Jan-Feb 2011 Jeff City News Tribune: Dueling letters on Capitol smoking

The Jefferson City News Tribune recently published diametrically opposed letters just a few days apart on smoking in the State Capitol and efforts to make it smoke-free by Ms. Rossie Judd via an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint.

The first letter writer, Scott Bledsoe, while claiming to “feel for Ms. Judd’s illnesses,” still viewed efforts to make the Capitol smoke-free as “frivolous.”

The second letter writer, Nancy Cowan, asserts there are “many things wrong with Scott Bledsoe’s recent letter” and then lists at least six.

You be the judge of who wins the argument.

Note: I have no photo of Mr. Bledsoe but included one of Mrs. Cowan.

Smoking complaint deemed ‘frivolous’

Scott W. Bledsoe, Jefferson City
January 30, 2011
Jefferson City News Tribune
http://epaper.wehco.com/daily/skins/JeffersonCity/ Co

   Dear Editor:
   I couldn’t believe the article in the Jan. 26 issue of the News Tribune. A woman is actually filing a complaint about House members smoking in their private offices. The complaint alleges that it “denies her meaningful access” to the House of Representatives due to her debilitating COPD, asthma and chronic bronchitis. The complaint further alleges that it is “discriminatory against the breathing disabled.” The first question that comes to my mind is has she ever even tried to go see her representative at the Capitol.
   Ms. Judd is not even working through her own representative but with the representative who sponsored the amendment to House rules to ban smoking in offices. This sounds to me like it is more politically motivated than disability related. Also, prior to the complaint being filed, the House “had never received any information with a date, time or specifics of a request for an accommodation.”
   Out of courtesy I sent a copy of this letter to Representative Mott Oxford who sponsored the changes to the rules and found that Ms. Judd did want to visit her representative but felt at a disadvantage. Why, then, did she not first contact him and arrange for accommodations instead of filing a complaint.
   While I feel for Ms. Judd’s illnesses, in my opinion this type of frivolous action ranks right up there with inmates filing lawsuits because they can’t get a certain flavor of Kool-Aid with their meals.
   Lawmakers have more pressing matters before them to worry over than to take up time with this.

Response to Scott Bledsoe’s Letter to the Editor of January 30, 2011:

Nancy Cowan during SHS particulate training session.
St. Louis, 2010-9-17.

Nancy Cowan, Jefferson City
February 2, 2011
Jefferson City News Tribune

Dear Editor:
ADA complaint hardly ‘frivolous’
Nancy Cowan
Jefferson City
February 2, 2011
Jefferson City News Tribune

   Dear Editor:
   There are so many things wrong with Scott Bledsoe’s recent letter regarding the “frivolous” ADA complaint about secondhand smoke at the Capitol.
   First: A number of representatives don’t have private offices. The mezzanine section has cubicles for 10 representatives and their staffs. When one lights up, everyone gets the smoke. Additionally, the air in a private office does not stay in the private office; the ventilation system will distribute the secondhand smoke toxins throughout the building. An association of professional ventilation engineers concluded no technology is currently available nor should be relied upon to sufficiently remove or clean the air of the toxins in secondhand smoke.
   Second: Asthmatics should not have to make an appointment and request a disability accommodation to enter a public governmental building anymore than they should be expected to make an appointment to enter a post office, city hall, courthouse, etc. The state motto “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law” should include the welfare of those who visit or work in the Capitol, the people’s house, and the air should be safe for everyone, including asthmatics.
   Third: Political motivations were not displayed by the complainant, but rather by the majority floor leader who directed Republicans to vote against the amendment for a smokefree House. Every single Republican present voted against a smoke-free rule. Note: the majority floor leader accepted $8,700 from tobacco interests last year.
   Fourth: By voting against the smoke-free amendment, the complainant’s own representative showed he did not represent his constituent’s best interest. As an alternative, the complainant worked with the amendment sponsor as she too is asthmatic and knows firsthand the fight for every breath while being rushed to an emergency room.
   Fifth: It is immaterial whether one specific person has or has not made an appointment and request for an accommodation. Asthmatics should not have to encounter a totally unnecessary air pollutant whenever they are in a public governmental building.
   Sixth: With the legislators’ demonstration of a higher regard for partisan fealty than to the health of their own employees or for visitors to the Capitol, how then can we have faith in their handling of the “more pressing matters”?

3 responses to “Jan-Feb 2011 Jeff City News Tribune: Dueling letters on Capitol smoking

  1. Will there be a vote on banning roses from reps’ offices for those highly allergic to them who might enter the building? Will reps be required to strip, shower, and don cat-dander-free clothing on their way into work if they happen to be cat owners? Anyone with those sensitivities who “is asthmatic and knows firsthand the fight for every breath while being rushed to an emergency room” knows the need for such rules and refusing to institute them is clearly discriminatory.

    Just as with smoke in the past, society ignores this problem, and while GASP officially has no direct interest in roses or cat-dander victims I think that for its message and position to be consistent that it should at least voice support for such bans and showering requirements.


    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

    mogasp reply: If you are voicing serious concerns you should pursue them. MoGASP has enough to do already, thanks.

  2. Mogasp, your tone suggests that you feel I was being facetious. I was not. Nor was I suggesting you actively promote such things. I was merely pointing out that to be consistent in your stand — that extremely small minorities need to have laws giving them the same truly equal access enjoyed by larger minorities and the general population — you should at least indicate passive support for such measures.

    Otherwise the entire basis of your position is false. My own position is consistent: I do NOT believe government should generally over-regulate the lives of large numbers of individuals to accommodate extremely small minorities. I would not support banning roses or shellfish from restaurants and government buildings, nor would I insist on the cat-decontaminations. I would not support daytime business bans because they act as job discrimination against sufferers of xeroderma pigmentitis, nor support bar jukebox bans because some have extremely sensitive hearing problems.

    – MJM

  3. In your last post you called my arguments laughable Quote.

    “The arguments above would be laughable if they were meant in jest, but they’re not. The Americans with Disabilities Act is intended to provide those individuals covered by the law with a more level playing field”

    I was speaking of the constitution, you on the other hand play to the emotions. There is nothing in the constitution that justifies a “level playing field”. It just calls for equal protection under the law. Creating exceptions to the Constitution without the benefit of a Constitutional Amendment has Orwellian consequences.

    Marshall P Keith

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