Another sign that Measure N is deeply flawed is when our politicians themselves don’t understand what they voted for and then spread misinformation in our community. The Facebook exchange below was forwarded by a resident who had questions about the sugar tax. In it councilmember Jovanka Beckles is convinced that a “Fizzy Lizzy” juice-sweetened soda she’s recommending as a healthy alternative won’t be taxed under Measure N, even to the point of reminding the resident that “I’m a council member who voted to have this on the ballot. I understand it very well.” She’s wrong.
Beckles is confused. As anyone who has read the ordinance can tell you, the tax also applies to beverages sweetened with fruit juice concentrates and the only exemptions are 100% fruit juice or those that have been reconstituted as such. This isn’t just a tax on soda, it’s also a tax on many hundreds of moderately consumed beverages (such as organic juice blends, soy milks, probiotics) that contain important nutrients and are not culprits in our nation’s obesity epidemic. And not only is this councilmember oblivious about Measure N and the burden it will place on the residents of Richmond, she’s disseminating incorrect information about the scope of the tax while denouncing tax opponents who are actually right.
It’s too late to fix this well-intended but deeply flawed ordinance but we can certainly reject it. Please join me in sending our politicians the message that we care a great deal about the health of our children but we demand a better solution than they have put forward: vote NO on Measure N, Yes on Measure O.