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Children at a protest on soda tax.

Emma Lee (NewsWorks/WHYY)

Emma Lee / NewsWorks/WHYY

Hecklers derail attempted hearing on Philly beverage tax

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Turns out it’s tough to conduct a public hearing when no one can hear you.

Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner learned that the loud way Friday as he attempted to hold a meeting in Philadelphia’s City Council chambers about the city’s sweetened beverage tax.

His attempt was thwarted by a legion of horn-tooting, whistle-blowing, hand-clapping activists and union organizers who shouted him down from the gallery. Channeling the endurance of a South African soccer crowd, they kept a constant blare for 45 minutes. Eventually, Wagner and his colleagues on the Pennsylvania Senate’s local government committee left the room and held a private press conference to discuss the aural ambush.

Wagner said the meeting would be rescheduled and held in Harrisburg.

Friday’s ruckus added more intrigue to a hearing laden with political undertones.

Wagner, a conservative state senator from York, is campaigning to win his party’s nomination and then unseat Gov. Wolf, a Democrat.

His Senate colleague Democrat Anthony Williams invited him to hold the hearing in Philadelphia – in the very same room where local lawmakers passed the new levy. Williams is a vocal opponent of the beverage tax and ran against its chief proponent, Jim Kenney, in the 2015 mayoral race.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks