Last week our other newspaper in Mesquite ran a front-page article about the proposed clean-air initiative. The article covered, basically what was said at the city council meeting the week before. I have some comments to make along with a history lesson that will perhaps better clarify my position and how all of this came to be.
I attended a meeting of the local Democratic Club in 2010. I was invited as a candidate for the upcoming election. Prior to me talking to the group, the then president of the group read a letter which, as I recall, was sent by the American Lung Association, looking for someone to represent them in forming a clean air group. I clearly recall it paid $25.00 hourly, was to be several hours weekly, and might involve some travel. No one in the audience seemed interested, so the president of the group took the offered position. A few months after the election that year, two members of the newly formed group asked me to lunch. I accepted and we had lunch. During lunch, the president of the group asked me about how to get a ballot item on for a vote. I told him it would take 15 percent of those who had voted in the previous election. However, I did mention they needed to get it done soon to meet the time frames required. Again, as I recall, they decided it was not the way to go and asked if they had a chance getting the city council to pass a no smoking ordinance for the casinos. I told them I didn’t think so and the matter was dropped. Over the years since, I have been approached, many times, with the same questions, but by different members of the group. I don’t believe they had a formal name. I repeatedly told them that I doubted anyone on council would approve a no smoking ordinance for the casinos. No other areas of any smoking were ever discussed. Last year I was again approached and told the group that the only way their smoking ban would go forward was to put it on the ballot. I told the group I don’t support it, but if it were law that I would support the law. In other words, I follow the law, and would not break it no matter how I felt. I never flip-flopped as the article said. An ordinance is a law and I have sworn to uphold the law, period. The article also said that the committee of non-smokers felt that they had the support of the mayor and council, but were now facing a backlash. I cannot speak for the council, as we have never discussed this. To discuss this would have been a violation of the open meeting law unless it was agendized and at a public meeting.
We, as a city, have never tried to stop the clean-air initiative, but have only stated our views of this proposed ordinance. I don’t believe stating our opinion is wrong or illegal. We did not file any legal action or encourage others to file. It will be up to the courts to let the initative go forward or not. I believe in a prior article I commented about the mayor or council not responding to public comment. On occasion we do, or I ask the appropriate person on staff to respond. This is done to clarify a point brought up, or to answer a direct question. We do not discuss or debate an issue brought up by a citizen at a meeting unless it is agendized. To do so, would probably be a violation of the open meeting law. I hope this article better clears up my position on the proposed ordinance.