Monday, June 16, 2008

Reality Checks

Sometimes the news around town gets so . . . confused, so . . . distorted, that it is a very good idea to take a reality check so that decisions are not made based upon faulty information. For instance, while attending Raytown’s Annual Barbeque event I was told that the Raytown Round-Up Days Parade would probably not be held this year because of anticipated construction on the 63rd Street Bridge. When it was pointed out that the bridge project has been put on hold because of legal matters between the Union Pacific Railroad, Raytown Water Company and the telephone companies – a new excuse was made. The new excuse was that the old First Baptist Church would be in process of being torn down. So that you know, the decision to put the bridge on hold has already been made. City Administrator Mahesh Sharma reported to the Board of Aldermen at a recent retreat. Instead, the city is going to pursue building another “gateway” at the Gregory Boulevard and Raytown Road intersection. As for the Old First Baptist Church being torn down. Even if it is in the process of being demolished during the parade, it would be an improvement over the boarded up wreck that stands there now. In fact, it could be looked upon as a positive sign of progress for Downtown Raytown. So, a note to the Chamber of Commerce. If you are sincere about bringing back Downtown Raytown and instilling pride in this community DO NOT do away with the Round-Up Days Parade. It is a popular event that should be continued. Speaking of the Old First Baptist Church . . . As some noted on this blog, the city’s paid for supplement in the Kansas City Star was more like a trip down memory lane than a forward looking issue. Let’s be real, using an old photograph of the Old First Baptist Church in a better light is not a good idea. Let’s say a developer decides to visit the area based on those pictures, the minute the reality is viewed, an early exit from the city is guaranteed. Whoever came up with that idea should not be allowed to have anything to do with print advertising, newsletters, or any role that deals with honesty and disseminating information to the public. Back to the Barbeque . . . not as big as previous events, not very crowded, but enjoyable. In visiting the different vendors, churches and civic organizations that had set up shop, I was very impressed with the desire for Raytown to make a come back. The determination demonstrated at the barbeque tells me it will. The Downtown Raytown Redevelopment crowd had an impressive display and some very knowledgeable people working their booth. I learned that a new restaurant will soon be opening at the old Raytown Plaza. Most refreshing was the recognition by the people at the booth that the scorched earth policy of tearing everything down to revitalize the Downtown is not the only path to go. They are on the mark. A development that mixes the old with the new is how you rebuild a commercial area that has staying power. The police dunking tank (I am told) was a popular event. I noticed the pens that were being handed out that had the current Chief of Police name on it. The position is still an elected one. Such giveaways smack of political freebies and should no be paid by the taxpayer’s dollars. Imagine the uproar if the Board of Aldermen were handing out pens (paid for at city expense) with their names on it. Finally . . . I have to recognize my old seatmates on the Raytown Board of Aldermen, Jerry and Jeff Kinman and their rock and roll band. They have improved greatly since the last time I heard them. I would wager that Jerry’s voice is hoarse this morning and Jeff’s continual drumming has surely left him with sore if not fatigued arms and legs.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

So now Greg wants something from the chamber. Funny how just a few months ago it was nothing but a "good ole boys club" that does nothing for Raytown. Just and observation.

Andy Whiteman said...

I wonder what kind of restaurant is opening in Raytown Plaza? I hope not fast food. We have enough of them here. We need at sit down restaurant that is open in the evenings. 5K was only open days which leaves dinner out.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

I say do away with the Roundup Days parade permanently. The chamber has already destroyed the tradition. Attendance was way off last year. Who wants to attend a parade that goes nowhere and there's nothing to do when it's over? Also it's a big expense to the city for which they never are offered any reimbursement.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like the city administrator should being making the bridge annoucement in a public meeting not at a public-excluded retreat.

Anonymous said...

Just a few comments:

About the BBQ--
Greg was right I was there twice and the crowd was not very big but the brisket sandwich was very good much better than last year.

Dunking the cop--
My husband spent $6.00 and couldn't hit the broadside of a barn. If the officer knew how filthy the water was he should have been very grateful that he couldn't hit anything.

The parade-- I am not a big fan of parades but it does appear the a lot of families do come to it and that is a good thing because there is nothing to do here. Greg is also right about the expense of the cleanup and the cost of overtime for the police officers. Weren't we told that the city is hard up for money again and we could not get our streets taken care of because of it. If the city is that hard up then the Chamber should come up with the money to pay for those expenses.

