Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Live From Shawnee...It's Monday Night (again)

What's better than a TV sitcom? Going to a City Council meeting and listening to the Dumbonic Duo (AKA Pfrick & Pfrack) and a whiner who wants his way now without regard for a process that is in place.

Tony Lang got up to give a report about his group "Clean Air for Shawnee Campaign Committee" and its progress regarding a petition to force a ballot initiative for a smoking ban. So far, his group has been working with an informal petition, but he is now stating he is going to make it a formal petition, with all of its ramifications.

He didn't seem to care that the council authorized the mayor to appoint a task force. That the task force has met 3 times already, starting in June (he erroneously claimed the first meeting was July). That on 8/15 there was a public hearing and the task force is scheduled to meet again on 9/11, prepare their recommendations for the council and have that info submitted at the council meeting 9/24.

He wants action now. Basically, in subtle and not so subtle threats he would like to see the process that is in place get thrown out, and a variation of the Overland Park ordinance adopted. Last night preferably. Huh????? If not, his committee was going to go forward with a formal petition which could result in a special election at a substantial cost to Shawnee (estimates are $20,000 to $50,000). Ironically, if he would wait for the task force to complete their activities and the council to perform their function, a special election might not be necessary. And, if at that time he and his committee still didn't like the outcome, they could still go for a ballot petition. The difference is, it would be closer to a regularly scheduled election and eliminate the need and cost of a special election. But remember, he cares about Shawnee. He reminds me of the kid at the school yard, who because he wasn't picked to be the pitcher, wanted to grab his glove, bat and ball and go home, leaving the other boys without the ability to play. Wants his way, and wants it now.

There were some comments from the council indicated that folks may have signed the informal petition without realizing what some of the provisions of the OP ordinance were. Did people really sign the informal petition without taking the time to read it? Thinking it was just to stop smoking?

Now enter the Dumbonic Duo. This was painful. It would take a novella to describe what happened. Suffice it to say that Pfrack now makes a motion to approve the OP ordinance. When challenged about certain items (public burning, etc) he modified his motion to include some changes. Then basically Pfrick moves to second it. Now, realize what these two are doing. They are trying to get an ordinance passed, that has not had all of its provisions formally laid out, as in written out, and without input from the city attorney. Pfrack basically was making pen changes to a copy of the OP ordinance. Huh??? Additionally, if this was to succeed it would also circumvent the process that was put into place by this same council. What is scary is that rumor has it that one of these individuals wants to be mayor. A mayor who would circumvent the process? Another little boy who has to have his way now? Real scary.

Anyway, let's now look at what the other members of the council did. First it appears that they were not happy with the threats. They did not appear to be happy with the possibility of not allowing the task force and subsequently the council itself to complete the process. Pfrack's motion to approve the OP ordinance (with handwritten changes) went down 5-2. It should be noted that most of the 5 indicated that they were not necessarily against a smoking ordinance, but they wanted the process to come to fruition and not have another city's ordinance jammed down their throats. Makes sense to me.

Neal Sawyer brought out an interesting and valid point. He made reference to what happened in Lenexa. The council there brought their ordinance for a vote on Juy 3rd, the night before a holiday. With virtually no input from the citizens. At least Shawnee is making an attempt to gather citizen input. Isn't this the way things are supposed to be?

One thing that bothers me. Lang and the Dumbonic Duo showing concern to have a smoke free workplace for the health of the employees. This has come up before. They keep saying it's for the employees. As I've pointed out in the past, that argument borders on the bogus (but it sounds good). Virtually all non-eating/drinking businesses in Shawnee are smoke free. Either because of the existing ordinance or the policies of the various businesses.Now, when it comes to eating/drinking establishments.......over 55% already are smoke free. Of the remaining 45% what percentage of their employees are smokers themselves? The smoking ban folks have some valid arguments, but to say that they are doing it for the benefit of the employees is pure bovine scatology.