Tuesday, December 06, 2005

'Quality-of-life' alderman wants you to enjoy a quality death

The lead in today's Sun-Times calls him "the alderman who has made a career out of 'quality-of-life' crusades." In public these days, you see, he is spearheading a crackdown on Chicago street performers, saying that drumsticks-and-plastic-bucket musicians, code word for black, are too loud. Behind the scenes, however, Ald. Burton F. Natarus (42nd) is leading the Big Tobacco charge, trying to keep Chicago as smoker-friendly as possible by supporting a ban on smoking that, well, allows people to smoke where they currently smoke--the bars and taverns of Chicago.

So let's see how this makes him a "quality-of-life" crusader: Street musicians annoy/scare the wealthy residents and suburban shoppers of Michigan Avenue, so get rid of the nigg- ..., er, I mean, loud music. Cigarettes kill smokers and non-smokers alike, but they also bring in lots of tax revenue and campaign contributions, so let's keep people puffing.

And so, with Natarus leading his crusade, the City Council will most likely compromise on a smoking ban by watering down the more stringent proposal by Ald. Ed Smith (28th), who wants to include all taverns and bars. In the meantime, while our politicians keep the city as windy and smokey as ever, cities and states around the country have gone smoke-free without a hitch.

Personally, I support a complete ban on public smoking for selfish reasons: I'm a non-smoker, I'm allergic to cigarette smoke, and I really really don't want to die of cancer just because I enjoy going out for a few beers with friends.

But anyway, the City Council may make some sort of decision today, and it sounds like the crusader will win. But there is hope, and you may have missed it if you weren't paying close attention. It may not matter what our aldermen decide because Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) announced plans to introduce an ordinance that would bar smoking in all public places in Cook County, including bars and restaurants in Chicago.

This information was buried in the second-to-last paragraph of today's story in the Trib. There's no saying how many votes he's got, or how long it would take, but it is nice to see someone trying to neutralize that loudmouth alderman from downtown.

In case you're wondering, Mayor Daley hasn't been quoted too much in the papers lately, but I've read that he supports the "quality-of-life" crusader on this one. No word on Blagojevich, but this might be an issue to raise his poll numbers as he struggles with his upcoming re-election bid. Maybe Rod would be willing to try making Illinois smoke-free.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is completely crazy that people want to ban smoking. Hell, next they might want to outlaw guns. Yep, it is all a major liberal conspiracy to prevent Americans from carrying guns. I'm moving to Texas where I can smoke and drink all I want while pointing my gun at any plastic bucket drum.. er, I mean blacks.

8:22 AM  
Blogger ap said...

hey, thanks for the idea. I did a little research and got enough info to make this into something to put on kos. (there are six cities in texas, by the way, including austin and el paso, that are smokefree.)

10:07 AM  
Anonymous jenska said...

I'd be interested to know how much ALL the bars/restaurants in California have suffered, and those in NYC (with very similar weather to Chicago), too, as a result of the smoking bans...some of us would go out MORE if there was a smoking ban on these places. Nothing like a second-hand smoke hangover.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to the Restaurant and Bar Industry's trade magazine, net attendance at both bars and restaurants after the smoking ban is UP.

9:57 PM  
Anonymous The mom said...

I know I would join our great group of hard-core bar-hopping staff members if I knew smoking was banned!! (Ok, I would have to say if only my daughter let me...and I wasn't too sleepy!) Hell, I probably wouldn't join you, even then! Who am I kidding???

11:13 AM  

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