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mayor bloomberg

Brooklyn Heights, News

Brooklyn Borough Prez Markowitz Weighs In On Bloomberg’s Soda Ban Proposal

July 26, 2012

NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s intent to ban 16+-ounce sodas in movie theaters, sports arenas, food carts, restaurants and delis met with plenty of opposition at a NYC Board of Health hearing in Long Island City Tuesday, which drew such a crowd that an overflow room was needed. Among those testifying that the proposed policy is sour grapes was Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz, who offered a dollop of humor, alongside a much-needed common sense message.

The hotly contested issue—which would be the first such ban in the nation—has fostered public rallies, petitions and an advocacy group, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, which relayed its message at the Brooklyn Heights Regal/United Artists movie theater earlier this month with a sign on the marquee proclaiming: “Say No to the NYC Ban.”

In his address at the hearing, Markowtiz said, “Despite the city’s many positive health programs, I do not support the proposed ban, because consumers should have the ultimate say. The way to approach obesity is through education, advocacy, counseling, group support and efforts to raise self-esteem—not a punitive policy that forcibly limits consumer choices.”

He added, “I’m overweight not because I drink Big Gulp sodas, but because I eat too much pasta, pastrami sandwiches, pizza, bagels with cream cheese and lox, red velvet cake and cheesecake, don’t exercise as much as I should, and my genes are working against me. Someone who exercises regularly, eats right and has the right DNA can drink an entire two liter bottle of soda and not gain a pound.

“When it comes to a personal decision like what I put on my dinner table, the government can educate, inform, advocate and inspire, but should not be the final decision maker when it comes down to what is best for me. Ultimately, it should be the consumer that decides,” Markowitz said.

Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of Brooklyn’s Borough Prez, his testimony will likely ring hollow with the NYC Board of Health. All 11 members were personally appointed by Nanny Bloomberg himself, all but insuring rubber stamp approval when the legislation goes up for a vote in September. Next up: Prohibition!

Markowitz’s full statement:

Although I am here in disagreement on this particular policy, I fully support and commend this administration’s commitment to improving the health of all New Yorkers.

From expanding smoke-free zones to healthier school meals, banning trans fats to increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and reducing sodium in foods to labeling calories at fast food chains, this administration’s health initiatives have proven to be enormously successful.

But despite the city’s many positive health programs, I do not support the proposed ban on sugary drinks—or what I used to know as soda—larger than 16 ounces because consumers should have the ultimate say.

The way to approach the obesity epidemic is through education, advocacy, counseling, group support, and I believe most importantly, efforts to raise self-esteem, not a punitive policy that forcibly limits consumer choices.

When it comes to what we eat or drink, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Someone who exercises regularly, eats right, and has the right DNA can drink an entire two liter bottle of soda and not gain a pound. But if someone like me did that—I would be twice the size I am now.

Let me be clear: I’m overweight not because I drink Big Gulp sodas, but frankly because I eat too much pasta, pastrami sandwiches, pizza, bagels with cream cheese and lox, red velvet cake and cheesecake, don’t exercise as much as I should, and my genes are working against me. I was an overweight kid and I’m an overweight adult.

There’s an absolute truth that I want to share with you. Nobody wants to be obese, but for whatever reason, whether it’s genetics—which plays a big part in this—overeating, or a lack of exercise, for many of us, what we eat really sticks to us.

Don’t get me wrong. For those with this problem, I know large sodas, fast food, fatty foods, too much sodium, and super-sized portions, as well as “white” products—breads, pasta, rice, and baked goods—are a direct cause of the obesity epidemic. But the key is limiting them from our diets, not banning them.

So to really tackle the obesity epidemic head on, I urge the Department of Health to launch a citywide campaign to promote group exercise in the neighborhoods with particularly high rates of obesity.

And let’s get the private sector involved. If the city is really serious about knocking pounds off the scale, we should create an “exercise stamp” program like “food stamps” that subsidizes the cost of gym membership, spin studios, or group exercise classes for the city’s youth and low-income families. After all, you’re more likely to get in shape and stay that way when you’re working out with others who are facing the same challenges.

