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August 01, 2013 8:22 am

EDITORIAL: Anti-tobacco group cannot help produce poll on smoking ban

Written by Tom Lawrence

We applaud the Powell City Council and Mayor Don Hillman for seeking as much public input as possible before making a decision on a proposed smoking ban.

Conducting a poll to learn how people feel about it is a fine idea. That said, city leaders cannot allow the group that is advocating such a ban, Prevention Management of Park County (PMPC), to play any role in that poll.

While it is admirable that the city is seeking to save money, to allow PMPC to pay for the poll, or help select the agency that will conduct it, is a remarkably poor idea.

On July 15, the council decided to issue a letter to business owners, including those who own and manage bars, restaurants and motels. Since the proposed ban would be for enclosed public spaces, the theory was to ask businesses that would be affected before making a decision that is sure to be controversial.

But after that plan was announced, Sharon Altermatt, the team leader of PMPC, met with Mayor Hillman and City Administrator Zane Logan, and they decided to discard the idea of a letter, and to instead poll the public.

Altermatt was an advocate for this change, saying the business owners were not the sole people who would be impacted by the decision, and others’ voices should be heard.

We agree with that. This is a question of both public health and personal rights, and we want to hear from all sides on it.

We also think the poll is a fine idea, but would have preferred to have it announced in public. For a decision made during an open meeting of the Powell City Council to be discarded in a private meeting involving three people, including one who is clearly on one side of the issue, seems like an error to us. We think decisions should be made in the light of day, with the public and media present.

To make matters worse, Altermatt offered to pay for the poll, or to find a firm or a university that would conduct it for the city. As of right now, that is the plan.

We urge that decision to be reconsidered. No matter how scientific and unbiased we are told the poll is, allowing one side in this issue to be involved in gathering the data is sure to raise serious questions of the accuracy and impartiality of it.

This idea simply does not pass the smell test.

Let’s see the city take a third look at this, and get it right this time. The issue is too important, and tempers too heated, not to do so.

The council is scheduled to meet Monday night, and the proposed ban is expected to be on the agenda. We welcome a continued public discussion on this issue, but we strongly recommend the council and mayor consider public perception when gathering data before announcing a decision.

6 comments

  • Comment Link August 01, 2013 1:04 pm posted by Mike Wilson

    What the heck is going on in Powell??
    City Leaders,Powell Valley Healthcare, Northwest College need to get together and learn about basic protocol. These people should not be in these key positions without a basic knowledge of acceptable and unacceptable. Validitiy and reliability was drilled into me at college-why are we not following basic protocol?

  • Comment Link August 04, 2013 1:38 pm posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his need is becoming the basic protocol, Mike Wilson.All others need not bother.

  • Comment Link August 05, 2013 6:57 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    Basic protocol does not apply to any of Wyoming's phony RINO "good old boy's club" members,and there are many in Park County,including Powell.One has to wonder why so many fool voters have allowed these people to the cliff like lemmings.

  • Comment Link August 05, 2013 7:27 am posted by clipstein

    mike amen and don't forget smoke means smoke whether legal or illegal........

  • Comment Link August 08, 2013 9:24 am posted by SuperSixOne

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
    Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for the gun owners, and I did not speak out--
    because I was not a gun owner.

    Then they came for the smokers, and I did not speak out--
    Because I was not a smoker.

    Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

  • Comment Link August 16, 2013 9:27 am posted by Rather Not Say

    If they want to find a place or group to conduct a poll, well, they have a perfectly good marketing class and instructor at Northwest College who could get it done. It would save the community the money they want to save and provide those students with some real-world experience. I would have really enjoyed the opportunity to get that kind of experience while I was at NWC. Sometimes the answers to the supposedly hard questions can be found in your own backyard.

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