The church--
IS AN EYE SORE AND AN EMBARRASSMENT TO ALL OF US WHO LIVE HERE. That problem can be laid at the cities doorstep. They should have never purchased it in the first place. Then after they purchased it the city did not maintain it. They allowed the Independence and Raytown police Depts. to use it for training which was a real mistake but what did they care it only $600,000 plus dollars of our money after all the interest is add on. It is now going to cost some where around a million dollars to take it down in addition to that $600,000.

If you were a developer would you even think about spending millions of dollers in a community that leaves an eye sore like that church and does not maintain their streets. Allows property owners to not cut their grass and keep their homes in good repair. We are always here about Lee's Summit and how good they are, I don't necessarlly agree with that but they do have one very good program out there. If a property is left to deteriate and nothing is done about it the city will go in and make the repairs and put the cost on the tax bill. I have a friend who dose that work for them. Why is it that Raytown can't get there act together. I have lived here sense my childern were and they are now in their very late 40's. I AM VERY TIRED OF SEEING MY INVESTMENT GO DOWN THE TOILET AND AM EMBARRASSED FOR RAYTOWN.

Anonymous said...

I agree about doing away with the parade. There's absolutely no point to it now. Combining Roundup Days with the BBQ thing was so foolish, IMO. We went to the BBQ last year. No fun at all. Nothing to see or do. Didn't bother to go this year. I remember looking forward to Roundup Days every year, enjoying the parade, and then walking around looking at all the booths. Now I save my money for Santa-Cal-Gon and wait for time to pass so my kid can graduate and we can get the hell out of Raytown.

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad the Chamber puts on the Barbeque Cookoff. I've heard they plan to move it Downtown next year since Wally World will be using the space.

Maybe they should move it back to the fall. Then they could have the parade and the cook-off!

It would be even better if they started it one day later and ran it through the entire weekend. That way more people could attend and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I read where Mayor Funkhouser and Mayor Bower have teamed up to give us light rail.

Seems like they have gone the way of most weak leaders. Ignore the mundane and chase after pie in the sky dreams for our future.

I would be more impressed if they would just fix our crumbling streets, put in some street lights or get my neighbors to cut their grass.

Maybe they should change their name to FunkBower.

Anonymous said...

lets get some gondolas to run through raytown about 150 feet in the air. Clay Chastain would just love that. Lets get rid of all these freaks that we have as elected officials. all they seem to do is ignore the basics, and dream up all of these stupid schemes!

Anonymous said...

How about blimps.

Blimps are quiet, since they are up in the air they don't take up all the space a train would. And, you don't have to maintain tracks and bridges.

We could tether the blimps to the top of the steeple of the Old First Baptist Church. When it is torn down, we could build a blimp station at the new Walmart and call it a tourist attraction.

Kind of like that town in Kansas that has the biggest ball of twine.

Come on guys, think outside of the box. Let Funkenbower show us the way!

Andy Whiteman said...

The state of the bridge was announced several weeks ago at a BOA meeting. I believe it was also in the Post. It was not a secret issue at a retreat. I am the one who complains about conspiracies. If I heard it, it wasn't kept secret for a retreat.

I agree with the Anonymouses who think the parade should be discontinued. I agree some people like parades, but it is an expense and the city can't afford to maintain the streets. The chamber should reimburse the city for all expenses including police, EMS, and clean up and/or do the clean up themselves.

I think the Anonymous who said the BBQ would be downtown next year is incorrect. Someone from the C of C spoke at the BOA, said they didn't know where they would go and was looking for someone to offer a space. There is going to be a big unused parking lot at the Old Wallys World/Hy-Vee. I suggest it as a good location.

I really question how we can have light rail when the RR won't allow the bridge to be built. Does anyone think they will allow use of their right of way without $$$$.

I am for public transportation if it is available to ALL people at ALL hours and actually will take people where they want to go!

I would like to have seen it when Chastain proposed it over 10 years ago. Now, I think it is too little to late. If it is approved, I suspect we are 10 to 20 years before it is in place and at tomorrow's inflated prices!

The problem I see with the plan is it goes to the stadium, airport, the Plaza, and downtown. Great for people wanting to go to these places, but it doesn't help someone in Raytown who has a doctor's appointment in Overland Park. In my opinion, it needs to serve ALL people who want to travel to various points across town.

