US North Carolina country reverses course, ends coke machine ban

01:30  11 june  2021
01:30  11 june  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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North Carolina county ends Coke vending machine ban after pushback. County commissioners in North Carolina wanted to send a message to Coke by removing its vending machines from county property after the CEO spoke out against changes to Georgia’s voting laws. But the machines didn’t belong to the Atlanta-based beverage giant. The 12 Coke vending machines on Surry County property were owned and operated by Coca-Cola Consolidated, an independent bottling company headquartered in Charlotte.

“Our Board hopes that other organizations across the country are taking similar stances against Coca-Cola and sincerely wishes that future marketing efforts and comments emanating from your company are more considerate of all your customers’ viewpoints.” Eugene Volokh at Reason suggests that bans like this, or the San Antonia ban of Chick-Fil-A are unconstitutional, citing Board of County Commissioners v. Umbehr (1996); O’Hare Truck Service, Inc. v. City of Northlake (1996) as precedents.

A county in North Carolina has reversed its decision in May to ban coke machines from county property, a move made in response to criticism by the company's CEO of the new voting law in Georgia signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.

North Carolina country reverses course, ends coke machine ban © Getty Images North Carolina country reverses course, ends coke machine ban

County commissioners in Surry County had voted to take 12 coke machines off its property, but faced a backlash after it became known that the machines in the county building were owned by an independent bottling company, Coca-Cola Consolidated, the Charlotte Observer reported.

That company complained, saying the move by county commissioners would end up hurting the local firm and its employees.

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Surry County commissioners in North Carolina sought to send a message to Coca-Cola Co. about its disagreement with the beverage giant’s speaking out against Georgia’s new voting laws. That message was delivered last week in a vote in favor of removing a dozen Coke vending machines on Surry A Coca-Cola Consolidated spokesperson reportedly told the commission that its decision directly impacts its employees who work in Surry County, and that one of the bottler’s facilities is in Surry County, and asked that the ban be reconsidered. Surry County commissioners voted Monday to rescind its ban .

After a North Carolina county banned Coke vending machines in an attempt to “push back” on the company for opposing changes in Georgia’s voting laws, it emerged that the machines weren’t even owned by The Coca-Cola Co. A rep for the similarly named Coca-Cola Consolidated, which owns the machines , appeared before Surry County commissioners on Monday to point out.

"I'm here tonight because the commission has made a decision that directly impacts our business and the livelihood of the 37 employees and their families that work here in Surry County," Alison Patient, vice president of government affairs at the company, said at Monday's county meeting. "We're respectfully asking that you reconsider your actions."

Several residents also expressed criticism of the decision.

"Quite frankly, if you sit on the Board of Commissioners for Surry County and you would refuse any company to bring economic development to our county, you are a moron," resident West Caudle said, the Observer reported.

The decision was reversed at the end of the meeting in a 4 to 2 vote with two commissioners sticking by their initial decision to ban the coke machines.

"I am holding my ground because I feel like that's the right thing for me to do," Commissioner Van Tucker said. "I was trying to send a message to the flagship Coca-Cola and if there were some casualties beneath, sorry about that."

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