When challenged, McDonald’s always brings its “A” game, as it did Monday when legislation that would ban in San Francisco the practice of packaging toys with Happy Meals – it’s what makes burgers and fries attractive to children, see, who then become morbidly obese – had its first public airing.
The restaurant chain flew in top corporate brass like “McDietitian” Cindy Goody (whose McActual job title is “U.S. director of nutrition,”) and Karen Wells, the company’s Vice President of Strategy and Menu to argue against nanny-state laws like this, and to question whether or not it’s all McDonald’s fault that 15 percent of American children are fat fucks (they say “no, there are other reasons”).
But Supervisor Eric Mar, the author of the Healthy Meals Initiative, thinks that the restaurant chain may have engaged in some funny business.
After the corporate heads spoke, a parade of Mandarin-speaking individuals headed to the podium to speak in favor of the restaurant chain and against Mar’s legislation. Many had similar speaking points. To further thicken the plot, one of the pro-McNugget speakers was seen consulting a script in the hallway, according to one of Mar’s legislative aides.
“Where are you from?” Mar asked one attendee, who replied that she lived out of town but visited McDonald’s restaurants when in town on business. “How did you find out about the hearing?” Mar asked. She found out about in the Chinese-language newspaper, she said.
There were no mentions of the hearing in recent editions of the Sing Tao Daily, the most-widely circulated Chinese-language newspaper in town, according to Mar legislative aide Lin-shao Chin.
Mandarin is not the language spoken by the majority of San Francisco’s Chinese population, though it is widely-spoken among Chinese people in the South Bay. In San Francisco, over 2/3 of the Chinese population speaks Cantonese, according to Alex Tom of the Chinese Progressive Association.
So what the heck – did McDonald’s find some Chinese people in San Jose and bus them to San Francisco to put pressure on a Chinese-American legislator?
“We were not able to confirm that they were from San Francisco, though we got the sense they were not from San Francisco,” said Mar in a statement released through Chin. “We’re also not able to confirm what their connection to the fast-food industry is. It’s all very suspicious at the least.”
The Appeal sadly lacks the conversational skills necessary to interview some of the speakers in question, but their testimony at today’s Land Use hearing is available online.
A McDonald’s spokeswoman, reached well past business hours at the corporation’s Illinois headquarters, denied any role in organizing Monday’s opposition.
“Neither McDonald’s nor our franchisees offered assistance to either bring in Asian supporters from outside of San Francisco or provide transportation to the Asian supporters that were at today’s hearing,” spokeswoman Danya Proud wrote in an e-mail.
“Clearly, this is a very passionate subject for a number of individuals, including members of the Asian Community. We applaud their support in opposing this ordinance in its current form.”
Could a third party or other industry organization have done it at McDonald’s behest or quiet urging? Sure, Proud said. “Like many other restaurant companies and businesses, we engage with third parties and industry organizations,” she wrote.
Board President David Chiu, a co-sponsor of Mar’s legislation and attendee at the hearing, said only that it was “hard to say” whether or not the McDonald’s supporters were from San Francisco. “But maybe Eric has more information that me,” Chiu wrote in a text message.