That is all for tonight. I will speak on other issues tomorrow.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Since the city is so poor, how about an accounting on the BOA retreat. Can we afford that?
And dunking Cops? Good PR ploy since another sales tax increase for "public safety" is coming up soon.

Pat Casady said...

Maybe Greg's attitude toward the Chamber has changed as has
mine. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr.Tom Gibbens the Chamber
Chair of the board. He is a good person and really cares about Raytown and it's growth.
In the past I have been outspoken against the Chamber because they closed up most of the downtown businesses to have Roundup Days.
I never thought that was very city business minded, I still don't like the thought of closing existing businesses to have a bunch of trinket salesmen move in.

But, putting my personal feelings behind me, I can see thanks to Tom Gibbens, that the chamber is working toward a better Raytown.
He has told me of some of the things the Chamber and others are doing in a joint
effort to try and make this town comeback again.
I truly hope it works.

I'm still not going to run out and join the Chamber again but I will wait and watch.
I will still have my opinions and will voice such as I see fit.

As for the parade....why not? I know a lot of people that look forward to the
parade each year. It's a tradition that should keep going. It hurts nothing and it's fun. So why not?

mr. whig said...

Why not combine Roundup Days with Baptist Church Teardown this year and call it Roundup Knockdown days? For a dollar you can chuck a brick (with Paul Brooks face on it) through a window, with proceeds to benefit the ciry's road fund.

David Lea said...

It's good to see so much passionate response to the future (and past) of Raytown. My name is David Lea. I'm the owner of DLT Fitness Studio which is opening in the Park Plaza this July! DLT will be THE fitness destination in the greater KC area and is right here in the NEW downtown Raytown. We decided to land our 3800 sq foot renovated up-scale group exercise and personal training studio in Raytown because we believe there ARE those who want to revitalize Raytown and we lead that cause. Along side those as Mayor Bower and Benetti's owner, Ben Helt, I believe Raytown is ready to get out of the 1960's and join the rest of greater KC with new life, new businesses, new traditions.

I've always been of the opinion that jump on the solution, not on the problem. So I hope you will all join me in pumping new life into Downtown Raytown and Raytown as a whole.

Because we're moving forward with or without you...the train has left the station...it's just a matter of whether you will join the movement...

My hope is that all Raytonians will!

Thanks for reading and hope you come and visit DLT Fitness Studio very soon!

Anonymous said...

David it is nice to read your enthusiastic outlook and I wish you good fortune in your new business endeavor.
With Ben Helt and David Bower, the conductor and the engineer on your train, I think I'll wait at the station. You can leave without me because I know once you hit 59th Street there is no bridge and no tracks.

Anonymous said...

Pat you're correct. Tom Gibbens is a nice guy, always has been during the 15 years I've known him. And Cass Cassing was and is a nice guy. He was the previous Chamber chairman. Vicki Turnbow, president, has always been pleasant and sincere. I hope you'll tell us here more about what Gibbens says that gives you such hope.
I was brought up to believe that talk is cheap and that actions speak louder than words. You, too, Pat are a great guy but you seem to get excited everytime the mayor or Chamber tells you something that sounds good. Maybe you're just an optimist. Hope you don't get disappointed again. I know many of us are from what the city, school district and chamber have done in the past few years.

Anonymous said...

David, Only one problem, the city government is stuck not in the 60's, but in the 50's. Raytown will have a have a hard time progressing until many, many changes take place at city hall. They can't deal with simple problems, such as trash cans, pit bulls, code enforcement, or whether to impose a smoking ban for the safety of our citizens. You won't believe how inefficient this city government is. You'll find out if you stick around long enough. Good luck on your new business.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Lee,

I haven't seen those old political steam-roller tricks tried for a long time. You know. Hurry up, the train is leaving, get on board, or you will miss out on all the fun!

It is good to optimistic. But you also have to be realistic. Until City Hall comes to realize that the needs of the homeowners and neighborhoods are just as important as Walmart tifs and Hy-Vee tax give-aways -- not much will change in Raytown.

If your new business receives as much attention as the condition of the street in front of my house you are going to become a very frustrated man.

Pat Casady said...

