The media response to the restaurant news conference yesterday was extremely good, over 20 outlets attended and reported on the industry's support of the Rivera bill. In the NY Post this morning the paper reports that Speaker Quinn, in spite of the fact that she says that she "fully supports" the actions of the Board of Health, will give the Rivera bill, "a full review."
This, if true, is encouraging. It is important that the city's legislature act as a responsible check on the power of the mayor. Allowing an unelected Board to write legislation and in effect make law should prompt a swift response from the City Council. There should have been a clear statement from the speaker that the Council, and the Council alone will make the laws for the city.
This is especially true for the Board's menu labeling rule, a measure that the body has not even bothered to demonstrate has any justification in the existing public health research on the topic. The impact on local business, however, could very well be significant and a Board of Health will typically avoid any evaluation of non-health impacts, Which only underscores why the Board should not be in the law making business.
The masterful presentation by Councilman Rivera yesterday is captured in a story this morning in Hoy Newspaper. Rivera tells the paper that there is no cost benefit analysis for the Board of Health's rule and without this kind of due diligence it is important to tread carefully before adding regulations to an already overburdened business community.
As we move toward a hearing on this issue we will be watching closely to see just how much of an open mind the speaker exibits on this issue. As we approach the next election cycle it is important to observe the ambitions of our elected officials, and the extent to which they are going to be responsive to the legitimate concerns of retailers and restaurant owners. So far, the speaker's small business score card is not highly rated, but there is plenty of time for her to turn this around.