Hundreds packed a NYC Board of Health hearing Tuesday to protest Mayor Nanny Bloomberg’s civil rights-stomping plan to ban sugar sodas larger than 16 oz. in movie theaters, sports arenas, food carts, restaurants and delis.
The proposal is so absurd that it has gained national attention. USA Today called it a “misguided effort to curb obesity,” pointing out that the day after Bloomerg announced his latest political whim on May 31, the closet queen had no issues celebrating National Donut Day.
The July 24 public hearing gave proponents and detractors a single opportunity to express their views before the 11-member Board of Health—all of whom were personally appointed by Bloomberg—rubber stamps the legislation in September. Mind you, during the hearing, not a $ingle of the Board member$ uttered a word. God forbid they $tand up again$t their lucrative appointment by New York’s emperor.
The ban, which would be the first of its kind in the United States, drew such a crowd in Long Island City that an overflow room was needed. On the one hand, Kelly Brownell, a food policy expert at Yale University, te$tfied on behalf of the Bloomberg admini$tration: “Larger portions lead to overconsumption. This is established in science.”
Daniel Halloran, a member of the city council representing Queens said, “When they came for the cigarettes, I didn’t say anything, I didn’t smoke. When they came for the MSG, I really didn’t care because I didn’t order it very often. I’m not a big salt eater, so I didn’t mind when you guys regulated salt. But what will the government be telling me next?”
Saying he is “ashamed” by how the city is using its money and time, Halloran insisted the city should be addressing cultural changes, including nutrition & exercise, not intruding on people’s decisions. “What is the government going to tell me next? What time to go to bed? How big my steaks should be?”
My hero, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, an opponent, offered a rare bit of comic relief during the hearing, saying he is overweight not because of soda, but too much pasta, cheesecake and red velvet cake: “If someone has the right DNA, they can drink an entire two-liter bottle of soda and not gain a pound. If I do that, I’d be twice as big as I am today.”
Meanwhile, The New York Times weighs in: “It is hard to think of a better way to turn soda into a symbol for intrusive, meddlesome, government than to have a humorless billionaire poking his finger of disapproval into one’s daily life and arbitrarily saying ‘your cup shall not runneth over 16 ounces.’ Bloomberg might as well have replaced Lady Liberty’s torch with a Big Gulp. He is a walking advertisement for libertarianism.
Indeed, no matter how bombastic such a move craps on individual’s freedom of legal choice, we all know how Bloomberg works: Two months from now, his whim will be law. And New York will again be the laughing stock of the free world. *