Monthly Archives: September 2012

2012-09-27 P-D: “Casino-funded petition group may wait to see what St. Charles does on smoking ban”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

This story appeared on-line initially on Wednesday, and then in Thursday’s print edition. Reporter Mark Schlinkmann packed a lot into it, more than I expected, after he interviewed me on Wednesday afternoon. And he seems to have gotten all the facts right as regards my conversation with him.

The concern over maintaining smoking in the Ameristar Casino is due to the unfounded fear of losing tax revenue if the casino becomes smoke-free, but the peer-reviewed study conducted for MoGASP and published last year doesn’t justify such a concern. In fact, the paper’s title in the journal Tobacco Control says it all:

Exempting casinos from the Smoke-free Illinois Act will not bring patrons back: They never left



Casino-funded petition group may wait to see what St. Charles does on smoking ban
September 27, 2012 12:05 am BY MARK SCHLINKMANN • mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com > 636-255-7233

Former state Rep. Carl Bearden, who led an unsuccessful petition drive to put a smoking ban with widespread exemptions on the countywide ballot Nov. 6, said his group will hold off for now a decision on another signature-gathering effort aimed at a future election.
         “We will take a wait-and-see attitude,” Bearden said Wednesday of his Committee for Economic Liberty, which was funded by the Ameristar Casino and supported by many bar owners.
         “We haven’t fully decided. We’ll see what St. Charles city does.”
         Bearden was interviewed in the wake of a judge’s ruling Tuesday keeping off the Nov. 6 countywide ballot a two-proposition smoking ban package proposed by the St. Charles County Council.
         That package would have first asked voters whether to ban smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces with no exceptions.
         The second ballot question was on exempting places restricting customers and employees to people 21 and older, covering the casino and bars. Other exemptions also would have been included.
         Ameristar and other critics opposed the two-proposition plan, fearing that voters might approve the ban and reject the exemptions. Council supporters said it was a good approach since it gave residents three choices on the issue – a tough ban, a weak ban or no ban at all.
         Ameristar, located in St. Charles, provides millions of dollars in tax revenue to the city each year and city officials historically have opposed any measure requiring the casino to go smoke-free.
         Mayor Sally Faith earlier this week that she and the City Council planned to discuss enacting a city-only ban – but only one that wouldn’t affect the casino.
         She didn’t mention any other details but the main objective appears to be defense against losing any casino tax dollars because of lost business to competing gambling palaces.
         City Council President Laurie Feldman said the approach of exempting all 21-and-older facilities could be the best option but added that the council is unlikely to do anything until January at the earliest. Councilman Michael Klinghammer said he wants to begin council discussions sooner than that.
         Meanwhile, Martin Pion of Ferguson disclosed that his Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution, a nonprofit organization also known as MoGASP, funded the failed lawsuit to try to put the two-proposition package back on the countywide ballot.
         The plaintiff was Don Young of St. Charles, a throat cancer survivor and former smoker who has worked for years for smoking ban ordinances across the metro area.
         Pion said MoGASP, which he operates out of his home on a volunteer basis, provided a $2,500 retainer for the lawyer handling Young’s suit and owes at least $2,500 more. He said the group is now “financially insolvent” and seeking donations.
         “Hopefully this issue isn’t dead but it’s certainly a major setback,” Pion said of Circuit Judge Ted House’s ruling keeping the two-proposition package off the ballot.
         House said the council failed to comply with procedures for filing bills outlined in the county charter.

2012-09-22 P-D: Dan Martin’s cartoon featuring the Missouri Athletic Club

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.



Dan Martin’s “Mound City” cartoon above featuring the MAC appeared in Saturday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Sept. 22, 2012. It’s a spoof of the Missouri Athletic Club’s recently allowed designated smoking areas, following their thumbing their nose at St. Louis City’s ordinance requiring them to be smoke-free.

