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L.A. Now Live: El Monte in David vs. Goliath fight over soda tax

October 30, 2012 |  8:36 am

El Monte Mayor Andrew Quintero thought a tax on sugary drinks was a slam dunk, an easy way for the financially strapped city to raise cash and help combat childhood obesity. But then the beverage industry converged on El Monte, turning the battle over the proposed tax into the most expensive campaign in the city's history — and giving it an increasingly David-vs.-Goliath feel.

Times reporter Sam Allen will join L.A. Now Live at 9 a.m. on Tuesday to discuss El Monte's Measure H and the reaction.

The beverage industry is trying to kill El Monte's proposal -- and send a message to other cities that taxing sugar-sweetened drinks is politically unfeasible. They've brought together consultants from across the country, including the Washington, D.C., firm of the political strategist whose famous "Harry and Louise" ads helped derail the Clinton administration's healthcare legislation in the early 1990s.

El Monte is now covered with "No on Measure H" signs and billboards. The measure's foes launched a sophisticated political campaign with phone banks and paid canvassers and blanketed the city with mailers catering to El Monte's diverse ethnic mix. Ads targeting Asians, for example, feature a woman named Stephanie Dang explaining how the tax would hit boba milk tea. Ads targeting Latinos show a Mexican American woman talking about chocolate milk.

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