Thursday, May 20, 2010

Smoking Ordinance and Civility

I need to apologize for my post of yesterday. I was hasty in ascribing motives to what was likely a mistake. I forgot an old adage, "Never assume a conspiracy when mere stupidity will suffice as a cause".

By this afternoon cooler heads prevailed. The proposal one now finds on the City website is the correct, original petition. City issued a press release and the valid language will be published the next two Sundays. At least next time Council meets, we will all be on the same page(es). Well, it is rather long.

In retrospect, I can think of a number of ways this substitution came about accidentally. Likely as any: I've been in a political campaign or three and it is not uncommon to have two, three "draft proposals" floating about. It's entirely possible someone inadvertantly e-mailed the wrong draft to City, one that had been considered, but rejected by the initiating committee.

Between length, time pressure and tiny type, no one catches it until the comments last Tuesday start to digress from the original language I was familiar with. When I look, sure as God made little green apples, the language published as a legal notice April 18 was at substantial variance from that originally submitted. As I say, likely came about by innocent mistake, I have been called a nitpicker by more than one person, BUT...

At least we caught this while it was correctible error. Let's suppose no one caught it, the initiative moves on and passes in November. The first person given a citation under the new ordinance has a sharp-eyed lawyer who catches this technical, but legally valid violation of Election Code. Not only does the accused walk out of the ticket, the whole ordinance gets tossed and all this effort has been for naught.

Far more important legislation has been tossed for far smaller "nits". As it was, City staff members, to their credit, reacted quickly and effectively and I'm sure great attention will be paid to the details as this moves on.

Make no mistake: I oppose this measure, I sincerely hope to either amend with exemptions or defeat it if it goes to vote as written. I withdraw my comments as to motivation on the part of Smoke Free, but I withdraw none of my objections that it is an assault on property rights. Let us move on to honest debate and a clean process.


  1. From the San Angelo City’s code of ordinances to the San Angelo City’s planning ordinances the city government regulates how private businesses owners operate their business. To say that the regulation of tobacco products in privately owned city businesses is different is to deny reality.

  2. There is a difference between regulations and a ban. These bans don't stop smoking, they just move it around.

    The city of San Angelo already does regulate smoking to a limited degree with section 8.400 of the code of ordinances. It needs to be updated, and there are regulations that can be put in place that will protect public health without an overreaching total ban.

  3. Banning the use of cancer causing tobacco products in public places or on private property is no different that the banning of cancer causing herbicides or cancer causing insecticides from use in public places or on private property.

    The protection of the citizenry from cancer causing agents can hardly be called over reaching.

    It is the duty of the peoples’ elected representatives who have sworn an oath to the American Constitution to protect the health of the people from the use, promotion and distribution of products which have been scientifically to harm human health by individuals and businesses.

  4. How many carcinogenic chemicals, cleaners, etc. are still allowed to be used by businesses. Levels of exposure might be regulated, but they are still there because exposure and dosage are a factor. If it is dangerous enough to ban, then ban it outright and completely. Prohibit the sale and distribution of the product. Don't half step and say you can kill yourself at home around your family but not in public. It's either dangerous enough to ban totally and outright or it isn't.

    I took an oath almost 40 years ago to protect and defend the constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. I have read the constitution and the debates and writings of the framers and their contemporaries several times since then. It might be time for you to do the same.

  5. I agree. Tobacco products should be completely banned!

  6. I have studied contract law and have worked at enforcing the provisions of contracts for an employer for many years.

    I have reread the Smoking Ban Ordinance provide by a link from you site.

    I see nothing in that ordinance which redefines a public place or anything which is overreaching.

    I have no problem supporting the ordinance as it is written.

  7. Very good sir; JWT finally teased it out of you, but you support total, legal prohibition, good to get a definitive statement from you.

    Tobacco use has declined in my life from over 50% to about 20%. A good thing; I am trying to quit with some success, as have many others.

    Before you go to Prohibition, look at how well it has worked for other illicit drugs. Workplace testing, the most pervasive "polling" is showing use at single digit rates; Pot most common, then meth, cocaine and heroin, 5% or less of general population. If you care to, double those numbers, call it 10% demand.