It is also referenced in a second blog on the subject by Dr. Michael Siegel, posted on-line today under the headline:

Political Corruption in St. Louis Health Department Opens Door: Now All Bars and Restaurants Can Ask for Exemptions

2012-09-24 P-D: County Councilman Joe Cronin’s “Letter to the editor”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

In today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the first “Letters to the Editor” is from St. Charles County Councilman Joe Cronin responding to criticism from a previous letter writer about the smoke-free air legislation he’s been advocating for the past 1-1/2 years. For context, I’ve also copied below the original letter prompting his reply.

Personally, I would prefer to see city and county councils tackle this issue by approving an ordinance instead of making it a ballot issue, which allows opponents with deep pockets, like casinos or the tobacco industry, the opportunity to dominate the playing field. That’s what representative government is all about: we elect representatives to do what is best for public health and welfare.

Charles Gatton

That’s what happened when the City of Ballwin, under the leadership of former Alderman Charles Gatton, passed the first comprehensive smoke-free air ordinance in the St. Louis region. Other cities have since followed suit.

However, when that isn’t possible for political reasons, Councilman Cronin’s approach at least offers voters the chance to weigh in on this important issue. I just hope that St. Charles County voters are not bamboozled by the barrage of negativity this is likely to generate from opponents if it gets on the ballot.

Voters in St. Charles County would get to decide on smoking ban

Councilman Joe Cronin, St. Paul

Judy Cooper’s letter, “Smoking ban hurts business owners” (Sept. 20), has several inaccuracies attributed to myself and the St. Charles County Council.
         
Her statement; “Joe Cronin will do anything to get a total smoking ban in St. Charles County” is not supported by the record of the council. Never has the council proposed passing into law a smoking ban.
         
Every bill regarding this issue has proposed putting the passage of a smoke-free bill before the voters.
         
Additionally, every proposed ballot question to the voters has contained numerous exemptions that are the subject of debate and will be determined by the voters as well. Two St. Charles County municipalities have passed smoke-free laws, and three additional cities have passed resolutions asking that the county government bring this issue to the voters to decide. And I will do my best to see that the voters get to make this decision.

Joe Cronin — St. Paul

Following is the letter which prompted the above response containing many of the same old tired canards and accusations: wealth vs health, private business unfettered by regulation, “freedom of choice”, loss of tax revenue, and worst of all: the “nanny state.”

Smoking ban hurts business owners

After following the developments over the weekend in regard to the smoking propositions that were going to be placed on the November ballot, it’s easy to reach this conclusion: Joe Cronin will do anything to get a total smoking ban in St. Charles County.

At this time, we all have the freedom to patronize any business we choose, whether it be a smoking facility or nonsmoking one. And now the St. Charles County Council, pressed by Joe Cronin, is trying to limit the freedoms of business owners by dictating the activities that can take place in those private businesses.

May I suggest that the council limit its restrictions to public buildings, and leave the small business owners alone. I live in St. Charles County, close to O’Fallon. I have witnessed the closing of five bar and grills in O’Fallon within the past year, since their smoking ban went into effect. That encompasses a whole lot of employees, as well as the business owners themselves who are no longer generating tax revenue for the city, state and county. Several of these former owners and employees have said that their business dropped off dramatically after the smoking ban went into effect. Obviously, a “nanny state smoking ban” resulted in more unemployment, more bankruptcies and less tax revenue, as well as more Missourians on government assistance.

In this pitiful economy, we need jobs! We should not allow the intentions of a few council members to dictate to the citizens what legal product can be used in private businesses.

Judy Cooper • St. Charles County

2012-09-22 P-D: “Anti-smoking activist sues to put smoking ban back on St. Charles Co. ballot”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

This story made page A2 of today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, keeping the secondhand smoke issue on the front burner. The Ameristar Casino is evidently not sitting on its hands, acting once again to try and head off a public vote on this issue. Let’s hope the judge ruling on this next Tuesday will do the right thing, despite the howls of protest expected from opponents of smoke-free indoor air.

Anti-smoking activist sues to put smoking ban back on St. Charles Co. ballot

BY MARK SCHLINKMANN > mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com > 636-255-7233

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • An anti-smoking activist launched a last-ditch legal push Friday to return a countywide smoking ban package to the Nov. 6 ballot.

