Thursday, December 27, 2007

Louisville Metro Soviet

The Russian word “soviet” actually means “council” or “committee” and was originally intended to be just that. However, during the late 1940’s and through to the fall of Communism under Reagan, the name can to mean an entrenched bureaucratic system of government which knew best what’s good for you. The Louisville Metro Council is fast becoming the Louisville Metro Soviet. This issue is some of the reasons I think why.

The Metro Council’s original Animal Ordinance was intended to restrict dangerous animals, most notably Pit Bulls and Dobermans, but effectively punished all dog owners in general. Apparently there had been little interest from Animal Control to step up to the plate and accept responsibility for enforcement of existing laws. The outcry from pet owners and animal associations across the country such as the American Kennel Club, the National Animal Interest Alliance, as well as the Louisville Kennel Club was almost deafening. A boycott of Louisville by dog shows was promoted until a fairer ordinance was enacted. With some of the language changed, an amended ordinance was passed. However, it still contained language which penalized responsible pet owners, dog fanciers, and breeders. The end result was that the Metro Council attempted a blanket approach to a problem of which only a few individuals were guilty, and no doubt could have been better handled using existing laws available to Animal Control. This approach also cost the City of Louisville hundreds of thousands of dollars in convention money the dog shows brought in as well as gave Louisville a black eye nationally among pet owners and kennel associations. Bad Council. Sit. Stay.

Next, Metro Council decided to ban smoking in public places including bars and restaurants. Several hearings were held, and despite the pleas of tavern and restaurateurs that such an ordinance would negatively impact their businesses, it seemed pretty obvious that the Metro Council (pushed by Mayor Jerry Abramson) was going to play the role of Mother Hen and decided what’s good for us. Don’t get me wrong about smoking. I think it’s stupid and nothing more than a slow form of suicide, but I also think it’s a matter of personal choice, even if that choice isn’t an intelligent one.

Metro Council paraded in employees complaining about working in smoke filled establishments, and heard how they smelled of tobacco smoke, and all the damage it was doing to their lungs. They also heard complaints from patrons about having to inhale second hand smoke, despite the fact that most restaurants (and a few taverns) have smoking and non smoking sections. They also heard from business owners in other cities which had enacted similar laws and how little effect the change was on their businesses in the long run (and owners whose businesses didn’t survive “the long run”).

Ok, fair enough. However, most restaurants owners had previously invested thousands of dollars in separate ventilation systems (after obtaining a legal opinion) to minimize any second hand smoke. Secondly, the last I heard, we have employment at will in this Commonwealth. This means that if individuals know that the place where they’re seeking employment allows smoking and if that’s a problem, they can and should look elsewhere. Finally, patrons understand that certain establishments may have more smoking than others (like bars and taverns). If that’s an issue, you might want to try patronizing another establishment.

Should this be the role of government? In my opinion, no. It should be up to the owners to decide if they want their establishment to be smoke free or not. After all, it’s their business not the Metro council’s and it’s them who will suffer (or not) financially, not Metro Council. Who knows, there may be a niche for smoke free bars and restaurants and that could open up the door for some savvy entrepreneurs. People should be free to patronize the place of their choice. If you want to go to an establishment that permits smoking, that’s your choice. If you want to work at a smoke free business, that again is your choice. Should business owners be allowed to sue the City for lost income as a result of the ordinance? I don’t know. But I do know Metro Council took another step in becoming "Big Brother".

Another issue which arose out of this ordinance was that Churchill Downs would be exempt from the smoking ban. How could every other public establishment be forced to comply and take a financial hit while Churchill Downs could get by with it? Well, just recently Circuit Court Judge Denise Clayton asked the same question and found the ordinance unconstitutional because it exempted one business while discriminating against others. Senior Circuit Judge Stephen Ryan found the ordinance itself unconstitutional because of the Churchill Downs exemption. Mayor Abramson immediately pleaded with business owners to enforce the ordinance and is moving quickly to get a restraining order on the ruling to allow time for an appeal to be mounted. However, the result seems to have been just the opposite as many restaurant, tavern and bar owners gleefully put out their ashtrays. Such was the fresh air of personal choice. Of course, if people don’t contact their Metro Council representative ask that they vote against a revised ordinance, personal choice and responsibility will go up in smoke.

