In the News
Metro - May 6, 2016
The Ernest Opinion: Working-class Philadelphians will not be ignored over this pathetic sugary drink tax
Mayor’s office pretending big corporations are the only ones behind this revolt is ridiculous.
I don’t like to be lied to or lied about. Especially when the lie is coming from the mayor’s office.
Wednesday’s rally outside City Hall protesting the sugary drink tax, which is intended to fund Mayor Jim Kenney’s universal pre-kindergarten initiative, was filled with concerned Philadelphians speaking out against this proposal.
Lauren Hitt, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, told the press that “the soda industry paid a lot of people to come in from New Jersey to make it seem like this opposition was driven by the people and not millionaires.”
But I was there, and so were many working-class Philadelphians who weren’t campaigning on behalf of any corporate interests or taking any of their money.
“There’s got to be a better way to fund these schools then taxing my family,” said Monica Brown, a Southwest Philly resident who works two jobs to support her three sons. “I am here because I can’t afford another crazy expense for my family’s tight budget.”
Brown is part of Philadelphians Against the Grocery Tax Coalition, locals from small businesses and community organizations who oppose the tax. “It’s not just soda they plan to tax, but many of the juices and other beverages that contain sugar,” she added. “The mayor’s office love calling it a soda tax because it makes it seem as though it’s only one item. ... It’s seriously a lot of the beverages at the grocery store that I buy to help feed my sons.”
Kenney’s office is using the big-bad-corporation fear tactic to avoid looking for alternative funding for universal pre-K. Blame the money-hungry private interests that are trying to take away from the poor.
I wonder how Kenney feels about outsiders such as Johnny Doc and George Norcross’ influence on City Hall. Yeah, I’ll wait.
But instead of trying to seriously address the regressive vibe of this tax on working-class Philadelphians who aren’t being paid to take off work like Monica Brown to try stop this tax from affecting her — they would rather play the blame game.
I salute the three City Councillors — Jannie Blackwell, a Democrat from District Three; Maria D. Quinones-Sanchez, a Democrat representing the Seventh District; and Al Taubenberger, a Republican councilman at large — who have spoken out against this tax because their constituents would be disproportionately affected by it.
“Council can come up with other ways to do the right thing,” Quinones-Sanchez told the crowd at Wednesday’s rally.
I agree with her. With City Commissioners doing virtually nothing directly worthy of their six-figure salaries and other wasteful expenditures going completely unchecked, taxing the poor should be the last resort, not the only one.
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