the Controversial Committee Report
“We don’t raise sacred cows...we just butcher them.”
The hypocrisy was reeking stronger than cigarette and cigar smoke when the city council met recently to discuss changes in the city’s smoking ordinance. Smoking and drinking. The two topics that will get folks off their duffs, attend a council meeting and participate in local government by maybe even voting on occasion. One of these issues should be on every council agenda in the future to increase participation in city affairs.
However, the hypocrisy voiced during the discussions was not by the ordinary citizens protesting what the council was poised to vote on. The mix of speakers also included those who once lobbied to basically have a total smoking ban imposed throughout the city. And due to their doggedness, the ordinance that currently is in effect is as a result of their efforts. And to think, these individuals were adamant about keeping the current ordinance intact...to protect the operations of current and future businesses/restaurants which were about to be quashed. Wasn’t that special.
And of course, the proverbial ‘speaking from both sides of their mouths’ council members piled their hypocritical rhetoric higher than an ash tray filled with cigarette butts.
While no butts were spilled on the chamber floor, some council members did manage to show theirs to the packed house. And it wasn’t a pretty sight.
The smoking ordinance issue at hand was to effectively revise a good, working ordinance to become a total ban on smoking in public places (i.e. restaurants, Bingo halls, bars, etc.). Why? Simply because a self-righteous vocal minority (the city’s Health Board) believe they have been blessed, called or ordained to watch, monitor and dictate personal lifestyle choices for all individuals and businesses living in Irving that are not even their family members. This board used such stealth tactics and string pulling(?) to have the revised smoking ban ordinance placed before the council without the Planning and Zoning commission being granted an opportunity to weigh in...much as they do with all zoning matters. Shouldn’t someone be asking the question: Who allowed a city board to bypass normal, established protocol in this fashion?
What made the Kabuki dancing entertaining by some members of the council were the remarks of those who might even secretly profess to be supporters of national or state Tea Party candidates. Their tepid-water rationalization on the revised smoking ban issue should demand they be excommunicated from Tea Party ranks. Really, limited government is not imposing or dictating edicts against freedom of choice or free will issues...as a nanny state might. That’s Tea Party 101 philosophy. It’s supposed to be less government, not more! (And staff of the CCR knows this without even being a party or connected to this movement.)
There was some good achieved by delaying the ordinances’ final coffin nail with not having a vote on this ill-considered ordinance. The Bingo Ladies bestowed on mayor BVD, Brad LaMorgese and Gerald Farris their honored PTA certification. Mayor BVD was honored for nattering about her pregnancy issues when attending meetings in restaurants and her mom’s e-mails regarding the smoking subject; LaMorgese for his myopic vision and chastising, berating the entire business community, Las Colinas CC, Irving Chamber of Commerce, et al for not being as smart as he might consider himself to be*; and Farris for all his perpetual-wishy-washy non-sequiturs and being the holder of all true and germane facts that might not emanate from the Internet, and by participating in code inspections (wow?).
Oh, our mistake. The readership may not be familiar with the Bingo Ladies PTA designated honor...which has nothing to do with schools. This is their Pretentious Twit Award for council members attempting to speak on both sides of an issue, in condescending terms to those not agreeing with their position, and then postponing a vote on the issue due to public pressure. Yes, the council twit brigade (mayor BVD, LaMorgese and Farris) did themselves proud by postponing the vote. Why, they even believe they scored a victory with this effort to postpone the vote...which earned them extra twit points!
What’s next? Mayor BVD appointed a “committee” of four council members to revisit the total smoking ban ordinance. And for once by actually stating the obvious, councilman Webb asked why appoint a committee of council members. The council already knows the position these four individuals will assume when reviewing the smoking ban ordinance. No new information there! Just another round of can kicking to prevent the obvious...a vote either up or down on this issue. But, more extra twit points for mayor BVD, LaMorgese and Farris to garner with this move.
It goes without saying that the mayor and a couple of her ill informed twits just wanted to kick the controversial ‘can’ down the road and not suffer a defeat for a wrongheaded approach to impose draconian measures on current and future businesses/restaurants in the city that evening.
For the casual observer, the smoking ordinance will definitely come back to the council (one day) and the prevailing odds are that what was proposed to be a total smoking ban for businesses/restaurants will be exorcised from the revised version. The current ordinance with specific zoning requirements for smoking in businesses/restaurants might be tweaked, but remain intact. Bet the farm on it...we have.
Lastly, it remains to be seen if the twit brigade will manage to body slam the poor Bingo Ladies to the mat even after all the twit points they have been awarded.
- Bonus Twit Points: If LaMorgese has such a dismal view of the business community and chamber as he so expressed in his ‘shame on you’ and chastising remarks during the meeting, did tax payers see him vote against the funding of tax dollars for purported ‘economic development’ activities of these folks? Remember, the chamber’s $1.5+ million annual dole was on the same agenda as the smoking ban ordinance. (Answer: No, he voted to approve this lavish measure.) And don’t forget all the TIF bucks that he has recently approved for corporate groups and developers in the community. Is he starting to evolve into a Jekyll/Hyde/Ralph personality depending on the issue at hand? Depending on the issue, it’s going to be hard to determine which LaMorgese is actually voting at future council meetings!
Full Disclosure Notice: For the record, staff of the CCR has been smoke free for 13-years, 8-months, 21-days and 16-hours...not that we are counting. We chose which restaurants to dine in. Some restaurants have separate smoking sections and others don’t. This is our choice/decision to determine where to eat...not to dictate how a restaurant/business opts to conduct their affairs.