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October 06, 2006

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pris crevatt

Ya, Young is in play and Sanchez is a sure thing. And I need more tinfoil for my hat the aliens are trying to contract me.

Chris Prevatt

Ok Matt (Jubal), Let’s break this down.

1. You cite Wilson’s letter that claims “thousands of marine animals swallow cigarette butts” and that you asked for more specific numbers. I believe that Supervisor Wilson should have said hundreds of species of marine animals in his statement. The California Fish and Game Commission website (http://www.fgc.ca.gov/mlma/appendix/h.html) identifies “544 species of fish from 144 families, thousands of species of marine invertebrates inhabit the sea floor from tide pools along the shoreline to muddy plains 8,000 feet deep, and dozens of species of coastal and offshore birds spend some part of the year in California's waters, as do 35 species of marine mammals.” While the number is not “thousands”, it is well-documented scientific fact that marine animals consume trash, including cigarette litter, in many instances resulting in the death of the animal. Are you suggesting that if the number of species is not in the thousands that there is no problem?

2. You indicate that the staff cited a claim that cigarette butts will contaminate the groundwater as a reason for banning smoking on county beaches. I’ve looked over the report that you posted on your blog and there is no reference to ground water. The report does include a bullet point on the Smoke-Free Orange County Beaches fact sheet under environmental factors stating that; Tobacco litter leaches toxic substances into the water and sediment, containing the food supply or directly killing small animals.” You said that you asked if there was groundwater under county beaches and the answer was no. My guess is that the response was based upon a conclusion that you were asking about groundwater in the sense of the type we draw from wells and consume. There is groundwater under the beaches, specifically seawater and, since I know you to possess at least some intelligence, I’m sure you already knew that. The staff report was not referring to groundwater; it was referring to the marine water along the coastline.

My issue here is that you asked questions with the clear intent to poke holes in the staff report and therefore the need to establish smoke-free county beaches rather than to seek information and or clarification. You failed to accept that the facts clearly demonstrate a public health threat resulting from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. You failed to dutifully consider the prior recommendation of the NPDES Trash and Debris Task Force that Orange County Beaches be made tobacco-smoke free. You overlooked the testimony of the several residents who took the time to address the Commission on the issue, none of whom spoke against it. You disregarded the liberty and rights of the vast majority of Orange County residents who do not smoke to enjoy the beach free from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.

Matt I support liberty and freedom from needless government regulations. What I do not support is your premise that the rights of an individual to jeopardize their own health by smoking should trump my right to not be exposed to their second-hand smoke or their cigarette butts under my toes when I visit a public beach.

Matt, while you may believe that the Board of Sups will extinguish the establishment of smoke-free beaches in Orange County, I’m not so sure Silva is so solid against the proposal. Jeff Overley at Total Buzz Blog points out that Supervisor Silva wasn't too fond of the plan, wondering (and I'll paraphrase) how outdoor secondhand smoke could be a cancer threat while bonfires are blamed for nothing but burnt marshmallows.

Jeff forgot to mention that only one county owned beach has fire pits, Capistrano Beach. As far as an argument against the proposal, it just a hollow sound bite with no relationship to fact. Furthermore, fire pits are in fixed location; if you don’t want to be around that smoke you know where to go. Absent an ordinance regarding tobacco smoke, non-smokers have nowhere to be free of the public health hazard of tobacco smoke. I do suppose that you could lift the regulation in the immediate area of fire pits, but the reality is that cigarette smoke contains different toxins than wood smoke, and therefore less of a cancer risk.

Art Pedroza

Gilchrist is back in the GOP? Can Lupe Moreno and Abie Garcia be far behind???

redperegrine

"My issue here is that you asked questions with the clear intent to poke holes in the staff report and therefore the need to establish smoke-free county beaches rather than to seek information and or clarification"

Chris this may come as a surprise to a County employee, but it's the responsibilty of a diligent commissioner to poke holes in a staff report - if he can. I've seen plenty of staff reports and can attest to the fact that they're generally full of holes to begin with.

Chris Prevatt

Redperegrine,

As a former commissioner on numerous commissions over the years, I also know the value of posing intelligent and relevant questions to staff regarding their reports and proposals. There is a difference between asking for clarification and asking questions to distract from the question at hand.

I have served in both the role of staff and commission member so I do have a unique perspective. If the core basis of a staff report is weak or unsubstantiated it should be challenged. I do however disagree that "most staff reports are full of holes anyway." It is that type of global generalization that makes some commissioners, council members, supervisors and legislators act like jerks. If you start from the point of view that all staff reports are full of holes, there is little chance that you can learn anything.

My experience has shown me that a great deal of effort and consideration goes into staff reports. I have never met a staff member who sees it as a good career move to submit a staff report with so many holes that it makes them look stupid or inept.

I have yet to see Matt offer any arguments to support his position other than to simply state that he does not believe the evidence. As I pointed out in my previous post, Matt questioned a statement made by Supervisor Wilson (not staff), and misread the staff report thinking that staff was claiming cigarette butts contaminate ground water, which was not what was stated in the report. Looks to me like the only person with holes in his argument is Matt.

Finally, I am a former smoker. I hang out with people who smoke, even when they are smoking. But that is my choice. When it comes to the public beaches, we regulate the consumption of alcohol, mainly for the purpose of protecting public safety. Why should smoking be any different? Why should smokers be able to place the health and safety of non-smokers at risk? The evidence is there in front of us. But rather than believe the evidence, Matt has chosen to challenge staff to justify the findings of the Surgeon General or the California Air Resources Board.

The standard refrain from the center-right and libertarian anarchists is to deny the evidence. Just like with global warming, the occupation of Iraq, or stem cell research it's the same old story, the facts don't matter. No one is saying that people should not be allowed to smoke. What is being said here is that people who don’t smoke should not have their right to freedom from tobacco smoke abridged by those who want to smoke.

