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October 17, 2006

City Strobe: No smoking in Louisville …

Here is a list of the places you can no longer smoke in Louisville as of July 1, 2007: everywhere that’s inside. Here is a list of where you can smoke inside: Churchill Downs and tobacco manufacturers. Yes, the double standard on smoking (as Mayor Abramson said, if that’s what it takes for a full ban, OK) passed by a 19-5 margin, despite efforts from opponents of a comprehensive ban to paint the Council as Cold War Communists (about a quarter of those filling Council Chambers last Thursday brought miniature Soviet Union flags). Yeah, freedom, whoop, yeah! Or whatever. What they didn’t bring is a compelling reason to continue to allow people to pass their stinky (and harmful) secondhand smoke onto you and your kids at all your favorite restaurants and bars (well, no bars for you, kids). It’s a matter of public health, the Council overwhelmingly decided, and it’s government’s job to protect its citizenry from hazardous things happening in public, not protect businesses from potential cuts into profits. Such thinking helps explain the existence of streetlights. And sidewalks. And bike lanes, at least in the parks and on a few streets downtown. Think how upset the insurance industry must be about all that! After the vote, talk of lawsuits was as thick as the smoke at the Back Door on a Saturday night. In fact, business owners including John Dant, who owns the Back Door and has long been a vocal opponent of a ban, were scheduled to meet last night to start talking about how best to sue the city. —Stephen George … and other progressive things The Metro Council wasn’t done acting all progressive after passing a comprehensive smoking ban last Thursday: They also passed a resolution supporting and endorsing H.R. 676, the U.S. National Health Insurance Act, which would provide health care to every American citizen. While it matters little in the grand political scheme that Metro Louisville would officially like to see its citizens treated in case of injury or disease, it should send a message to the state’s Congressional delegation, all of whom (except Democrat Ben Chandler) have cast votes that buttress the current health care system, which right now is leaving at least 46 million Americans without care. In fact, none of Kentucky’s U.S. senators or representatives has a rating (based on their overall voting record) higher than 12 percent from the American Public Health Association. —Stephen George I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to In recent years, Kentucky judicial candidates have gained more freedom to fully participate in the electoral process by rolling up their sleeves and diving headlong into the rank, putrid, utterly brain-dead cesspool of election year TV-and-yard-sign politics. Last week, candidates for judge got another leg down from U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell, who ruled that judicial candidates can reveal their party affiliation and directly solicit donations — even from lawyers who might later argue cases in front of them. Because that would in no way taint the process, in much the same way corporate and other donations in no way taint candidates for other offices. Cough, cough, Jack Abramoff, cough. The ruling came after a (guess what) lawyer named Marcus Carey from (guess where) Northern Kentucky filed a (guess what) lawsuit arguing that his inability to declare his (wait for it) Republican Party affiliation as part of his candidacy for the bench was a violation of his (oh, he’s going to say it) freedom of speech. (Yes!) But a funny thing happened on the way to the stinkditch. Between the time Carey started angling for the right to act more Rove-like in his candidacy, “Republican” became less a synonym for “conservative values” and more of a synonym for “corrupt war-mongering child molester.” Which has put a damper on Carey’s victory celebration. And with only “Democrat” and “Republican” to choose from in declaring a party affiliation, candidates don’t seem to be chomping at the bit to wave the party flag. This year. But in future years, look forward to plenty of judicial candidates’ commercials featuring party flag-waving and helpful positions on the most important issues concerning humankind, like gay marriage and intelligent design. —Jim Welp Dead heat Vice President Dick “Dick” Cheney was in town Monday stumping for embattled 4th District Rep. Geoff Davis, a fairly meaningless event in and of itself these days. But who wasn’t there? Rep. Anne Northup, She’s in the fight for her job right now against Democrat John Yarmuth, and although she’s been with the Bush-Cheney team about 91 percent of the time, the wind was apparently blowing the wrong direction Monday night. A poll released last week has Yarmuth and Northup knotted at 48 percent with three weeks until Election Day. Majority Watch, a collaborative effort between two national polling firms, took the data Oct. 8-10. Also, a new internal poll by the Yarmuth campaign has him down one point, 46 percent to 45, heading into the final throes of the campaign. No one in her five re-election campaigns has been this close this late in the game. So, where was Northup on Monday? According to her campaign, Cheney forgot to call (men are such jerks). Some insiders now expect the DCCC to throw money into the race. —Stephen George Write to us here: citystrobe@leoweekly.com