STUMP » Articles » Soda Tax: I BETTER POST THIS WHILE IT STILL EXISTS » 7 October 2017, 15:00

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.



7 October 2017, 15:00

As per my last soda tax post, the Daley defection was pretty much a death knell for the Cook County Soda Tax.

And more have defected:

Cook County soda tax to be repealed next week

The controversial Cook County pop tax is poised to fall flat.

After months of wrangling, a “bipartisan” deal has come together to end the penny-per-ounce tax on soda and other sugary drinks in advance of a vote on the matter that is still scheduled for next week.

The veto-proof deal delivers a major setback to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who on Thursday said the revenue from the tax was needed to avoid major cuts to the public health and safety sectors.

Two more commissioners, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Chicago, Preckwinkle’s floor leader, and Stanley Moore, D-Chicago, who were once in favor of the tax, acknowledged on Friday they have since changed their stance.

Another commissioner, Dennis Deer, D-Chicago, who joined the board after the tax was approved, also said he will vote against it. The move follows an announcement Thursday from Commissioner John Daley, D-Chicago, that he would no longer support the tax.

The decision, and Commissioner Sean Morrison’s, R-Palos Park, substitute amendment, were submitted earlier Friday. With 12 commissioners now supporting the repeal, the measure is veto-proof; state law calls for a three-fifths majority.

I know my soda-tax-posting frequency has been high lately, and I have posts on the following in draft mode right now: Connecticut, Puerto Rico, Kentucky, and California.


It’s pretty clear that the soda tax is soon to be dead. So I gotta get my fun while I can. The public finance disasters of the others aren’t about to go away. I can get to them later. I’ve had posts sit in draft for two years before. And they were still relevant when I dug them out.


Preckwinkle’s out of good options on soda tax

Before I dive into this, did she have any good options to begin with? Other than just saying no?

With her prized soda-pop tax now in the deepest of political trouble, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle this weekend will have to make what may be the most difficult decision of her career: whether to cave in, tacitly accept defeat, seek a compromise or go nuclear in a last-ditch effort to save the controversial penny-an-ounce levy on sweetened beverages.

Preckwinkle’s dilemma—which worsened yesterday when longtime ally and Finance Committee Chairman John Daley announced he would back a repeal—exploded today when three other commissioners who had voted for the tax earlier this year co-signed a new repeal ordinance: Democrats Chuy Garcia, Stanley Moore and Dennis Deer. According to chief sponsor Sean Morrison, a suburban Republican, that makes 13 committed votes, with nine needed for repeal and 11 by most legal interpretations required to override a possible Preckwinkle veto.

The president’s office wasn’t commenting on any of that today. But she has no good options after Daley, who traditionally accompanies her to newspaper editorial boards to back her proposed budget, publicly defected this time just hours after she delivered a speech declaring the tax to be absolutely critical to the county’s financial health.

Preckwinkle could throw in the towel. That’s not like her, but might at least repair her relationship with Daley, who my sources say had been urging her for weeks to junk the tax.

The president could seek a compromise. There has been some of reworking of the tax to limit it to only high-calorie drinks or cutting it to a half cent or, more likely, make some cuts and find another levy to make up part of the $200 million a year the levy was expected to net.

Or she could hold her ground and say she still wants the tax, but quietly pass word to board allies that the war has been lost so they might as well follow the politically popular course and go for repeal. That would leave it to the board to do the heavy lifting in finding places to cut $200 million in spending.

My bet is that option three is the most likely. But if Preckwinkle really wants to go all out, she has weapons.

One is to try to challenge the vote of Commissioner Richard Boykin, a partner in the national law firm of Barnes & Thornburg, which has represented both Coca-Cola and Pepsi and has done some lobbying for the soda pop industry. The challenge would be that Boykin has a conflict of interest.


Then there’s the service of one Richard M. Daley, the former mayor of Chicago and John Daley’s brother, on the board of Coca-Cola. Some county sources have suggested that his Coke directorship could also become an issue if Preckwinkle chose to make it one as debate over her soda tax peaks. But Preckwinkle would have to burn bridges with longtime allies to use such ammunition, and John Daley can reply that he voted for the tax in the first place notwithstanding his brother’s board gig. Still, if she wants to fight to the end, this would be one way.

Let’s ignore that there are already commitments from enough commissioners to bypass whatever she wants. Let’s just see what amount of power the BIG SODA accusations would have.

Nobody cares.

