At , I addressed the Mayor and the City Council about the issue of smoking at our city parks. Below is the transcript of the prepared speech that I read to them followed by a few closing comments.
As I was leaving the meeting several people thanked me for my comments and urged me to stay on top of it. Here is the text of my speech:
Mr. Mayor, City Council Members, my name is . I am currently the Vice-President of the Santee School District Foundation as well as a member of several committees for the . More importantly, I am the parent of a 9-year-old daughter who frequents the parks within the beautiful community of Santee.
A recent article on the Santee Patch reported that the city of by the American Lung Association. While not reading too much into this report, I was intrigued by the fact that anything in this wonderful city would be ranked with a failing grade.
I read the article and then went on to read the letter the American Lung Association sent to the Mayor last year as well as the response the Mayor sent back them.
I was inspired by the stance you took to defend the freedom of the citizens of Santee as well as the fact that you noted it was not important for you to be politically correct as most Mayors try to be. For that I want to say BRAVO.
I stand before you Mr. Mayor and members of the city council to ask that you soften the stance on this topic just a bit. I am asking you to consider restricting smoking at all of our public parks. As you know, the fine city of Santee is the ONLY city in San Diego County that allows smoking at its public parks.
I believe you send the wrong message to children and other young citizens of the community when you issue a statement that “You may see a grade of F from your perspective as our being graded a failure; I see this grade of F from our perspective as being the highest grade for FREEDOM we could earn.”
While I understand your point, I worry that our children and young adults will misinterpret what you are trying to say. What happens when little Jimmy- who’s in 7th grade at – has to sit down with his parents to explain why he got on F on his science report and he responds by saying well the Mayor says F is for Freedom.
Also, I think that it is unreasonable to expect all smokers to do the right thing and move away from children or others who do not like the second hand smoke when asked. If they were that caring, frankly they wouldn’t be smoking around children in the first place.
expects that you will purchase items from within their store and not just walk out without paying for them. Yet there are laws to enforce that expectation. It is expected that if you have too many alcoholic beverages you do not get in your vehicle to drive. Yet, there are laws to enforce that expectation. So, though you may expect people to do the right thing I think that you must enact a law that prohibits smoking at public parks as a way to enforce your expectation. I don’t think that it should be put upon the citizens to handle the situation themselves.
When you use the word freedom it seems that there are several ways to look at that. I would argue that a and that it is OUR freedom and the freedom of OUR children to enjoy the smoke free environment that is infringed upon.
Mr. Mayor, council members, the city of Santee is often regarded as the . Yet in the area of protecting our children from second hand smoke at the parks which they play at, we are failing. And we are the only city failing at that in the county of San Diego.
I urge all of you to please protect the health and well being of our children and ban smoking at all public parks, because this is not about freedom—it’s about our children.
As I concluded my statement and headed for my seat, the following dialogue took place between Mayor Voepel and the City Attorney:
Mayor Voepel: Mr. City attorney, do we also allow beer drinking and wine drinking in parks?
City Attorney: There are restrictions…
Mayor Voepel: But you can. “Sigh” More Freedom…
My presentation only focused on smoking since that was the topic of the article on the Santee Patch. However, I would also encourage the city to ban the consumption of alcohol at our public parks as well. There are plenty of places for adults to hang out and smoke or drink other than a public park that children gather to play.
The Mayor and City Council need to protect our children in every way possible including not allowing them to play in a smoke and alcohol free environment. Don’t take away THEIR freedom by being the only city in the County of San Diego to allow this to continue. As a volunteer for the American Heart Association and member of the community, I join with the American Lung Association in urging the Mayor and City Council to take action on this very important matter.