Don Young at a St. Charles County Council meeting in November 2011, with the electrolarynx he uses to talk.
Photo: Martin Pion

         Don Young, a throat cancer survivor and former smoker, filed suit in St. Charles County Circuit Court to try to force County Elections Director Rich Chrismer to put the two-proposition package back on the ballot.
         Circuit Judge Ted House set a hearing for Tuesday morning on the issue. Tuesday also is the last day under state law that a judge can add something to the ballot.
         The suit was filed following County Councilman Joe Cronin’s suggestion last week that a public health group should go to court on behalf of the propositions after the council declined to sue Chrismer. Young, of St. Charles, didn’t say Friday whether any such group was helping to pay his legal fees.
         The council voted Aug. 27 to put the two questions on the ballot, but Chrismer refused to do so, citing inconsistent and confusing wording. Young asserted in his suit that Chrismer has a “clear legal duty” to follow the council’s directive and is “unilaterally denying voters the right to vote” on the measures.
         Chrismer insists that he has such authority.
         Meanwhile, Troy Stremming, an Ameristar Casino executive, said his company plans to press its contention at the court hearing that the Council’s propositions are legally flawed. Ameristar and a bowling alley owner had filed suit against the ballot plan prior to Chrismer’s action.
         Under the council’s plan, residents in November would first vote on a countywide ban on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces with no exceptions.
         A second proposition would exempt any facility where all patrons and employees are over 21; that would cover bars and casino gambling floors. The same measure would exempt private clubs and up to 20 percent of rooms in a hotel.
         Ameristar officials and other critics of the council’s approach worry that voters might approve the ban but defeat the exemptions.
         The council chairwoman said the council didn’t want to sue another county official because taxpayers would have to pay legal bills for both sides. The council will consider on Monday night a bill to correct the wording inconsistencies cited by Chrismer.
         If a judge overrules Chrismer, it’s unclear who would pay the $300,000-plus cost of reprinting the countywide ballots.

Dr. Mike Siegel 2012-09-18: “St. Louis Health Director Shows that Money and Lawsuit Threats Do Talk, Suspends Smoking Ban for One Business Only”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

Dr. Michael Siegel

Dr. Michael Siegel is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health. He is a strong supporter of smoke-free air laws but is also willing to criticize those in the tobacco control movement when they act in a way he views as less than scrupulous. He believes such behavior undermines our common public health goals, and I agree with him.

Recently he wrote a highly critical blog after the City of St. Louis caved to the Missouri Athletic Club, amending its 2011 ordinance to now allow smoking in this establishment. I remarked in a previous blog that it was an example of “wealth trumping health.” Dr. Siegel has stronger words for it in his article reproduced below.

Mayor Francis Slay

Note: Although Pam Walker is the target of criticism in Dr. Siegel’s blog, my understanding is that she took this action only after pressure from her boss, Mayor Francis Slay, who is escaping any negative reaction.

After this blog was posted Bill Hannegan e-mailed with a correction of fact, as follows:

“Mr. Pion, your blog statement is not true as I understand this. The ordinance remains unchanged and includes all private clubs with employees. The MAC just stated 7 places where smoking would henceforth be allowed in the MAC building. Health Director Walker replied that she would not enforce the ordinance in those seven spots where the St. Louis City Smoke Free Indoor Air Act of 2009 still bans smoking. Health Director Walker agreed not to enforce the law, she didn’t change the law.

Bill Hannegan”

I’ve re-read the letter from the St.Louis Health Department, Health Commissioner’s Order #1003, and it stipulations exceptions to the smoke-free rule in the case of the Missouri Athletic Club. It’s not strictly an amendment to the city’s original ordinance but it clearly changes its application in the case of this one establishment, on a favored basis, and for no good health reason.

