Op-Ed, Daniel Zingale
Big Soda spent big bucks. That’s how it defeated ballot measures to create soda taxes in two California towns.
In Richmond, in the Bay Area, and in El Monte, east of Los Angeles, the measures would have added a penny-an-ounce tax on soda. Had the taxes passed, they were projected to raise millions of dollars aimed at funding local recreation and nutrition activities to fight childhood obesity.
To bury these towns in an avalanche of billboards, mailers and ads, the American Beverage Assn. and friends wrote checks totaling $4.1 million. Supporters of the measures, primarily children’s health advocates, spent $114,000.
Big Soda spent $115 per vote in Richmond and El Monte. In comparison, supporters of Proposition 30, the governor’s tax measure, spent $5.85 per vote.
It was the most expensive campaign battle ever waged in El Monte. In Richmond, 99% of the funds used to defeat the soda tax poured in from out of state, 95% of them from Washington lobbying firms. Not a single cent for the “no” campaign came from an individual citizen.
Big Soda’s sky-high spending was a new low for California. Its political strategists have surely been slapping each other on the back, proud of the strong message they sent to other cities that might consider similar measures.
Richmond and El Monte residents probably would have appreciated it more if Big Soda had spent that pile of cash in a different way, for example, to keep California kids healthy and active. Here’s what that $4.1 million could have bought.
Daniel Zingale is a senior vice president at the California Endowment and a leader of its Health Happens Here campaign (www.healthhappenshere.org)
is a community news and media outlet, committed to amplifying the voices of the city's under-served residents. Our reporting is led by young people, with the intent of serving the entire community. Through our work, we seek to create dialogue, and find solutions to, the health issues that plague the Richmond, California community.
Want to tell a story? Get Involved Today!
Read More About…
Download the Richmond Pulse Newspaper (English and Spanish PDF)
Most Recent Editions Below -- Click Here for All Past Editions
- Issue #33: Jan 2015
- Issue #32: Dec 2014
- Issue #31: Nov 2014
- Issue #30: Oct 2014
- Issue #29: July 2014
- Issue #28: June 2014
- Issue #27: May 2014
- Issue #26: April 2014
- Issue #25: March 2014
- Issue #24: February 2014
- Issue #23: January 2014
- Issue #22: December 2013
- Issue #21: November 2013
- Issue #20: October 2013
- Issue #19: September 2013
- Issue #18: August 2013
- Issue #17: July2013
- Issue #16: June 2013
- Issue #15: May 2013
- Issue #14: April 2013
- Issue #13: March 2013
- Issue #12: February 2013
- Issue #11: January 2013
- Issue #10: December 2012
- Issue #9: November 2012
- Issue #8: October 2012
- What We Can Learn From a Transgender Teen’s Suicide 0 comments
- Rethinking Why We Opposed the TV Show “Sorority Sisters” 0 comments
- Rich City Fashion 0 comments
- Art and Soul Within: Richmond Celebrates the Life of Anthony Allen 0 comments
- Seeing Gardens in the Blight 0 comments
Related Richmond, Ca News
- Man with gunshot wound found dead in car in Richmond (Richmond)
- Richmond High boys soccer overcomes slow start, looks toward postseason (Richmond Confidential)
- Private firms wield large influence over West Contra Costa school district bond program as costs soar (Richmond)
- Pinole Community Players staging production of "Rent" (Richmond)
- American Red Cross encouraging African-Americans to donate blood (Richmond Confidential)
- Mayor highlights Hilltop Mall and Hacienda relocation in State of the City address (Richmond Confidential)