Strong Coffee

It is that type of global generalization that makes some commissioners, council members, supervisors and legislators act like jerks.

As opposed to an arrogant, know-it-all county staffer like you, Prevatt. Somehow, I think you'd have been very comfortable and happy as an Eastern Bloc commissar.

When it comes to the public beaches, we regulate the consumption of alcohol, mainly for the purpose of protecting public safety. Why should smoking be any different?

Because drunk drivers are unable to safely operate a moving vehicle. Are you comparing the effects of smoking on a smoker to the effects of alcohol on someone who's drinking? And you're lambasting Cunningham because you think he's not concerned with the facts?

Pal, you need to crawl out of the shell of unjustifiably high self-regard in which you live and admit the possibility that you just might be wrong.

Strong Coffee

And King Chris, please tell us ignorant peons just where this "right to freedom from tobacco smoke" comes from?

I guess the "facts don't matter" when you can just manufacture them.

Jubal

Chris:

Real quick: I plan to enjoy my weekend with my family rather than respond to your condescending comments. That can wait until after the weekend.

I'll just say this for now: you approach this issue as if the matieral presented to us -- not all of which was even relevant to the circumstance of smoking on the beach -- allowed for no other action but to ban smoking.

I part company with you there. There are alternatives to a ban. You may not like the alternatives, but that doesn't mean they do not exist. Disagreeing with Chris Prevatt doesn't make a person lazy, stupid or a hack.

redperegrine

"I have never met a staff member who sees it as a good career move to submit a staff report with so many holes that it makes them look stupid or inept."

They don't think of it like that. They rely on lazy councilpersons or stooge commissioners who have been handpicked for their reliability, i.e. their willingness to go along with the "team." If you don't believe me read a County Planning Commission staff report sometime.

And I've also noticed the propensity to pressure commssioners (and public) to "work with us" by which staff means "give us what we want and keep your mouth shut like a good boy." It's always a one way street.

Strong Coffee

RP:

How dare you question the superior wisdom of King Chris! Don't you know he is a county employee and therefore our better?

Chris Prevatt

Strong Coffee,

The reason for the laws regulating the consumption of alcohol is not the harm the person may cause themselves; rather the reason is to protect others from harm that may be caused by the consumer of alcohol.

The same rationale should apply to smoking. The problem is not what harms the individual who smokes may cause themselves, but rather the harm their second-hand smoke may cause others.

More than 80% of Orange County residents do not smoke. It is sound public policy to regulate conditions that impact the health of the general public. We all have the right to consume legal substances to our own detriment. What we do not have the right to do is expose others to those conditions involuntarily.

And Redperegrine,

From your point "They rely on lazy councilpersons or stooge commissioners who have been handpicked for their reliability" are you suggesting that staff members pick the stooges?

However, in considering your point you have given me new insight into Matt's position on this matter. Since he was appointed by Supervisor Campbell who has already stated his opposition, Matt is doing his job as Campbell's stooge.

I have to admit that I was wrong and you are right.

Matt is not a Hack, he is by your definition a Stooge who was handpicked for his reliability.

Also, for the record, my commments on this and other blogs are mine as an individual, not those of a "County Staffer."

Strong Coffee

Careful you don't pull a muscle while you streeeeeetch reason to the breaking point there, Your Highness!

Let's see: someone drinks several beers at the beach, gets in his care and ends up in an accident, injuring and possibly killing himself and others. This happens in the course of a few hours, from one episode of drinking too many beers.

Now, someone else goes to the beach and ends up smoking a pack of cigarettes. Let's say another beach goer is stupid enough to remain close by in the path of the second-hand smoke before it is quickly dispersed by the off-shore breeze, and never asks the smoker to please stop. By smoking outside on the beach, is that smoker posing an immediate danger to the life of the person stupid enough to sit there inhaling second-hand smoke for a few hours?

Alex Brant-Zawadzki

So a beachgoer and his/her family has been sitting at the beach for an hour. They've set up their umbrella, their towels, cooler, everything. The kids are out in the water.

Suddenly, a few smokers show up and sit down just upwind from the beachgoers. They sit down and immediately begin to chain-smoke Pall Malls (no offense, Rob). One family member approaches, admits to being tobacco-sensitive, and asks the smokers to ease off. They tell him to ease off, except they don't say ease.

Whose liberty matters more? Should the smokers be more polite? Should the family drag the kids out of the water and relocate?

redperegrine

Chris, you asked me:

"...are you suggesting that staff members pick the stooges?"

I saw it happen in Fullerton - pick a card, any card - no not that one! But that's not really necessary since most (not all) councilpersons and, yes, supervisors, want commissioners who are, shall we say, compliant to staff and not boat rockers. Their reasons may vary but the biggest reason is that many of them are former public employees and show an unwillingness to question the "experts."

Not being a public sector lifer, Campbell may be one of those rare birds who is not afraid to appoint people who will actually question staff's reasoning, and yes, motives. Chris Norby is another. Matt's "no" vote suggests that he is not a stooge. The HBP meetings are going to get much more interesting.

Chris Prevatt

Strong Coffee,

How do you reach the connection between drinking a few beers at the beach and driving as being relevant to the question of smoking on the beach? The main reason for restricting alcohol is to prevent people from getting drunk on the beach and disturbing other visitors, or causing physical harm to another visitor. The regulations are not about protecting the drinker. A smoke-free beach ordinance would prevent a smoker from disturbing other visitors on the beach. From my perspective if people want to lessen their lifespan smoking that is their choice. They just shouldn’t be able to do so at my expense without my consent.

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