No One Should Protest in Front of Mayor’s Home

I saw on Dallas Morning News’ City Hall Blog that some folks who want to see Jenny the Elephant moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee plan to stage a protest in front of Mayor Leppert’s home in the coming days.

I may not see eye-to-eye with Mayor Leppert on every issue, but this kind of invasion of privacy crosses the line. It reveals a lack common courtesy and is an embarrassment to those of us who advocated for Jenny’s move to Tennessee. Continue reading

Another Reason We Can’t Muzzle Speakers at Council Mtgs.

We’re finishing up our “afternoon” speakers at 7:30 p.m., and our first two speakers were smart, articulate, and had legitimate problems they wanted the City Council to know about, and hopefully, resolve.

But I was just told that their concerns were not aired publicly, and the TV broadcast was cut off when our speakers began. I am not happy.

Smoking Ban Strengthened

On a 10-5 vote, the Council just approved an expanded smoking ban, prohibiting smoking in bars, billiard halls indoor workplaces, and within 15 feet of their main entrances. We exempted tobacco shops (which get more than 90% of their revenue from tobacco sales) and currently operating cigar bars (bars that get 15% of their revenue from tobacco sales). Violators will face a $200 fine, and the ordinance goes into effect April 10, 2009.

I voted in favor of expanding the ordinance (see my reasoning in a previous blog on this issue). Also voting in favor: Mayor Tom Leppert, Councilmembers Elba Garcia, Dwaine Caraway, Pauline Medrano, Dave Neumann, Carolyn Davis, Jerry Allen, Linda Koop, and Ron Natinsky.

Against: Councilmembers Vonciel Jones Hill, Steve Salazar, Tennell Atkins, Sheffie Kadane, and Mitchell Rasansky.

Form-Based Zoning Vote Delayed

Today, the Council voted to delay consideration of the proposed form-based zoning ordinance. We will be briefed on the issue at the Council Housing Committee meeting on January 29. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, take a look at this great editorial by former Councilmember Sandy Greyson that explains form-based zoning and its impact on our community. Then come back.)

I support the neighborhood-developer compromise, rather than what some are calling the staff-Natinsky plan. Continue reading

What Will the Expanded Smoking Ordinance Look Like?

Next week the council agenda includes the proposed smoking ordinance expansion. I can’t speak for the rest of the Council, but I predict the smoking ban will likely include the following expansions:

Smoking will likely be prohibited:

  • Indoor workplaces (smoker/owner can be fined)
  • Bars (smoker/owner can be fined)
  • Within 15 feet of main entrance (patios exempted) (only smoker can be fined)

Not likely:

  • Tobacco shops (which get more than 90% of their revenue from tobacco)
  • Currently operating cigar bars (they will be grandfathered so that they can operate, but no new cigar bars can open)
  • Outdoor patios at restaurants or bars
  • Parks

Likely fine/penalty:

  • $200 ticket to smoker and/or owner
  • Possibility of license revocation for repeat offenses

Workplace Safety: Why We Need to Expand Dallas’ Smoking Ban

The council is considering expanding the city’s smoking ban to include indoor workplaces and bars. I support this expansion.

First of all, I don’t like nanny states. I have no interest in telling adults what they can and can’t do to themselves. If folks want to risk their lives with cigarettes, they should smoke to their heart’s content (or at least until they succumb to congestive heart failure).

But the problem comes when smokers place the health of others at risk. Continue reading