2011-11-22 P-D: “St. Charles County Council won’t put smoking ban on ballot”

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Not altogether surprising, but with this result St. Charles County’s elected representatives have again failed to fulfill their obligation to protect the public health and welfare of the people they claim to represent. It’s wealth trumping health again, a concern over potential loss of smoking customers being the issue for Councilwoman Nancy Matheny who had formerly been a supporter of smoke-free air.

Randomly reading comments from readers on the Post-Dispatch web site I came across a gem from “harleyrider1978” suggesting that secondhand smoke is no worse than “a hearty thanksgiving dinner.”

I didn’t attend this time but it sounds like Bill Hannegan did. His was the second St. Louis Post-Dispatch comment on this story:

Bill Hannegan said on: November 29, 2011, 2:53 am
Nancy Matheny really made her point when she read from a list of VFW and American Legion Halls exempt in St. Louis County. How could she then put a smoking ban on her own veterans groups?

Following is reporter Mark Schlinkmann’s story of last night’s event”

St. Charles County Council won’t put smoking ban on ballot

BY MARK SCHLINKMANN – mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com > 636-255-7203 | Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 12:05 am | Comments (71 as of November 29, 2011, 7:50 pm)

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • The latest push to let voters decide on a countywide smoking ban was extinguished Monday night by the St. Charles County Council.         

Councilman Joe Cronin, St. Paul

Councilman Joe Cronin, R-St. Paul, said the rejection on a 3-3 vote of the election bill he sponsored probably will spur an anti-smoking coalition to launch a petition drive to get the issue on the ballot next November.
         “I want to give them notice so they can get that organization rolling,” Cronin said, explaining why he pushed for a council vote at this time.
         However, coalition members said no decision has been made yet on a petition effort.

Stacy Reliford, ACS

         “Everything’s on the table at this point,” said Stacy Reliford, an American Cancer Society official active in the group. The county charter requires signatures from at least 9,260 registered voters to qualify for the ballot.
         The measure rejected Monday would have banned smoking in most indoor public places and workplaces in municipalities and unincorporated areas. The measure had a few exemptions but none for bars or tobacco stores.
         Cronin withdrew his separate bill calling for a second ballot issue on exempting the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles from a ban.
         In May, the council had approved an earlier Cronin measure that put the ban and the casino exemption in a single ballot issue. But that measure was vetoed by County Executive Steve Ehlmann, who objected to exemptions in a health law.
         Ehlmann had said he would likely go along with Cronin’s new, two-pronged approach because they involved county charter amendments, not a health ordinance.

Councilwoman Nancy Matheny

         But then Councilwoman Nancy Matheny – who voted for the May bill – said earlier this month that she wouldn’t support a ban this time around.
         She said she worried that affected businesses, such as bars, would be at a competitive disadvantage with places in St. Louis County exempted from an existing ban there.
         “This bill does pick winners and losers,” Matheny, R-Weldon Spring, said Monday. She said the council still has time to devise a better bill to put before voters next year, but Cronin says that’s unlikely.
         Cronin said he pushed for his measure because secondhand smoke “is a public health threat.”
         Joining Cronin in favor were Councilmen Terry Hollander, R-St. Charles, and John White, R-St. Charles County. Voting “no” with Matheny were Joe Brazil, R-Defiance, and Jerry Daugherty, D-Portage des Sioux. Another opponent, Paul Wynn, R-O’Fallon, was absent.
         The council heard from a string of speakers. Carol Gold, owner of South 94 Bistro, and other opponents said the measure infringed on business rights.
         Supporters included Kay Young, an anti-smoking activist from St. Charles, who said the council could make the county a health leader.

