Consultants on both sides of the soda tax wars that enveloped Berkeley and San Francisco last year have not kissed and made up.
The two sides squared off at a Berkeley post-election conference Saturday -- and neither side minced their words.
Pro-soda tax consultants especially came out swinging -- and they were happy to expand their criticism beyond the soda industry and strategist Roger Salazar, who was on the panel.
Larry Tramutola, who helped trounce the soda industry in Berkeley -- the one jurisdiction where health advocates have been able to overcome the industry's big, big spending -- said supporters of these types of taxes have had to go to the local level because Sacramento politicians are "locked up in (the soda industry's) back pocket."
As a longtime Democratic consultant who has worked hard to elect minorities to the Legislature, Tramutola said, "to realize the (legislative) Latino Caucus is bought and sold by the beverage industry disgusts me."
He didn't stop there.
"We would be totally naive to think you could ever get this passed in the state of California ... unless there is more movement around the state in local communities," he said.
"It's not some conspiracy of health care activists trying to find the weak spot in the belly of Big Soda --it's health advocates who are concerned about trying to come together and find a solution to this."
Salazar, also a longtime Democratic political hired hand and never a shrinking violet, said the political community shouldn't read too much into Berkeley's adoption of a soda tax.
Supporters, he said, have been shopping around and "cherry-picking the most liberal enclaves."
Salazar said the soda industry knew from the beginning that the two cities were far different fights.
In San Francisco, he said, "people were sympathetic to the concerns of diet and nutrition, but they were also concerned about the high cost of doing business in San Francisco."
Berkeley, he said, was a "different animal."
"We knew from the outset that Berkeley was going to be a tall task," he said, adding that voters there really didn't care where the money from the tax was going.
"If you told them you were going to take the money and light it on fire, they wouldn't have cared, as long as came from Big Soda," he said.