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RPA to hold post-election townhall in downtown Richmond

The Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) will host a townhall meeting and panel Thursday night at 1021 Macdonald to discuss the Nov. 6 election and how to move forward in the community.

The RPA took some lumps in the election, losing a council seat and Measure N, the soda tax they fought so hard for. The RPA has a track record of defeating better funded candidates and measures, but this year nearly $4 million in beverage industry and Chevron spending against them proved too much.

The flier with all the information is here:

Richmond PostElectionTownHall

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Richmond pays $43,000 bill to law firm that defended campaign law aimed at soda tax

The city council agreed 4-2 to pay the law firm Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP $43,000 for its work defending the city’s campaign finance law, which was ruled unconstitutional in federal court.

The legal challenge came from the American Beverage Association-funded Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes, which sued the city over its campaign disclosure laws requiring large, front page disclosures on all campaign mailers.

City Attorney Bruce Goodmiller said: “During the August recess the city was sued by the CCBT in federal court. We had a week to respond to a highly specialized, cutting edge first amendment campaign election issue. We had an opponent who sued us with a bevy of high-priced Washington DC attorneys to sue the city.”

Goodmiller added, “The firm defended us at a deeply discounted rate.”

Bates called the defense, and Measure N, the penny per ounce tax on sugar sweetened beverages that was defeated by 67 percent of voters on Nov. 6, a “big waste of time and money … totally ridiculous.”

Councilman Corky Booze was more colorful: “I don’t call 43,000 a minimal amount of money. They got beat. They got beat. (CCBT’s lawyers) came in and stomped your face in the ground.”

Councilman Jim Rogers, who wrote the defeated campaign disclosure law, defended the process and the efforts.

“That’s the risk that you take. I will continue to do whatever I can to limit the influence of big money outside interests in Richmond politics.”

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‘Soda tax’ rally Oct. 29 at local church

Measure N is the hottest political battle in Richmond in a long time.

It’s brought in millions in campaign funds and inflamed passions, all over a penny-per-ounce tax on businesses that sell sugar-sweetened beverages.

At 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29 the pro-Measure N forces will host a Town Hall meeting at Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Richmond.

The meeting invocation will be given by local civil rights leader Rev. Phillip Lawson. Noted author and public policy scholar Dr. Maya Rockeymoore will deliver the keynote address titled, “When Breaking up is Hard To Do: The Link Between Sugary Drinks and African American Health Disparities.”

Councilman Jeff Ritterman, a retired cardiologist, will speak on a panel that will also include Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin.

Measure N has garnered national attention as its supporters hope Richmond will become the first city in the nation to tax sugary drinks as a public health initiative.

Local food advocate Doria Robinson and Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles are also expected to speak.

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Richmond council hopefuls debate at Hotel Mac

nat bates, tom butt

Candidates square off at the Hotel Mac. (photo by Robert Rogers)

RICHMOND — Five candidates for City Council squared off in their upteenth debate Wednesday in an upstairs room of the historic Hotel Mac.

 
The lunch hour debate featured incumbents Nat Bates and Tom Butt, along with challengers Eduardo Martinez, Bea Roberson and Marilyn Langlois.
The debate was sponsored by the Council of Industries and drew about 20 local business leaders.
 
Economic development took center stage in all the candidates’ remarks.
Martinez, Langlois and Butt, backed by the progressive coalition that has lead Richmond in recent years, touted the city’s successes and said Richmond was on the right track.
 
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Martinez said, joining his allies in praising the city’s General Plan, which stresses pedestrian friendly streets, green development and open space preservation.
 
Langlois said passing Measure N, a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, was part of Richmond’s progress as a leader in healthy development.
 
  1. Read an online debate on Measure N here
 
Bates and Roberson said they were the “business friendly” candidates and vowed to open the city up to more development.
 
“We have enough parks in this city,” Bates said. “We need more economic development.”
Bates, 81, and Butt, 68, sparred with their usual volleys of barbed banter.
 
Bates said Butt and his Richmond Progressive Alliance allies were to the Council of Industries what Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is to the NAACP.
 
Butt said Bates “probably just forgot” that Butt has been a leader on economic development issues for years.
 
Other candidates for city council, including Gary Bell, Eleanor Thompson and Jael Myrick participated in another debate at the Hotel Mac on Oct. 17.
 
Three slots are up for grabs this year. Butt and Bates are longtime incumbents seeking re-election, while Councilman Jeff Ritterman has opted not to seek a second term.
 
In recent years, Richmond has enjoyed a sharp drop in crime, improving employment and new development starts, most notably the announcement earlier this year that the city would be the site of a massive new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, slated to open in 2016 or 2017.
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Sugar beverage tax debate on KQED Friday morning

RICHMOND — As election day draws near, the debate over Measure N is at full fizz.

Measure N would tax businesses that sell sugar-sweetened beverages a penny-per-ounce in an effort to reduce consuption, lower obesity and generate revenues.

We hosted a spirited online chat-style debate between Jeff Ritterman and Chuck Finnie this week. All the of the revealing answers are there for you to read and decide.

They’ll be back Friday morning at 9 a.m. on KQED.

To call in with questions: 866-733-6786

To email questions: forum@kqed.org