Thursday, November 01, 2007

Anti-Smoking and Pat Gray

I am 100% in favor of a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, but I can't jump onto the "Breathe Easy, KC" bandwagon. I completely support their goal, but the thought of sending checks directly to Pat Gray at Northstar Marketing just kind of creeps me out.

Why is it that a feel-good, pro-health, anti-stink issue like a smoking ban hasn't lined up a far more positive front person than a backroom political consultant? Why can't we imagine that our money will go to support a cute grandmother who has emphysema, or a little boy who has lost his father due to lung cancer, or even just some celebrity who, likes me, wants to be able to enjoy a good beer in a bar without someone stinking up the joint?

"Breathe Easy, KC" has a wholesome, community-based, grassroots mission. Its first order of business ought to be to get Pat Gray as far from the spotlight as possible.

And that advice comes free - no need to send me a check.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because both sides are paying hired guns to push their agendas. Money, not ethics gets things done. This town is a crooked as my dogs hind leg.

11/01/2007 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Brent said...

Because taking bar owners rights away to allow people to smoke on their own property is an underhanded, shady thing to do that is only worthy of the work of KC's political machine. Pat Gray is actually the idea spokesman for the issue.

11/01/2007 9:26 AM  
Blogger Ambitious Fledgling said...

You probably already know how I feel but I will say it anyway. If you are able to drink in a casino, why shouldn't I be able to smoke? More importantly, it should be the bar owners and casinos choice to place the ban.. If you don't like a place that has smoking allowed... you simply shouldn't go. The reason bar owners support smoking is because why.. a lot of drinkers smoke, and we will pick a smoking bar over a non smoking bar... look at Independence.. I never drink there anymore... except at Fuel which has an accommodating outside area for it. Okay, I'm done ranting. =)

11/01/2007 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious, Brent, about what is "underhanded" or "shady" about restricting a bar owner's "right" (which does not appear in the Constitution or anywhere else, and could scarcely be called a "right" in any legal sense) through an open and fair democratic process?

11/01/2007 11:14 AM  
Blogger A Librarian said...

I am a former smoker and I am all for the ban. When I smoked I never wanted my smoking to be a problem for others and sometimes went outside even when I didn't have to. Now I don't mind being around smokers but I am really tired of having to take a shower every time I come home from a night out because I reek of smoke. I love going to Lawrence now because there is no smoking inside.

11/01/2007 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Brent said...

Anon 11:14

Here's my take on smoking bans in bars and restaurants. If there was really a high demand for non-smoking places, there would be more of them. If every person who says "I would like to ban smoking" would only go to non-smoking bars then there would be a line outside of those bars every night -- which would spur more non-smoking bars. The reality is, Dan favors the anti-smoking ordinance and when asked, could only name one non-smoking bar in Kansas City (the Blue Room). If it was so damned important to him, he should have been able to rattle off dozens. But the reality is, Dan represents the many people who would rather have the government legislate his wishes than actually be inconvenienced by going to non-smoking bars. I have a huge problem with putting restrictions on private property owners because the majority of people don't want to be inconvenienced into choosing to go to bars and restaurants that are non-smoking. You're absolutely right, there is nothing in the constitution protecting this right, but I just think if people were really all that concerned about non-smoking places, they'd actually go to non-smoking places, encourage their favorite places to go non-smoking or whatever. I think consumer demand should dictate it vs legislation. Unfortunately, people seem more than willing to let people legislate their individual rights away a little at a time as to not be inconvenienced.

I don't smoke, I don't own a business that would be affected by it and most of my favorite places are smoking bars (although I usually prefer ones with outside seating or are generally less smokey inside). I just think it's the restaurant owner's perogative...if you don't like their choice, don't go there. That's your choice.

11/01/2007 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brent - I don't understand your problem. If your view is in the majority, then your side wins. If Dan's view is in the majority, then the obnoxious asses who stink up the bars and impede the rest of us from having a good time will have to snub out their death sticks, and your side will lose.

Either way, it's democracy in action. Sounds like you don't like democracy, huh?

11/01/2007 1:39 PM  
Anonymous Brent said...

I prefer Freedom to Democracy. Government's job is not necessarily to yield to the will of the majority (even if they are elected by the majority) but in many cases, it is their responsibility to protect minorities from the will of the majority. It's my experience that the majority does quite well on its own in inflicting its will on minorities without government involvement. If the majority is always right, then why do we have laws protecting blacks, hispanics, anti-segregation, etc. And are you saying that the majority is right in its restrictions of the gay communities in Missouri and Kansas? I think in most cases the idea of "majority rule" infringes on the rights of everyone who isn't in the majority...which seems wrong to me.

