Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Allen COunty smoking ordinance is HORRIBLY written

Allen County Smoking Ordinance is poorly written

The proposed Allen County smoking ordinance is poorly written and needs to be clarified before it is voted on.

The ordinance exempts “Private residences, except when used as a licensed child care, adult care, or Health Care Facility.”

What does this mean? I spoke to several Allen County officials about the definition of a “Private residence.” None of the officials I spoke to could define a “private residence.” Allen County Code does not define a “private residence.” The proposed smoking ordinance does not define a “private residence.”

Will the proposed smoking ban affect a home owner who has a home office and runs a small business out of their home? Will the proposed smoking ban affect a home owner who has had their residence rezoned into a commercial property? Will it affect a home owner who has a “use variance” in place so they can conduct commercial business on their property? I once again talked to several individuals that work for Allen County and not one of them could answer any of these questions either. This must be clarified in the proposed ordinance.

The posting requirements are the worst section of this document. Per section 10-8-4 “any establishment exempted shall post the following sign at the main entrance: “Warning: This is a smoking establishment.”

My wife and I are accountants and each have an office in our home. If our house qualifies as a “private residence” we would be exempt from the proposed smoking ordinance. My wife and I choose NOT to allow people to smoke in our house.

Per section 10-8-4 we will be required to post a sign on our front door, even though we do not allow smoking in our house, that says “Warning: This is a smoking establishment.”

Section 10-8-4 needs to be re-written. I do not allow smoking in my home; it is absurd that this ordinance will require me to post a sign at the main entrance of my house stating that it is a smoking establishment. As written this ordinance would require every person who has a business in their home to post a sign at their front entrance stating that it is smoking establishment, whether you allow smoking or not.

This ordinance will affect hundreds of thousands of people if it is enacted. I hope the County Commissioners take the time to write it properly and then let the public comment on it after the errors are fixed.

Mike Sylvester
Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Allen County


Robert Enders said...

Is your house an "establishment"? I believe the ordinance does not apply to private residences unless they are a day care center or health care facility.

If your house is an "establishment", you have to either post "No Smoking" signs or a sign that says that your house is a smoking establishment.

I should also point out that there is the law as it is written and the law as it is obeyed and enforced. I doubt that you would face any charges unless someone in the county really had a bone to pick with you.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

What are you talking about Robert?

It all has to do with the definition of a "Private Residence." What is a "Private Residence?" It is not defined in Allen County Code.

And if you are EXEMPT you must post a sign saying that you ALLOW smoking...

I highly suggest you read the entire ordinance and post again...

Also, you final comment may be true; but, it is not the point... I am against putting laws on the books that are not enforced...

Do you for some reason think it is a good idea to pass laws that no one follows?

Mike Sylvester

Andrew Kaduk said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Andrew Kaduk said...

I have seen many instances of frivelous laws being passed that then go completely unenforced. These laws are meant to appease certain annoying interest groups at politically expedient times.


Mike Kole said...

The problem with laws on the books but generally unenforced is that a) such laws breed contempt for the law; and b) such laws can suddenly become enforced against you if it becomes politically expedient from the perspective of the enforcer.

Arbitrary enforcement of law is a dangerous situation. People who speak in opposition to the powers that be are far more likely to find enforcement against them then people who play ball politically and yet break the seldom enforced rule.

Robert Enders said...

Often politicians will pass laws that they do not intend to be enforced in every case. Even they acknowlege that consistent enforcement of these laws will lead to disaster. I am not defending the practice, I'm simply pointing out that it happens.

For example, if our drug laws were consistently enforced, then 51% of all adults would have a criminal record. So some people are given pre-trial deferment. If they attend a few classes, they go free with a clean record as if it never happened. Basically, if you can afford your own lawyer, then you are just making a youthful indescretion. If you are using a public defender, then society needs to be protected from the likes of you. It is class-based discrimination.

Scott Greider said...


Good follow up on this issue. Not sure it will make much difference, but your vigilence is commendable.

In the commissioners defense, they do say that this is a draft. Maybe it's their policy to put out the best draft possible, let people comment on it, and then revise it accordingly. Let's hope it is, because you're right, if it is adopted as written, AC will spend a lot of money on lawyers fees dealing with inevitable lawsuits.

Andrew Kaduk said...

Mr. Kole,

I do believe the Cherry Master debacle is a prime example of your claim. For years, law enforcement decidedly had better things to worry about than a bunch of bar flies shoveling tens and twenties into those moronic machines. Add some keen political interest (for whatever reason) at a seemingly arbitrary time, and voila, you now have tavern owners and gaming lessors statewide scrambling to generate auxilliary revenue streams. I'm not sure I've ever heard (other than speculating pundits' equally arbitrary opinions) exactly what the nature of the timing or interest was with respect to those stupid video games, but somebody obviously got an itch...

Jeff Pruitt said...

Mike is correct to request clarification on the text of the law. Poorly written laws usually end up in court where they only serve to waste more taxpayer money.

And it is NEVER justified to make laws that you don't plan to enforce. This undermines the entire criminal justice system and can lead to abuse and corruption.

Doug H. Sec, Lib Pty AC said...

To All,

What is truly horrible is the fact that we ignore real problems and focus on these issues that desensitize our younger populace to control by Big Brother.

Fifty years ago highschool students took rifles to school for rifle competition. They carried them down the street, stored them in their lockers and behold, no school shootings. Today the concept of kids in school with loaded weapons is as rupugnant as ice cream without chocolate syrup!

In my lifetime we have gone from the concept of the government informing us something is bad to forcing our compliance with their suggestions. There was once a campaign to educate people about wearing seatbelts. There was once a campaign to educate people about children sticking their hands and arms out of car windows.

Today, rear windows don't go all the way down and you don't have a choice about seatbelts. Trivial? In some ways, yes. However, when you consider that for over 100 years this nation ran without any income tax and now people who want to do away with that very tax are denounced as "nuts" leads me to believe that we have already been brainwashed to at least a certain degree. We cannot fathom that this great nation ran quite successfully for over 100 years without an income tax.

I mention some of these above examples not to argue them pro or con, but rather to illustrate how some ideas when first proposed are resisted by so few, and then over time how they become ingrained in our social conscience so as to cause us to not even question their necessity. If we do not fight this smoking ban what will we think in 20 years when some other liberty that we take for granted today becomes the "sin du jour" that must be eliminated?

Today we have almost 7000 outstanding warrants in Allen County. There is a severe disagreement about how many highschools Northwest Allen County needs. I am certain those far more educated than I could go on and on.

Despite these real problems that need to be faced and dealt with our County Commissioners want to waste their time and our tax dollars worrying about smoking.

Folks, we vote on this topic every day of the week. We vote when we pull out our wallets (or purses ladies) and spend our hard earned $$$$$$ in those establishments we choose to patronize. Business owners know this and respond to the will of the people far more efficiently than any governmental body.

We must challenge this bureaucratic mentality by voting for Mike Kole for Indiana's Secretary of State. By him even getting 10% of the vote this will significantly ellivate the Libertarian Parties agenda of protecting the liberty of citizens and the rights of business owners.


Doug Horner
Secretary, LPAC

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