Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Where there's smoke...

The 4-man county council Monday debated (yet again) a recently-reintroduced proposal to ban smoking in public places. Of course, all of this is old hat to followers of the county council, readers of the local newspapers, and people who regularly interact with someone from any of the preceding groups (basically, all of us). Still, there could be a reason to rehash everything.

The four council members have heard the arguments on smoking twice during consideration of two bills, while the new member has not heard them at all, Democrat Guy Guzzone said. Howard law now allows smoking in physically separate areas.

"The new member will have the opportunity to review the [video] tape for this evening's hearing," replied Republican Christopher J. Merdon, the chairman. Later, another Democrat objected.

"Tonight is generally an act of futility. It's disappointing that this bill had to be rushed in on an emergency basis since we don't have a fifth member up here," said west Columbia Democrat Ken Ulman, who co-sponsored the original no-smoking bill with County Executive James N. Robey last fall.

..."It's extremely ironic that the people who want to get this legislation done as soon as possible are the same ones advocating a delay," Merdon said.

OK. So it's true that most of us know where we stand on the smoking issue. We also know by heart most of the arguments for our side and theirs. Yet if the ostensible reason for reintroducing this legislation was to give the new council person, who will be sworn in tomorrow, a chance to decide the matter, shouldn't this person have an opportunity to hear arguments and debate with fellow council members? Instead, Merdon -- the one who proposed the new legislation -- basically says "watch it on TiVo."

Ironic in the extreme is probably not the best way to describe what's going on. There may be some irony in there, but since I've never bothered to truly understand the word (moral reasons), I can't say for sure. What I can say, however, is that I really don't think you can blame the Democrats of trying to delay the legislation. I'd say it's more of an attempt at truly representative democracy.

UPDATE: Damn you, Baltimore Sun, for conveniently hiding the news that Calvin Ball was chosen by the Howard County Democratic Central Committee for appointment to David Rakes' seat. Rather than put this very Howard-centric piece of news in the, you know, Howard section, the Sun hid it in Maryland News>Politics where no one (except HoCoBlog, David Wissing, and probably eveyone else but me) could find it. I'll have more to say about this later (maybe tonight), but for now let's just say Ball was a predicatable, but very good choice. Not that there's anything wrong with predictable. We've got enough uncertainty in life as it is...

1 comment:

hocoblog said...

As the Chairman, Merdon will have a lot of influence in controlling the debate and the timing of the debate.

When November comes around this will be a long forgotten memory.