Letter to the Council: Smoking in Santee's Parks

Local father and Patch blogger, Joe Spencer, speaks to the city council about Santee's failing tobacco control grade and suggests smoking be banned at city parks.

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.

Kathy February 08, 2012 at 07:58 PM
WOW, I certainly hope that is not what you teach your Daughter Joe! You believe that Majority rules over Minority, this is exactly what caused Discrimination in this Country. Since there are far more women then men in the United States, then you would be O.K. if Women said that ALL Men cannot drink alcohol except in their home or only Women can drive autos, Men would have to walk or ride a bike. I have never believed that the Majority has power over the Minority, I do not think I am any better then anyone else or have power over anyone one person. Do you not feel the Minority has the right to Equal Rights as the Majority?
Kathy February 08, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Very well said Joan and James, it is sometimes difficult to deal with ignorance of the Non-Smoking Ban Wagon, and most the time, a waste of time.
Steven Bartholow (Editor) February 08, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Kathy: Comparing the concept of not allowing smoking in parks to communism is exactly the kind of outlandish comparison that can't rationally be responded to. It's literally one of those moments when I throw my hands in the air and move on. I clearly fall on the libertarian side of things when it comes to making new things illegal, criminalizing non-violent behaviors, and controlling how an individual prefers to alter his consciousness- we need no more laws about such things in the private space. But, there are always limits put on what can be done in the public commons, and this is one limit worthy of debate. The slippery slope argument is a tricky one...
Joe Spencer February 08, 2012 at 08:17 PM
@Kathy....if only women are driving and I am on a bike....I am staying home. ;) (I am KIDDING) I teach my daughter to fight for whatever she believes in....BUT also have to understand that some things do come down to a simple fact of majority rules. Isnt that how we VOTE each election?
James Jones February 08, 2012 at 09:19 PM
No unfortunately "majority rules" does not always apply. If it did, Prop 187(immigration), the Medical Marijuana initiative and the gay marriage ban would not be questioned. The Proposition process IS a majority rules situation, but we've seen how much weight that has.
Kathy February 08, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Steven, I am simply throwing back Joe's analogy back at him, why is that not allowed in your eyes? Joe, comes up with these percentage of Smokers and Non-Smokers, yet he fails to show absolute proof of his unrealistic numbers. Perhaps Joe is basing his percentage on the respondents on this Topic. I knew responding on this board would be a total waste of my time but I just can't sit back quietly when someone is challenging Equal and Fair treatment. I will be more then happy to challenge Mr. Joe Spencer at the next Council Meeting. Our current Commander and Chief has too much of Joe's attitude, where his way is the only way, regardless of fairness. You see how well that's working out. Steven, you do not have to agree with my thoughts but it would be nice for you to respect them, as I respect yours. It is called Freedom of Speech.
Doug Curlee February 08, 2012 at 09:50 PM
kathy...communism?..seriously?..SERIOUSLY??? i mean, i'm on the side of live and let live..courtesy and common sense..but.. COMMUNISM??? please.. doug
Joe Spencer February 08, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I dont think you responding here is a waste of time...for the most part I think many on here are just posting and discussing their views. I know I respect MOST everyone that posts here. I dont view my way as the only way...I view my way on THIS topic as the way of MOST EVRYWHERE these days. You seem to believe as if I am out on my own blazing a new trail here. I'm simply trying to get the old school thinkers making the laws to catch up with the rest of society around us.,
Steven Bartholow (Editor) February 08, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Any comments that don't break the commenting rules are allowed and quite welcome, don't let my response to comments let anyone think they aren't allowed. I don't expect or want you to back down quietly, but neither will I. I just ask that you don't take the "media is stifling my free speech" angle on this one, because this site freely gives every opportunity for everyone to comment, blog or contribute to the discussion in any number of ways.
Kathy February 09, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Doug, do you ever read what you post????? It really is worth nothing other then you enjoy attacking people on Patch when they don't agree with you. You need to find better entertainment.
rudy reyes February 09, 2012 at 12:55 AM
Kathey: thats exactly what happened to me!! attacks those who dont bow to his version of existence. I argued that ex-mayor had no chance running for 52nd, doug personally insulted/slandered me!!
Joe Spencer February 09, 2012 at 12:57 AM
@Kathy wasn't it you who just posted this to Steven: "you do not have to agree with my thoughts but it would be nice for you to respect them, as I respect yours. It is called Freedom of Speech" Yet then you send a message to Doug: It really is worth nothing other then you enjoy attacking people on Patch when they don't agree with you. You need to find better entertainment. Free Speech or Not Free Speech....That is the question.....
Joe Spencer February 09, 2012 at 01:09 AM
You couldnt even use the term running mate correctly in your post....cmon....if you were serious about your political run you would watch your posts on here--not show you dont even know a simple political term and try to make as many friends as possible...or at least try and get people to like you...yet you post RIDICULOUS things here-- Further, Doug is not the only person who thinks that way. With your posts here and the fact your only endoresement in the video announcing your run for Dianne Jacob's seat was from the Medical Marijuana Community....enough said....
rudy reyes February 09, 2012 at 01:15 AM
joe: I admit im human an d make mistakes, I dont need to insult another human to make my point! Honestly you have no sense of political history if you dont know my history with the medical marijuana community. too bad!
rudy reyes February 09, 2012 at 01:16 AM
regarding endorsements you should do some research lol I am endorsed by both the tea party and dems. lol
rudy reyes February 09, 2012 at 01:17 AM
working on republican endorsment too lol
Joe Spencer February 09, 2012 at 01:19 AM