Like I said, if you don't like smoking bars, don't go to them. It really is that simple, and no laws required. If the majority of people did that, there'd be a lot more non-smoking options.

11/01/2007 1:53 PM  
Blogger sophia said...

I want some details as to why Pat Gray should be kept as far from the spotlight as possible. I realize his name (and that of Glorioso) is invoked like the boogey man, but I've never heard any explanation of why he qualifies as such a 'negative' guy. And I don't think most people in the city have even heard of him, so he's done a pretty good job of avoiding the spotlight as it is.

11/01/2007 4:18 PM  
Anonymous SoCal_In_Soho said...

Brent that's ridiculous. I am from California and am a smoker. Everyone in California that smokes has no beef with the smoking bans because they aren't closeminded idiots. They understand the effects of smoking and second hand smoke. Likewise they understand that not everyone likes it nor should be forced to be around it.

I remember the first time my friends, who all smoke, came to visit me and we went to restaurant where everyone was smoking. We left in the middle of the meal because they were disgusted. Whining about having to get up and go to a smoking area or about having to hang out in the smoking area is not only hypocritical but lazy and weak.

Smoking Bans are not a bad thing as every major city in this country has them so quit your bitching.

11/01/2007 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Brent said...

Socal in Soho,

Just because other people are fine giving their rights away because other people whine about smoking, doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. What's the next step, preventing parents from smoking in their own homes so their kids don't get 2nd hand smoke? Do you really think that's not a likely next step?

If you don't like the smoking, don't go. Go to a non-smoking bar. When everyone else does the same, more restaurants will go non-smoking.

Listen, I don't smoke. I don't own a restaurant. I just have a huge problem with people complaining because they voluntarily go hang out in smoking places. If trying to respect people's rights to do legal activities on their own property makes me a close-minded idiot, so be it.

11/01/2007 8:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much did he charge Beth Gottstein for a one page web site?

11/02/2007 2:15 PM  
Blogger sophia said...

Anon 2:15,

$5000 for design and hosting, according to her 8 days before primary report. Ouch.

11/02/2007 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the anti-smoking zealots were sincere, they would ban sale and use of cigarettes in KCMO. I'm talking you Councilwoman Beth.

We all know how well this works with fireworks. However, if smoking is evil enough to ban from bars, then how can the city allow Quicktrip to sell cigarettes?

11/02/2007 10:21 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anonymous - I'm totally sincere, and totally pro-ban, but I don't see your point in the slightest. I don't want smoking in bars and restaurants because it interferes with my health and enjoyment. People smoking in their homes or cars don't interfere with my health and enjoyment, so I have no desire whatsoever to interfere with their choices.

Brent - It must really be sad for a libertarian like you to live in a democracy. Under our system, Hoopers is not allowed to have nude dancers. Hoopers is not allowed to advertise their drink prices in the paper. Hoopers is not allowed to sell pure grain alcohol. Hoopers is not allowed to sell their beer to minors. With sincere respect, you should probably get accustomed to living in a Democratic society, or buy and island somewhere and institute a Libertarian utopia. Because we live in a regulated economy, and I'm damned glad of it.

11/03/2007 11:10 AM  
Anonymous Brent said...

Living in a democracy is great when you are in the majority Dan. Ask any of your gay friends how they feel about democracy not allowing them the right to vote. Would women have ever been given the right to vote had they not passed an amendment allowing them to (it never went to a public vote). How about blacks? It must be nice to think that your own opinion is so important that you can impose it upon everyone else just because your in the majority. It's people like you that I wish would not make it into public office...

It's less of a Libertarian thing than just figuring the government shouldn't be in the business to legislate everything in our lives...I'm not for total Libertarianism, but at some point, enough is enough. If you don't like it, don't go to the restaurant. Seriously.

11/03/2007 5:45 PM  
Anonymous Brent said...

One other note Dan. It's really convenient for you to hide behind the "it's a democracy" argument and typecasting me as a libertarian utopia person (I'm not) but answer this for me, why do you feel that your desire for a smoke free environment trumps the restaurant owner's rights to allow people to smoke in their restaurant? Everyone goes there voluntarily, so why do you feel that you are more important than the restaurant owner? I'm not speaking for the smokers there (I don't think they have any rights in this either), but I certainly think the property owner should get first dibs over your wishes...

11/04/2007 9:40 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Fair question, Brent. My right wins (or loses) because society has the right to regulate businesses. I'm not really "hiding behind" the fact that we live in a democracy - it's kind of a fundamental point, isn't it?