Lastly, Metro Council has embarked on deciding what’s good for us when it comes to our diet. Metro Council is attempting to pass an ordinance that would outlaw all Trans fats because it’s considered unhealthy and may contribute to various health problems. That issue is still under discussion at the moment, but frankly it’s none of their business what I eat, when I eat, or where I eat. I am an adult and I will take personal responsibly for my actions, even if those actions aren’t necessary in my best interest. Besides, have you ever looked at the counsel members? I think they need to worry more about what they put in their mouths and less about I put in mine. If they want to do something, allocate some money to the Health Department so they can mount some sort of media campaign about Trans fats, but leave me and my French fries alone.

The Louisville Metro Council has devolved from a group of civic minded individuals interested in doing what’s best for the community at large into a lockstep bureaucratic perfunctory organization determined to manage our lives, and often at the behest of the "Mayor-for-Life". Instead of addressing a specific issue about certain dogs and their owners, it chose to punish all pet owners with a blanket ordinance. Instead of allowing businesses the option of being smoking or nonsmoking, and individuals the choice to work at or patronize these businesses, they made the blanket decision for everyone for our collective good. Instead of allowing individuals the choice of what they eat, Metro Council has decided they will pick our foods for us. If this isn’t the definition of the word “soviet”, I don’t know what is.

Juicy Political Gossip!

I’ve recently heard some political rumors that I think you may find interesting. In District 14, it looks like incumbent Bob Henderson (D) may have some company. One candidate, Michael Bowman (D) has made his intentions known. Bowman, a political novice, already has his website up and running. You can check it out at http://www.electbowman.com/index.html. Another familiar name will be announcing his candidacy on the Democratic side in early January. But for now, he wants to keep that mum.

On the Republican side, Chris Thieneman could be facing off against Gordon Richie. Chris previously ran for Jefferson County Clerk, first as a Democrat and then, after losing to Steve Magre, switching to Republican and supporting the eventual winner, Bobbie Holsclaw. Chris also spearheaded the successful “Support the Library Not the Tax” initiative which opposed a tax increase being pushed by Jerry Abramson (and giving the Mayor-for-Life a big hit to his ego to boot). Gordon Ritchie is a resident of Valley Station, and whose family has lived in the area since 1863 which should give him some local notoriety. Ritchie owns a small farm off Dixie Highway near Kosmosdale. For those who keep track of such things, Ritchie’s farm has received $16,985.65 in federal subsidies from 1995 through 2005 according to the Environmental Working Group’s Farm Subsidies Database (http://farm.ewg.org/farm/persondetail.php?custnumber=004253039). Of more immediate interest is that Ritchie serves on Henderson’s District Advisory board and has been touted by Henderson as a candidate for the seat. Odd to say the least. Sounds like an attempt at a spoiler to me.

Speaking of the Library Tax, District 16 Metro Councilwoman Ellen Call has decided to hang it up to spend more time with her family rather than seek reelection. That’s probably a pretty good idea. Call, a Republican, spent her political capital by supporting Abramson’s efforts to pass the library tax, and even appeared in one of the Mayor’s commercials encouraging voters to vote for the tax. Former radio talk show host, Joe Elliott appears to be interested in the seat as does Paul Grisanti. Should be a good race.

Not so secret was Doug Hawkins’ attempt to bring illegal immigration to the Metro Council’s attention. Hawkins failed in his efforts, which really didn’t surprise me due to his lack of preparation. Doug needed more specific proposals than he brought to the table such as making English the official language of Metro Government and its agencies or imposing stiff penalties on any business or agency that harbors or employs illegal aliens. Despite federal laws to the contrary, there are local businesses and groups who defy existing laws on aiding illegals.

10 comments:

Angel Wings said...

If Doug Hawkins’ is going to tackle the problem of illegal immigration he should be reminded the Churchill Down seems to be excempt from more than just the Smokeing Ban. I agree with you the Metro Councel is over stepping there jobs by trying to control our personal lives. I can take care or myself and don't need there help.

Anonymous said...

The end result was that the Metro Council attempted a blanket approach to a problem of which only a few individuals were guilty, and no doubt could have been better handled using existing laws....

