(An open letter to the City Council of New York, sent to all members)
I had written to my city councilman, Dan Halloran, the other day about my family’s experience at the AMC Bay Terrace movie theater, which was doing a trial run of the law which is to go into effect next March. I thought it only fair to address each of you, as the legislative body of the City of New York, with respect to Mayor Bloomberg’s unilateral revision of the NYC Health Law to prohibit the sale of larger-than-16-ounce sweetened soda, including Classic Coke.
Although my granduncle, Mario J. Cariello, was the borough president of Queens from 1963 to 1969, I have never thought it necessary to write to a public official until now.
I need to know from each and every one of you how you could sit idly by while a tyrannical mayor promulgates a law that restricts the most basic of the personal freedoms of your constituents, that of their personal diet. I can no longer go on like my apathetic, sleepwalking fellow citizens who I see reading about the soda ban in the local papers and just plodding on like everything is okay. Well, everything is not okay.
Our founding fathers fought and killed for the freedoms that your chamber watched get taken away from the citizens at the suggestion of a mayor and the “rubber stamp” of eight members of the Board of Health. All of this was done without any semblance of a democratic process. In so doing, they restricted my ability, as a 5-foot, 7-inch, 165 pound person, to purchase a large Coke Classic to share with my family. The very same Board of Health allows me to purchase a thirty-two ounce Diet Coke or Coke Zero, which contain aspartame and phenylalanine.
Nothing about this law is okay. Although the local newspapers jokingly ran portrayals of Mayor Bloomberg as a “nanny,” this is not a joking matter, and the restriction of a citizen’s rights should never be trivialized. I can assure you that neither King George III nor Napoleon restricted the diets of their citizenry. No government on Earth has the authority to infringe on that aspect of an individual’s sovereignty, the right to choose what and how much they eat, for any reason.
You, as a City Council member not only represent me but, most of all, you represent yourselves in that chamber. What kind of individual elected to legislative office would sit idly by and watch so great an attack on what it means to be American, the basic freedom to choose what and how much we eat? I can understand that Mayor Bloomberg is a very wealthy and influential citizen whose power has a broad sweep, but to sell out what we all were taught in third-grade history about our basic freedoms is absolutely unfathomable.
I myself sat idly by while your chamber allowed Mayor Bloomberg to hijack a third term by overturning a citizen referendum restricting mayoral term limits to two, only to watch each of you go against the will of the citizens and afford him that third term. I can no longer remain silent.
You would be shortsighted to dismiss this letter as the ramblings of some “lunatic” as opposed to the outraged father of two small children who need to grow up in a world where the government, be it local, state or federal, will both respect and protect their individual sovereignty and their “inalienable” right to enjoy the most basic of freedoms, the right to choose what and how much they eat. Let me get this straight: our soldiers are fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan while the mayor of the greatest city on Earth is telling us what and how much food we can put into our bodies. This is embarrassing to your legislative body.
If what Mayor Bloomberg did was, in fact, legal, and not contrary to our City Charter, then I need to know from each and every one of you what you are going to do to amend the City Charter and repeal this repugnant law to protect the rights of my fellow citizens in perpetuity from anything like this ever happening again.
If there is a single one of you who disagrees with the words and sentiments expressed in this letter, then I challenge you, individually or collectively, to a debate of this issue in a public forum of your own choosing. If you agree, then I need to know what you as my representative body are going to do to immediately address this wanton intrusion of government run amok.
This letter has been sent to each and every member of the City Council with my own personal funds and if I do not hear a response to this letter, I will make it my life’s mission to awaken the Patrick Henry in each and every one of those citizens you think are sleepwalking and you will wind up on the wrong side of history.
Editor’s note: Councilman Halloran is a vocal opponent of the large sugary drinks ban.