Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sign the petition to end eminent domain for private gain.

My wife will be out all day getting signatures on the petition to end eminent domain abuse for private gain in Missouri. I will probably take a day off this week to do my part. At very least, sign the petition yourself and get a few others to do so:

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What's up with RBar?

In a letter to the Post-Dispatch today, Leigh-Anne Riebold, owner of RBar, expressed disappointment that all St. Louis bars will not be required to ban smoking. What's up with that? She polled her customers and saw that a ban would work for her business. So far the RBar ban has worked she says. Fine. But you can't extrapolate from the success of the RBar ban to argue that other St. Louis bars have nothing to fear from a smoking ban. We know from what has happened in Columbia, Ballwin and Illinois that some bars and restaurants will get hammered by a smoking ban.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Royale bans smoking!

Mayor Slay's website now features a video concerning the decision of Stephen Fitzpatrick Smith to ban smoking within his tavern, the Royale. Smith had first polled his customers and found most were alright with his decision. In the first weeks of his ban, Smith reports Royale business has increased.

This video shows that the free market is resolving the bar and restaurant smoking issue in St. Louis. No doubt there is a pent-up market for smoke-free bars in St. Louis. So the Royale ban has worked out for Smith so far. Since St. Louis remains a free city, Smith can always switch back, or allow smoking on a limited basis at the Royale in the future if he starts to lose customers due to his ban. If St. Louis City imposed a citywide ban, however, Smith would be stuck with a smoke-free policy and he would also lose his niche market position. And anyone who doubts the damage to many drinking establishments a citywide ban could do should read this story of Columbia bar owner Joel Thiel, who lost his health insurance, his house and finally his bar to the Columbia smoking ban:

My favorite local music venue, Off Broadway, also recently banned smoking. I went to hear the Schwag play there last Tuesday. Though the air was clear, the feeling of restriction the new policy brought to the show took some of the fun from the atmosphere, at least for me. The policy also created on outdoor party scene at the heated smoking shelters that went on contiuously throughout the night. I know neighbors have complained before about outdoor activities at Off Broadway. As the outdoor smoking scene becomes bigger and rowdier with oncoming warm weather, I doubt that these neighbors will appreciate the new smoking policy. Heavy I beams run across the ceiling of Off Broadway, so installing air filtration machines would be easy and fairly inexpensive alternative to an Off Broadway smoking ban. But I am not complaining or telling Off Broadway owners what to do. I am just pointing out, as a long-time fan of the Schwag, other options for this music venue. But it is entirely the owners' call.

I am considering opening a bar in St. Louis City to replace Magee's, the old home of Jake's Leg. I would only consider operating this bar as a smoking venue. But I also would only open if plenty of air filtration was installed. Jake's Leg plays for a smoke-friendly crowd and smoke built up as an evening wore on at the old unfiltrated, unventilated Magees. But at a new place, 15 air changes per hour of air filtration would substantially protect my employees from such built-up smoke, and would remove all sorts of other junk from bar air as well.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Response to Mr. Dolan

Mr. Dolan,

My response to your e-mail bounced back. I hope you check back with this blog to read this answer:

I am not against bar and restaurant smoking bans. I simply believe that they should be imposed by the business owner, not the government. My favorite city bar just opted to go smoke-free. I am not complaining.

Smoke in bars can also be greatly reduced by affordable air filtration machines. I believe bar owners should also be allowed that option. Chicago aldermen and bar owners thought they would able to allow smoking if they installed sufficient air filtration measures. That is why the Chicago ban passed 46-1. But antismoking groups made sure that the filtration exemption was removed from the state wide ban.

Furthermore, when adults have no social "public" places to smoke, they tend to smoke more in private places. This has the effect increasing the overall exposure of small children to smoke.

I believe the smoking ban decision can be left to the free market in St. Louis. Government imposed smoking bans have come and gone throughout American history. I don't think these will last. We really don't need them. Remember those smoke-free good times at the Atomic Cowboy shown on the front of the Post happened without a government ban.


Bill Hannegan

Friday, April 11, 2008

Missouri Citizens for Property Rights

My wife and I are collecting signatures for the initiative petition to amend the Missouri constitution to protect property rights and so help end eminent domain for private gain in Missouri. More volunteers are need to collect signatures at post offices on Tax Day April 15th.

What got me interested in defending freedom and property rights in St. Louis was Fr. Biondi's theft of the bar 20 North after I had just restored its exterior. I see smoking bans as a form of eminent domain abuse. Someone has a better use for your property than you do.

Please go the Missouri Citizens for Property Rights to find out how to help. Time is running out.

Kansas City smoking ban

Kansas City barely passed a smoking ban Tuesday that cynically included cigar stores and small bars but exempted the casino gaming floor. Why were the rich and powerful casinos excluded from the public vote? This just looks like divide and conquer to me. Why weren't Kansas City casinos smart enough to see this? When such a law was proposed in St. Louis, not only conservative Christian groups, but even casinos here rejected the exemption and rallied to the cause of mom and pop businesses. Thus we have no ban.