OPED: Smoking decision, ‘hidden’ vote sparks citizen’s outrage
SUBMITTED BY: Merry Hansen, Lakewood
I am appalled and outraged at the fiasco I witnessed at the Lakewood study session on Monday night.
We were led to believe the Mayor and Council were truly listening during a 30-month long process to their city appointed task force, the community poll which showed strong support among Lakewood residents for smoke-free work and public places, the great results from neighboring Arvada and their smoke-free law, the piles of data which clearly
showed the economic and health benefits of smoke-free laws.
However, actions speak louder than words. In the end, Mayor Murphy and Council
Member Ramey Johnson lead the way to reject most of the critical recommendations from its own task force.
In a meeting with the Mayor, I asked him if he had any questions, concerns, or opinions about the smoke-free law discussion. He said he had none.
Miraculously, the Mayor developed a clear opinion at the study session, which was to protect smoking over the health of workers and residents. It was obvious the Mayor never intended to close any loopholes or change the smoking policy.
To make matters worse, council members were not required to publicly show how they voted on each provision – literally hiding a thumbs up or down out of sight of audience members.
So much for honest and open communication.
Two and a half years ago, Mayor Murphy refused to even consider strengthening the smoking policy. Instead, he bought some time (months and months) by appointing council member Tom Quinn to head up the Mayor’s AdHoc Committee.
Murphy said he needed more community input. For the next two years, many people devoted their own personal time in gathering community input, from interviews and surveys to phone calls and many meetings. Folks took time out
of their lives to present to council during Public Comment and through e-comments. But all along, the mayor never intended to make any changes.
This is a slap in the face for all involved, especially Tom Quinn.
The Lakewood website brags about their commitment to citizens, but the Mayor and council completely ignored the work of its citizens task force and surveys which clearly showed strong support from Lakewood residents for smoke-free public and work places. They ignored the pleas of those who are suffering from tobacco smoke exposure in Lakewood.
It is obvious to me that Mayor Murphy chose to adopt the views of the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA), who encourage ventilation systems instead of smoking policies.
Or maybe the Mayor believes making Lakewood a smoking destination makes us a more appealing to families and businesses – really? Why, mayor, why? Is it personal agenda because of his close business relationship with the CRA? Is it because of the campaign contributions he received from CRL Associates, who have been major lobbyists for Phillip Morris?
If you are in a position of authority where your choice of action could save lives, and you choose not to make that choice, you have let your people down.