Skip to comments.Ban Opponents on Recall Warpath (Smoking Ban - Pueblo, CO)
Posted on 12/19/2002 11:45:50 AM PST by Hell to pay
Ban opponents on recall warpath
By JAMES AMOS
The Pueblo Chieftain
Some sported "Put Their Butts Out!" buttons and T-shirts featuring the photographs of four City Council members who voted for the city's new smoking ban.
Others handed out bumper stickers saying "Fix Potholes, Not People!" and "The Sloppers Are Probably More Unhealthy Than Cigarettes, Vote No On Smoking Ordinance!"
Meeting at Peppers Niteclub on Wednesday, an estimated 400-500 people organized their push to overturn the city's new smoking ban and recall the four City Council members who voted for it.
The ban, passed by council Dec. 9, would outlaw smoking in almost any enclosed place open to the public or to which the public is invited. It would apply to bars, restaurants, bingo halls, bowling alleys and stores as well as prohibit smoking outside a building within 20 feet of the door.
The ban goes into effect Jan. 1 unless the group, "Puebloan's For Common Sense In Government", can gather enough petition signatures to stop it.
The group will start gathering signatures for several issues:
- a referendum suspending the smoking ban and forcing a ballot question asking voters if they want the city's old smoking ordinance instead.
- a recall of council President Mike Occhiato and members Bill Sova, Bob Schilling and Ted Lopez Jr..
The referendum petitions could be available as soon as this morning, attorney Joe Losavio told the crowd, which included many bar and restaurant owners. The city has to approve the petition forms.
Doug Carlson takes a puff from his cigarette while he and Irish Pub owner, Ted Calentino, listen during a meeting of people against the city's new no-smoking ordinance held at Peppers Niteclub Wednesday. Carlson and Calentino are members of organizational committees assembled to fight the ordinance.
The recall petitions may be available by Friday, he said.
The group has 30 days from the day the ordinance was approved to force the ballot question on the issue, Losavio said. Puebloan's For Common Sense wants to gather more than the 3,300 signatures needed by the end of the year in order to prevent the ordinance from taking effect at all.
Losavio and attorneys Jim and Joe Koncilja are donating their legal services to the effort.
"This is dictating rather than governing," Losavio said of the ban.
He said Pueblo residents were "blindsided" by the ordinance, which was introduced in a less strict form in October and then changed at the Dec. 9 meeting to include all bars.
Losavio said people would rather that the city spend tax money on anything other than enforcing the ban.
Joe Koncilja said the ban was "without a doubt the dumbest move I've ever seen" and could just lead the city to ban other dangerous things.
"Alcohol is more dangerous than cigarettes, so why not just close you down altogether?" he told the bar owners in the crowd.
The irony is that people will drive to county bars to drink and smoke, said Koncilja, who noted that he specializes in clients with drunk-driving charges.
"Then you'll have a longer road and maybe you'll kill someone on the way back," he said.
The group also plans to ask bar owners not to serve "the Fascist Four" council members, as Losavio called them, and for people to boycott their businesses.
"We're going to make this the most colorful, most interesting campaign there is," said one of the group's co-chairman, Don Gray, owner of Gray's Coors Tavern.
"It's important that we really make this thing a rights issue, not a smoking issue," Gray said of the group's campaign strategy.
"You are all freedom fighters," he said.
Bar and restaurant operators fear the ban will cost them business. But they were not the only people supporting the referendum and recalls.
Sharon Radacy, who gathered people's names at the door, said only about half the crowd were bar or restaurants proprietors.
She herself isn't one either, she said. She sells insurance, much of it to bars and restaurants, so "it's a trickle-down effect," she said.
There's the ticket!!
Smokers all across the U.S. are starting to see what is going on. Articles like this really make me smile. Business owner's are tired of losing their livelihoods.
Nice to see that someone "gets" it. All the rest is just smoke and mirrors. (excuse the lame statement)
This is going to be fun to watch!
Maybe critical mass has been reached? I sure hope so.
And I love it where they are calling to recall the 4 maroons that voted for it, and for the bar owners to refuse to sell to them. heh!
Wouldn't it be great to see a brawl break out when one of the esteemed council members can't get a drink?
Years ago a friend of mine was tending bar on Cape Cod and a local Democrat judge came in blind drunk and was refused service. He started a ruckus; and when the cops arrived, one of them was a black cop(a real good guy, an old Capey with all the right attitudes.)
