There are 25 reader comments to the following story, including several from Bill Hannegan, but the first says it all:
“It’ll be a long time coming at the state level. Most Clean Air Ordinances start at the local level and move up the ladder from there. St. Charles needs to come out of the dark ages like St. Louis County and City did. Work on it now, please!”
— Rather Be Diving
6:23 pm November 10th, 2009
St. Charles, Dardenne Prairie mayors want countywide vote on smoking ban
By Mark Schlinkmann
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
11.10.2009 5:28 pm
Mayors Patti York of St. Charles and Pam Fogarty of Dardenne Prairie want St. Charles County voters to decide whether smoking should be banned in restaurants and other public places across the county.The two city leaders weighed in on the issue in separate interviews on their reaction to the successful push in last week’s election for a smoking ban in St. Louis County.
“I think it was the right way to do it, take it to the public,” York said. ”In just a matter of time, we’ll all be smoke-free. It will be one by one, watching the pins drop.”
Last year, when a St. Charles city panel on health issues made an unsuccessful proposal for a smoking ban limited to her city, York said she preferred that the issue instead be addressed on a statewide basis by the Legislature.
Now that St. Louis County has acted, York said, it makes sense for St. Charles County to vote as well.
To ensure that businesses in St. Charles County aren’t at a disadvantage, York said, any ballot proposal should contain the same exemptions that St. Louis County adopted. Among the exemptions to the smoking ban there are casino gambling floors and bars that derive 25 percent or less of their income from food or other non-liquor items.
Fogarty said she is undecided on whether smoking bans should be enacted but that she does now favor letting residents countywide vote on the issue.
Meanwhile, O’Fallon Mayor Bill Hennessy and Wentzville Mayor Paul Lambi said they believe the issue should be addressed only on a statewide basis by the Legislature.
They both said they had no preference on whether the Legislature should enact a ban or keep the law the way it is now. That’s the position taken earlier this year by the board of the St. Charles County Municipal League.
To implement a countywide ban, the County Council would have to put on the ballot a county charter amendment. The charter now does not give the county jurisdiction over health issues in municipalities so the council itself could only impose a ban on unincorporated areas.
County Councilwoman Cheryl Hibbeler, D-O’Fallon, said last week she’ll check with fellow council members to see if there is support for putting an amendment on the ballot or for the council voting itself to impose a ban in unincorporated areas.
St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano has said he would ask the Municipal League board at its next meeting in January to reconsider its toss-it-to-the-Legislature stand.
Pagano when he was an alderman pushed unsuccessfully for a smoking ban in his city. Now he says he won’t use his authority as mayor to cast a vote to break a likely 4-4 tie on the issue should a smoking-ban ordinance be formally introduced on his city’s current board.
On such a contentious issue, he said, he believes there should at least be a simple majority of support on the board for a ban to become law.