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2012

St. Louis Health Director Shows that Money and Lawsuit Threats Do Talk, Suspends Smoking Ban for One Business Only

Pam Walker, St. Louis City Director of Health

Proving that policy makers can still essentially be bought off by wealthy and influential individuals and scared off by the veiled threat of lawsuits, City of St. Louis Health Director Pam Walker has granted an exemption to a private club that serves wealthy people in the city, while requiring all other bars, restaurants, and private clubs to remain smoke-free as called for by a city ordinance.
         A smoking ban went into effect in St. Louis in 2011, barring smoking in all restaurants and other places of employment, but not including bars whose square footage is less than 2000 or private clubs without employees. The Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis does not qualify as a small bar, nor as a private club without employees. Thus, it is subject to the smoking ban, or at least it is supposed to be subject to the ban.
         However, after threatening the city with a lawsuit and apparently holding backroom meetings with the city, the downtown Missouri Athletic Club was able to win an exemption from the smoking ban from the City Health Department.
         City health department director Pam Walker acknowledged that she was granting an exemption to the aristocratic club earlier this week.

The Rest of the Story

There is no ambiguity about the law and whether it applies to the Missouri Athletic Club. It applies. The Club is neither a private club without employees nor is it a bar. Thus, it is subject to the ban. Or … it should be.
         Clearly, what happened here is exactly what Bill Hannegan (one of our own Rest of the Story readers and commenters) said happened: This is the result of a backroom deal that, with no legal basis, excluded one establishment from the law in order to appease a privileged and influential sociopolitical class of individuals: the city’s politicians.
         This is the worst kind of political elitism. It is exactly the kind of back-door negotiating between government officials and private aristocracy that democratic polity despises.
         And it therefore the worst kind of hypocrisy. The St. Louis Health Department is basically saying that employees and the public need to be protected from the hazards of secondhand smoke, but not if the establishment is an elitist one which serves politicians. Then, public health principles go out the window and a backroom deal can buy you an exemption from the law.
         In St. Louis, the law only applies, I guess, to “lower-class” establishments that serve the 99%. Elitist joints that serve the 1% aren’t subject to the same laws. They can essentially buy their way out of having to follow the law by using their political, economic, and legal clout. Threaten a lawsuit and be able to back up the threat with money and the public health department will back down. No longer will the public health principles of protecting people from the hazards of secondhand smoke be paramount.
         This is hypocrisy at the highest level. If the Missouri Athletic Club is granted an exemption when there is no lawful exemption written into the city ordinance, then why shouldn’t Pat’s Bar & Grill and hundreds of other establishments in the city be allowed to negotiate for exemptions through their own backroom deals?
         As Hannegan asks: “It opens the door for bars to petition for their own exemption. If she can do this for the MAC, why can’t she do this for other establishments?”
         Why didn’t the ordinance simply specify (in a new section – section 17) that any establishment with political and economic clout could apply for an exemption from the law through a special exception that could be arranged through a backdoor deal? That’s exactly what the Health Department is doing, and that is why its director – Pam Walker – has joined a private club of her own – the Colonel Benjamin Church Hypocrisy Hall of Shame – as a gold club member.

Note: By stating that the health department was essentially “bought off,” I am not suggesting that there was any payment of money in exchange for this agreement. Instead, I am arguing that by virtue of the wealthy status of the Downtown Athletic Club and its membership, this business was able to achieve the equivalent of an exemption, while other businesses that have less money and are less well politically connected, have no hope of getting the health department to look the other way.

P-D 2012-09-15: “St. Louis health director drops smoking charges against Missouri Athletic Club”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

MoGASP applauded St. Louis City when it showed no favoritism in enforcing it’s smoke-free air law by fining the storied Missouri Athletic Club (MAC), as reported on February 10th, 2011, not long after the act went into effect on January 2nd.

The MAC’s response was continued defiance. And it seems to have paid off with a disappointing show of spineless behavior on the part of Mayor Slay’s administration. This is yet another example of wealth trumping health when it comes to smoking (another being the casino smoking exemption), especially it seems when it involves those favoring cigars, as suggested by the Post-Dispatch’s photo accompanying the story below by reporter David Hunn.

