has broad and deep community support,” says Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center. To date, financial disclosures of donors for No Berkeley Beverage Tax have revealed only one major contributor: the American Beverage Association, which has donated $300,000.
The Ecology Center is a 45-year-old non-profit whose mission is to inspire and build a sustainable, healthy and just future for the East Bay, California and beyond.