The judge started hurling racial epithets at him. The cop just slapped the cuffs on him, put him under protective custody and hauled him off to the police station to sleep it off.
Anyway, I'm kind of hoping for a scene something like that.
Once the people crossed the line of mutual respect, then I was no longer held to those concepts.
Amazing how business owners will not evict you if you smoke, no matter what the "invalid laws" may state.
That is so excellent! I'd like to see that in print, as well. LOL!
President Mike Occhiato and members Bill Sova, Bob Schilling and Ted Lopez Jr. of that City Council are truly arrogant people apparently steeped in self- righteousness of pure stupidity. I wonder how many drug addicts their town has or how much crime? Ill bet there were no crimes over cigarettes!
Until the taxes on cigarettes go sky high.
Articles like this gives me great hope, Joe. The people across the U.S. are starting FINALLY to see what is going on! Smokers AND non-smokers alike. I like this kind of article, don't you?
The petition for the suspension of the ban became available today and I picked one up at lunch at Losovio's office. It is number 297 and has spaces for 44 signatures and it is almost full now just from my workplace.
The petitions for the recall of the facsist four will become available tommorrow and most everyone I got signatures from today said they want to sign those also.
So to your hope, It's a surity I'd say.
Yes it is, especially when you have a front row seat, although I shudder to think of the consequences of failure here. Another of the other interesting items overheard at the meeting lastnight were a certain Chiropractor named Sova is getting a lot of appointments reserved. Freepers wouldn't do that would they?
In case anyone was curious, Sloppers are an open faced greasy hamburger smothered in green chile and onions and cheese, Coor's Tavern made them famous around here.
On NOW at RadioFR!
Join John Bender and WISH MERRY CHRISTMAS TO OUR MEN IN UNIFORM! Call 866-RadioFR!
Only one worth his salt.
Mmmmmm. That sounds good! After the comments about drinking being more dangerous than smoking I thought 'Sloppers' might have been a reference to drinkers. LOL No offense to drinkers. Have a beer with that Slopper! And a smoke!!! ; )
Do you know what businesses they own? I doubt I go to them now but I would at least like to visit or call to tell them that I am boycotting them.
I can't speak for all Freepers but I would never stoop so low. I can't stoop low because my back is just killing me . . .You say Sova is a Chiropactor? maybe I should make an appointment. On the other hand, my back might get better before my appointment. Maybe I should call, just to be safe.
By the way, is Sova's office smoker friendly?
And they are good!
I wish ALL of us could sign, Doug! People are really getting fed up with special interest groups controlling our lives with something that has been legal and is still legal for hundreds of years.
Like I have said: if tobacco is so darn deadly, why don't they just ban it and save everyone all this grief. We all know the reason why! MONEY!
And I still say a lot of palms are being greased under the table to pass these bans. The lawmakers sure aren't listening to the "little people," and like Max said "It's all rubber stamped."
That's wonderful news. However, when a City Council makes businesses go smoke free, and the business doesn't comply, they start giving out fines. The anti's will force a business to go smoke free one way or the other. See what I mean? That's why this has to be faught.
Here in MO there was a proposed tax increase of 55 cents a pack on cigarettes. VOTERS rejected that tax increase.
That's great, Judith Anne! Usually, smokers lose in polls and votes because 25-30% of the state smokes, and since we are in the minority, we lose every time, unless the non-smokers actually see what is going on, and then they vote for our side. The general public has no idea of the loss of freedoms with this. No smoking bans just open the door for futher bans on something else. I wish the people would listen to us.
Judith Anne, you are absolutely right--in theory. In practice, however, when the antis outspend anyone else 50-1 in an indoctrination campaign to terrify the gullible public into voting away the right to private property and individual liberties, it's even worse. At least there's a chance to recall or vote out of office the elitist jackasses who approve such bans; tyranny by the majority is harder to address. In any event, this is not the America I grew up believing in--I wonder now if it ever was.
Group files petitions to recall 3 on council
By JAMES AMOS
The Pueblo Chieftain
Opponents of the suspended smoking ban turned in almost 13,000 petition signatures Friday seeking to force the recall of three city council members.
Members of Puebloans for Common Sense in Government submitted petitions containing:
- 5,002 signatures for Mike Occhiato. The minimum number needed was 3,697.
- 1,576 for Ted Lopez Jr.. The minimum was 1,107.
- 1,233 for Bob Schilling. The minimum was 1,045.
