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Commentary :: Politics
Coke former General Counsel favors soda in public school
27 Apr 2005
Modified: 06:31:40 AM
If Gubernatorial candidate and Coca-Cola consultant Deval Patrick -- to be paid $2.1 million this year -- does not understand why a solid majority of parents want soda out of the schoolhouse, he should at least appreciate why voters might want to keep the soda executive out of the statehouse.
Deval Patrick, former General Counsel of Coca-Cola and now a consultant for $2.1 million this year, argued yesterday that schools should continue to sell soda in school because otherwise the kids will just get the soda elsewhere.

Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate and Harvard Law alum made a campaign stop in Cambridge yesterday after announcing his candidacy for the 2006 governor’s race two weeks ago.

He has not taken a formal position on a pending bill that would ban soda in public schools but reasons there is no point in keeping soda out of school because children can just get soda off school property.

At the same time, in presentations to school boards, Coca-Cola emphasizes the importance of placement of vending machines in increasing sales and consumption -- and they do their utmost to place them in the most heavily trafficked areas.

A poll announced yesterday of 501 residents of Connecticut shows that Mr. Patrick is out of step with the electorate.
70% of the adults polled indicated that they felt there should be no soda in school during the school day.

Schools should be modeling good choices, parents argue. We don't put comic books in the library just because children can get them out of school.

Patrick has made a broken health care system a centerpiece of his campaign. Yet he played a key role in promoting soda to schoolchildren in schools during his tenure -- during which the number of exclusive pouring rights at public schools dramatically increased. The legality of the agreements has been challenged on numerous grounds in pending litigation and he was the General Counsel. There is perhaps no single person in the country with greater responsibility for the promotion of soda to schoolchildren than the otherwise highly distinguished Mr. Patrick.

Arizona and Oklahoma have just passed laws banning soda in grades K-8. Tennessee reached the same result administratively. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California has urged that it is ludicrous that we are destroying our kids with junk food and soda -- and argued that a K-8 soda ban is insufficient. He has urged that the present K-8 ban in California should be extended to high schools.

Last month there was a controversy when Coca-Cola gave free luxury boxseats to a dozen Rhode Island legislators to a Celtics-Lakers game in Boston -- even providing a free luxury bus ride from Providence. The organizer of the trip, the House Speaker, said someone from Coca-Cola had asked if he wanted to go and to invite some fellow legislators. The House Speaker reasoned that it was all right because there was no bill affecting Coca-Cola pending. (The bus alone cost something like $4,900). Indeed. No bill banning soda had been introduced in Rhode Island as has been done in numerous, if not a majority, of other states. And that's precisely the problem. That's government by Coca-Cola, of Coca-Cola, and for Coca-Cola -- what the parents want be damned.

But now Coca-Cola is not content to give free gifts and trips to politicians as it has done for years. Now one of its own wants to make key decisions about the health of the state's schoolchildren -- and he purports to run under a liberal platform that in significant part is based on public health.

This week there was a similar story in Eugene, Oregon where when two School Board members suggested that the contract with Pepsi be revisited, the head of the state's soda association and the head of the Pepsi firm with the contract, was appointed to the school board.

Looks like they'll be no soda ban in Eugene.

Patrick told the audience yesterday, “I’m not sure that keeping soda out of the schools will mean that the kids won’t go across the street to get the soda.”

If this is Mr. Patrick's position about keeping soda out of the schoolhouse, he should forgive voters if it turns out they decide to keep the soda executive out of the statehouse.
See also:
http://www.schoolpouringrights.com

This work is in the public domain
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Comments

From: The Journal Of Obvious Analysis
27 Apr 2005
Duh...

(liberals seem to get amazed again and again when they find out politicians are corrupt)
Re: Coke former General Counsel favors soda in public school
27 Apr 2005
I love how liberals feel the need to regulate every aspect of everyone's lives. Since yes, you Ross Getman, do in fact know what is best for us all.
Re: Coke former General Counsel favors soda in public school
27 Apr 2005
According to the Wall Street Journal, solid majorities favor the view of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the issue, and not Deval Patrick.

Press Release Source: Harris Interactive Inc.

Most of the American Public, Including a Majority of Parents, Believe That Childhood Obesity in the U.S. Is a Major Problem
Tuesday February 15, 4:18 pm ET

Majorities look to both schools and the government to help fight issues contributing to the epidemic

ROCHESTER, N.Y., Feb. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- More than three in four (77%) U.S. adults, including 70 percent of parents and guardians with children aged 12 and under, believe that childhood obesity in the United Stated is a major problem. The American public also believes that the rising rate of childhood obesity is both a public health problem and an issue of personal responsibility, and many (86%) agree that this epidemic will lead to higher health care costs for all Americans.

These are some of the results of a Harris Interactive(R) poll of 2,387 U.S. adults conducted online between February 4 and 8, 2005 for the Wall Street Journal Online's Health Industry Edition.

Who's responsible?

A large majority (86%) of adults believe parents who do not pay enough attention to their children's eating habits, rather than the food industry's marketing and advertising, are responsible for children's weight problems. However, many do not believe the food industry is exempt as more than two- thirds (68%) of adults say the industry's advertising directed toward children is a major contributor to the rising rate of childhood obesity.

The American public is looking to both schools and government to help fight the childhood obesity battle

More than four in five (83%) adults believe public schools need to do a better job of limiting children's access to unhealthy foods like snack foods, sugary soft drinks and fast food. In addition, majorities not only want the government to react to companies who mislead consumers, but also want the government to take some proactive measures to regulate food industry practices.

* Nearly three in five (68%) adults believe the government should take companies to court if they mislead children and their parents about the nutritional value of the foods they sell.

* 55 percent believe the government should play a more active role in regulating the types of marketing and advertising that the food industry directs toward children.
Re: Coke former General Counsel favors soda in public school
27 Apr 2005
FoxNews' Bill O'Reilly is right in raging against these school soda agreements on both health and freedom of choice grounds -- it violates freedom of choice to tell some user of school property for community purposes that she has to buy from a particular company.

Kids can't be made to serve as mobile billboards advertising a soda company's logo (see "Approved Cup" provision)

A Brownie Troop or summer soccer league has a constitutional right to go to the grocery store and buy healthy beverages from a company that only makes products conducive to healthful living.

Arun K. Jain, marketing professor at the University of Professor, has explained:

"For many years we criticized the Soviet Union for not providing free choices, and here our own educational institutions are falling into the same trap.

This country has achieved enormous growth and economic success because of competition in the free marketplace. By giving exclusive contracts that eliminate competition, we're selling the soul of the American way of life.

Is this what we want to teach our children?"