Mayor Tom Clauder's previous resistance to a Fitchburg smoking ban, and his apparent continued indifference to a substantial, effective ban will ultimately be his downfall ('Fitchburg Prepares to Kick Some Butts,' 3/9/07). Exempting so-called blue-collar bars and Ten Pin Alley only pays lip service to the interests of the people of Fitchburg.
It will make some (mostly politicians) happy that there is a ban, and it will keep the business owners of those particular establishments making money. However, the citizens of Fitchburg will still be exposed, and the other bars and restaurants will be upset that they are not exempted! How uneven can a law be?
Ald. Steve Arnold and mayoral challenger Jeff Nytes are progressive thinkers who have the guts to snuff out an ugly threat to the health of the people. I commend Clauder for coming around on the issue, but I challenge him to get tougher on the proposed ban, and to do it before the election.
As one of the co-authors of the smoking-ban draft in Fitchburg, I'm surprised you didn't contact me about your story. It is really a shame that Ald. Steve Arnold is so negative about the draft version. Did he tell you that the 'many exemptions' he cited are, in fact, sunset exemptions that require those businesses to be completely smoke-free in three years?
Did he mention that the 'many exemptions' total five? Did he mention that this draft would get Fitchburg to about 90% smoke-free in about a year and totally smoke-free in three years ' sooner if the facilities change ownership or their licenses?
I'll bet he didn't tell you that during the information-gathering phase, I sought input from both the Fitchburg Chamber of Commerce and SmokeFree Fitchburg. In fact, many of the provisions in the draft come directly from suggestions from SmokeFree Fitchburg representatives.
Mr. Arnold seems to think smoking bans are his sole province. I find it sad that he is so unwilling to entertain any concept of compromise.
Ald. Tom Darcy
Fitchburg City Council
Regarding your item on how the UW System is no longer posting employee salaries online ('UW Makes It Harder to Know,' 3/2/07): Instead of saying, 'David Giroux, the UW System's able spokesman...,' it might have been more useful to say, 'David Giroux, the UW System's $120,000-a-year spokesman....'
It seems to me this was relevant. Have I been out of the business so long that I missed the memo that a public official's salary is irrelevant to a story about public officials' salaries?
Next thing you know, UW will want to keep the names of employees secret to prevent raids by other universities. Of course, Judge Bill Foust ruled that was a gross violation of the public's right to know, but never fear, a public employee union promises an appeal.