Comments on: April 7, 2014: Council Live Updates it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: John Floyd John Floyd Sun, 13 Apr 2014 04:05:53 +0000 Perhaps one of my buttons has been punched.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Sat, 12 Apr 2014 10:16:05 +0000 Dear John, I so frequently agree with your way of viewing things that I am startled at your vehemence on this issue. I’d like to point out that it is precisely the lower-income bus riders who are being afflicted by the second-hand smoke at bus stops.

As to police controlling people’s behavior, have you seen lots of storm troopers invading restaurants to enforce that non-smoking zone? It has been said repeatedly that this ordinance is expected to be primarily self-enforced, as are other non-smoking areas.

I would hope that our council members are fortunate enough to take the bus as well.

None of this is to endorse heroin use in our library. They are two separate issues.

By: John Floyd John Floyd Sat, 12 Apr 2014 02:04:32 +0000 Vivienne,

I’m not saying that second hand smoke is not a health issue. I’m saying, among other things, that in the context of our existing smoking bans, it strikes me that opiates in the library is a bigger deal, and removing them a more appropriate use of scarce police resources.

I’m also saying that the legal system is the wrong tool for addressing MOST instances of inappropriate or rude behavior. Over-reliance on this tool is itself a cancer on our community – and on our society. How ’bout simply starting with signs, marked boundaries, and people speaking up? Social pressure does not work instantaneously, but it does work.

Civil society is based mostly on forbearance, not law, but we live in an increasingly punitive world. This does not bode well either for a society that is civil, or for civil society. When standards of public behavior are not about what is right, but merely about what is legal, you end up with the Ann Arbor City Council. When you try to close the gap between what is right and what is legal (as this ordinance does), you end up with a police state.

Finally, the legal system is stacked precisely against those most likely to run afoul of ordinances of this ilk. It’s possible that there are smokers in Burns Park, Ann Arbor Hills, or other neighborhoods where council members live, but residents of those neighborhoods are not most of those taking the bus. You can agree on the public health benefits of eliminating tobacco and still acknowledge that the consequences of attempts to micro manage behavior with law mostly fall on those on the lowest rungs of the ladder. When people on the lowest rungs are also the bulk of the population who smokes, then, to my way of thinking, however pure or noble the intentions of its author(s), effectively this ordinance walks like snobbism, and talks like snobbism. Again to my way of thinking, to ignore this reality when drumming up new ways for the police to control people’s behavior is to further a different kind of public health crisis.

I don’t smoke, don’t (knowingly) own tobacco stocks, hate being around second-hand smoke, and freely acknowledge the health benefits of avoiding second hand smoke even when outdoors. As with most attempts to micro-manage behavior with law, this ordinance will have unintended consequences, including lessening police focus on heroin in the library in order to fine the working poor. Signs, marked boundaries, and social pressure.

I’m tempted close with, “Put that in your pipe, and smoke it”, but I do’t want my enjoyment of a fitting aphorism to be mis-construed as hostility. There is more than one way to view almost anything. I don’t think that my way of viewing things constitutes “Mis-diretion”.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Fri, 11 Apr 2014 23:40:30 +0000 John, the smoking ordinance is not about the drug use, but about the effect on bystanders. Calling it a cultural issue is a serious misdirection of the discussion.

The effects of second-hand smoke on unwilling recipients has been well documented for more than a decade. Recently a new study was published (sorry, I don’t have the reference but I’m sure it is easily found) that found a significant decrease in a variety of smoking-related diseases since the introduction of nonsmoking areas. This benefits both the smokers themselves and the bystanders.

The city ordinance under discussion is especially for the benefit of people who are captive in an area where smokers may be getting that last puff, such as near entrances and bus stops. It is difficult in these situations to move away from the smoke and so people find it difficult to avoid a proven toxic substance.

By: John Floyd John Floyd Fri, 11 Apr 2014 21:03:44 +0000 If the city is this reluctant to pursue heroin users, why the big fuss over people smoking outdoors? Smoking is both legal and correlated with lower income people. If we are going to micro-manage people’s behavior, why don’t we start with the use of drugs that are actually illegal, and much, much more dangerous than the nicotine delivered via tobacco. Picking on smokers seems more like a cultural disdain issue than a legitimate public health issue – at least compared to the use of opiates in the library.

By: Rod Johnson Rod Johnson Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:23:22 +0000 Oh, I turned on the MapAnnArbor “right of way” layer and see that’s indeed marked as a city right of way. So… why?

By: Rod Johnson Rod Johnson Fri, 11 Apr 2014 13:19:17 +0000 I’ve been curious for a while about “Northside Grill Alley.” It’s not shown as such in the city’s GIS maps–that whole block is seemingly private, although there is an anomalous “1004 Pontiac Street” (off Broadway, not Pontiac Trail) shown with no info, which is what I think of as the driveway between the restaurant and the decrepit building next door. Is that “Northside Grill Alley”? Why is the city responsible for it?

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:44:26 +0000 The article notes “Kunselman is quoting out a correction made in The Ann Arbor Observer,…” The Ann Arbor Observer previously posted a partial correction and then finally admitted that Kunselman and Kailasapathy were completely correct. The March issue of the Observer also included corrections to an article about campaign finances. It admitted to two serious errors and promised to include a corrected report in the April issue. That April issue did not include the promised correction. One can only hope that their staff is doing a full review of all of the claims in the campaign finance article.

I note those errors because it has become so common for local media to rely readers to fact check their reporters. My experience with the Ann Arbor Chronicle is completely the opposite. The Chronicle has an unrivaled desire for accuracy and a seeming sense of shame when it misses something. This is just one of the reasons I happily provide financial support for the Chronicle and urge others to do the same.