Op-ed: Measure D: D is for distraction

Children in Berkeley are at risk for diabetes due to the lack of clean air in our allegedly “green” city.  In West Berkeley, the most diverse and low-income area in town, children have an alarming rate of asthma.  Once the lungs are affected, it is a challenge to then exercise.

Obesity, according to the Center for Disease Control, results from both a lack of exercise and too high of a caloric intake. When our children cannot play outside because the air wreaks of toxic chemicals, then they will sit inside and be inactive and gain weight and increase their diabetes risk.

Measure D came into existence as the clean air movement in Berkeley gained public attention and momentum. The problem in town is not “Big Soda”; the classic cure for the stomachache, Ginger Ale, is being scapegoated for decades of local mismanagement of polluters.

Measure D deserves a dialogue and some serious discourse.  The pro Measure D postcards include a cute photo of a diverse group of children, none of whom would benefit from the legislation.

All of the money from Measure D would be placed into the City of Berkeley’s general fund without stipulations for how that money would be spent.

The truth of the matter is that Measure D does nothing for peoples’ health and nothing for the kids on postcards or yard signs — absolutely nothing.

None of the Berkeley council members have medical degrees; they barely can determine what is healthy for themselves and cannot speak for my family. Measure D makes politicians richer and ignores the troubling, and very real, public health crisis in Berkeley.

Roots, Rhizomes, Sassafras, and the scientifically proven beneficials found in natural cane sodas would be taxed under Measure D. Like many people in Berkeley, I believe that our bodies have the power to heal themselves and that I choose what is best for my body, not the government.

It is a dangerous road to travel down to allow organic juice, ginger ale, and coconut water to be taxed while air pollution goes untaxed. Our families are not suffering medical ailments from an organic lemonade.

As a longtime journalist in the Bay Area I can attest that it is a complete lie that low-income families have their children primarily on a diet of soda. The propaganda of Measure D has stooped to sad lows and it is time for the citizens of Berkeley to wake up, smell an untaxed mocha — which has more sugar than coconut water — and vote No on Measure D!

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Kate Stepanski is a freelance writer with no investments on the NYSE. One time, in the cornfields of Illinois, she hosted Martín Espada to hear him read his poem “Coca-Cola and Coco Frío".