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Commission considers smoking ordinance, designation Tuesday

Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 8:06 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 1:11 AM
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Augusta commissioners will again weigh in on limiting smoking in public places and on designating the surrounding downtown area as a “slum” to encourage growth at a regular Tuesday meeting.

It’s the second time in recent years the commission has considered a ban on smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants, but a city committee referred the matter on last week without making a recommendation.

“When you start designating morality, you’re stepping into the freedoms that a lot of our forefathers died for,” said Commissioner Grady Smith, who opposes the ban.

Smith’s sentiment is shared by several others on the commission, with the notable exception of Commissioner Bill Lockett.

“You don’t have the right to put me in the position where I’ve got to breathe that stuff,” Lockett said.

The designation of 594.5 acres in the Central Business District as a “slum” to borrow money using tax-exempt bonds available for impoverished areas also returns for commission approval Tuesday.

Last week, Commissioner Donnie Smith pushed the designation vote to the full commission with the expectation it would be revised to include only areas that will benefit, but no revised resolution was available to commissioners or the public Monday.

“I don’t know what’s going to be presented tomorrow,” said Commissioner Bill Fennoy, whose District 1 includes downtown Augusta.

Mayor Deke Copenhaver called the designation “a great tool for redevelopment” but expected Monday a more “targeted” plan to be going before the commission Tuesday.

Downtown business owner Mike Walraven, who has spoken out against the designation, returns to speak to the commission about the proposal.

Also Tuesday, the public is invited to a 1 p.m. hearing on the proposed 2014 budget, which has an $8.5 million shortfall commissioners have yet to fill.

Among items likely to be cut or modified are City Administrator Fred Russell’s recommendation of a $1,500 raise for all city staff. The raise would cost $4.6 million annually if implemented in January.

Grady Smith is among several commissioners who think some but not all 2,400 employees need the pay increase. “I think we’re definitely overdue for some of our folks, particularly on the lower end of the scale,” he said.

Also going before the full commission Tuesday is revocation of the alcohol and business licenses of Skittlez, a black gay nightclub placed on probation earlier this year.


WHAT: Budget Public Hearing

WHEN: 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5

WHERE: Commission chamber, 8th Floor, Augusta Municipal Building, 530 Greene St.

WHAT: Commission meeting

WHEN: 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5

WHERE: Commission chamber, 8th Floor, Augusta Municipal Building, 530 Greene St.

Staff Writer Susan McCord will post updates from the meetings on Twitter. Follow McCord @reportr1

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Little Lamb
Little Lamb 11/04/13 - 11:51 pm

We need to remind the commissioners that workplace safety and health is the responsibility of OSHA, not local commissioners under mob pressure of lobbying groups. OSHA uses science and peer-reviewed studies to set its regulations. BreathEasy uses sob stories.

whozit 11/05/13 - 02:11 am

For once I think we agree. the government should not be telling private businesses that they have to outlaw smoking. I think they should have to post a sign outside that states whether they allow smoking or not and prospective employees should be given that information. If you choose to enter or work after being told of the policy, that is your decision.

Dixieman 11/05/13 - 02:38 am
Everyone posting here

hates this latest manifestation of the Nanny State. Government does not control every aspect of our lives (or shouldn't). Leave us alone -- or we'll pack up and move to Columbia County!

oldredneckman96 11/05/13 - 05:08 am
Tobacco Addicts

For the same reasons we do not let people defecate in public, we should not let people use tobacco products. Both smell, both cause long-term health issues when done in public. We learned from the plague to stop defecating in public, we now know to stop using tobacco for the same reasons. Addicts use all kinds of flawed logic to try to continue to poison the public. When a law is made for the protection of the public it is for the entire public. Your home that you own is private, everywhere you and I are invited is public. Learn the difference and act accordingly.

nocnoc 11/05/13 - 08:28 am
Make them prove their claims

Too many people know 2nd Hand smoke is a myth.

Too many people know the data in the 1994 study was later determined to be deliberately collected and skewed to produce a false result.

The other side of the story.
Yes there are 2 or more sides to every story.


Sweet son
Sweet son 11/05/13 - 01:39 pm
"Commission considers smoking ordinance!"

Susan's headline says it all. The Commission will 'consider' the ordinance again.

Bet they don't make a decision and I don't care. I do care that they can't ever make any decisions!!!!

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