Smoking ban amendment fails

Published 5:54 am Friday, March 24, 2017

After hearing several citizens speak against it Tuesday night, mostly on the grounds that government should stay out of private business and that it would be too restrictive in public places like Cassidy Park, the Bogalusa City Council voted 5-2 against an amendment to the city’s smoking prohibition ordinance.

Gloria Kates and Tamira Smith voted in favor of the amendment. Teddy Drummond, Doug Ritchie, Scott Ard, Brian McCree and Sherry Fortenberry voted against it.

The proposed amendment would have prohibited smoking in workplaces and outdoor public places in Bogalusa, with a focus on eliminating second-hand smoke.

After the vote, Kates reminded those in attendance that the original ordinance, adopted in December, would still be in effect. That ordinance outlaws smoking in all public buildings and private clubs.

“My opposition to this (proposed amendment to the) ordinance is not because I’m a proponent (of smoking), but you’re making this law a lot more restrictive,” Phillipp Bedwell said, during public comments on the ordinance.

He said that under the amended ordinance if a person owned a business and wanted to smoke, and was the only employee, that person would not be allowed.

Drummond later said Bedwell had a good point.

“If you’re there (smoking) by yourself, you’re hurting nobody but yourself,” he said.

“The government is putting its nose where it doesn’t belong,” Bedwell said. “The state law we have on the books is plenty restrictive.”

He also pointed out that, as written, the amendment would prohibit smoking “in outdoor recreational areas,” although that stipulation was tempered in another section of the proposal.

“That would include Cassidy Park, Goodyear Park, and the Avenue B Sports Complex,” Bedwell said.

He said his main objection was the amendment’s private business aspect, and that he would “have to put pressure on Miss Wendy (Mayor Wendy Perrette) to veto it” if it passed.

Terry “Foots” Quinn added his dissent.

“I’m a non-smoker, too,” he said. “I’m torn between letting second-hand smoke and libertarian views. I’m against it.”

In other business, Perrette proclaimed April 2017 Child Abuse Prevention Month in Bogalusa. In making the proclamation, she said that child abuse is a serious and growing problem affecting more than 3.2 million of this nation’s children, including thousands of local children, annually.

Perrette also gave credit to the Exchange Club of West St. Tammany and the Children’s Advocacy Center/Hope House for their support of educational programs and community service activities “that are making significant progress in stopping this crime against families and children.”

Fortenberry later said she has raised foster children, and she urged everyone who witnesses abuse or neglect to report it.

Judge Robert Black conducted a condemnation hearing for a property at what is believed to be 1402 Sullivan Drive. The council unanimously condemned the property, but gave the owner 10 days to come into compliance. Bogalusa resident Fate Ferrell said he had been complaining to the city for years about that property, and he was glad to see the action.

Two ordinances were introduced. One would set the ad valorem tax rates for 2017, as required by law.

The second would authorize the mayor to enter into a contract between the city and Professional Engineering Consultants Corporation Services for the fiscal year 2018/2019 Louisiana Community Development Block Grant program. The council will have a public hearing at the Tuesday, April 4 meeting to get views on that program and to discuss potential projects.