Friday, November 18, 2011

Seeds of Hope

Jon Murray, Indy Star reporter, has another good article in today's paper about the drama over competing expansions of Indy's smoking ban.  See "Smoking ban gets unlikely support" for the entire piece.

What could have shaped up as a lose-lose head butting contest, may instead hold the seeds of hope for working government in Indianapolis.

As noted two days ago, there are two competing proposals - one to be introduced by Council President Ryan Vaughn at the next Council meeting, and one to be introduced by Councillors Angela Mansfield and Ben Hunter in January, after the Democrats gain control of the Council.  Both would bring significant enhancement to the current smoking ban, extending the ban to all bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and other public gathering places.  Vaughn's proposal would continue to exempt private organizations, tobacco shops and tobacco bars.  The Mansfield / Hunter proposal would exempt only tobacco shops.

As Murray writes:
Anti-smoking advocacy group Smoke Free Indy, which backs only the comprehensive plan [Mansfield / Hunter] so far, estimates 370 bars and other establishments still allow smoking. Most likely would be covered under an expanded ban.
By the group's count, Vaughn's proposal would exclude about 60 from the smoking ban: nearly 20 cigar and hookah bars, five retail tobacco shops, and 35 nonprofit private organizations, including country clubs, social clubs, fraternal organizations and veterans halls.
Only the retail tobacco shops would be exempted by the proposal outlined by council members Angela Mansfield, a Democrat, and Ben Hunter, a Republican.
The rub is, Vaughn can get his ordinance signed by Mayor Ballard, but may not get enough Democrat votes to get out of the Council and on to Ballard's desk.  The Mansfield / Hunter proposal could be passed by the Council, but is not likely to be signed by Ballard - and they likely don't have the votes to overturn a veto.

So, the upshot of it all could very well be that nothing gets done by those who agree on an extension of the ban to cover about 310 of the approximately 370 locations that currently allow smoking.

However, Murray's article contains the seeds of hope, not only for a more comprehensive smoking ban in Indianapolis, but also as a harbinger of working government for the next 4 years.
Mansfield expressed hope that Ballard would sit down with her and Hunter "to see exactly where he is on the issue." Marc Lotter, Ballard's spokesman, said such a meeting shouldn't be a problem in coming weeks, as long as Vaughn also is at the table.
"We're both open to compromise," Hunter said. "We'll look at (Vaughn's) language when we get it in the next 24 to 48 hours."
Mansfield, Hunter and Vaughn all say they want to rid bars of smoking before Super Bowl activities begin in late January, but Mansfield amended that goal Thursday: "I'd much rather see a good, comprehensive proposal in place, even if it's after the Super Bowl."
Vaughn said earlier this week that timing was the reason for his surprise push. He sees a requirement for a period of published notice as a stumbling block before the Super Bowl. Mansfield disagrees that it would be.
But Vaughn said supporters of a more comprehensive ban should support his proposal as an "interim step."
[edited to correct mistake in original Star posting]

1 comment:

Nicolas Martin said...

Republicans have a real knack for providing "interim steps" to the ultimate evisceration of freedom.