Terrible. Indy politicians have once again missed an opportunity to improve the health of our community. There’s a lot of blame to go around about why the city council has once again failed to pass a [nearly] comprehensive public smoking ban.
Mayor Greg Ballard is one person to hold accountable. Matthew Tully in today’s star writes that the mayor walked into a closed-door meeting with council Republicans and made it clear he didn’t want the ordinance to land on his desk.” Tully points out that as a canidiate for Indy mayor Ballard approved of a comprehensive smoking ban.
Democrats aren’t blameless either. First of all, if council Democrats had made a stand during the Peterson era about smoking (or anything, really), this would be a mute point. Indy would have long ago joined the 21st century when it comes to public health. But Peterson and the council back then weren’t about taking bold stands.
And on the city council, Democrats should feel embarrassed. Council member Dane Mahern abstained from the vote because, as Tully reported, his father is a lobbyist for the tobacco industry. Heaven forbid, you take a stand that might bump against your father’s business interests. More so, Mahern had his father host a fundraiser for him within a week of the scheduled smoking ban vote.
This was a chance to be a truly bipartisan and other Democrats didnt’ show up. Council member Doris Minton-McNeal, Monroe Gray, and, already mentioned Mahern, abstained from voting. Their abstentions helped kill the bill and Minton-McNeal didn’t even bother to show up.
Whatever the reasons, other Democrats who voted against the bill include Duke Oliver and Vernon Brown.
Thanks should go to Democrats Jose Evans and Angela Mansfield and Republicans Barbara Malone and Ryan Hunter for taking a strong stand for making Indianapolis a better place to live. And don’t forget to thank Smoke Free Indy.