You don’t have near 90% of Cook County adult residents hating the soda tax because a commissioner is part of a law firm that has worked for Coke, Pepsi, and BIG SODA! Or that a different commissioner from an extremely well-connected political family has a brother on the board of Coca-Cola.

These commissioners are not Rasputins mesmerizing the masses, snowing the hoi polloi with magic sugar water.

This is not scientific, but when I do my twitter sweep on the soda tax, no I’m not posting all such tweets, and some I copy are pro-tax. But there are extremely few pro-soda-tax tweeters in Cook County.

It would be great for my entertainment value if Preckwinkle burns up her political alliances in the name of scoring cheap points that will change nothing other than burn up any chance of people supporting her within her party.

Her best option at right now is just to keep her mouth shut. That’s it. Let’s see if that’s the option she goes with.

She could try to push the budget shortfall on this vote, too. That’s her strongest argument. Not “for the kids!” or “but the health!”, because everybody at this point knows it’s the money.

And she basically has already decided to take that route.



Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle shared an admission that the soda tax was always about revenue.

On the eve of her Oct. 5 presentation of the 2018 budget to the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle finally admitted that the county’s sweetened beverage tax was always about increasing revenue.

“We chose as a revenue generator a sweetened beverage tax, which had been enacted around the country, both for the revenue and because of the health benefits,” she said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “But first and foremost, because of the revenue.”

This is hardly a shock in light of previous reports of Preckwinkle providing premium perks and bonuses to Teamsters Union Local 700, a government-worker union that has been in support of this tax from the beginning.

Nobody was ever fooled that it was about the children, an evil right-wing conspiracy, or whatever.

It’s all about money.

It usually is.

But by all means, attack fellow Democrats for being in the pocket of BIG SODA. I think that will be a fabulous tactic.

(I may not have your political interests in mind, Preckwinkle. Just in case it wasn’t clear.)


In defense of pop tax, Preckwinkle sounds like predecessor Stroger

Even as the much-reviled Cook County pop tax is likely to be repealed this week, Board President Toni Preckwinkle continues to try to make the case that losing all that money would gut vital services.

For Preckwinkle, it’s an odd place to be. Once praised for cutting taxes and streamlining the county bureaucracy, these days she finds herself in a situation eerily similar to the one that helped her vanquish her predecessor at the polls seven years ago.

Back in 2009, when then-Board President Todd Stroger was fighting to save his penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase in the wake of a repeal vote, he said its elimination would hurt important public health and criminal justice programs.

“I will not allow commissioners to grandstand for political advantage at the expense of a growing number of county residents who desperately need these services,” Stroger said.

Last week, Preckwinkle told commissioners during her 2018 budget address that elimination of the penny-an-ounce tax on sugar- and artificially sweetened beverages would trigger an 11 percent cut to the public health and criminal justice system budgets. She told commissioners they faced “a moment of truth . . . because you know we need this revenue.”

“It seems like it’s Groundhog Day all over again,” said Schneider, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s choice to lead the state GOP. “We just resurrected the same situation that we had when Todd Stroger passed the 1 percent sales tax. At that time, it was going to solve all our problems, that we weren’t going to have to go to the taxpayers again for the foreseeable future.

“Here we are, eight years later, and we’ve already reinstated the 1 percent sales tax, and now we’re going to implement a soda tax of 1 cent per ounce, on top of an amusement tax, on top of hotel taxes, on top of additional cigarette taxes, on top of all kinds of other taxes that we’ve added. I think we’ve identified when enough is enough.”

Schneider pointed out another similarity. Back in 2009, the Chicago Tribune editorial board was railing against the sales tax on a daily basis, featuring a countdown clock until the 2010 election. Now, the American Beverage Association is financing a multmillion-dollar campaign against the pop tax, while targeting supporters for electoral defeat next year, when the seats of Preckwinkle and all 17 commissioners are on the ballot.

Given her age, maybe she should look into possible memory issues.

Unless she goes with “I thought they were suckers!”


I agree. I don’t drink soda. I’m obese. Soda tax won’t do anything about my fatty fattiness.

Heh. Someone didn’t see how unpopular the tax was before BIG SODA did anything.

Heh. I have a sneaking suspicion this tweeter also doesn’t have Preckwinkle’s political career in mind.

Heh, that made me laugh.

There was indeed a huge implementation issue. The tax had nothing to do with the amount of calories in a drink, for the convenience of the taxing politicians. A lot of low calorie drinks were getting taxed.

Aw man, the end of a very short-lived era.

I’ll probably get one more post, maybe two, out of the soda tax. Aw.


How the mighty have fallen.

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