Challenge to smoking ban fails in Independence
March 3, 2008
By BRIAN BURNES, The Kansas City Star
A petition drive to amend the current Independence smoking ordinance did not garner enough signatures.
Organizers failed to appear Monday morning at Independence City Hall with needed signatures, said City Clerk Bruce Lowrey.
The city’s smoking ordinance, which went into effect almost a year ago, prohibits smoking within enclosed areas of public places, including bars and restaurants. Organizers of Citizens for Small Business had been collecting signatures in support of allowing smoking in establishments that derive more than 55 percent of their overall sales from alcohol.
In late January, organizers dropped off signatures at Lowrey’s office.
The city’s charter required them to collect 3,433 signatures of registered Independence voters. Had they collected the required number, the City Council could have adopted the amendment or put it before voters.
However, a count of the signatures found that the organizers had collected only 2,191 signatures. A section of the city charter granted the organizers an extra 10 days to submit more signatures.
The deadline for those signatures was 8:10 a.m. Monday.
But no signatures arrived, said Lowrey, rendering the effort “null and void.”
Robert Mangold, Citizens for Small Business treasurer, said the group would continue its efforts. “We’re considering a legal challenge of some sort,” Mangold said. “We’re not finished with this.”
Smoking ban may change
Independence group gathers names needed for possible amendments
By Toriano L. Porter | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Clean Indoor Air Act in Independence may get an addendum in June if a group of small business owners have their way.
The group, known as the Citizens for Small Business, collected in little more than a month 3,508 signatures through a petition drive that would allow smoking in certain establishments. The group was required – under City Charter rules – to collect 3,451 signatures, or 5 percent of the number of registered voters in the 2006 city elections.
The current smoking ordinance, which took effect last March, prohibits smoking within enclosed areas of public places, including bars and restaurants. Voters approved the ordinance in November 2006.
City Clerk Bruce Lowrey confirmed Friday the group’s initiative petition collected the required signatures and forwarded the signatures to the Jackson County Election Board to verify the signatures belong to registered voters residing in Independence.
“We think the vast amount of signatures gathered are valid,” said Citizens for Small Business Treasurer Robert Mangold, owner of Jersey’s Sports Cafe, 17307 East U.S. 24.
Mangold said the group continues to gather signatures, despite turning in the required number before last Friday’s deadline. History shows, Mangold said, that petition drives always have signatures from concerned citizens who may not be allowed to sign them.
“We are not going to sit back and rest on our laurels,” Mangold said. “We’re not going to wait on the Election Board to tell us we don’t have enough signatures.”
Mangold added the time frame for the Election Board certifying the signatures may span anywhere from a week to two weeks. The group will then have 10 days from that point to gather more signatures if the certified totals don’t meet city requirements.
The petition would amend the current smoking ordinance by addressing three key points.
The changes would mean:
•? Smoking would be allowed in bars that serve alcoholic beverages, as long as the establishment does not derive more than 55 percent of their gross revenue from food.
•? Businesses would be required to post a sign that states smoking is allowed on the premises
•? No one under the age of 18 would be allowed to enter the establishment.
The City Council could adopt the amendment or submit the measure to voters, Mangold said.
“These are concessions we did not have to make that we made on our own,” Mangold said, adding the group is all for clean air, but just as well, individual choice and civil liberties. “We are business owners trying to make a living.”
Members of Clean Air Independence, the group responsible for placing the smoke-free workplace initiative on the ballot in 2006, said the latest development will not deter the group’s message.
“The voters here have spoken before with a 64 percent approval rate,” said Clean Air Independence Co-Chair Jason White. “Now, we are going back to the voters. It’s their right to seek change just like it was our right. We are not going to back off. We stand by the health issue.”