Cola Confrontation: Woman Fights Mayor Over Sugar Tax

Philly resident explains why the proposed sugary drink tax is so personal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mayor Michael Nutter got an earful from a local woman upset by Philly's proposed soda tax. The woman, who said her husband works for Coca-Cola, is afraid of what the proposed tax would mean for soft drink workers. (Published Friday, Mar 5, 2010)

    Ever since her husband came home Thursday night worried about loosing his job at Coca-Cola due to a proposed tax on sugary drinks, Angela Quitola had a bone to pick with Mayor Nutter.

    Then imagine her surprise when she got that chance Friday morning at the Mayfair Diner along Frankford Avenue.

    Woman Taking Proposed Soda Tax Personal

    [PHI] Woman Taking Proposed Soda Tax Personal
    Angela Quitola went toe-to-toe with Mayor Nutter over his proposed tax on sugary drinks Friday. Now we catch up with her to hear why she was so upset. (Published Friday, Mar 5, 2010)

    "All I wanted him to do is hear me out, that's all," Quitola said Friday night.

    Mayor Michael Nutter was visiting the Mayfair eatery to get feedback from residents on his $3.9 billion budget proposal for 2011. Among the most controversial items is a $300 fee for trash pickup and two-cents an ounce tax on sugary drinks such as soda, juice and sports drinks.

    Quitola and Nutter went back-and-forth for more than two minutes as cameras rolled and diners hesitantly looked on.

    "If you raise them taxes, what do you think the chances are that my husband will still have a job," Quitola asked Nutter.

    Nutter responded by highlighting that soda companies like Coke make other products such as water and diet drinks that use sugar substitutes -- which would not be taxed.

    "We have a $150 million deficit, I understand your concern, your husband works for Coke, I get that," the mayor said.

    But Quitola, who says she voted for Mayor Nutter, feels like the mayor just didn't care.

    "He could have cared a little more," Quitola said. "He could have understood what I was going through."

    To be fair, the mayor did listen to the woman's questions and explain why the tax was necessary and its residual health benefits.

    "We did make a lot of cuts and will continue to make a lot of cuts," Nutter said. "And if you have some ideas on how to save money, I'd love to hear them."

    Still, Quitola thinks there are other ways to save money.

    "For him to say 'It's not a healthy choice,' I understand it's not a healthy choice. Neither are cigarettes, but people still choose to smoke them," she said.

    Quitola plans to continue to stand up against the measure and says she received many calls from people after the cola confrontation -- including her husband's boss -- pledging their support.