Anonymous 7:56,
You don't know me as well as you think. I don't believe anything that comes out of City Hall and I have not been a friend of the Chamber for over twelve years.
Optimistic is certainly not what I have been called in Raytown..........ever.
However I, like everyone that owns property or a business, would like
nothing more than to see Raytown become the town we all remember it
to be.
I'd like to welcome David Lea to Raytown and hope his business does well.

On a sad note, I've been watching the city employees using a rented
sky bucket to install brand new plywood windows in the old church.
This makes me think that the church building isn't coming down anytime soon. First off the machine is expensive to rent and they don't give away
big sheets of plywood. All this is very costly for taxpayers.
It's not the move we all thought the city would be taking.
We were all told months ago that the church was coming down what happened?

Andy Whiteman said...

David Lea, Welcome to Raytown. I wish you success in your new business. I hope it makes Raytown a destination point.

As to those who said that Raytown needs to come out of the 50's or 60's I think they were being optimistic. I wish Raytown could advance to the 50's. In my opinion, Raytown is stuck in the time of Medieval Fiefs, and Fascism.

The Olde Baptist Church is not only a city code violation, but from what I hear it is a health code violation. I suspect it may be an enviromental hazard to demolish it. It is definately an attractive nuisance and a liability issue for the city. The city should violate another city code, in the interest of public safety, I suggest the city build a tall fence around the church to keep people out!

I notice the old sewing machine building which the Non-Quality School District purchased has an illegal fence. I assume it is for safety to keep people out, but every time I walk by, the gate is open; which raises the question: WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THAT FENCE?

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Pat Casady: "However I, like everyone that owns property or a business, would like
nothing more than to see Raytown become the town we all remember it
to be."
Sorry Pat that's not going to happen. Raytown isn't going to have a local bank ran by Johnny Spotts. Scott-Mock aren't going to be building homes. There's not going to be an office supply business downtown. LeRoy Cox isn't going to sit with Gilbert Hinton at Fox's for coffee. The Smith Brothers aren't going to make any more concrete. Jim Barnes isn't going to protect Raytown's interests in the state legislature. Chief Bealer isn't going to keep the blacks out of town. John Colt isn't going to uncover city corruption. Dick Winter and Gene Yoekum aren't going to make sure potholes are patched. Willard Ross isn't going to establish an EMS under threat of jail. The Chamber isn't going to have 650 members. Bernie isn't going to be at Raytown Plaza opening his women's clothes shop.
Greed and selfishness by some of the oligarchy here brought this town down. It's unlikely that true altruists are going to step forward to bring it back up.

Pat Casady said...

Anonymous 11:16 am.
I'm not naive enough to think you can ever go back.
I meant that when Raytown was a good place to be and
shop.
It may in fact never happen but those were better times and the
elected officials actually cared about the people and what was
good for the town.
Now we have the greed of Wal-Mart and Hy=Vee. Tax giveaways
that will more than likely cripple the towns income for too many years
to come. Along with elected officials that in some cases are in way over
their heads. It doesn't mean they are bad people but bad decisions have been made.
Maybe in spite of all this Raytown will become a better place with new
small business like Mr.David Lea's. If the city will try to welcome new business
and not burden them with unrealistic codes and rules.

By the way watch for big trouble on 350hwy. at the old Adam's Toyota building.
It has a new owner and I fear he is in for a fight.

Andy Whiteman said...

Pat is absolutely correct, many bad decisions have been made. I can name several in city government whom I feel really care even though I may not agree with them on certain issues.

Unfortunately times have changed, people have changed, and no city will be like we remembered it. I was shocked when I went back to Carlsbad, CA after an absence of 6 years to find streets that never existed before as well as a downtown street that had become NO PARKING at night. An auto window shop told me I could leave my car on the street at night for him to work on in the AM. Unbeknownst to be the sign was way at the end of the block where no one would see it. A good way to raise revenue.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

WHERE'S THE LEADERSHIP???? Mayor Bower is starting to look more like that bumbling fool of a mayor that Kansas City has.
Why doesn't he step up on the smoking ordinance instead of allowing 2 or 3 of our smoking, women aldermen and a handful of bars to control the debate. He knows where the MAJORITY of Raytown residents are on this issue. Look around us, practically all of the surrounding cities have passed this ordinance without much debate. They know it's a health issue not an economic one. If he caves in to the board of aldermen on this one, he just as well "pick up his marbles and go home." Oh yes mayor, when are you going to put your wife to work in the mayor's office? Wish I could change my vote for mayor!!!