Well said Paul and a position this Council seems to use in every situation.

I myself feel we have much in common in this regard and other issues as well. This would include the illegal immigration problem now facing this City and really affecting the Southwest corridor in a major way.

District 14 has been laughable to this point by its leadership failing to get involved in the issues of the day including a serious look at illegal immigration and this Council's willingness to throw aside freedom and responsibility at every turn.

Freedom is not free and never will be. It exists because people like yourself and countless others fight to keep it so. I wish this Council would quit following the leader down this path to self destruction of freedom in this community.

On a sidenote if I may, though I commend Chris Thieneman for spending his dollars fighting the Library tax with paid ads etc, understand Chris was not alone in this endeavor. Though he had the disposable income to air it, the real fight was at the grass roots level where many, including myself, Ray Pierce, Paul Holliger, you, and countless others worked tirelessly to make sure the voters were informed. This is how the library tax was defeated not by any one man who had money to burn. I appreciate his efforts but will never discount where the real power came into play. That is that people were involved in the discussion and learned the truth from it.

To each and every one of you that fought thanks. That is what freedom and democracy is about.

Ed Springston

Big Dog said...

In regard to the smoking ban, it may be enlightening to pore over a list of campaign contributions and eyeball the stock portfolios of local politicos who so intently support the anti-smoking campaign.

If they have contributions from the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, or if they own stock in Johnson and Johnson, then there may be a conflict of interest.

The RWJ Foundation is the largest financial supporter of the anti-smoking movement in this country, as well as the largest shareholder in J&J.

You may know that J&J manufactures and sells the nicotine patch.

Who reaps the financial rewards from a hoard of smokers who have been forced to give up the habit?

You may also know that the RWJ Foundation has donated more than $250,000,000 over the last five years towards their new campaign dedicated to alcohol prohobition. It's the fifth largest foundation in the U.S., with over $9 billion in assets. They were behind the smoking bans across the country... alcohol is next.

Apparently, eliminating individual freedoms is a profitable venture.

Uncle Herb said...

Succienct comparison drawn to the little understood term soviet and what our little band of brothers and sisters in the council chambers have morphed into. Zeig Heil, baby!
BTW, whoever you are..YOU'RE NEXT!
Signed,
An unhappy smoker..

Another Opinion said...

If someone isn't going to make a buck off it, you can bet Metro Council won't act on it.

Ed Springston said...

The arguments against a ban come from all sides both smokers and non smokers alike. The concerns are based on the following.

1. Government interference in private business owners in regard to legal product.

Is this the path we want to take micro managing people and their personal choice in regards to legal product? Is this a responsible way to govern in a free society?

Most on the street say no. With the issue of freedom in regards to legal product and personal responsibility the argument makes sense.

Simply this. If you CHOOSE to enter smoking establishment of your own free will, tobacco is a legal product, then you must accept responsibility for that choice especially in ADULT establishments. No one would argue against equality in signage. Make the ADULT establishments that allow smoking post a sign saying it does. The concept is simple and one that is readily available and already in place. There have been no smoking signs for years.

As Kentucky is an "at will" employment State the arguments for the concern of health of workers in this regard is not a good one. Disclosing you allow smoking and posting it negates any issue in that regard. An ADULT employee who chooses to work in that business must accept the responsibility that goes with that.

Shouldn't that be able to work both ways? That is equality is it not?

As an adult isn't that freedom? The ability to make a choice, as an adult, and the ability to be accountable for it?

2. Revenue stream.

Based on results from last 6 months (since ban) many businesses are losing revenue, some as much as 30%, with this in mind what about tax base?

We must also look at the fact with lost revenue comes loss of jobs and the taxes that individuals pay into the system. That is a double revenue loss for this community at a time we can ill afford to do that.

At the same time, when people lose jobs people use unemployment, food stamps, etc, to get by that is a drain on this community as well. Though the argument is that money comes from other sources than local the counter to that is a simple one.

While not paying into the system, because of lost revenue by individual job loss, these people are also forced to subsist on basically poverty level wages during the time of readjustment.