    That 10% is enough to provide black market money sufficient to overthrow entire govt's south of the border. Bolivia all but subsidizes coca farming, Chavez in Venezuala will cheerfully allow transshipment to America, ditto Cuba, Columbia is our best friend, but picture an assault on our State of the Union Address with full-auto weapons, killing Supreme Court Justices and leading Legislators.

    That assault was real, those people are dead, and the message has been heard.

    Now you propose to ban an addictive product used by 20% of our people. Do I even need to fill in the blanks?

    Me, I'm trying to quit now, advise others to. Reality, some bright and ruthless boys will see supply as a more profitable alternative to rehab: that demand will be supplied by whatever means makes the most money.

    If I am a narco-trafficantee, I am licking my chops hoping you prevail and wondering, "Is this a great country or what? They give us pot, they give us cocaine, they give us meth and heroin, that isn't good enough, they are going to give us tobacco? Where will we find the hands to take in the free money?"

    Might be useful in reducing illegal immigration. Poor economy here, a labor-intensive crop there, the illegals (who after all are in pursuit of a living for their families), hey they go home and pick tobacco!

    In high school in NC, I signed on one summer for tobacco field work. I worked out my contract, but it is probably the most miserable work I've ever done, and the difference between the "Dirty Jobs" show and me is I didn't have a TV contract.

    Dear anon, you will successfully ban tobacco about two days after you ban human sex. I recall a comediene referring to her boyfriend, "our sex is so good, we get done and the neighbors wake up to have a cigarette. I know, since they don't smoke, he comes and bums off us."

    The day will come, our grandchildren's grandchildren will have to look up on Wikipedia what this "smoking" was, and that will be a social positive IF arrived at by agreement.

    Meantime, we are moving in the right direction. Let it happen and frankly, let us old farts shuffle off this mortal coil in peace with a comfortable beer-joint. Or discover how much venom the ol' rattler still has in him: ask SAISD.

  8. My response was a pun in reply to JWT’s remark.

    "It's either dangerous enough to ban totally and outright or it isn't."

    I did it for the pun of it!

    Don’t count your eggs before they are hatched.

    Don’t count your money until the dealing is done.

    Don’t leave your woman alone when your friends are out to steal her.

    Etc. .. :)

  9. During the May 18, 2010 San Angelo City Council Meeting, San Angelo City Clerk Alicia Ramirez mentioned that a state representative (I can’t remember the name) advised that the anti smoking ordinance was under the rules set out in the San Angelo City Charter therefore at the time of the submission of the petition and acceptance of the petition by the San Angelo City Clerk’s Office would require the anti-smoking petition to meet the requirements of:

    The City Of San Angelo City Charter
    Initiative, Referendum and Recall
    Section 47. Initiative and Referendum:

    Subsection C. Each signer shall state a place of residence within the City and voter registration number;

    Which was in effect at the time of the circulation and submission of the petition.

  10. Chapter 277 of the election overrode it because of when Section 47 of the city charter was last updated. There was also precedent case law that invalidated the requirement for the registration number. This was covered extensively in the news though not enough here.

    We looked at this in detail. This might have delayed things. Wouldn't have killed the petition. Granted, the Smoke Free people didn't do their homework and obviously hadn't bothered to read our City Charter, otherwise they would have noticed that time was not on their side to make it to the May election.

  11. Just a follow up. We originally posted the chapter 277 of election code reference in the following articles comments.

  12. Parts of the process are under the City Charter and some are not?

    In most cases state law supercedes municipal law.

  13. Anon, you have it right. Most of the process is covered by charter because state law says almost nothing about the I&R process. State law does cover petitions and signatures and verification and so supersedes city charter in those areas. Most of the mechanics such as public notices, deadlines, etc. are only part of charter so charter applies there. In places where state (or federal) law exists, it takes precedent, but the rest is up to the city.

    There is no statewide I&R statute so cities get to set up their own process, as long as it complies with the rest of state law. We corrected our charter during the last election.