Sunday, February 24, 2008

Alderman Lyda Krewson's Panhandling Law Goes Too Far

In restricting what citizens can say to each other on a public sidewalk, St. Louis City Alderman Lyda Krewson’s panhandling law goes too far. Really, the part of the law which defines, forbids and sets out penalties for a “aggressive panhandling” is sufficient protection of citizens from harassment. If someone says “No!” to a request for money, the exchange should be over. If it keeps on, harassment has begun and the police can step in.

There is no doubt that able-bodied men abuse the charity of others in St. Louis by panhandling. There is also no doubt that these men have hurt city businesses by scaring customers away. So this is a hard issue. Yet I believe St. Louis political leaders should err on the side of freedom and only vote in the aggressive panhandling sections of Board Bill 505.

If we restrict the freedom of citizens on St. Louis public sidewalks to ask each other for help, what speech will we restrict next?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Letter Against Senator Joan Bray's Missouri Smoking Ban

Senator Wilson,

Senator Joan Bray has just proposed a severe smoking ban for Missouri barsand restaurants. New research has shown such smoking bans to be a bad idea for Missouri business.

A month ago, Federal Reserve economist Dr. Michael Pakko published research showing that smoking bans do indeed hurt bars and some restaurants. Dr. Pakko urges lawmakers not to adopt "a Pollyannaish outlook in which communities can achieve public health benefits with no economic consequences."

Dr. Pakko warns that bars and casinos are hardest hit by statewide smokingbans. Dr. Pakko cites the only peer-reviewed economic study of the effects of smoking bans not derived from data gathered either by public healthgroups or the bar/restaurant industry, but solely from governmentemployment data, which shows the huge detrimental effect smoking bans have on bars. Smoking bans could cut bar jobs in some states 14 percent!

Senator Wilson, the Illinois smoking ban is proving Dr. Pakko right.
After only a month, the Illinois smoking ban is starting to implode as casinos across the state are down 17 percent and hurting bar owners are organizing to overturn the ban:

Please, there is no need for a government imposed smoking ban in Missouri. Any bar or restaurant owner can ban smoking in his establishment, as his employees and patrons demand, all or part of the time his establishment is open.

Even better, bar and restaurant owners can install air filtration machines that will not only remove tobacco smoke, but all toxins, pathogens and irritants from bar air, including viruses, bacteria, chemicals, pollen,dust, mold, fungi and, most importantly, radon decay products, which the EPA claims causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, seven times more than secondhand smoke is reputed to cause. Commercial air filtration machines are affordable and readily available. These are the same machines that currently protect Missouri welders from much more dangerous smoke to OSHA safety standards, they can also protect Missouri bartenders from stray tobacco smoke.

I don't work for any tobacco or air filtration company. I just see this technology as the right solution to this public health issue!

But please, don't put Senator Bray's smoking ban on Missouri bars and restaurants, especially not as a recession looms!


Bill Hannegan
Keep St. Louis Free!