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Local Issue We're Sick Of

The bottle tax

More like sick over. We know this is a done deal, and you’re probably tired of it too, but can we talk for a minute about how this deal almost came undone? After all, it’s not like Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was jacking up Baltimoreans for an Xbox. She proposed a 4-cent tax on bottled beverages to help close the city’s yawning $121 million budget gap. Faced with cutting city workers or services, a few extra pennies tacked on to your Sierra Mist doesn’t seem so bad, right? Wrong, apparently, as radio, television, and other ads paid for by the beverage industry voiced disgust and outrage (in Bawdamoor accents) at the measure that didn’t appear to exist anywhere outside the beverage industry, much less on streetcorners all across the city. Were people going to go thirsty? Hell no. Were capitalism and commerce as we know them endangered? Hardly. But when it came time to vote on the measure, a number of City Council members got suddenly very squirrelly about it, leading to a last minute 2-cent compromise. Compromise is good and all, and city government is certainly not untouched by special-interest grease, but did we just experience a little flash of red-state red-herring hysteria politics here in deep-blue Baltimore? Not a good look.

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