Atlanta Out Loud

Politics and rantings and just stuff that catches my attention.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

|| 11:06:12 AM
Smokers' repreive

The Atlanta City Council is the latest government body to enter into territory that, in my humble opinion, should be off limits to government.

In its infamous wisdom, the City Council is about to use the police powers of government to force Atlanta businesses to eliminate smoking from their establishments. Don’t get me wrong… I abhor smoking. It is the nastiest, most disgusting human habit around and I will never understand the attraction. But, as much as I hate smoking and the filthy people who do it, I do not believe it is the government’s role to intervene in the capitalist system to affect people’s behavior.

They of course do it for all the right reasons... they are concerned about our health, second-hand smoke kills, clean air is good, blah, blah, blah. What they are really doing is taking away your freedom to patronize businesses that fit your lifestyle.

But no one asked me... and the smoking ban was almost surely headed for approval on Tuesday afternoon.

An announcement by president Lisa Borders that the Utilities Committee report, which held the legislation, would be moved to the end of the Council Agenda due to unresolved questions and legal clarifications, led one to believe there was a swirl of last minute wrangling for the city to justify telling folks how they should live.

Among Atlanta’s gay bars, one has long stood out as the non-smokers favorite. Red Chair made a decision eons ago to go smoke free. Presumably it was a business decision for purely capitalist reasons. The owners recognized there was no other smoke-free gay bar and perhaps they could find a niche. Indeed they did. The place is regularly packed with Atlanta’s gay A-crowd. There’s no evidence the patrons or employees are necessarily healthier, but liquor flows one way, money flows the other and everyone seems happy.

The legislation before the City Council had been pending for months since Natalyn Archibong introduced it. The Council had gone through a public hearing and several work sessions to craft the language. Indeed, this was the third substitute draft. But, as certain an outcome as there was, it would inevitably get side tracked.

Felicia Moore was, as usual, often confused – actually most of the time. She gets more bogged down in semantics and minutiae. Why does she always have to turn full Council meetings into sub-committee working sessions? I can never decide if she’s really as stupid as she sounds or if she’s just zealously anal retentive. Her usual tactic of opposition masqueraded as confusion worked to stall the measure.

After getting tangled up in an amendment over the definition of a bar vs. a restaurant, Archibong, author of the legislation, moved to send it back to committee for “one last knock-down drag-out full council work session” to bring it back for an up-or-down vote at the next council meeting. A sea of raised hands was pre-empted by a call of the question and the matter was sent back to the Utilities Committee on an 11 Yea, 1 Nay vote with Ivory Lee Young the lone holdout.


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