Archive for Thursday, March 30, 2006

Council to hear more on smoking ban debate

March 30, 2006

Banning smoking in public places, prioritizing capital improvement projects and weighing in on the question of whether there should be a professional county administrator are the next topics of discussion for the Lansing City Council.

The council meets for a work session at 7 p.m. today, March 30, at City Hall, 700 First Terrace. The council can come to a consensus but cannot make decisions during work sessions.

City Administrator Mike Smith said he's expecting at least three speakers to address the council on the smoking ban, which is being promoted by Matt Gledhill, a Lansing resident and college student who works part-time as a waiter in Leavenworth.

Several council members have tipped their hand on their stand on the ban: Andi Pawlowski, Dee Hininger and Kenneth Ketchum have expressed deep reservations; Robert Ulin and Billy Blackwell are on the record supporting a ban.

"Of course, the council can't take any action tonight," Smith said, "but they could decide to vote on it at another meeting or just let it drop."

Gledhill in December first approached the council in December 2005 about a smoking ban in public places, including restaurants. He couches the ban in terms of secondhand smoke being a public health and employee rights issue.

But the proposed ban came under fire when the council discussed it on Jan. 5. Mike Casey, vice president of marketing for the Kansas Hospitality Association, warned council members of the effects of a ban on the vitality of restaurants. Casey will be back at tonight's meeting.

In addition, Smith said representatives of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment would be on hand to discuss the Kansas Tobacco Use Prevention Program.

Also tonight, council members will try to prioritize pending capital improvement projects.

Among the big-ticket items are the proposed Lansing City Park and an expanded City Hall to include room for the Community Library.

Finally, council members will turn their attention to the idea of the county hiring a professional administrator. Currently, the three elected county commissioners run the day-to-day operations of the county. Commissioners have included money to hire an administrator in their 2006 budget, but have been reluctant to follow through.

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