Pat Casady said...

I was thinking last night about going back to a nicer time.
We all know we can't change time. However, wouldn't you
think that our elected officials should have a plan other than
the 350 live project for Raytown.
Instead of spending taxpayer dollars on worthless "Gateway"
projects maybe they should invest in an Economic Director
who would have only one assignment, to bring in new businesses without giving away more city income.
Without new businesses in Raytown collecting taxes this town will
dry up. You can pass all the 1/2% sales tax increases you want
but, if there is no new businesses in all the vacant storefront's
and empty buildings it won't help.
Raytown is down to a handful of businesses, compared to the past,
and there isn't enough to carry the load It will get worse after the 350hwy. project is finished. More vacant buildings and businesses leaving town.

Anonymous said...

Pat is right. 1/2% sales tax on nothing is still nothing. You have to have something to buy before you can generate any revenue.

Andy Whiteman said...

Anonymous 7:30AM, I was at the BOA meeting when Mayor Bower said that be would like to see the smoking issue brought before the board.

In my opinion he IS taking a stand. Since this is the United States, the mayor does not have the power of the Lord of the Fief.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

In a 4th class city the mayor has a TREMENDOUS amount of power. He's needs to show us that he knows how to use the office for the good of the people that elected him. WAITING.

Anonymous said...

I am curious how the anonymous contributor knows that the majority of citizens approve of a smoking ban.

Anonymous said...

And like you I'm curious how he/she can make a blanket statement that it is not a financial issue. It is for the bar owners who will lose business when smokers can smoke there. Smoking has become another "straw man" for the weak sisters to knock over. And just because other towns are "doing it" doesn't mean we should follow suit. Only geese "goose step".

Anonymous said...

You go to a restaurant to eat a meal, not smoke a carton of cigarettes. Take it outside! Maybe some of us don't want to smell like your ashtray!

Anonymous said...

Used to be that people wouldn't even think about taking their children to bars, or bar and grills, because it was not considered 'proper' and usually was not a good example to the children.

Nowdays just about anything goes, I have seen parents getting flat sauced while their kids run amuck and tick off the other patrons. When we see that, generally we classify that as 'white trash'. Seems like it is a everyday occurance anymore.

Common sense left town a long time ago.

Pat Casady said...

First off I want to say I quit smoking eight years ago.
I chose not to smoke any longer, I didn't like it anymore so I quit.
So this doesn't affect me either way.
However, until they outlaw tobacco I don't think smoking should
be banned anywhere.
Everyone of us has the ability to walk into a smoke permitted place
and turn around and walk out if we choose.
City, State and Federal governments are in our business too much as it is.
They tell us how to live, we pay taxes for which we have no control over how they are spent. Government has the ability to steal property away
from citizens and give it to a private business in the name of the dollar.
As of late they are passing these laws against smoking that are, or should be unconstitutional.
Kansas City has or is trying to pass a law against smoking in all public places except......the Casinos. This tells me it's all about greed and who has
the most money.
It's easy for a non-smoker to be all high a mighty about smoking, they don't like it, we get it. So don't go where there is smoking. How hard is that?
For the record I do use my right to choose. If I don't want to around smoke I go elsewhere. I didn't need some pompous elected official or super citizen
telling me what to do.
My guess is, most of the people complaining about smoking don't even go in the places that are being targeted.
My question is, why don't these people go after drinking? Drunk drivers kill or harm people all the time. Drunks are the most obnoxious people in the world
and we don't here anybody trying to outlaw drinking.
(I'm not for outlawing drinking it's just a point.)
People that are trying to takeaway a freedom and outlaw something that is sold legally better be careful, you never know what will be taken away next.

Mr. Azier a progressive thinker? ...................NOT!

Anonymous said...

Why is Mayor Bower running all over the county trying to promote this light rail program? I agree that it is something that may need to be looked at, but our city is crumbling while he is off playing "superhero" to light rail. Again, I ask where are your priorities Mayor Bower? I'm another voter who wishes that they could take back their vote from you.

Anonymous said...

Where's our street overlay that we voted these taxes to finance? I've never seen our streets in worse shape. But we can run around a taxi type bus, that always empty, that some say is costing us almost $200,000 a year. Leadership, Mayor Bower, where are you?

Mark Siettmann said...