I research candidates that I would consider voting for...that is absolutely not the case here. No research needed. Further..if you are endorsed by others...probably would have been a MUCH better choice to have them appear in your video shouting out their endorsement as opposed to the Community Medical Marijuan guy....all that was missing was him taking a hit on camera.....
rudy reyes February 09, 2012 at 01:26 AM
their is your closed mind showing! again sad and feel worse for you p.s as a burn survivor 70% cedar fires. i cant and dont smoke marijuana due to inhalation issues Joehole
Doug Curlee February 09, 2012 at 01:27 AM
rudy.. somehow, i seriously doubt that you're endorsed by two groups at the far opposite ends of the political spectrum.. now, if you consider my criticizing your rambling, often incoherent posts as an insult, that's too bad.. i'm a patch columnist, and that's the kind of thing i do..you might want to consider reading and editing your posts before slapping them on the site.. and kathy..i'm on YOUR side in this ongoing debate about smoking.. but the communism allusion was way, WAY over the top.. doug
Joe Spencer February 09, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Rudy explain this to me.....you sit on your computer complaining about everything known to man....you have much to say about this smoking topic...and the Quail project....and despite being at the Santee City Council meeting last night--you said NOTHING. WHAT?!?!? How do you have so much to say about these topics HERE but you didnt say a freakin word up in front of the council????? Theres a politician I want to vote for......
rudy reyes February 09, 2012 at 05:36 PM
joe:You want a Representative that supports the community. I have plenty of supporters! riddle me this! lol called being present and being part of the communtiy, I wasnt there to speak i was there to support! also to see the new taxes and fees santee was proposing as it affects other communities. I will be speaking on subject just not yet. patience, unlike you im not pushing my own ideals on others. unlike joe spencer who at city council meeting brang up smoking in parks! yet he is the only one in all santee complaining, where is your group? "Banning smoking" this is a single man agenda, with this sad hate article to keep his hate fueled. I stand for all east county! No room for Hate in my life! lol Again Joe sad man
Joe Spencer February 09, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Rudy...this will be my final post of any sort that is addressed to you. Unlike the vast majority of people who post here I simply am not interested in anything you have to say. Though I differ in opinion with Kathy, Doug, etc...I certainly at the end of the day respect them very much as people. I have no such respect for you. Make any excuse that you want--it makes ZERO sense that with all you have to say about certain topics that you would NOT stand up and speak in front of the council---ESPECIALLY AS SOMEONE RUNNING FOR A POLITICAL SEAT. Who cares if someone else spoke...why wouldnt you. After all as a political candidate aren't you supposed to be a LEADER. You seemed to have plenty of time to whine to The Patch who was at the meeting. Perhaps you didnt know it was me right away sitting nearby...but I certainly heard you. Boo Freakin Hoo....I hear the same kind of stuff in my daughters third grade class. Funny too...you are running for political office...yet you come to a city council meeting and DONT say a word...and show up dressed in jeans and a tshirt. Nothing WRONG with that mind you. Just that MOST successful politicians (and business people in general) dress for success. Image is EVERYTHING especially when you are trying to win voters. To get back on topic to this post....if you think that this is a single man agenda....you are a bigger fool than even i consider you to be.
Doug Curlee February 09, 2012 at 07:50 PM
rudy.. do you even read your own posts?..do you even realize what you post? do you remember what you post from one day to the next? "..im not pushing my ideals on others"..that's ALL you do, every time you post and attck someone.. anyone..the city council, dianne jacob, the mayor.. all you DO is attack.. "..this is a single man agenda"..in fact, the majority of people who've enter4ed this debate agree with joe about smoking in the parks..i don't, but i realize i'm in the minority here, and i'll deal with that.. and this is going to upset you and a few others.. but the cedar fires were a while ago..we're all sympathetic to what happened to you..but isn't it just about time to quit trying to trade on that for political support? doug
Kathy February 09, 2012 at 09:26 PM
O.K. I am bowing out, this board has gotten very vicious and nasty and off point. I am included in this behavior which really isn't me and I know solves absolutely nothing but hurt feelings. I still not agree with banning smoking at our Parks but I will apologize for my misbehavior and nasty responses. It is time to call a peace, this is no example for children. We should all, including myself act like adults, it's not about who's opinion has more rights then others. We all have our opinion and we should be able to discuss it like adults. Again, my apology to all that I offended.
Steven Bartholow (Editor) February 09, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Thanks for the respectful comment Kathy. This is gearing up to be a heated election year and a bit of cooling off for the next round of debate is probably called for.
Joe Spencer February 09, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Very nice post Kathy....but I for one was not offended by anything you said...nor do I believe anyone else was. I agree that everyone's opinion matters....Frankly I enjoy the debate process...I just objected to one person who on multiple posts attacks people. For that I make zero apologies for my response to that individual. Look for a new blog soon.... :)
Kevin Hippensteel February 10, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Well said.
James Jones February 10, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Doggone it Joe, now you've gone and written a whole post that I agree with you on! :) LOL! I've always been of the opinion that when the personal attacks begin, it's because the attacker has run out of any substance to their position or doesn't have enough brain power to express it.
Lloyds Collision & Paint Center February 10, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I would suggest finding a happy medium on this topic for all , one would be to have a smoking and a non-smoking area in each and every park and second would be to some of the parks smoking and some not , this would afford all family's the choice to spend there day at the park of there choice. In most cases I have found issues to resolve by taking baby steps towards resolution.
Joe Spencer February 25, 2012 at 07:32 AM
Just curious when you say you cant and dont smoke marijuana due to inhalation issues how that differs from smoking regular cigarettes? Or you have the same issue with that as well?


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