Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Unalaska Activists Launch Petition Campaign To Either Amend Or Force Public Vote On Anti-Smoking Ordinance Passed By Unalaska City Council

On September 17th, 2009, the Dutch Harbor Fisherman reported that a group of local activists in Unalaska have launched a petition campaign to get the city council to either amend the local anti-smoking ordinance to allow smoking in bars, or else put the measure to a vote by the entire community.

Petition campaign organizer Jessica Culp, a PenAir agent, says that at least 300 people in the community of 3,500, including many nonsmokers, have signed the petition. People are angry that the council members created and implemented the contentious ban undemocratically from the top down rather than place it on the ballot for a community vote. Once a sufficient number of signatures have been procured, Culp plans to present the signed petition at an upcoming city council meeting.

The ordinance, designated 2009-07, which amended Title 11 of the Unalaska City Code, banned smoking in public places and businesses and required people smoking outside such facilities to stand at least 15 feet from the entrance to such a facility. It was passed on May 12th, 2009 by a 6-0 vote, and took effect in August. Seat G Councilman Richard Peck, who voted for the ban, claims most Unalaska residents support it, and that bar patrons have told him they like breathing clean air. In addition, Peck insists that the public had ample chance to speak up before the proposal became law. Peck is being challenged by Donald Graves in the upcoming October 6th election.

Of the four Seat F city council candidates profiled in the local newspaper, Zac Schasteen was the only one of them to address the issue. In response to the question, "What action that the present council made in the past year do you think was of the most benefit to the community?", Schasteen agreed with the premise but disagreed with the implementation. Schasteen believes it should have been sent to the community for a vote rather than be imposed undemocratically from the top down. Schasteen is running against incumbent Earl Southworth, who voted for the ordinance. Consequently, if local voters want to pay Southworth back for voting in favor of the ordinance, they have their chance on October 6th. They can also choose to bump Richard Peck in favor of Donald Graves, if Graves gives any indication that he would favor a community vote on the smoking ban.

Don't be fooled by progressive totalitarians on the left and neocon totalitarians on the right who tell you that human rights, homeland security, and public health are too "sacred" to be entrusted to a public vote. In a democratic republic, public policy must always be subjected to a vote.

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