Monday Must Reads: Big Soda Sues Berkeley Over Proposed Tax; PG&E’s Coziness With Regulators Deepens

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Major beverage makers are financing a lawsuit against the City of Berkeley over its proposed soda tax measure on the November ballot, the Trib$ reports. The lawsuit contends that Berkeley’s proposed one-cent-per-one-ounce tax on sugary beverages is “false, misleading, and illegally biased.” Backers of the measure are accusing Big Soda of bullying tactics.

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2. PG&E’s coziness with state officials that are supposed to regulate the utility is more extensive than previously known, the Chron reports. Michael Peevey, head of the California Public Utilities Commission, penned invitations to a state-sponsored gas-safety conference that were nearly identical to one written by PG&E. PG&E also organized the conference, wrote the agenda, and screened the panelists. Peevey has come under increasing fire for his close relationship with PG&E at a time when the CPUC is considering a $2.5 billion fine against the utility for the deadly 2010 natural gas explosion in San Bruno.

3. Governor Jerry Brown, nonetheless, continues to strongly back Peevey, telling the Bay Area News Group that the CPUC chair is “a very effective leader; he gets things done.” Brown also vigorously defended his controversial plan to build two giant water tunnels underneath the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

4. Environmentalists contend that a bill in the state legislature that would tighten rules on the use of antibiotics in livestock does not go far enough, and contains loopholes that would still allow the overuse of antibiotics, the Bay Area News Group$ reports.

5. And over the weekend, protesters demonstrated in Oakland and Berkeley against the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown by a cop in Ferguson, Missouri, while at the Port of Oakland, demonstrators tried to block the unloading of an Israeli cargo ship as a part of a protest against Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip, the Chron reports.

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