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Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

I support the soda tax, but am concerned that there's absolutely no discernible public presence of the advocates for it. I live in a poor, majority black neighborhood in north Oakland, and once or twice a week I get an expensive mailer from the beverage association, showing a small grocer, always a salt-of-the-earth nonwhite merchant, stating that he or she will be hurt by a "tax on groceries" if this law passes. If the advocates are being outspent by hundreds of thousands of dollars, why isn't there a pro-tax campaign to write letters to the editor, or op-ed pieces, or equal time rebuttals on TV and radio, none of which costs anything? There ought to be a public education campaign to the small grocers in poor areas, pointing out the damage those products do to their customers.
Laura Ingram

Posted by Laura Ingram on 08/24/2016 at 10:18 PM

Re: “Oakland's Street-Repair Deficit is Deep. The Mayor Says a $600 Million Bond Needed to Address the Problem.

NO, NO, NO!!!!! LET CAPITALISM REIGN !!! NO ON AFFORDABLE HOUSING!!! NO CITY HAS EVER HELP ME TO BUY & OWN PROPERTY!!!

Posted by Paul Merr on 08/24/2016 at 9:36 PM

Re: “Oakland's Street-Repair Deficit is Deep. The Mayor Says a $600 Million Bond Needed to Address the Problem.

Right now, I do not trust any proposal originating from the Mayor's Office. Any property owner, who is not residing or registered to vote in Oakland will not be able to vote for or against this proposal. Further, I have little or no confidence in any internal City of Oakland accounting practices or capabilities. And to make matters even worse, there is no input from the City of Oakland City Auditors Office. Essentially, renters who are registered to vote can vote but property owners cannot. This is the worst proposal I have seen in years. I would urge a NO vote on this or any other tax proposal bearing the support and approval of the Oakland City Council.

Posted by Dennis the Menace on 08/24/2016 at 8:19 PM

Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

At Frank:

I won't address the opinion of individual choice except to say, with this measure choice isn't taken away. No one is banning sodas or other beverages. You still have the choice to buy.

Secondly, this isn't the only "tool" public health is using to improve the health of America. If you watched the segment on CBS This Morning that I posted above, they tell us that the FDA just approved requiring the food industry to include the amount of added sugars to nutrition labels. Also you can see currently plenty of food companies making a concerted effort to reduce the amount of corn syrup in their products. There are other efforts like menu labeling and using natural ingredients happening all over the country, most notably in California who has always been at the forefront of public health interventions.

So the Beverage industry isn't the sole target by any means.

But as I stated before, programming and education doesn't come free. The government alone can't pay for it all. This way we all have the opportunity to contribute, while enjoying an occasional beverage - if you choose. πŸ˜‰

Posted by Tonya Love on 08/24/2016 at 8:18 PM

Re: “Oakland's Street-Repair Deficit is Deep. The Mayor Says a $600 Million Bond Needed to Address the Problem.

As a mortgage owner in Oakland who pays plenty of property tax and has just watched a rental across the street be occupied by new tenants who have 7 vehicles which they park in the street. I would rather see a vehicle tax increase so that those people who create the potholes contribute to their repair. It doesn't seem right that property owners are asked to fund a bond to repair the damage caused by large numbers of vehicles in the area.

Posted by alphie noakes on 08/24/2016 at 7:43 PM
Posted by Marísa Mendoza on 08/24/2016 at 7:23 PM

Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

"Tools" are something to be picked up and used or not picked up and used. "Tools" shouldn't be used to hit people's head or their pocket book. Who wants to make the first blow and "be a tool" for either side?

This is a power grab. Money is power grabbed out of our wallets. Stop tip toeing through the tulips of individual choice and freedom and instead EDUCATE about sugar. Start with why did the FDA make "sugar" part of the "food pyramid". This proposed law is dishonest by not addressing the matter (sugar) directly, but indirectly by beverage. Most all prepared food on the store shelf has added sugar. Who adds sugar to vegetables?! Yeck.

My id photo shows I am for individual human rights, meaning rights to whom owns the body. Forcing someone should never be necessary. Who wants to be forced? Right, so education is the answer.

Posted by Frank McGinness on 08/24/2016 at 7:02 PM

Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

OK , we taxed cigarettes to death (and to some being smuggle in).
I agree excessive sugar might be harmful to some people. But there must be a point where we let people decide their behavior. I know the people reading this who approve would get pissed, if "they" took your dangerous pot away.

