2012-10-30 P-D: “Councilman gave month’s pay to help fund smoking ban lawsuit”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Mark Schlinkmann, posted a follow-up article on-line recently with some additional details concerning the recent unsuccessful effort to get two smoking-related initiatives on the St. Charles County November ballot. MoGASP is still seeking donations to help defray the costs of this lawsuit, and is grateful for the generous help received to date from both County Councilman Joe Cronin, former Ballwin Alderman Charles Gatton, and others.

Councilman gave month’s pay to help fund smoking ban lawsuit
October 30, 2012 4:46 pm • By Mark Schlinkmann mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com 636-255-7233

Councilman Joe Cronin

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • County Councilman Joe Cronin backed up his push for a public vote on a smoking ban with more than just rhetoric.

Cronin confirmed Tuesday that he donated a month’s net council salary ($666 and change) to help pay for the lawsuit that tried unsuccessfully to return the council’s smoking ban package to next week’s ballot.

Cronin gave the donation to the Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution, also known as MoGASP, which funded the lawsuit filed by Don Young of St. Charles.

Cronin, a Republican from St. Paul, was the sponsor of the two-proposition package that the council had scheduled for a public vote but was removed by the county elections director.

“You can bet I’ll be looking at it again next year,” Cronin said, referring to the smoking ban issue.

Cronin said he also had offered a month’s salary earlier this year to the American Cancer Society for a possible initiative petition drive to put a strong smoking ban on the ballot but that organization decided against such a move.

The council on Aug. 27 voted to put on the ballot two smoking questions. One would have proposed a ban on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces across the county with no exceptions.

The other was on exempting places restricting customers and employees to people 21 and older, covering bars and the Ameristar Casino. Other exemptions also were included.

Martin Pion of Ferguson, who runs MoGASP out of his home on a volunteer basis, said the group provided a $2,500 retainer for the law firm handling Young’s suit and owes about $5,000 more.

The elections director, Rich Chrismer, had concluded that the smoking propositions contained confusing and inconsistent wording.

A judge refused to order Chrismer to put the measures on the ballot, saying the council failed to follow proper procedures.

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