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Council members should be ashamed over soda law

TimesLedger Newspapers

An open letter to the City Council:

I had written to my city councilman, Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), about my family’s experience at the AMC Bay Terrace movie theater that 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 with respect to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s revision of the city health law to prohibit the sale of larger-than-l6-ounce sweetened sodas. Although my granduncle, Mario J. Cariello, was the Queens borough president from 1963-69, I have never thought it necessary to write to a public official until now.

I need to know from each of you how you could sit by while a tyrannical mayor promulgated a law that restricts the most basic of the personal freedoms of your constituents: 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 plodding on like everything is okay.

Everything is not okay. Our founding fathers fought for the freedoms your chamber watched get taken away from the citizens of New York City at the suggestion of a mayor and the rubber stamp of eight members of the city Department 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, 165-pound person, to purchase a large Coke Classic to share with my family.

The same Department of Health allows me to purchase a 32-ounce Diet Coke or Coke Zero, which contains aspartame and phenylalanine. Nothing about this law is okay. Although the local newspapers jokingly ran portrayals of 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 Council member, not only represent me but yourselves in that chamber. What kind of individual elected to legislative office would sit by and watch an attack on what it means to be American: the basic freedom to choose what and how much we eat? I can understand that Bloomberg is a wealthy and influential citizen whose power has a broad sweep, but to sell out what we were taught in third-grade history about our basic freedoms is unfathomable.

I sat by while your chamber allowed 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 children who need to grow up in a world where the government will both respect and protect their individual sovereignty and 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 is telling us what and how much food we can put into our bodies? This is embarrassing to your legislative body.

If what Bloomberg did was legal and not contrary to our City Charter, then I need to know from each of you what you are going to do to amend the Charter and repeal this repugnant law to protect the rights of my fellow citizens from anything like this again.

If one of you disagrees with the words and sentiments expressed in this letter, I challenge you, individually or collectively, to a debate on this issue in a public forum of your choosing. If you agree, I need to know what you, as my representative body, are going to do to address this wanton intrusion of government run amok.

This letter has been sent to each member of the Council with my own funds and, if I do not hear a response, I will make it my mission to awaken the Patrick Henry in each of those citizens you think is sleepwalking and you will wind up on the wrong side of history.

William J. Cariello III

Flushing

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