One person with insider knowledge of this issue wrote to me privately earlier today:

“MAC is full of fat cat lawyers, stockbrokers, financial executives, CEOs, etc. Toss up whether not wanting the expensive legal fight, not to mention fallout among donors.”

St. Louis health director drops smoking charges against Missouri Athletic Club
September 15, 2012 12:54 pm • BY DAVID HUNN • dhunn@post-dispatch.com > 314-436-2239…

MAC board ruling

St. Louis Health Commissioner’s Order 1003

ST. LOUIS • Smoking will indeed be allowed at downtown’s aristocratic Missouri Athletic Club — despite city law expressly barring it in private clubs with employees.
          As expected by some and feared by others, health director Pam Walker has dismissed the city’s charges against the gym and social club, following a MAC board decision to limit smoking to seven areas.
          The club has flouted the law since it was enacted Jan. 1, 2011.
          Attorneys, judges, businessmen and politicos gathered frequently for evening cigar-and-whisky sessions, and ashtrays were commonplace even after voters passed the citywide smoking ban.
          Walker fined the club twice, and was pushing it to bar smoking building-wide. The club fought the tickets, however, and city attorneys advised the health director to consider settling, fearing the MAC would sue and challenge the city’s entire ordinance.
          Then, in late August, the club’s board voted to limit smoking, according to board documents released Friday night by Walker.
          The rule limited smoking to the President’s Alcove, some private second-floor dining rooms, sections of the pool deck, and the first-floor Jack Buck Grill’s bar, site of the weekly cigar gatherings. In addition, smoking will be allowed in no more than 20 percent of the club’s hotel rooms, and at five yearly events in the Art Lounge and Missouri Room.
          “Members are urged to use good judgment when smoking cigars in those areas of the club where smoking is permitted,” the ruling says.
          Club leaders have long declined to publicly discuss their decisions.
          Walker said she accepted the club board’s decision and dropped the case against the club, in exchange for payment of $48.50 in court costs.
          “I will carefully monitor their enforcement of these restrictions and issue further summons if they do not comply,” Walker said Friday night via email.
          But even those who fought against the citywide ban were skeptical today of the special treatment.
          “That’s unprecedented. For a public health official, that’s never been done,” said anti-ban advocate Bill Hannegan. “Implicitly, she’s saying smoking is tolerable under certain circumstances.”
          “Why not ‘over 21’ bars then?” he asked.
          Hannegan said he spoke with a professor at Boston University who specializes in tobacco control issues, who said he had never heard of a public health official rolling back a smoking ban.
          Walker has long said she felt stuck between a rock and a hard place.
          Still, Hannegan said one thing is clear: “It opens the door for bars to petition for their own exemption. If she can do this for the MAC, why can’t she do this for other establishments?”

P-D 2012-09-15: “St. Charles County Council won’t sue to put its smoking ban package on ballot”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

RELATED STORIES

St. Charles County Council revisits smoking issue
St. Charles County Council move could limit smoking ban lawsuit
Lawsuit challenges vote on St. Charles County smoking ban
St. Charles Co. smoking ban could be tough or lax, depending on November vote
St. Charles County voters will decide on smoking ban, new county police agency

There’s been plenty of activity in St. Charles County recently, thanks to dueling ballot initiatives from both pro- and anti-smokefree air supporters, the latter supported financially by the Ameristar Casino. The latest twist came in today’s unusual County Council meeting which threw efforts up in the air again. Let’s hope the original two-part ballot proposal finally becomes a reality, although I must say that for once I agree with a St. Louis Post-Dispatch comment posted on-line by Bill Hannegan in which he wrote:

Bill Hannegan

“Veteran Missouri smoking ban advocate Martin Pion and I agree on one thing: public health laws do not belong on the ballot. We both agree that rather than put this issue to a public vote, the St. Charles County Council should decide to what extent public smoking can be tolerated in St. Charles County without gravely threatening public health. I believe smoking can at least be tolerated in “over 21″ workplaces as well as ASHRAE approved smoking rooms. Mr. Pion, in contrast, holds that secondhand smoke is such a health risk no public place can allow indoor smoking. But we both agree that the St. Charles County Council should review relevant information and make a decision. The property rights of St. Charles County businesses should not be subject to the preferences of voters who have not seriously studied this issue.”

