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A strange pack mentality

Ranger Rich



Today we'll talk about something that makes your eyes water, turns your teeth yellow and makes you smell terrible. Your friends call you an idiot and make fun of you for doing it. When you're done you cough, feel stupid, and vow never to do it again.

But enough about saying hello to Mayor Steve Bach. Instead, let's discuss smoking and the July 23 decision by our highly esteemed City Council (motto: "We hardly know each other's names") to ban it in our public parks.

Tobacco use dates to the earliest human history, when experts say Gronk Weiner of what would become New York stuffed a handful of tobacco leaves down the front of his loincloth, chiseled an image of it into a stone, and gave it to strange women as his humiliated wife stood by his side, looking stoic and loyal as she thought of ways to make his death look like an accident.

Anyway, a village that until recently couldn't afford to keep its streetlights on, has built an economy one lousy job at a time, has an airport with less activity than an MRI of Sarah Palin's head, has a downtown that comprises 14,986 bars and a shoe store, and can't seem to plow or sand a road during a snowstorm, decided last week that our No. 1 problem is that guy way over there, outdoors, smoking a cigarette.

On a more positive note, not addressed by Council and thus remaining legal are speeding through red lights, driving your 1982 Buick Skylark on the sidewalk, going 280 mph in a school zone, giving the ambulance driver the finger when he tries to pass you, and having your fourth-grader shoot out the candles on his birthday cake with the 9mm Glock you thought you had safely hidden from him under the bags of meth.

The Smoke Is Bad movement began earlier in the meeting when our Council, apparently believing marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to worse behavior than running for public office, voted to ban the sale of pot here, though voters statewide and in our village approved its legalization last year.

Leading that anti-pot movement was our Mayor Bach, who said smoking marijuana can make people adopt old and outdated ideas, develop anger management issues, and, in extreme cases, dye their gray hair orange.

Here now, from Councilman Joel Miller, who was among six Councilors to vote for the smoking ban in parks: "This is public property. We all own it and are part of it." (Footnote: I did not know I was "part of" a park. Although it would help explain this pigeon poop on my shoulders.)

More deep thoughts from Councilor Miller: "Limiting someone's ability to smoke there doesn't necessarily limit their ability to enjoy the park."

Unless, of course, they smoke.

Miller added, and I am not kidding, that he voted for the ban "purely on an inhalation basis." Then he laughed for 45 minutes and rubbed his Cheetos-stained hands on Council President Keith King's pants.

The smoking ban would even include America the Beautiful Park, tucked up against the city's coal-powered Martin Drake Power Plant. Because what you definitely don't want is that nasty tobacco smoke from 200 yards away pushing the mercury and arsenic particles out of your child's lungs.

A woman named Pat, who lives in Falcon and did not want her last name used, was at America the Beautiful Park a few days after the Council ruling. She was with her dog, competing in the Pikes Peak Agility Club show in which border collies briefly stop licking themselves so they can run across a plank.

"It's a terrible idea," she said of the ban. "I don't smoke, but banning it outdoors is ridiculous. It's the mayor and Council getting too involved in people's lives. They wield a heavy hand."

Oh, city officials estimate the cost of the new No Smoking signs in our parks will be as much as $8,000. And not that we're broke, but they ask homeowners whose names end in consonants to shimmy up the nearest utility pole and unscrew the streetlight bulb.

Rich Tosches ( also writes a Sunday column in the Denver Post.

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