On Tuesday, July 24th, the complicit New York City Department of Health (DOH) will hold a hearing on Mayor Bloomberg's proposal to ban the serving of soda in cups and containers that are larger than 16 fluid ounces.
The sparkle of a "hearing" is as flat as an hours old open can of seltzer.
Despite the still open question over which body has the authority to enact such a ban -- the DOH or the city council -- the people would certainly protest if no hearing were held, as is our guaranteed democratic process. So they've got the process covered by going through the motions, but that's as far as any semblance of "fair" -- the partner to "democratic" -- goes.
When it's been pre-decreed by Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley and the hearing board members are all, well, on board, let alone full of Bloomberg, appointees, then what we have is a theatrical production, not a hearing. No better than an oppressive regime attempting to convince the world that it takes good care of its people by dressing up a few in new clothes and parading them in front of cameras.
Anyone who's ever participated in public hearings (whether held by the council or a city agency) on ideas essentially declared beforehand as a fait accompli can tell you what transpires.
The officiating panel barely listens as you speak, walks in and out at will, and never lets you ask them questions (and here I thought it's they who answer to the people, not the other way around). In fact, there are instances where the members of the public who present testimony are treated as if they are on trial -- interrogated by public servants acting like judges instead if your comments are the truth but fail the political correctness test or dare to question the panel's decided "wisdom."
Prime examples are the two smoking (first bars, then parks/beaches) and trans fat ban hearings since the kingdom of Bloombergastan was installed. Bloomberg spoke and is notorious for saying the people can speak too. What beneficence! Except listening isn't part of the bargain as far as he or other city officials are concerned.
Preceding a scheduled hearing about Walmart's intent to open stores in the city, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn had said, "We are very clear that Walmart as it presently does business...is not a company that is good for New York City," and then condemned Walmart execs for declining to testify, sickeningly feigning some sort of ability to be impartial with the follow-up, "If they don't show up it's because they don't have anything to say to refute the arguments that my colleagues and myself have put forth. If they did...why wouldn't they come and rub my face in it?"
Oh please. Spare me. She made it quite clear that only she -- who makes the final decision -- has it right and would run the hearing like judge, jury and executioner.
And so it will go too with the officials hearing testimony about their soda ban.
You'd been warned that infringements on otherwise legal lifestyle choice wouldn't stop at smoking. Anyone compelled to blurt out "smoking is different" is to be willfully stubborn when the head nanny himself is saying it's the same. He's compared "sugary drinks" to "asbestos and cigarettes" and with his war on smoking -- describing both as "bad habits that exploit the poor and less-educated."
It's not about smoking, soda, trans fat, sugar, salt and whatever else they will think of next (tackle the alleged "number one preventable cause of death" and the next on the list becomes "number one" and "something must be done"). It's about control. And no lie is too great to achieve it.
To bolster their argument that large portion sizes of soda increases obesity, the DOH writes in the proposal notice that "Portion sizes are increasing -- and bigger portions lead to greater consumption of sugary drinks," and cite a study (conducted by like-minded activist researchers) for that claim. But if anyone looked (pssst... they count on you not peeking), not only is there no such sentence in that form but the main culprit in that study are cookies! Better start stockpiling your Oreos now folks.
No matter that many can recall the countless times they've witnessed the woman (and sometimes man), apparently concerned with watching her weight, order a full meal at the next table in the restaurant and then order a diet drink, the problem must be, according to Bloomberg et al, soda.
Regardless of how one might feel about Walmart they did it right when it came to that hearing. They refused to attend.
I call for an encore.
I invite Coke, Pepsi, the entire beverage industry, the group New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, every other party affected by this proposal, and all private citizens that get that this isn't just about soda or smoking or trans fat but the death stomp on our freedom to make our own choices by this megalomaniac and his servants, to put their foot down and declare, "I will not attend."
Then we hold our own hearing the same day right outside their doors and invite them to testify and answer our questions. And if they won't? Well, we simply pile on anyway, as happened at that Walmart hearing in their absence.
In fact every beverage buying individual is invited! Want that seltzer? Do you know this affects you too? It's not just the serving by food service establishments of soda in cups larger than 16 ounces that will be banned. This is a ban -- get this -- on cups! Any self-service establishment that is under the watch of the health department can no longer provide any container over that size! To quote our keepers: "Without such limitation, a self-service cup exceeding the maximum size could be used for either non-sugary or sugary drinks." No cheating children!
So let's think about doing this. We can call it: Notice of Public's Hearing -- Opportunity for Policy Makers to Explain Themselves.
In the meantime, by all means, accept the invitation by the Ministry of... er... Dept. of Health to submit a written comment on the proposed rule for the record. A simple, "I object but refuse to participate any further in this sham of a hearing," will do.
At least when historians look back at what went wrong during this period in time they'll find the evidence that many couldn't stomach the arrogance of Mayor -- You'll Thank Me Later -- Bloomberg (or the soggy fries -- not a crispy one in the bunch -- one's forced to endure since he banned trans fat).
Thirty-two ounces of seltzer couldn't settle such stomachs.