Like Pat I quit smoking, for me it was seven years ago. I am glad I did, but I don't begrudge anyone who has not. At this point smoking is legal for adults.

You want to ban smoking? Then for gosh sakes have the guts to push for making cigarettes illegal! But if smoking is legal, don't tell people they can't do it near you.

Andy Whiteman said...

As I previously stated, I am in agreement with Pat and Mark on the smoking issue. Drinking was illegal in the US at one point in time and Kansas was a dry state.

As for the street overlay, it was stated at the BOA that the previous Finance Director overlooked bond payment in the budget so money was taken from the overlay to pay the bonds (but supposedly since the money was to pay transportation bonds, this is legal.) That is why we had no street overlay. I don't quite buy it, but could that be why the finance director resigned? The city really needs to have errors and omissions insurance on incopetant employees!

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

Since Raytown wants to be like everyone else with big box stores and banning smoking why not be a forerunner and make transfat illegal like NYC? Let's be AHEAD of the bandwagon!
(Please note tongue in cheek.)

Anonymous said...

Lee Gray here. The smoking issue is real simple. You give the business owners who would be affected the choice. They can be smoking or non-smoking. Then the customers that want to smoke know where they're welcome and the non-smokers know where they're not.
While I'm at it, let's have our own Sunni and Shitte neighborhoods too!

Anonymous said...

Since we are legislating for everyone let me express a pet peeve. I have a problem with really obese people. I can't eat at a Country Buffet because I lose my appetite when I see all the hefty types. Can we outlaw fat people? Can we start with the BOA? Ignorant people also bother me. Wait we'd have to do alway with city government all together.

Anonymous said...

Why lets start a natural culling process! The stupid ones can probably eliminate themselves, thus leaving more natural resources for the really smart ones.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of hefty people. Some of those aldermen and alderwomen do look like they have been "feeding at the public trough" way too long.

Anonymous said...

Good! You'all are getting into the spirit of this! Everyone else is way too serious like something important or meaningful will really come from all our bitching. Stay the course! Was that Reagan, Carter or Bush?

Anonymous said...

I saw a photo of the 3 individuals who burglarized a home and were apprehended after a high speed chase. One sure resembles a Pit Bull. It should have been incarcerated at the dog pound!

Anonymous said...

The smoking thing is a ridiculous item to argue about. Science has proven time and time again that second hand smoke is harmful and infact deadly. People that fall victim to second hand smoke do not have the "choice" in inhale it or not. The effects of second hand smoke total billions of dollars in health care costs each year. Note we are talking second hand smoke. You want to smoke in you home or car, Do it... Your lung cancer and emphysema awaits you in your future. Congrats. But second hand smoke is a matter of worker's rights. Why should workers have to endure such hazards. Why? And don't give me that baloney about they choose to work there. Don't we regulate industry with health and safety standards. I suppose we should roll back OSHA standards and the like because afterall they choose to work in those hazards. Based on the proven heath hazards, it is a matter of time before litigation impacts this issue on behalf of workers and victims of second hand smoke, just like the tobacco industry got hit in the nose in years past. The argument that we should not regulate these businesses and should make them choose. Lets make them choose otherthings while we are at it... like occupancy limits, lead paint... We regulate what color they can paint their buildings and what trees they can plant on their property, but we lump up the age old "choice" argument when it comes to sensible legislation that has no negative impact whatsoever and would improve the health of millions and save this country precious health care dollars. No one is telling you you can't smoke. Rather, good regulation should spell out the health security of those that do not have a say in this mess... It boils down to inconvienance...and frankly that is just not good enough of an excuse for me to say sure... light it up around my family and children. SMOKERS... GIVE ME A BREAK. POLUTE YOURSELF AND ONLY YOURSELF... WHEEZE ON!!! I suppose the American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Surgeon General are just not getting the fact that your "right to smoke" out weighs our right to breath clean air... That smokers absolutely have the right... god given if you ask some of them... to put other people at risk for serious chronic health problems. Oh silly me... those people choose to harm themselves... Kind of like the coal miners did or better yet a victim of drunk driving...afterall, don't we have the right to drink if you are of age... so why not let these people drink away and drive... Why not? Well duh... it is because it is a clear assault on the health, security and safety of the public at large... oh and it kills people too... just like smoking and secondhand smoke. Give me a break...

Smokers... get over yourselves!!!