This means less disposable income, and in turn less spending in the community which lowers the amount of sales tax etc that goes into the coffers as well. The money in this community again gets cut down by lost revenue and sales tax.

At a time when revenue is crucial for us, Mayor Abramson is already 9 mill underfunded, do we now take that added revenue loss and throw it into the picture? Of course this is after admittedly he has no money to fund libraries and lost the Library tax vote.

If education is the key, and I fully agree with education, how do we justify taking more money out of the budget and losing the money necessary towards this endeavor that libraries offer? Could we not keep the tax revenue and use part to further educate against the dangers of smoking while using the rest for basic needs like police, fire, and infrastructure?

Negative points to consider:

With lost revenue income we have lost business tax base. Since business is taxed at a higher rate the loss is more than an individual basis. With that being said, where will the money come from to make that up?

We the individual taxpayer.

With charitable gaming committing between $15 -18 million a year in this community the added lost revenue from these businesses will negatively influence the needy in our community. That begs the question, if the needy are so needy that the money is necessary, where will it come from?

The budget does not have the money and every charity will be forced to seek revenue from the Council to help people.

Money they do not have and cannot get with a negative revenue stream.

Reference Elder serve, a charity dedicated to our elderly, that had to come to the Council for money in the last 2 years. Why? Charitable gaming rules hurt their ability to produce that money on their own. Understanding these rules started at State level, that is a separate discussion one in which we hope the Council will get involved using political pressure,with added local bans we are hurting the bottom lines of many Charitable gaming organizations, we must then look at how to fund the needy in our community in this regard.

The perception in this is simple. If this charity gets money why can't we? If we can give to one charity why can we not give to all? Since that is an impossibility how do deal with that question?

It would look again like the Council is non respondent to community needs and will have a negative impact on the political futures of many.

With Louisville as one of the highest taxed Cities in America, Kentucky is no better as a State, the continual over regulation and "Big Brother" mentality will drive us further away from being able to compete for the real jobs this community needs. We do not have the greatest reputation going for us in this regard, do we want to make that reputation worse by the perception that we do not care for our citizens, our community, and our business?

It is time for Louisville to become a leader throughout the State again and the Country as well.

Please stand against the ban and allow personal choice and the responsibility that goes with it to endure.

That is freedom isn't it?

Ed Springston
myviewmatters@aol.com

Moderate Man said...

The Metro Council makes all kinds of laws for our community. There are too many council people in my opinion. There should be 18 members. One for each Legislative District in our town. This would save at least $75,000 of discretionary money and countless hundreds of thousands of dollars of infrastructure money. It would still leave us with enough representation thruout our community. This is more than the 12 alderman and 3 do nothing county commissioners we had before merger. Now that the sunset laws are completed the council should think about their impact on our town. When was the last time you heard about someone getting cited for not having their address posted in the rear alley or not taking in their goverment issued garbage can to remove it off the rear alley? Yes I agree every law has a reason, but I should be able to think for myself what I want to eat or where to smoke. Maybe with less Metro Council members we will not only save money but have less nanny laws.
Moderate Man

Anonymous said...

If you need ammunition against the social planners working towards a smoking ban, then read this...

http://www.nycclash.com/Zion-Skeptic-Science_And_SHS.PDF

Sidney Zion, writing in Skeptic Magazine, exposes the heart of the issue and supplies an Everest of insights and facts which shatter every argument from activists and politicians who are suckered into believing that second-hand smoke is even minimally dangerous. Yes, the smoke smell is offensive to non-smokers, but that's the total extent of its offense... according to EVERY ONE of the most intensive studies performed by scientists.

The anti-smoking activists either distorted, bastardized, or ignored EVERY study that didn't fit into their agenda, and lacking science to support their cause they moved into a realm of pure propaganda.

If you oppose smoking bans on ANY grounds, you NEED to read it.

You may be even more opposed after you understand the history of the anti-smoking activists, and the deceit and lies on which they've promoted their gestalt of flawed beliefs into the socialization of public health policy.

Anonymous said...

It is official the smoking ban was reinstituted as a total ban. What a pathetic display of weakness by this Council. After being assured of 15 votes to at least exempt charitable gaming like Bingo's, and other ADULT establishments that had separate ventilation, the majority collapsed because Jerry said so.

