Brookings City Councilman Brent Hodges, while considering a ban on smoking in certain areas of Brookings' public parks, asked a very good question: "Why are we doing this?"
Our thoughts exactly.
Is this "nanny government" at its worst? The fact that no residents andndash; on either side of the issue andndash; have rallied for or against the proposed ordinance is a clue just how important, or not, this issue is.
Furthermore, is the problem of smoking in parks so bad that it warrants an ordnance with a maximum fine of $720? Of course not.
Fortunately, the city council on Monday rejected the $720 maximum fine for a more reasonable $75 fine (see story on Page xx.)
Which brings us to our next point. Can such an ordinance really be enforced? Do we want officers with our budget-strapped police department spending their time responding to reports of someone lighting up at the park, or investigating more serious crimes?
If it's a matter of smokers litter the park with cigarette butts, isn't there already a city ordinance to handle that issue? Yes.
Parks and Recreation Commissioner Tony Baron recently expressed frustration with such ordinances, giving, as an example, the current prohibition on alcohol use in parks that is not followed.
There is no doubt the second-hand smoke is a hazard to our health. In Oregon, smoking is already banned in many businesses, bars, restaurants and casinos. Smokers have been relegated to their homes, cars or the outdoors andndash; for doing something legal.
This ban on smoking in city parks seems to go too far. But that's just us.
We'd like to hear what residents think about this before the city decides.
Your continued silence will be proof enough that this issue is all smoke and no fire.