CM Kochert’s council legacy? One clue: It won’t be a smoking ordinance.

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Regular NAC readers know that New Albany’s approaching “to ban or not to ban” smoking debate has inspired deep ambivalence on the part of the senior editor, who owns a business that may or may not feel the effects of such an action, but personally has no objection whatever to a smoke-free planet.

After all, I’m used to being put out.

For many years, smokers and non-smokers alike have been telling me to take my cigar outside, and until you’ve experienced the surreal scene, there’s really nothing like a GPC cigarette-wielding chain smoker complaining about the objectionable odor of my $15 Havana (believe it) to summarize an entire issue – and the hypocrisy therein – quite so well.

Nevertheless, I’ve been agonizing over the implications, dreading the divisiveness such discussions engender, and trying to imagine the excruciating ordeal being played out in a city council chamber that customarily digresses into bi-monthly anarchy at the incessant demand of its less luminous right-tableside time servers, among them the very councilman who’s set to propose the smoking ordinance.

But see, that’s it.

All along, the answer’s been staring me right in the face, and I failed to see it until I read Christopher Drake’s Nov. 24 letter to the Tribune, reprinted below.

The answer?

We should proceed to enact the most stringent ban on public smoking ever seen in the United States, because given the city’s abysmal track record on ordinance enforcement, there’s actually no chance at all that we’ll be held to it.

In fact, you can bet your Christmas bonus check on the roulette wheel at Caesar’s … or take far better odds toward the likelihood that the same council persons supporting CM Larry Kochert’s anti-smoking ordinance will spin on a dime (your dime, that is) and begin chewing the scenery in full grandstand mode, demanding an immediate audit along with the resignation of every elected and appointed official in City Hall, if they’re so much as handed an estimated bill for enforcing a non-smoking decree.

We’ve seen them do it before, and on multiple occasions, so why would this instance be any different?

If Slippery Larry is intent on making smoking legislation the sole proactive legacy of a profoundly reactive career on the city council, then by all means permit him to do so.

He’s sure to find that the council’s tradition of impotence and non-intervention, one that he’s done so much to hone, will be a weight far too great for the current dysfunctional body to bear just to bring a personal crusade to fruition.

Meanwhile, here’s Mr. Drake’s letter, and it’s a fine one.

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Smoking-ban debate approaches

Larry Kochert has recently proposed an ordinance prohibiting smoking in public areas such as restaurants and bars.

Mr. Kochert, If you truly were in touch with your constituency in the district that you represent, I think you would find that an issue such as this ranks very low on the priorities of the citizens that you work for.

Take a good look at our city Mr. Kochert, look at the rampant spread of run-down disgraceful rental houses where the absentee landlords are able to continue this practice with little or no consequences for degrading many neighborhoods that would otherwise be nice. Take a good look at the most of the streets in the city where pot holes and patchwork repairs make one feel as if they are on an off-road adventure.

Take a close look at your own district Mr. Kochert, where Floyd County solid waste has every intention to place a hazardous waste collection facility in the middle of a residential neighborhood. In fact, I do not believe that we have had the pleasure of your attendance at any of the neighborhood association meetings, or Solid Waste District meetings championing the health, safety and well being of your district.

I understand that smoking bans are the new politically correct band wagon to be on, and there are many political kudos to be given out by anti-smoking groups.

But the reality is the City Council’s time would be more efficiently spent tackling the real negative issues plaguing not only the health of New Albany’s citizens, but their well being and sense of community.

— Christopher S. Drake, New Albany

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