Beverage tax backers challenged to explain breadth of Measure N
Call follows contradictory statements on products covered by so-called “soda tax”
RICHMOND, Calif., Sept. 24, 2012—The No on Measure N campaign on Monday challenged backers of the proposed tax on sugar-sweetened beverage sales in Richmond to provide a clear explanation of the products that would be covered by the measure.
The No on N campaign issued the challenge after the chief sponsor of Measure N, Richmond Councilman Jeff Ritterman, made contradictory statements on the topic in comments he posted on a local news Web site, during a radio debate and during a television news interview.
“Councilman Ritterman is giving conflicting information about Measure N and seems unable to explain a tax he wants businesses and residents to pay and voters to support,” said Chuck Finnie, spokesman for the No on N campaign. “Ritterman owes voters a clear explanation so they can make an informed decision.”
The contradictory statements relate specifically to Measure N’s application to infant formulas— but raise a broader point about a general lack of understanding of the breadth of the so-called “soda tax,” and its predictable negative effects when it results in higher grocery bills.
On July 14, in an extended exchange with Measure N opponents on the Richmond Confidential news website, Ritterman acknowledged that Measure N extends far beyond soda, and stated that it covers any beverage with added sugars, including dairy products like chocolate milk, soy drinks and infant formula.
In contrast, during a Sept. 6 debate on KPFA radio and again during an interview televised Sept. 12 by KNTV NBC, Ritterman stated unequivocally and without qualification that Measure N does not cover infant formula.
“Councilman Ritterman can’t have it both ways,” said Felix Hunziker, a Measure N opponent and Richmond police commissioner. “This tax is extraordinarily broad and residents deserve the facts before they cast their ballots.”
Hunziker was author of an opinion article published by the Richmond Confidential that led to the exchange of comments between Measure N foes and Ritterman—the exchange within which Ritterman not only stated that infant formula is covered but also defended its inclusion. Read more