What I believe is that nobody should have to be exposed to secondhand smoke to hold a job. Period. Below is the latest article by Post-Dispatch reporter, Mark Schlinkmann:

St. Charles County Council won’t sue to put its smoking ban package on ballot

John Stillman and Kandi Wetzel smoking at Rumples Pub in St. Charles in a 2011 photo by Roy Sykes, Journal.

BY MARK SCHLINKMANN • mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com > 636-255-7233

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • The County Council won’t go to court to fight Elections Director Rich Chrismer’s removal of a smoking ban package from the Nov. 6 election ballot.
         The council in an unusual Saturday meeting also decided against putting before voters an alternative ban with exemptions for the Ameristar Casino, bars and other facilities.
         The upshot: No smoking restrictions are likely to be on the countywide ballot this year.
         After emerging from 90 minutes of closed sessions, Council Chairwoman Nancy Matheny said the council wouldn’t sue Chrismer because members didn’t want the county taxpayers to pay the legal costs of both sides amid tight finances.
         “The consensus now is we will not proceed with having anything on the ballot,” said Matheny, R-Weldon Spring.
         Then the council voted 6-0 to remove from its agenda the alternative bill lumping a ban with widespread exemptions.

Councilman Joe Cronin, St. Paul

         Councilman Joe Cronin, R-St. Paul, said there remains a way to get the council’s original package on the ballot — getting an anti-smoking group to sue Chrismer.
         “Hopefully a public health organization will come in and enter the fray,” Cronin said.
         Matheny and Cronin said the council’s two-proposition package blocked by Chrismer was the best choice.
         Under that plan, residents would first vote on a countywide ban with no exceptions. A second proposition would exempt any facility where all patrons and employees are over 21; that would cover bars and casino gambling floors. That exemption measure also would apply to private clubs and up to 20 percent of hotel rooms.
         “Voters had the ultimate choice — no regulations, strict regulations or weak regulations,” Cronin said. “Mr. Chrismer effectively took that choice from the citizens of this county and I hope they hold him accountable for that.”
         Chrismer, who wasn’t at the meeting, shot back in a telephone interview. He pointed out that he removed the two proposed county charter amendments because of inconsistent and confusing wording.
         “Maybe if they hadn’t been so sloppy and so quick to try to change the charter … they wouldn’t be in this situation,” he said.
         A clean-up bill to correct the wording errors was introduced Monday but some council members say they expect Chrismer to also cite other objections.
         Cronin also complained that “other entities are trying to dictate the public health policy by lawsuits, I think that’s morally wrong, and I hope the public holds them accountable as well.”
         Sitting a few feet away was Ameristar general manager Jim Franke, who filed suit Tuesday to try to keep the two-question proposition off the ballot.
         “I just don’t think the attacks are appropriate,” Franke said later, adding that the firm went to court “to protect our business” and many employees’ jobs.
         Ameristar and other critics of the two-proposition approach worried that voters might approve the ban but defeat the exemption. Ameristar fears it will lose customers if it goes smoke-free while competing casinos in St. Louis County and St. Louis remain exempt from smoking bans.
         Stacy Reliford, an American Cancer Society official active in a regional anti-smoking coalition, said “voters are going to be disappointed they can’t have a voice on this issue.”
         She said it was too soon to comment in detail on Cronin’s appeal for a private lawsuit. “That’s not really our typical mode of action,” she said.
         Matheny said the smoking ban alternatives could be discussed in closed session because they were related to possible legal action by the council.
         Meanwhile, the council voted in open session to put two other propositions on the ballot if a judge agrees.
         They would change the way council vacancies are filled and modify rules barring county officials from accepting items of value from companies and people having dealings with the county.
         The council previously had lumped the two in one proposition. Chrismer removed it, arguing that mixing two issues ran counter to state law.