December 13, 2005 This vote today falls within our responsibilities as a County Board and public health agency to responsibly manage important social change. My vote today is about how we deal with the effects of our policy decisions.
We need a statewide ban, and we need it as soon as possible. Currently three million Minnesotans live in jurisdictions in which patrons and employees are not protected from second-hand smoke, not only in bars, but in restaurants where children are welcome and appropriate. Let there be no confusion about my position. I voted for the full ban a year ago, based on my firm belief that not only is smoking harmful but that second-hand smoke is also harmful to our health. I question neither the science nor the public health need to take action. I voted for the full ban in hopes that we could, in short order, achieve a full ban throughout the state of Minnesota. That did not happen. In fact, at this moment, outside of Hennepin County the only place in Minnesota with a mandatory, full ban, i.e., all bars and restaurants, at this time is Moose Lake, population 2,239. Even a ban similar to that in place in Olmsted and Ramsey Counties did not get a favorable committee vote with a recommendation to pass from any committee in the Minnesota House. The reality is that the statewide, all-out ban proposal is dead in the water for now. We are not moving ahead and will not if we follow the current strategy. I believe that a phased approach will get us there quicker statewide, i.e., get us more public health faster, than pursuit of an immediate, full, statewide ban. We have a responsibility to pursue a realistic plan to achieve a statewide ban. This is a matter of strategy, and, as such, is subject to disagreement without charges of abandonment of health goals. As local officials charged with managing public health efforts, we have a responsibility to manage that process in best interest of our residents. We have a responsibility for their health. And we have a responsibility not to treat businesses and employees as cannon fodder in this process of change. I would point out that the doctors who regularly attacked the notion of connecting economics and health on this issue are represented by an association that has sought to eliminate the health care provider tax at a time when thousands of Minnesotans are uninsured. There is no greater public health problem facing us than the lack of preventive care that comes when less than our entire population is insured. Surely the assault on the provider tax represents a linking of economics and health. And surely, that linkage is considerably more harmful than that associated with this 19-month hold for fewer than 100 establishments in Hennepin County. One of the things that frustrates and disappoints the general public when it comes to politics is how groups with political power treat those without power. We must find a way to work with the concerns of minority views. That is what I strongly believe. It is how I have and will act. This change represents responsible management and provides modest, temporary relief in several ways: · It provides protection for private clubs and true bars only, thus maintaining the total ban for all restaurants and literally hundreds of bar-restaurants; · It does not create the loophole provided by both the Ramsey an Olmsted ordinances for enclosed bars within bar-restaurants; · It is temporary, providing exemptions for approximately 19 months, during which time the legislature can and should act on a statewide ban, a ban which Hennepin County has and should continue to support. · With my amendment, no exemptions are provided for new bars. ### Brian Shekleton, Principal Aide Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin 612-348-5204 [EMAIL PROTECTED] A-2400 Government Center Minneapolis, MN 55487-0240 REMINDERS: 1. Be civil! Please read the NEW RULES at http://www.e-democracy.org/rules. If you think a member is in violation, contact the list manager at [EMAIL PROTECTED] before continuing it on the list. 2. Don't feed the troll! Ignore obvious flame-bait. For state and national discussions see: http://e-democracy.org/discuss.html For external forums, see: http://e-democracy.org/mninteract ________________________________ Minneapolis Issues Forum - A Civil City-focused Civic Discussion - Mn E-Democracy Post messages to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Subscribe, Un-subscribe, etc. at: http://e-democracy.org/mpls