Saturday, November 08, 2014

Pop Goes The Vote

This is the end. We can all start preparing for the worst. Ebola? Who cares? We have seen the coming of the Apocalypse and it looks like election results to me. What was once red is now blue. The next two years will be an unrelenting assault on Obamacare, never mind the consequences. Even if it means that Hillary Clinton wins the presidency in a landslide in 2016.
But that's not the only change occurring. There were plenty of local initiatives and measures that will affect all of our lives: after school programs, street repair funding, and that whole minimum wage conundrum. It's great to be trusted with the power of a vote. We can change the world. Or maintain the status quo.
In the Bay Area, we have a lot of things we had to figure out: Who would be mayor? What sort of city council did we want and how did we imagine our school board moving into the future? And what did we want to pay for our soda pop. Yes, health care and taxes may be inevitable, but soda is life and we had some hard decisions to make out here. In San Francisco, voters did not turn out in numbers strong enough to turn this idea into law. The supporters of this additional taxation declared victory in spite of their lack of a two-thirds supermajority because more than half of those who turned in a ballot proclaimed their allegiance to adding a few cents to the price of pop to help keep kids from getting diabetes. Or at least they will have to pitch into the public fund that will pay for the ongoing care of those of us who are trying to erode our teeth and general health by chugging down those twenty ounce Coca Colas. The sugary beverage industry pumped money into the anti-tax promotions like it was corn syrup. Millions of dollars were spent right here in the Bay Area in hopes of maintaining the low, low price of a can of Pepsi. Or Mountain Dew. Or Jolt Cola.
In Berkeley, where things are far more revolutionary, the soda tax passed with the kind of ease that Republicans rode into the Senate. Berkeley’s Measure D needed only a simple majority to pass. It will levy a penny-per-ounce tax on most sugar-sweetened beverages and is estimated to raise more than one million dollars per year. Proceeds will go to the general fund. Measure D calls for the creation of a health panel to advise Berkeley’s City Council on appropriate health programs to receive funding. Who are these people, and why weren't they swayed by the same ads that poked holes in their ideals across the bay? 
Perhaps these are the true visionaries. The ones who see the future and want to make it their own. The same folks who voted to make their city a nuclear free zone. That's been working pretty well for them since 1986. Maybe next they can make up some anti-zombie legislation. Then I could sleep at night. 

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