TAXES ARE generally unpopular. So is Adolf Hitler.

Maybe that's what Philadelphians Against the Grocery Tax, the group opposed to Mayor Kenney's soda tax, was thinking when it paraphrased the late Pastor Martin Niemoeller's famous quote about the Holocaust.

"They came for soda, & I didn't speak out - I was not a soda drinker. Then they came for cheesesteaks . . . #NoPhillyTax," the group wrote Monday on its Twitter account, @NoPhillyTax.

The antitax group, which (surprise!) is funded by the American Beverage Association, referenced Niemoeller in response to a tweet from a skeptical Ed Rendell, who asked why doughnuts and other unhealthy foods aren't being considered for a new tax, too.

Niemoeller, who spoke out against Hitler and spent time in a Nazi concentration camp, is best known for this quote:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me."

Clout can appreciate a good hyperbolic slippery-slope argument, but this is a little ridiculous.

Paying 50 cents extra for a bottle of Coke to help fund universal pre-K and improve parks and libraries isn't quite as bad as the execution of 6 million Jews.

And Kenney isn't exactly Hitler, either.

Donald Trump, however . . .

Sims' other job

State Rep. Brian Sims is drawing some election-year scrutiny (read: a tipster sent us a text) for his paid speaking engagements.

Why? Pennsylvania prohibits lawmakers from receiving honorariums if they are connected with their official duties. Yet Sims' statements of financial interests list several universities at which he has spoken as sources of income.

Sims chief of staff Mason Lane says it's all kosher. He said Sims, prior to being elected in 2012, "regularly spoke and lectured on issues of LGBT civil rights, much of which related directly to his life story as an advocate and an out athlete."

Lane said Sims discussed this activity with the Democratic Office of House Counsel after he was elected and was assured that he could continue to get paid for speaking engagements as long as they had nothing to do with his legislative duties.

"He has continued to meet all of those criteria," Lane said.

But has he?

James Madison University, where Sims spoke last year, described him as the "first out LGBT member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly" - and even linked to his legislative website. Northern Michigan University described him as "Representative Brian Sims (D) of Pennsylvania." And an October story in the University of Delaware's newspaper quotes Sims discussing his legislative agenda.

"For the most part it's basic nondiscrimination rights," Sims said, according to The Review. "We got marriage equality - obviously through the Supreme Court - but just basic nondiscrimination is our main focus as of right now."

How do you separate the person from the elected position? Tough call. Looks like a gray area. We're going to get the Clout legal team on this.

Perzel COS disbarred

Did you hear? Brian Preski, chief of staff to former House Speaker John Perzel, has officially been disbarred, the state Supreme Court announced Tuesday.

Preski, a behind-the-scenes guy, was a key player in the state's "Computergate" case (not to be confused with other Pennsylvania classic hits such as "Bonusgate" and "Porngate"). At first glance, we thought the punishment was kind of harsh. But then we read the court's opinion.

"During his tenure as a public servant, Preski conspired to misappropriate millions of dollars in public resources for his own personal and political gain," the court stated.

Well, when you put it that way . . .

Kenney: Pay up

Listen up, political candidates. If Kenney endorses you and wants to celebrate with a news conference in the Mayor's Reception Room in City Hall, be ready to open up those wallets.

This mayor ain't footing the bill. And neither are city taxpayers.

Kenney spokesman Mike Dunn said this week that endorsed candidates will pay for use of the ornate room where the portraits of former mayors look down in judgment.

This comes after a tipster told us that Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty didn't pay for the use of the room in December when she was endorsed by then-Mayor Nutter and other city officials. The McGinty people said they were under the impression the event was the mayor's show. However, they have since written a check for $750.

"We joined the Mayor at his invitation, and to avoid any doubts, we have provided the Fund for Philadelphia with the standard room fee," McGinty campaign spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said.

We have since heard that there were other candidates in the last year who also didn't pay for the use of the Mayor's Reception room during their endorsement.

Those standard fees, if you are curious, are for three-hour periods. Nonprofit groups pay $250, political groups pay $750 and for-profit groups pay $1,000.

Together at last

A parting word on state Attorney General Kathleen Kane appointing former Montco District Attorney Bruce Castor as her solicitor general this week.

Kane, who can't practice law as she awaits trial on perjury and related charges, said a solicitor general can serve as "a check and balance" on an attorney general.

OK. Question: Who will serve as a check and balance on Caps-Lock Castor? This is the same guy who, only a few months ago, had an all-caps social-media meltdown during which he implied, among other things, that anyone who knocks on his door could die at the hands of "Mr. Ruger."

And although we agree with Clout frenemy David Gambacorta that the Kane-Castor partnership has enormous "awkward buddy comedy" potential, it's also troubling how much power is being transferred. Castor will serve as Kane's top deputy and chief policy adviser, will weigh in on "all aspects" of the office's operations and will even have the power to approve wiretaps.

To summarize: Voters elected a Democrat to run a statewide office, only to have the office's key functions turned over to a Republican who couldn't get re-elected in his home county.

Oh, what a tangled web we Pennsylvanians weave.

- Staff writers William Bender

and Claudia Vargas contributed

to this article.

Twitter: @wbender99


Phone: 215-854-5255