Posted by stan miller on 08/24/2016 at 6:01 PM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

Why is it on the restaurants to ask themselves why they're doing what they're doing? As long as they aren't explicitly selling themselves as something they are not, I don't see the problem.

I would love to see restaurants come together and discuss with each other and the community these types of issues, rather than grapple with them on an intimate level.

If the consumers are supporting restaurants that sell a veneer of authenticity, culture, and diversity, that's our collective responsibility to be more mindful and investigative in our consumption.

Posted by Timothy Ng on 08/24/2016 at 5:52 PM

Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

At Charlie Pine:

While, I share your hesitation to trust that the City Council will spend all of the funds as intended, if not the current electeds but any future elected officials, there are some accountability measures written into the ballot measure.

1. There will be a Committee who will make recommendations on how the money is to be spent. Members of the community who are public health professionals as well as members of the communities most effected by the tax.
2. The committee will write a report that is open to the public which will show how the money is spent (presumably in comparison to their recommendations) and the success of programs/education funded. So the public will be able to see if the the city spends the money responsibly and can respond.

You may say that these same measures were put into place for Measure Y (I don't know actually)..

But how effective these accountability protocols are depends on how strongly the community enforces it. As with anything, the city council responds and are "checked" by community pressure. There will be watch dogs (myself and can I assume, you too, if this passes) who will keep an eye on the money. πŸ™‚

Posted by Tonya Love on 08/24/2016 at 5:50 PM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

Thanks, Luke. No easy answers here but humanity.

Posted by Jono Schneider on 08/24/2016 at 5:32 PM

Re: “Oakland's Street-Repair Deficit is Deep. The Mayor Says a $600 Million Bond Needed to Address the Problem.

No! No! No!
Oakland treats Home Loaners (notice I didn't say home owner..the bank owns my home) like endless cash cows. We already pay a ton of taxes, and get little in return. Where does all my money go anyway? How come Oakland doesn't have money for road repair during a record influx of money? Audit the city's expenses first, and tell us where all the tax money goes before asking for more money. If you want affordable housing money, ask all those out of state developers that are building profitable giant apartment buildings.

Posted by Joe Average on 08/24/2016 at 5:31 PM

Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

Mr. Commentator under the moniker of reporter: Thanks for acknowledging your error on the basic mechanics of the proposed tax. You're halfway to accuracy. Distributors of beverages can recover the cost of the grocery tax by up-pricing any of the beverages they sell. You might like an increase in the price of beer, but that has nothing to do with sugar. Furthermore, the retailer, hit by increased cost, can up-price anything he sells from milk to diapers. However, congratulations on your search for a professor who mouths the opinion you want to publish. Prof. Auerbach might know law, but he clearly does not understand the first thing about comparative price elasticities, taught to students in micro-economics class.

If Ms. Love thinks the City of Oakland will spend most of the tax revenue on education, she should look at where Oakland spent its Measure Y "police staffing" revenue (hint: not on police staff), to mention only the most egregious example of broken commitments by City Hall.

The grocery tax is a regressive tax with a bit of lipstick on it to make trendy "progressive" politicians feel good while they enjoy the added revenue.

Posted by Charlie Pine on 08/24/2016 at 4:27 PM

Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

Thanks for analyzing the facts behind the proposed Oakland ordinance and research on how it is playing out in Berkeley.
This is particularly important because of the blatant lies by Joe Arellano, the American Beverage Association, and the No campaign on the Oakland Soda Tax. It is a tax on sodas and on distributors, period. The only way they can hope to defeat the soda tax is through misinformation. Such an approach is disingenuous and shameful.

Posted by Jon Evans on 08/24/2016 at 2:52 PM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

What a perfectly complex subject for the Oakland community to debate! As a white male who loves all food from all cultures, I am already a customer of both the hole in the wall ethnic spots & places like Penrose. I love them all & I hope our community can strike the right balance to ensure all can make a decent living & keep all those good eats coming!

Posted by andrewdeangelo on 08/24/2016 at 2:35 PM

Re: “Cooking Other People's Food: How Chefs Appropriate Bay Area 'Ethnic' Cuisine

To echo Cho, my biggest beef is when a restaurant uses ethnic ingredients and then declares whatever final dish they made with it as belonging to that ethnic group. Anything made with gochujang, or marinated in a mix of soy sauce/sugar, is not suddenly Korean.

