"This is a crisis that must be addressed, he said, and "the mayor is doing that."
For a mayor who has made unconventional public health initiatives a key part of his agenda, Monday's court decision is at least a distracting roadblock.
The soda rule revived complaints that he's turning a tough town into a "nanny state." The New York Post has pictured him as "Mayor Poppins" alongside stories about it.
And the court ruling could fuel longtime perceptions of him as high-handed and sometimes deaf to the democratic process, a criticism that hit a fever pitch when he persuaded the City Council to extend term limits in 2008 so he could run again after voters had twice approved the previous limit.
Tingling, the trial-level court judge, called the sugary drinks regulation "arbitrary and capricious," language that comes from a legal standard but could strike non-lawyers as an echo of the "imperial mayor" his critics sometimes deride.
Fairly or not, the ruling "makes it easier to paint him as someone who's kind of overbearing and autocratic," said Queens College political science professor Michael Krasner.
New Yorkers are divided on the issue, with 51 percent against it and 46 percent supporting it in a recent Quinnipiac University poll.
For his part, Bloomberg shrugs off questions about whether the soda contretemps has sapped his political capital, saying he's "trying to do what's right" and thinks the public ultimately will agree with him. He foresees smaller sodas becoming as normal as smoke-free bars, another change that was controversial when he led a charge for it more than a decade ago. The City Council passed it in 2002.
"The mayor's right: Leadership requires sticking your neck out," says Douglas Muzzio, a Baruch College political science professor who specializes in city politics.
As for whether the public will reward him for it, "This may not be one of those cases, or it may be."
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