[New York City] defended its groundbreaking size limit on sugary drinks Wednesday as an imperfect but meaningful rein on obesity, while critics said it would hurt small and minority-owned businesses while doing little to help health.
The first courtroom arguments in the closely watched case ended without an immediate ruling. Opponents said they planned to ask a judge to delay enforcement during the suit, which has broached questions of racial fairness alongside arguments about government authority and burdens to business.
The NAACP’s New York state branch and a network of Hispanic groups have joined a legal effort to block the first-of-its-kind restriction, igniting questions Wednesday about the groups’ ties to the beverage industry.
Look, I think Mayor Bloomberg’s ban is stupid, but is it a civil rights issue? It is if the soda companies pay off the prostitutes at the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation:
- Coca-Cola announced last month it was giving a $100,000 grant to the national NAACP to support a healthy-lifestyles program
- PepsiCo gave the group more than $10,000 in 2010, according to the soda maker’s website.
- Former Hispanic Federation President Lillian Rodriguez Lopez left for a job at Coca-Cola in in February.
- The groups were represented Wednesday by a firm that also has represented Coca-Cola. The firm, King & Spalding, is representing the advocacy groups for free, lawyer Ann M. Cook said.
Do you remember how Jesse Jackson became the King of Beers, getting his sons a lucrative Budweiser contract in Chicago? The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass does:
Jackson has been King of Beers in this column for months now, in honor of the exclusive Budweiser distributorship owned by two of his sons–Yusef and Jonathan–which was also described in an extremely timely account in the Sun-Times over the weekend.
The issue is excruciatingly simple:
The King of Beers used Operation PUSH to launch a national boycott of Anheuser-Busch in the early 1980s.
He wanted African-Americans to get a cut of the business.
And although Anheuser-Busch was among the corporate leaders in donations to the United Negro College Fund and had a progressive employment policy–18 percent of the workforce was minority–Jackson wasn’t satisfied.
To punctuate his anti-Bud sentiments, Jackson would pour beer on the ground and say, “Bud is a dud” and offer other pithy rhymes. Once, he showed up at an Anheuser-Busch distributorship and cheered as 50 South Siders poured four cases of beer onto the ground.
“August Busch has become to the economic reciprocity movement what Bull Connor and Jim Clark were to the civil and political reciprocity movement–an obstruction in the doorway blocking black economic progress,” Jackson said back then, comparing Busch to white Southern sheriffs who sicced police dogs and cops on civil-rights marchers.
Anheuser-Busch broke sales records that year. But Jackson claimed victory too.
Then, a little over two years ago, Jackson’s kids bought River North Sales & Service, the exclusive Budweiser distributorship on the North Side.
Again, I don’t support New York City’s attempt to regulate the size of soft drinks, but if it’s a racial issue, then the black and Hispanic activists ought to be on the city’s side, given that minorities are more likely to be obese than whites. But no. These groups are bought and paid for. Beautiful.