Our community's right to prevent him from having nude dancers in our neighborhood trumps his right to entertain his guests as he sees fit. Our community's right to prevent wild drunkenness trumps his right to serve grain alcohol. Our community's right to have healthy food trumps his right to exclude the health department from his kitchen.

Believe it or not, there is no "right" to smoke. There isn't. Go read the Constitution. It's not there.

Suffrage is a fascinating issue. You're right, though, that suffrage was not universal, until laws passed by governments made it that way. Do you really equate the right to vote, granted by statute, to be equivalent to the non-existent right to smoke? Really? Because I think that's crazy talk.

I'm not in favor of government controlling everything, either. But I'm damned sure in favor of making the smokers stop stinking, and making me stink.

At some point, enough is enough. If smokers were more considerate people, they would have stopped smoking indoors on their own. But they abused the rest of us, and now the majority is going to get to decide what is appropriate.

As for telling me I can't go out to bars and restaurants, umm, no.

11/04/2007 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Brent said...

Strangely Dan, while there is not "right to smoke" guaranteed in the Constitution, there is not right to be free from in guaranteed either.

I mention sufferage only because your pretending that the majority is always right because we're a democracy is flawed at best.

I don't think people have the right to smoke. I do however think that as a general rule people want everything over-regulated...including smoking in bars. Like I've said, if it were so damned important to you to not smell like smoke, you'd go to a non-smoking establishment - or at least be able to name more than one. But the reality is, you're wanting them to ban something so it's more convenient for you. How quaint and unamerican.

You are never forced to go to these places -- so I don't feel like you have much of a say at all.

Honestly, in many ways I support the ordinance because I feel like employees have the right to hold a job not affected by smoke. They have a legitimate beef, because they don't necessarily have the option to be somewhere else. You do. It's amazing that in all of your conversations about this THEIR welll-being has never entered your mind. It's been all about you.

So when this comes to a public vote, I will have to weigh what's best between the health of the workers at these places, or my anst over further encouraging our nanny-government society that I really cannot stand.

11/04/2007 11:18 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Very good, Brent. Way to pay attention! You're quite correct - there is nothing about smoking in the Constitution, one way or the other. So, what do you say we move past this silly talk of rights, okay?

Now, we're simply dealing with societal regulation. I never claimed to be motivated by concern about restaurant employees because that's not what motivates me. I'm not the sort to lie just to make myself look good.

I have experienced cities with smoking bans, and I think it's wonderful. I want that. I don't want to have my choice of entertainment limited by people who stink. So, I'm going to vote to prevent those people from impinging on my entertainment options.

That's not nanny state. You can take up smoking if you like. Just don't make me smell you.

11/04/2007 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Brent said...

Personally, I love places that are non-smoking. Lawrence, New York, California. It's great. I still think that government overly restricting legal activities on private property is nanny state. It's a matter of principle that I don't want government involvment on this. I can honestly see 5-8 years from now them forbidding parents from smoking in homes with kids in them. Do I think it's a good idea to smoke with kids in the home? No. But that's completely different than regulating it. And at this point, I don't see much of a difference from regulating it in a private business or a private residence. It's moving too far and cheerleaders like you champion it.

Again, from a rights perspective, I don't think smokers have rights...but I think personal proprety owners should have some rights...apparently you don't think so. Which is sad.

11/04/2007 2:07 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Brent - this isn't a matter of personal property, it is a matter of real property. We draw the line differently as to what can be restricted on private property. I think that if you hold it out to the public in commerce, particularly in a heavily restricted industry like the food and beverage industry, you submit to regulation.

We draw the line differently as to what restrictions are appropriate - I don't believe that you are arguing that none are. So, it's a matter of degree. A perfect area to resort to the ballot box. See you at the polls!

11/04/2007 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Brent said...

Just warning you that the majority is not always right and some day you will be in the correct minority. Be careful what you wish for.

11/04/2007 3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know why everyone is so up in arms about Pat Gray running this campaign. They chose him because they want to win. Pat Gray is brilliant at political marketing and anyone that would look at his win loss record would know that. I happen to know him personally and he isn't the "prince of darkness" that everyone makes him out to be. He actually has a heart of gold, and truly loves K.C.

11/26/2007 5:41 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Even if you're right, Anonymous, it was foolish of them to assign him a public role, because of his reputation - even if it's unjustified. I notice that they have moved him out of the spotlight, which is smart.

11/26/2007 8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He is out of the spotlight, as usual. Like someone said earlier, I don't think most people,those not involved politically in the city, even know who Pat is.

11/27/2007 9:55 AM  

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