Do we need a Council that cannot be strong enough to do what is right or one that follows blindly Abramson.

Sadly one example of this was Councilman Robin Engel. He stated: "This ordinance will continue to hurt charities,"

After stating how committed he was to Bingo charitable gaming and how integral it has been in his life and community.

He then voted on a total ban.

Sadly that is what we have and far from what we need in our leaders. Abramson has stated in the past he would work on a compromise all could live with then decided it would be his way or no way. The council members who committed to compromise were suddenly not willing to shortly before the vote. Wonder why? Simply threats from the Mayor's office. Such is politics and this is the problem.

The question is why do we as a citizenry continue to allow this mindset?

It was funny to me that at the start of every Council meeting we all stand and put our hands on our hearts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The last part of that Pledge states "with liberty and justice for all."

Where is the justice in this? Once again liberty takes a back seat. It saddens me to see so many people allow more and more of our freedoms to erode in the always pathetic "terror" tactics that are used like "trust us because you will die if you don't." Or please Mr. Government protect my adult children from the mean ole people who will not cater to their every whim.

Councilman Benson and Councilman Heiner deserve credit for pointing out the fallacies of opposing arguments from some like Vickie Welch who has no clue.

One example was a simple one. She consistently kept trying to elude to the fact that as a nurse she knows firsthand that second hand smoke was deadly and you could not stop it through a ventilation system that would keep it 100% from nonsmoking areas.

Sounds reasonable right?

One small problem though.

When confronted by Councilman Bensen , who coincidentally is an engineer and has knowledge of such systems, who stated that yes indeed it could be done and was being done by Hospitals in regards to infectious disease she called him basically a liar. She went on to say that in no way can ventilation systems be compared to hospital vent systems because it was like apples and oranges and that the separate ventilating systems would not contain 100% of carcinogens from smoking.

Funnily enough by her own statements saying that those same vent systems Councilman Benson was referring to are 100% in a hospital I wonder where her knowledge that if it works in one it can't in another comes from?

If people in the hospital knew that infectious disease was not 100% centralized wonder how they would react. Does that explain the mysterious stapph infection problems many hopsitals have that they cannot rid themselves of? Could it be possible that *gasp* Councilwoman Vickie Welch is speaking of things she does not know?

I mean by Councilwoman Welch's own admission it works 100% of the time in the hospital. So logic would conclude if it works there it could in private business as well.

Councilwoman Green who stated she was in favor of the separate ventilation then said she changed her mind after speaking with Dr. Troutman as he assured her that secondhand smoke was evil blah blah blah.

Dr. Troutman has hidden behind the Surgeon General's report that has been proven false and fraudulent. He has not brought any evidence whatsoever to the table backing his claim.

How gullible are we?

Just one more example of idiocy in thought processes with many in this Council bought and paid for by Abramson.

Meanwhile back at the Council District 14 seat ole Bob Henderson was quiet and smiling as usual. Not one word was said in the interests of our Charitable Bingo's or our small business owners. Nothing new there either.

This smoking ban and others like it are no more than another way to control what we are allowed to do with little to no substance other than the fear tactics we allow these guys to use.

Liberty and Justice?

Anyone interested in making a difference in this mindset please contact me at myviewmatters@aol.com or call 742-8519.

We need to seriously look at where we are going long term in our City and our State and America overall. The price of freedom is not free.

Are we willing to fight for it?

Ed Springston Democratic candidate Metro Council District 14

www.myviewmatters.org

myviewmatters@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Mr. Springston;

I agree with you 100% and believe that the USA is gravitating toward the European form of socialism, primarily because the extreme far left has been the most active and the most vocal in their demands for societal change. They may get their way too. The Baby Boomers are approaching retirement, which will put such intense pressure on Social Security and Medicare that it could cause our entire system to crack and splinter. Socialists are prepared to step in and offer their "solutions", I'd guess, which would of course mean fewer freedoms for all of us.

Having said that, you may not realize that your thoughts and comments come across more like a Republican speaking for individual responsbility than as a Democrat who'd normally favor the right of the state over individual rights.

You might want to consider another party affiliation. And if you can escape from "the dark side", then you'd be welcomed with open arms.