But it appears we're also dealing with a serious lack of political courage and a sad example of backpedaling on a promise.Tully takes Ballard to task for failing to become involved in the public debate and helping carve out the exemption for private clubs. I'm amused that the man who promised to end country club politics when he was elected mayor is so worried about whether private clubs will be allowed to operate smoking facilities while all other businesses would be forced to operate smoke-free facilities. I'm a very anti-smoker person, but I'm ambivalent about the need for a city-wide ordinance. Many of my favorite establishments have voluntarily gone smoke free. I think it would be grossly unfair, however, to pass an ordinance that exempted the Columbia Club and other private clubs frequented by wealthy citizens while forcing a ban on neighborhood restaurant/bars frequented by average joes.
In 2007, as a candidate for mayor, Ballard said this: "I can assure you that I am a supporter of the smoke-free workplace. Secondhand smoke is a proven health hazard, and I would support any legislation to limit the impact of secondhand smoke."
He wrote those words in an e-mail to Bruce Hetrick, a local businessman and smoke-free workplace advocate. Back then, when asked about the issue, Ballard was straightforward.
These days, however, we're learning about the mayor's thoughts on big issues by investigating the secretive words he delivers at closed-door political meetings.
Leaders take a stand, even on controversial measures. The old Greg Ballard, the one who campaigned as the regular guy next door, would have understood that.
How times change.
Cochran said Ballard worries about the ramifications of the ordinance. He said the mayor wanted an exemption for private clubs and a guarantee that the ban would not include private residences.
Now the mayor is just being silly. What's next? A complaint that the ordinance would create death panels?
As many of you have already surmised, I've long ago given up on Ballard. I've never known a politician who so fundamentally broke the trust of the people who put him into office as Ballard has done. I hardly recognize the guy who ran for mayor in 2007 as an outsider with no strings attached.