By Geri Spiele

Well, the politicians are doing what they do best: Obfuscate the issues, blame, complain, point fingers and make up stuff up instead of offering real solutions about real problems.

Some things just never change.

Talk about "Content Free" presentations that are designed to mislead, take Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado's table at the GOP convention in San Diego? He wasted good space, time and money printing silly and inaccurate exhibition posters about soft drinks, bottled water and Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Maldonado mislead attendees into thinking that all soft drinks and bottled water are banned in the city of San Francisco which is absolutely not true. He obscured the facts that this ban is restricted to city property only, however you would never know this from Maldonado's pitch. Typically, the Republican's conveniently stop short of any full story, leaving people to misunderstand the issue, which is exactly what the Right wants to happen. At least I hope so. The alternative, that they don't understand it themselves, is even more frightening.

However, getting back to the GOP convention and Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado's display, here is the real story: San Francisco made a commitment to save money for the city. The mayor is following his promise to help combat obesity and reduce fat related diseases.

By removing one of the major causes of obesity, sugary, high fructose corn syrup soft drinks on city property only, San Francisco encourages those using vending machines to pick an alternative. If the person really wants that a soft drink, well, hey, they can go across the street to a liquor store and get it.

"There's a direct link between what people eat and drink and the obesity and health care crises in this country," Newsom spokesperson Tony Winnicker said. "It's entirely appropriate and not at all intrusive for city government to take steps to discourage the sale of sugary sodas on city property."

Regarding plastic water bottles, here is the real story again, unlike what Mr. Maldonado reported to the narrowly-focused GOP attendee's.

In 2006, Mayor Newsom promised to curb spending on bottled water when a SF Chronicle story that found San Francisco had paid more than $2 million for water, paper cups and dispenser rentals in recent years. The story found that the city spends nearly $500,000 a year on bottled water.

In addition to city departments, all city concessions, city-funded events and functions in city buildings will be prohibited from using city money to buy bottled water which went into effect July 1.

The report says that by Dec. 1, all city departments located on city property must switch from bottled water dispensers to dispensers that attach to taps or water pipes and use water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park.

If you really wanted to shake up the convention attendees and talk about fiscal responsibility, Mr. Maldonado, you might have pointed out that in the long run the cost will be cheaper than the $500,000-a-year bottled water bill the city currently pays.

Gordon Bennett, a member of the executive committee of the San Francisco Bay chapter of the Sierra Club, said the plastic that bottled water comes in is not recyclable and takes up valuable landfill space.

"The other aspect is that there's nothing wrong with tap water," Bennett said. "In many cases, the quality coming out of the tap is equal to or better than bottled."

In the interest of keeping costs down as well as not contributing to the plastic island the size of Texas floating out in the ocean, San Francisco is doing its part to be responsible.

The SF Chronicle report found that the departments that spent the most money on bottled water and related expenses during the previous year were Public Health, which spent $139,926; Muni, which spent $65,780; and San Francisco International Airport, which spent $65,670. The same report said that the mayor's office in City Hall spent $1,660, and the Public Utilities Commission, which provides drinking water to 2.4 million Bay Area customers, spent $8,622 on bottled water. Quite a difference, wouldn't you say?

So, again, if someone wants a plastic bottle of water or a soft drink, there is no law in the city of San Francisco that says they can't have it. They just can't purchase it on city property.

Is this too difficult to understand? Where are you going to save money, Mr. Maldonado?


Geri Spieler is the author of, "Taking Aim At The President: The Remarkable Story of the Woman Who Shot at Gerald Ford," Palgrave Macmillan.

She is a former investigative reporter and has written for the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle. She was a research director for Gartner and is an award winning public speaker and past president of the San Francisco/Peninsula California Writers Club. She is currently working on her next book about San Francisco Values