Councilwoman Tish James, who’s currently running for public advocate, will be doing some cable news punditry this weekend. Tomorrow morning, Ms. James will appear on MSNBC’s Up With Chris Hayes to discuss her agenda and Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban.
At a brief but emotional press conference this afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended the controversial ban on large surgary beverages that a lower court had overturned earlier in the day.
“People are dying every day, this is not a joke,” Mr. Bloomberg said of deaths from obesity . “This is about real lives, 5,000 every single year in America. 7o plus thousand across America. As a matter of fact, it is (obesity) a world-wide problem. It is just as bad overseas as here.”
Cats Out of The Bag
Freewheeling billionaire John Catsimatidis was told again and again it was time to for him to leave as he stood at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn this afternoon.
“No, no, no…” his handlers pleaded as Mr. Catsimatidis, a Republican candidate for mayor, prepared to tell a gaggle of reporters about another press conference of his scheduled for next week.
“Now, there’s another press conference coming, guess what we did in Brooklyn that nobody knows about?” Mr. Castimatidis asked as his team strained to keep their plans under wraps.
But Mr. Catsimatidis, arriving in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to originally explain his plan to call upon the MTA to freeze additional toll and fare increases, was in his element, rambling extemporaneously about whatever subjects the assembled reporters cared to discuss.
Earlier this afternoon, the New York City Board of Health officially approved its plan to ban larger soda cup sizes at restaurants and concession stands, and, barring a successful lawsuit and a court order, the initiative will take effect in six months. And although a majority of the city’s residents disapprove of the move, at a press conference, a testy Mayor Bloomberg repeatedly told reporters the ban won’t be as controversial as it seems.
“I think it’s fair to say there’s no evidence that it will hurt their business,” he said about restaurants arguing the requirement will affect their bottom line. “Maybe outside of the limelight of newspaper or television camera, they would probably agree that down the road, what’s likely to happen here, what’s very likely to happen, is eventually they will just transition pretty much everything and change the public’s taste. Why? We cannot continue to have our kids come down with diabetes at age 6. If it was one of your children I think you’d be out there with a very different kind of question.”
Today, the Board of Health approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large sugary drinks. This provoked a predictably outraged response from the group New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a group with close ties to the soda industrythat was formed to oppose the ban on sugary drinks over 16 ounces being sold in restaurants or concession stands, which pointed to the number of Board of Health members appointed by Mr. Bloomberg and cast the ban’s approval as a political fix.
“The fix was in from the beginning, and the Mayor’s handpicked board followed their orders by passing this discriminatory ban; but it has not passed with the support of New Yorkers,” New Yorkers for Beverage Choices chairwoman Liz Berman said. “It’s sad that the board wants to limit our choices. We are smart enough to make our own decisions about what to eat and drink.”
Comparing soda to drugs, the soda industry to tobacco manufacturers, and the obesity epidemic to a virus that wipes out thousands of New Yorkers a year, members of the Bloomberg administration and their allies pushed back against opponents of a plan to limit the size of sodas that consumers can purchase.
“New York City has been hit by an epidemic. The epidemic of obesity kills by our best estimates some 5800 New Yorkers per year. Now, if a virus were killing 5,800 New Yorkers this year we would be clamoring for a strong government action to stop it,” said Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner.
The comments were made before a Department of Health hearing about the proposed ban, and were to a room of several dozen reporters from news outlets around the world.
The New York City Board of Health will conduct a public hearing tomorrow on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal to restrict soda cup sizes at restaurants and movie theaters, so his administration gave their argument another push with an Alphabet City press conference this morning. According to Mr. Bloomberg, however, the wheels are in motion and there’s no stopping this initiative.
“I don’t think there’s a negligible pushback whatsoever,” Mr. Bloomberg said to a reporter asking if he was surprised by the strength of the opposition. “You certainly don’t get it on the streets.”
The Million Big Gulp March
Queens councilman and Republican congressional candidate Dan Halloran supports your right to consume soda in mass quantities. Mr. Halloran participated in “The Million Big Gulp March” rally against Mayor Bloomberg’s large soda ban outside City Hall yesterday. He was accompanied by a pair of women he dubbed the “twin cups of freedom” who wore costumes representing 157 ounce cups of soda adorned with Halloran for Congress posters and the slogan ”One small sip for man…one big GULP for mankind.”
At The Movies
Director Spike Lee gave a lengthy interview to New York magazine to promote his upcoming film Red Hook Summer and he shared his thoughts on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s controversial soda ban and the presidential election. Initially, Mr. Lee’s only comment on the mayor was that he’s a “fellow New York Knicks season-ticket holder,” but after some prodding from New York contributing editor Will Leitch, Mr. Lee went on to say he thinks Mr. Bloomberg’s legacy “took a blow” with his pursuit of a third term. Though Mr. Lee didn’t seem too supportive of Mr. Bloomberg maneuvering around the old two term limit, he gave the soda ban a much more positive review.
“I’m in favor of it. Look, when I was growing up in Brooklyn, we had gym, and you had to run. You had some physical activity. Children today in public schools across the country are not being taught art, are not being taught music, and they have no physical ed. Obesity is a major, major problem in this country,” Mr. Lee said. “Americans—we’re just obese. It’s crazy. Ask African-Americans. We are way over index on obesity, which means we are over index on diabetes, heart disease, and it goes down the line.”
words of support
Governor Andrew Cuomo discussed New York City’s plan to restrict large soda containers on former Governor David Paterson’s radio show this evening, and while he declined to wade into the debate, he did give some cover to Mayor Michael Bloomberg by musing about the productiveness of the experiment.
“I don’t believe that this proposal can do any harm, Governor,” Mr. Cuomo said, noting he hadn’t yet seen the specifics of the plan. “Obesity is a major problem and it is a problem that we desperately need to address.”