This is definitely a class/education issue that goes hand in hand with eating local and "clean" ingredients. I can't hate on it though. These upscale establishments lend a level of transparency to where their ingredients come from that makes diners feel safe and seemingly justifies the higher prices. Atmosphere while dining also makes a difference. Sometimes it's just nicer kitchenware and furniture. Other times its the diner feeling like an odd duck because they're not the ethnicity of the cuisine or cannot speak the language of their server/fellow diners. There's a level of comfort in atmosphere and dining with the familiar, whether that is ingredients, language, etc.

Posted by Alexis Davidson on 08/24/2016 at 12:07 PM

Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

Darwin:

This is an excellent article--thank you for presenting both sides of a contentious debate in a balanced manner. There is a ton of misinformation regarding this issue and you have done a fantastic job cutting out the chaff. Please keep up the good work.

Posted by Tommy Katz on 08/24/2016 at 10:18 AM

Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

Tonya Love: Thanks for the information. I corrected and clarified the online version of the story. I guess I was confused by the press conference that the American Beverage Association-backed "grocery tax" campaign held last week. They had two speakers, both store owners, who said at the press conference that they would be paying the tax. And the public relations people running the anti-beverage tax campaign have repeatedly implied that grocers themselves will pay the tax. Clearly the text of the ordinance reads that the tax is on distributors who sell beverages to retailers, and the ordinance exempts retail sales.

Charlie Pine: How many distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages also distribute vegetables, milk, eggs, and so on? I was always under the impression that most beverage distributors just distribute beverages. How much of an opportunity do beverage distributors really have to pass this tax onto other goods? And as to this theoretical ability of a grocer to raise prices on milk and diapers to absorb price increases they have to pay for soda from their distributor, professor Auerbach addresses this claim in the article. He doesn't think it's sound.
As to the regressive impact a soda tax would have, yes, you are correct. The poor would pay more. That's true with most taxes on consumer goods.
But your claim regarding tobacco taxes isn't backed up by research. Most studies have found that increasing tobacco taxes leads to reductions in smoking rates (for example, http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/21/2…)

Posted by Darwin BondGraham on 08/24/2016 at 9:37 AM

Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

o for cryin out loud: this has to do with sanctions that will reduce sugar consumption. This. is. a. good. thing. The less sugar you consume--esp HFC--the better you will feel; you will also mysteriously not miss it.
Meanwhile, how bout targeting the real problems behind the 'need' to self-medicate with soda: poverty, homelessness, (mis)education, capitalism...

Posted by Claudine Marie Elizabeth Jones on 08/24/2016 at 9:04 AM

Re: “'Big Soda' Argues Oakland's Proposed Tax Will Cut Sales β€” But Proponents Say That's Exactly the Point

Darwin and readers:

The language of the measure says that it is a tax on the distributors (those that deliver a product from one business to another) and not on retailers who then sell the product to consumers. The Distributers can pass the cost on to retailers and studies show that prices of soda does in fact increase, just like the beverage industry fears. American Public Health and National Bureau of economic research has both shown that soda prices have increased in Berkeley. However, what has not been shown is an increase in groceries. The Beverage industry will tell you "it can happen" but can't or won't produce evidence that it actually *has* happened.

A new study on Berkeley's tax shows reduced soda consumption in communities of color by a statistically significant large margin. Only 5% decided to buy sodas in another city.

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/…

The reduction of consumption is due to the tax, as study respondents suggest, but also due to education as Chris Pine suggests. It is the combination that works, why? Because education does not come free. It is paid for by taxation.

Cigarette public health programs and education were paid for by taxation in local jurisdictions which lead to states and the federal govt suing the tobacco industry, which led to changing federal laws restricting sales and requiring warning labels and in settlement, the tobacco industry paying for national education and programs which worked to reduced cigarette smoking.

Just like with cigarettes, there is strong data and public health warnings that excess sugar is harmful to our health. There is also evidence that the largest source of added sugar to our diets is sodas and other sugar sweetened beverages. The American Heart Association has come out with new guidelines on reducing consumption of added sugar, especially for children. CBS News This Morning did a segment and Norah Odonell declared the number one source of added sugar in our diets is from sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages.

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/new-guidelin…

The city council isn't the only entity behind this measure, public health professionals across the city and county are. The public health commission did a study back in 2014 on the rates of obesity and how much it is costing the county. In 2013-2014 the county allocated over $650 million to health care costs - $134 million of which spent on obesity related diseases.

http://www.acphd.org/media/351716/health-e…

The public health community have come together with local govts to find a way to pay for education and programs to improve the health of children and families. This tax will help do that.

Posted by Tonya Love on 08/24/2016 at 3:50 AM

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