- - Sunday, October 27, 2013


Mike Bloomberg won’t take no for an answer. Like most billionaires, the mayor of New York City is accustomed to getting his way, so he is pressuring the state’s highest court to rescue his ban on Big Gulps.

Hizzoner struck out at the trial and appellate court levels, where he was told that it was none of his business how much soda pop his constituents drink, even if the drink comes in a 16-ounce containers. Now he wants the New York State Court of Appeals to intervene. The judges agreed to listen to his appeal, but not until next year. That leaves the matter to Mr. Bloomberg’s successor, who is likely to be Bill de Blasio, the Democratic nominee for mayor. Mr. de Blasio, too, is a major-league buttinsky, and he’s enthusiastic about Mr. Bloomberg’s soda-pop obsession.

The soda saga is an object lesson in how to waste the taxpayers’ money, depriving them of their pleasures, and the only people pleased are the lawyers who will continue to rack up billable hours writing and filing briefs about the bad side effects, if any, of a supersized Mountain Dew.

Mr. Bloomberg butted into the feeding habits of his constituents when the New York City Council and the state Legislature couldn’t agree on how to discriminate against fizzy drinks based on their size. He told the New York City Board of Health to adopt a regulation decreeing that sugary drinks are a danger to society because they contribute to obesity and poor health.

Justice Milton Tingling, the trial judge, overruled what he called the “arbitrary and capricious” Board of Health rule. The intermediate appellate court was blunter, observing that an administrative agency does not have “unfettered” power to do as it pleases by citing concern for the health of the city. Mr. Bloomberg, the court said, usurped the authority of the City Council, which specifically rejected the ban on big drinks.

Despite the clear rebuke, the mayor persists in defending the indefensible. Everyone else thinks it’s the task of parents to control the portions of what their children eat and how much they drink. Mr. Bloomberg wants to impose his own ideas and prejudices on grown-ups, to treat New Yorkers like children. The mayor’s scheme is also riddled with exemptions. Mochas are excluded, but pop is not, which suggests the policy is less about health and more about bossing people around. Soon the mayor will have more time on his hands to expand a new role as Mary Poppins to the world. We shudder to think.

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