City Clerk Gina Dutcher has 10 days to certify the petitions, which involves checking that all the circulators and the people who signed the petition were registered voters and live in the correct area for the petition they signed.
On Wednesday, the group turned in recall petitions with 5,086 signatures targeting City Council President Bill Sova. The minimum needed to force a recall election of Sova was 3,697.
A special recall election is expected to cost the city about $50,000, according to Dutcher. City Council must schedule it within 30 to 40 days of when the petitions are certified.
If a special recall election is needed, it probably will include a ballot question about the smoking ban, city officials said.
The clerk's staff was already in the process of checking the Sova signatures Friday. Dutcher said she and her staff will work though this weekend and evenings next week to get all the petitions certified.
The clerk also will hire two people to help the effort, she said.
Attorneys for the Common Sense group said the four targeted council members should resign because of all the signatures.
"They shouldn't even subject the voters to a recall election," said Joe Losavio, a local attorney helping the Common Sense group.
The Common Sense group formed shortly after the four council members voted to approve a controversial smoking ban in December.
The ordinance outlawed smoking in bars, restaurants and almost all other public areas. It also guaranteed workers the right to smoke-free workplaces.
Bar owners have provided much of the group's backbone, complaining that the smoking ban would ruin their businesses. They helped organize the recall petitions and gather the 10,000 signatures submitted in January to suspend the smoking ban and force its reconsideration.
Losavio and Jim Koncilja, another lawyer helping Common Sense, insisted the recall is not just about smoking.
"That's the lightning rod that set it all off," Koncilja said. "It's galvanized a lot of public opinion. But it's really about a lack of leadership." Koncilja said Common Sense members are unhappy with the council's handling of the animal shelter and growth in Pueblo. He also said some people who signed the recall petitions said they didn't like the idea of a proposed private prison being located west of Pueblo Boulevard.
The behavior of council members on television during their Monday meetings also has made getting the signatures easier, the Common Sense lawyers said.
"Their decorum is deplorable," Koncilja said. "It's embarrassing to the city."
Gathering signatures for the recall petitions wasn't very hard, they said. Many people were eager to sign and voice some unhappiness with City Council.
"We have not had any resistance when we've walked door to door," Koncilja said. "No one has told us 'Get off the porch. They've been good elected officials.' "
The Common Sense group won't field any candidates for the four council positions. Municipal elections are supposed to be nonpartisan.
Losavio and Koncilja said the group will support candidates that it likes, and that some potential candidates have already indicated their interest.
"Some of the names we're hearing, if they do come out (and run), would be very good candidates," Losavio said.
The group had to gather more than 2,000 more signatures for the four recall drives after city officials said last week that the original minimum figures were wrong. Common Sense members said the increase was made just to sink the recalls and they worked even harder to get enough signatures.
"This has been a moving target," Koncilja said.
Petition circulators were allowed to register people to vote at the same time they were soliciting signatures for the recalls. Losavio said that allowed the group to register 300-400 people to vote.
One reason for signatures to be thrown off the petitions is if clerk's office workers can't read them, Dutcher said. Her staff have used the person's address to look up their name if the signature itself was illegible, she said. But that hasn't always worked.
"We're doing everything we can," she said.
Some signatures also have been dropped because the handwriting matched that of other signatures and if a person signed the petition twice.
Pueblo City Councilmen say they won't resign
The four city council members targeted for recall say they have no intention of resigning their seats.
Joe Losavio, an attorney for the group seeking to recall Bill Sova, Mike Occhiato, Bob Schilling and Ted Lopez Jr., said Friday the four councilmen should resign and save voters an election.
But the four councilmen, who all voted for a controversial smoking ban in December, said they aren't stepping down.
"No," Schilling said simply.
"Why should I? It's the voters' decision, not Losavio's," Occhiato said.
"Absolutely not," said Sova. "I think he (Losavio) is a fool to think that, especially when the pretense under which they got the signatures was really questionable."
Sova was referring to reports that circulators of the recall petitions told people the petitions were to fight the now-suspended smoking ban.
Sova said he looks forward to the recall election because it will settle both the recall and the smoking ban question sooner.
"Why wait 'til November to be healthy?" he said. "Why not start in April?"
Lopez, who is up for re-election in November, will now have two elections this year. He said a recall is the right of the citizens, but that he didn't agree with the reason for this one.
"The larger community will demonstrate the larger common sense," he said, "and it may be different than what this Common Sense group has."
The Councilmen are the problem, not the people.