With kids glued to their computer screens, iPhones, iPads, or other electronic devices all day, only their fingers are getting a workout and not their bodies. So getting kids to be active and in shape is more important than ever. Unfortunately, right now roughly 20 percent of high school students in New York City have no physical education classes in an average week and far too many don’t even have space to exercise.

That is unacceptable. When I was a kid, we had gym class every day. So let’s not combat obesity by banning large sodas; let’s do it with a policy that requires students to exercise every day in middle school and high school.

And in neighborhoods struggling with obesity, we should be setting up physical fitness programs and outdoor group exercise clinics led by physical trainers. In addition, we should be ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to fresh fruits and vegetables by providing incentives to developers to rent to full-service supermarkets rather than another bank or drug chain, and open up our schools so that they can educate not only children, but parents on how to cook healthier and smarter meals with an emphasis on smaller portions.

As one of the most diverse places in the world, we should be sharing the best practices from our many ethnic groups to educate residents on how to prepare tasty, exciting, and healthy dishes. For instance, Asian American cuisine is delicious and also emphasizes more vegetables, smaller portions of meat, and less starch.

And with the same gusto that the city has poured into its anti-smoking ads, let’s send a clear message that obesity leads to heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, other deadly health risks—and lowers the quality of life—but with the caveat that the goal is not to idolize being razor-thin. It’s about being fit and increasing self-esteem, because beauty comes in every size and shape. How sweet it is!

So when it comes to a personal decision like what I put on my dinner table, the government can educate, inform, advocate, and inspire, but should not be the final decision maker when it comes down to what is best for me. Ultimately, it should be the consumer that decides.

It’s as simple as this: the better you look, the better you feel. And the better you feel, the better you want to look and the more you’ll be conscious of what you eat and drink. I said it before and I’ll say it again: nobody willingly wants to be obese.

Photo via Brooklyn Borough President’s Facebook Page

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Downtown Brooklyn, News

Bike Share Program Delayed By ‘Software Glitch’ Until Summer’s End

July 20, 2012

New York’s City’s highly touted bike share program that included 600 locations in Brooklyn—but blew off Cobble Hill until at least Spring 2013—has been delayed because of what Mayor Bloomberg blames on a computer software glitch.

Boerum Hill was granted one of the CitiBike’s docks, on Fourth Avenue and Dean Street, with accommodations for 27 bikes, which was supposed to be installed in late July. But now the entire project has been stalled because “its software isn’t working yet,” Bloomie told the New York Times City Room blog. In typical flippant fashion, he added, “It’s fascinating. The people who did not want bicycle lanes at all are now screaming, ‘Well, where are they? Where are they? I want them quickly.’”

It’s unclear when the software issues will be resolved; the program’s website assures a start date sometime before the end of the summer. The bike share kiosks, most of which will be based in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights, include touchscreen monitors allowing riders to pay with credit or debit cards.

Aside from Boerum Hill, the closest bike share locations in the borough are in Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy.

Source: Cobble Hill Blog

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Brooklyn Heights, Food

Industry Group Takes Message To Streets To Oppose Bloomberg’s Proposed Sugar Soda Ban

July 7, 2012

A group created by the American soft drink industry is fighting back against NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s latest Nanny State mandate: to ban sugar sodas larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts. New Yorkers for Beverage Choices has been sending its message out across the city—including the local Regal/United Artists movie theater in Brooklyn Heights.

An article in The New York Times highlights efforts coordinated by the industry and several national movie theater chains in what is likely to be a major PR campaign against the ban’s insistence that adults cannot make their own decisions. On July 4th, an airborne banner flew along the Rockaways and Coney Island beaches, saying: “NO DRINK 4 U.” Likewise, at a Battery Park AMC movie theater, ushers, ticket-takers & concession workers wore T-shirts with the message, “I picked out my beverage all by myself.” And on the marquee outside the Regal Theater in Brooklyn Heights was a call to arms: “Say No to the NYC Ban.”

Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser insists the the city’s Board of Health “make(s) decisions about public health based on science.” That’s simply not true: All members of New York’s Board of Health are personally appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, insuring that the deck—and the vote—are stacked in his favor. Bloomberg’s latest war on fun looks to ban the sale of any cup or bottle of sweetened drink larger than 16 fluid ounces. The Board will vote on the mandate following a July 24 public hearing.

New Yorkers for Beverage Choices will continue its efforts, including high-flying airplane banners at area beaches again this weekend. And inside the Heights theater on Court Street, movie-goers can sign a petition against the mayor’s plan. Information cards and posters will also be displayed in United Artists and AMC venues. AMC spokesman Ryan Noonan notes, “We are bewildered by the proposal to choose an ineffective gimmick to address a critical health issue.”

(Photo: New York Times)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web

Brooklyn Heights, Events

Pols Pitch Petition To Bring Macy’s July 4th Fireworks Home To Brooklyn

June 28, 2012

They’re not giving up. At the beginning of April, State Senator Daniel Squadron and City Council Member Steve Levin led a rally to return the annual Macy’s 4th of July fireworks to the East River. Since 2009, the historic annual display has been based along the Hudson, stealing views from residents of Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan’s East Side, instead aiming them toward New Jersey.

Now Squadron, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and BP Marty Markowitz have launched an online petition “urging Macy’s not to leave Brooklyn and Queens in the dark. Bring the fireworks back to the East River so everyone can enjoy the show.”

At a press conference Thursday, the pols declared that they are again trying to convince Macy’s to bring the fireworks home, where they were based for 32 years before moving four years ago. As BHB previously reported, Macy’s has maintained that the move was temporary to celebrate Henry Hudson’s voyage up the river. But this “temporary” is beginning to smell a lot more like “long term.”

Meanwhile, poor Hoboken, N.J., put a warning on its community webbie warning of potential gridlock as “tens of thousands” are expected to flood the locale. Apparently, the community doesn’t have the moxie of Brooklyn, eh?

NYC Mayor Bloomberg, meanwhile, was unusually demure when asked about the location of fireworks: “It’s up to Macy’s. They’re paying for it. You know, I’d love to see it move back and forth… but in the end, it’s their call.”

If you’re in favor of bringing one of the greatest free shows of the summer back to Brooklyn please sign that petition here.

(Photo: Squadron & de Blasio/Gothamist)

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

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Brooklyn Heights

As Brooklyn Bridge Park Eases Forward, Parks In Greenpoint & Bushwick Stall

June 21, 2012

As progress on Brooklyn Bridge Park continues to ease forward—however controversial—other areas of Brooklyn are apparently not as fortunate. City officials admit that two stalled North Brooklyn parks will likely see little to no progress before Mayor Bloomberg’s term runs out in November 2012, because funding was allocated to other projects.

A long-promised waterfront recreation area in Williamsburg’s Greenpoint and a planned open space at Bushwick Inlet Park are both at risk of simply never materializing. The Brooklyn Paper reports that two top Bloomberg aides deflected a barrage of questions from Brooklyn council members over the projects, refusing to estimate when or if they might be completed, citing budget constraints. Parks Assistant Commissioner Joshua Laird: “We don’t have a bottomless pit of money. It’s just not possible to acquire property. The city has an obligation to its taxpayers.”

Open space advocates counter that the city also has an obligation to North Brooklyn after approving a controversial rezoning of 200 industrial blocks in Williamsburg and Greenpoint seven years ago in exchange for a commitment to build hundreds of affordable housing units, a mile-long esplanade abutting the East River and several new parks. Instead, a number of luxury residential towers have risen along the river’s edge.

For Bushwick Inlet Park, the city has only acquired half of the required lots to begins its buildout, while city budget planners reallocated $13 million of the $14 million intended for that park’s development for other projects. Bloomberg aides claim the city could raise funds by selling air rights to developers around adjacent commercial properties to fund the park.

Source: Brooklyn Heights Blog

From the Web