City Council Discusses Soda Ban, Domestic Violence Campaign

The Cambridge City Council continued to debate a ban on large sugar-sweetened beverages sold in the city at their meeting on Monday night. Councillors disagreed on the appropriate balance betweeen promoting public health and preserving indvidual freedoms.

Councillors Marjorie C. Decker, Minka Y. vanBeuzekom, and Mayor Henrietta J. Davis endorsed the proposal to limit the size of sugar-sweetened beverages—including sodas—sold in the city, but the proposal was met with concern from Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves ’72.

Reeves said that he was conflicted about how to weigh Cantabrigians’ public health against his libertarian ideals.

“I’m on both of those sides, so it will be interesting going forward,” Reeves said.

In response, Decker said she believed that public health concerns must outweigh minor infractions on civil liberties. “The government imposes the number of seconds in which you can walk across the street,” she said in response to Reeves. “We as a society try to create norms that are healthy.”

Decker also noted that she had spoken with several leaders in the business community and only encountered one member who was concerned that the ban would affect profits. Davis said that there will be more consultations with the Cambridge business community before an official proposal is drafted.

At the meeting, the Council also commemorated the end of the first phase of a two-year campaign against domestic violence. The meeting began with a ceremonial flourish as Decker, the chair of the Community Health Committee, recognized three organizations which had helped implement the first phase of the Council’s effort.

During what they called “21 Days of Questions,” volunteers from the Cambridge Community Learning Center, the Community Engagement Team, and Transition House—a shelter for battered women—stopped people on the street and asked them to jot down questions they had about domestic violence.

“This is just the beginning,” Decker said. The organizations plan to follow “21 Days of Questions” with “365 Days of Actions,” a year-long phase in which they will disseminate key questions back to the public via the web and the media.

The goal of the campaign is to engage the Cambridge community in raising awareness for issues of domestic violence.

Finally, all eight councillors in attendance approved the landmark designation for the St. Francis of Assisi Church, the third-oldest church in the city. They also unanimously agreed to strike down the zoning provision stating that any cafeteria on the ground floor of a commercial space must be opened to the public at least 20 hours a week. With this decision, the Council allowed biotechnology company Biogen Idec to open a café exclusively for its employees in its new Kendall Square building.

—Staff writer Sonali Y. Salgado can be reached at ssalgado@college.harvard.edu.

Tags