Soda tax could reduce obesity

The May 28 Times editorial, "California soda tax falls flat," asks "Why hit soda with a sin tax while others get off scot-free?" Then the editorial itself provides the answer.

Unlike real food, soda (sugar water) offers just empty calories and fattens without filling. As the Times editorial says: "the average California teenager consumes 39 pounds of sugar a year just from soda consumption." Even most children drink "an amount that increases the chance of obesity by 27 percent" and "obesity-related health costs in California will increase by more than 15 percent by 2030."

The soda tax is not mainly to raise the price of soda -- already cheaper than water in many stores -- but to provide money to fund nutrition education and programs to reduce childhood obesity. California's tobacco tax, although lower than 32 states, has been successful in reducing California's smoking rate to the second-lowest in the nation because part of the money is used to fund tobacco education and prevention programs.

A sugar-sweetened beverage tax can do for the obesity epidemic what the tobacco tax did for smoking -- turn the numbers around and make California a leader in improving the nation's health.

Dr. Wendel Brunner

Martinez Dr. Brunner is the director of public health at Contra Costa Health Services.


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Using the turn signals is the law

Over Memorial Day weekend, I saw many electronic messages on the freeways advising us to "Click it or Ticket."

While it is a catchy phrase, it is truly a waste of space. Being realistic, if someone doesn't use a seat belt by now, they have a death wish. Their being thrown from a moving vehicle, though tragic, does not impact my driving.

A better public service would be to remind the countless, self-centered drivers on all our roads to use their turn signals -- as is the law -- when changing lanes or turning. This allows the rest of us to know what you are doing and, hopefully, avoid a collision.

Margaret Lopez Faria

Crockett

Landlord license fee is sensible

Antioch must increase the number of police officers and community service officers to address the crime negatively impacting our quality of life. Code enforcement activity must also be increased to address blight.

Antioch needs a steady stream of revenue and I submit that since all businesses pay a license fee in order to do business in Antioch, nonowner-occupied rental property dwellings should be included in this fee-paying structure.

Rental property owners are running a business and it makes sense the city should collect a license fee from them. Rentals are at 99 percent occupancy rate and this would be a reliable, steady stream of revenue that would provide an estimated $2.5 million a year based on a fee of $20 per unit per month on approximately 11,000 rental units in this city.

Antioch voters, for a steady stream of funds for the city, please support the initiative for a business license fee on nonowner-occupied rental properties. This fee will be an investment toward a safer, better quality of life for all Antioch residents, businesses and visitors.

Marie Livingston

Antioch

Unions lost their gamble

This letter is regarding the May 19 Times editorial, "Lawmakers must address teacher pension shortfall."

In my opinion, it was a gamble for people to join a union that "promised" a pension. The union people lost this gamble on pensions.

We taxpayers should not have to make good on the promises of others to pay a pension by paying more in taxes to cover their bet.

Since we taxpayers did not have a say in how the unions got into this mess, then we taxpayers should not be asked to help out the unions to cover the bet.

Jack H. Gilbert

Albany

Gamesmanship with bond debt

I'm in a muddle. If the bullet train project goes forward, California taxpayers will likely get left holding a very large debt not anticipated by the ballot measure that passed in 2008.

That makes the future bond measures for any Delta tunnels look like a dumb thing for voters to support. Why incur more debt?

But if the bullet train legal woes kill it, the spinmeisters in Sacramento will make lemonade for themselves by assuming that additional bond debt to build those Delta tunnels is potentially available for their boondoggle.

Damned if we do, damned if we don't.

Jan Howe

San Ramon