Kay Young and Councilman Joe Cronin talking after the Nov. 11, 2011, council meeting

7 responses to “2011-11-22 P-D: “St. Charles County Council won’t put smoking ban on ballot”

  1. “Most of the people voting in a referendum are not the people who regularly
    support the bars and restaurants day in and day out.
    Why should these people make the decisions that should be made
    by the owners, staffs, and patrons about using a legal product on private property?

    mogasp comment: You are using the “legal product” & “private property” arguments that are now used routinely by smoke-free air opponents.
    Neither holds water.
    There is no legal basis for the former when the legal product harms innocent employees or members of the public. The latter doesn’t apply when the private property is a place of commerce or a place of employment.

  2. Perhaps getting politicians like Matheny out of the way and mounting a referendum campaign is a better plan.

    mogasp comment: This may be the only option when politicians fail to do the public good, but the obstacles are formidable ito expense, time commitment, and organization.

  3. Plus the casino and St. Charles County small bars have formed a coalition to fight together on this issue. That makes for a much more formidable force than we saw in the St. Louis County election where bars and casinos were exempt.

    mogasp comment: The gaming floor was potentially exempted in the proposed separate vote on the casino. Not all bars in St. Louis County were exempted, and restaurant and bar owners were among the most vocal opponents to that ordinance. At least one strong opponent not exempted from St. Louis County’s ordinance has since said they support the law but it should apply to everyone. I agree.

  4. MoGASP, glad I could give you something to talk about for a change.
    As usual you don’t include the rest of the story as that would really leave you looking bad!

    The statement was concerning indolethial dysfunction and second hand smoke.

    It turns out you get the same effect from the cold,jogging ,eating a bigmac which is where the origination began…….over on siegels blog:

    Tobacco News Analysis and Commentary: New Study Shows McDonalds Meal Causes Same Degree of Endothelial Dysfunction as Brief Tobacco Smoke Exposure; Anti-Smoking Groups’ Claims are Flawed

    Randomly reading comments from readers on the Post-Dispatch web site I came across a gem from “harleyrider1978″ suggesting that secondhand smoke is no worse than “a hearty thanksgiving dinner.

    I dont suppose youd like to post what happened to your buddy James Repace in the second hand smoke trial!

    Schuman’s Expert Witnesses Testify in Secondhand Smoke Trial

    The plaintiff’s expert witnesses spoke up on day three of David Schuman’s case against his housing cooperative, Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (GHI), for its failure to prohibit the nuisance created by his townhome neighbors, the Popovics’, secondhand smoke.

    Courtroom and Plaintiff’s Townhome Register Similar Carcinogen Levels

    But, an incident from Repace’s testimony Thursday came back into play Friday during cross examination. Goecke pointed out that on Thursday, while demonstrating the carcinogen monitor, Repace had measured the concentration of carcinogens in the court room — which is in a smoke-free building — and the amount he recorded there was similar to what Repace had reported recording in Schuman’s townhome in July of 2011.

    Schuman’s Expert Witnesses Testify in Secondhand Smoke Trial

    Now if this get put up,thank you

    John Erkle

    mogasp comment: This is almost TWICE the allowed limit of 1,000 characters John, but I’ll allow it as a Christmas present, provided it doesn’t encourage a lot of imitators.

  5. Councilwoman Matheny has done her level best to damage the efforts to improve the health of residents in not only St. Charles Count but also St. Louis County. Her work makes it that much harder to convince St. Louis City & County politicians to do the right thing. I’m sure she has made Bill Hannegan happy, but I suspect that more than 70% of the residents/voters in St. Charles County wouldn’t agree.

  6. Mr. Gatton, did you see that she supports a ban with an “over 21”.exemption for St. Charles County?


  7. The funny thing about voters and this issue. A vast majority do not care. I highly doubt that Nancy Matheny’s electibility has taken a hit. She may have lost a few voters for it and gained a few against it.

    If you need proof that voters don’t care for this issue look at voter turnout with smoking bans. They are usually very light. St Louis County had less then 20% (the 911 tax was on that ballot which somewhat inflated that number). In Springfield and Cape they averaged around 12%. If people really felt strong about the issue they would have come out and voted.

    mogasp comment: I think your assessment is probably right.

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