GUEST COMMENTARY | There's a Ghost in Town Named Charlie
by Emo Overall
Oct 29, 2013 | 2948 views | 9 9 comments | 93 93 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KICK THE CAN ORGANIZERS – Emo Overall, second from left, with Wendy Borof,  Bridget Taddonio, Hilary Taylor and Emily Coleman. (Photo by Samuel Adams)
KICK THE CAN ORGANIZERS – Emo Overall, second from left, with Wendy Borof, Bridget Taddonio, Hilary Taylor and Emily Coleman. (Photo by Samuel Adams)
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Halloween can be a spooky time of year, especially in election years.

For those who don’t know me, I’ve lived here for seven years during which I’ve worked day in and day out with Telluride’s fabulous children. I am the co-founder of Kick the Can Telluride and the idea of the local sugary drink tax.

The idea was home grown - in fact it grew out of one particularly exquisite afternoon with Kindergarteners in our very own Grow Dome. It also stands in alignment with detailed policy recommendations from the US Center for Disease Control, the American Medical Association, and the United Nations among dozens of others.

Kick the Can Telluride has found itself wading through an eerie Halloween fog. Myths and misnomers keep creeping throughout town and despite exhaustive efforts by our many advocates to debunk them, they keep shrouding these otherwise fabulously Socratic discussions.

For months now I’ve scratched my head, wondering: Where is this perpetual fog emanating from?

Only yesterday did I solve this spooky puzzle after I approached a local business owner to explain how 2A would work if it were to pass this November.

They were genuinely speechless as I clarified that our campaign is not part of a conspiracy imported from California, powdered drinks will of course not be taxed and no one’s point-of-sale system will need to be altered or even touched.

We were both spooked to learn that they had been lied to by a nice guy named Charlie.

Who is Charlie? Charlie drove into town just a little over a week after I first proposed to our Town Council a sugary drink tax (June 25th). He’s been living here among us ever since.

Charlie is a professional state lobbyist. His Telluride contract is being paid by either the Colorado Beverage Association or the American Beverage Association, although we can’t know for sure because it hasn’t appeared on any of the campaign reports.  When asked, he will tell you he is here to help our local businesses stop 2A.

Charlie won’t comment to local journalists, appear at public functions or political events. Charlie is as elusive as the fog he leaves in his wake. When I met Charlie in the flesh just a few weeks ago I mistook him in his flannel shirt, rolled up jeans,  boat shoes and heart-melting dimples, for a friendly ghost.

But as the fog thickened and I directly traced it down to Charlie, I started realizing Charlie isn’t friendly after all. Instead, Charlie is a clever ghost whose trickery has made some of us afraid of paper tigers (2A is impossible, punishing, and will doom our town). It has neighbors distrustful of each other (we can’t trust our own elected town council to implement the measure the way it was intended).

Meanwhile the only stranger in town is … Charlie.  But it’s not just Charlie - remember Charlie reports to a bigger Charlie, who reports to an even bigger, much more powerful one. They have Telluride in their sights and aim to knock it out, as they have in every other town that has dared to stand up to them.

Come November 6th Charlie will vanish, never to be seen again.

What will our community look like on that day? Will we be the town that carried water for the corporate giants or will we have stood up for our beautiful kids’ programs through a reasonable and thoroughly researched measure?

Thank you for being an enchanted town that I am proud to call home, tax or no tax.

 

 

 

Comments
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FaceOnMars
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October 31, 2013
A great deal of time, research, and consideration have been put into a lot of different efforts throughout history; having done so doesn't necessarily make them good endeavors - to put it lightly.

Seems there's always a neat and tidy answer for everything from the Kick the Can group, EXCEPT what I believe to be some of the core underlying philosophical objections of arbitrarily leveraging a sin tax on a food item which has been singled out on the basis of being "a really bad apple of low hanging fruit".

Early on in the KTC campaign, a commenter on one of the newspaper sites raised the question "What about aspartame in diet sodas?" ... which could easily be considered far worse than high fructose corn syrup in terms of associated ill health effects. The response from the KTC representative was something to the effect of "then lobby town council to put a tax on that item".

Is this the road we want to go down as a society which embraces a free market and individual freedom of choice regarding the necessary realm of food? Government using the "stick of taxation" at checkout to determine how much we need to ante up as consumers because we've made poor nutritional choices? If so, then to what end? Should it be limited just to HFCS? If so, then why? ... especially if there are more nefarious substances freely available in our general mainstream food supply.

While we've received rebuttal after rebuttal (put forth with an almost absolute certainty -- as if nothing could go ever go astray if adopted) regarding the general logistics of this measure, we've received only deafening silence with respect to the philosophical issue of how this measure effectively broaches the line of placing a sin tax on food (healthy or not).

Please spare us the same talking points which have been rehashed again and again about the ill effects of "sugary drinks". I agree. I also agree that some programs might help some kids to at least some minimal extent (although I believe it would be a case of extremely diminished returns). We all get that. You've essentially been preaching to the choir regarding the bottom line (although I, as do others, take issue with the degree to which the SINGLE COMBINED category of "overweight and obesity" have been been used to characterize a significant percentage of population of children in Telluride). Instead, please explain why it would be a good thing to open the door to taxation of food based upon nutritional value of lack thereof? I'd be extremely surprised to see a response which addresses this general question vs. the tiring "low hanging fruit" which singles out "sugary drinks" in isolation, or simply sidestepping into hen-pecking some of the stats or logistical objections.
prettyplease
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October 30, 2013
This article /letter bothers me,conspiracy, foggy woods,creeping,Charlie, spooks, ghost living amongst us,unfriendlys,doom,paper tigers ? Is this a reference to victor Charlie?which is a derogatory term?

Please have some respect for Vietnam vets !

We are not scared ,we are reasonable AND respectful of others ,vote no, I did.

WHERE and WHO is in charge of the arbitrary list ?
heydukeliving
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October 30, 2013
Can you clarify from a system perspective, how a business set to exchange data from a Point of Sale to a financial database would not have to make a change to that POS identifying the new tax? ...maybe Charlie can weigh in.
prettyplease
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October 30, 2013
She does not know what POS is or how it works.nor understand the actual business implementation of the arbitrary list of product ounces that can't be counted by machine and taxed.
EmoOverall
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October 31, 2013
Yes absolutely. Retailers will pay the tax on the sugary drinks they purchase, not sell. They are then to recoup the amount by passing the cost along to the consumer, although they can choose to round up to simplify their ticket prices and keep the difference.

Telluride is a self-reporting town for taxes. Businesses report and file their taxes with the town on or before the 20th day of each month (or every three months if that amount is less than $300). For their trouble, they are allowed to retain 1.35% of the total amount if they pay on time.

The same would apply here, except in this case the retailer would get to retain 10%.

A great deal of time, research, and consideration has been put into 2A. Thank you for your question.

Please feel free to contact me directly with further questions at emo@kickthecantelluride.com.

prettyplease
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October 31, 2013
Ooh , Even better hey duke, you can pay 0 tax on product with % shrink !

The parroted answer" retailers will pay ..... And( I )keep the difference" makes sense , to her !

Again WHOM is the list master ? Emo ?and Her knowledge of POS systems ?

Please vote no !

prettyplease
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November 01, 2013
That should read 0 tax on u product shrink.
prettyplease
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November 01, 2013
Sorry watch editor, my comment should read one hundred percent tax on product ,with twenty five percent shrink.

Thank you

And please vote no !
prettyplease
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October 30, 2013
This year no sugar water ,next year NO Halloween!just carrots and black beans yum!

Be responsible for yourself vote NO! And save Halloween !