Pastor Donnell Ricky Jones.Photo by Joe L. Fisher, Black American Political Action Committee (BAPAC).
By Kia Croom
Pastor Donnell Ricky Jones of New Direction Ministries opposes the soda tax scheduled to appear on the November ballot.
According to Jones, the proposed tax will not only hurt Richmond businesses and families, but also has the potential to promote theft among those who cannot afford to pay the tax.
Jones is uncertain about how effective the proposed tax will be in actually deterring the consumption of soda within the Richmond City limits and questions the authenticity city’s concern for the health and fitness of its citizens.
“If Richmond is really concerned about obesity and health, why do we charge to use facilities such as Booker T. You have to pay a fee just to be on the basketball court,” Jones said. “The city is the culprit of the obesity (issue) in my opinion because many of the recreational facilities have been closed. And they impose fees. Our kids don’t have the money to participate.”
Jones is doubtful that tax revenues would be used for the stated purposes of advancing anti-obesity programming and health awareness.
“I don’t see Richmond investing in the health of the community, and I do not think the money or the majority of it will be used for its intended purposes.”
He believes the best way to combat obesity and other health risk factors is by offering exercise programs at the city’s parks and recreation department and by challenging the local school systems to reinstate physical and health education programming.
Kia Croom is a contributing writer for the Richmond Post.