Fighting for our Rights!!!
Joe Bolduc

January 11, 2006

Hello everyone. As you can see I am no longer just Joe Bolduc, bar owner and rabble rouser, but now have an official (well almost, a few more papers to file) lobbying association. As the state hospitality association is hesitant to fully join the fight, I decided to form my own group. It also gives me greater standing in seeking meetings with government officials, filing in court, and access to public forums.

KANSAS REPORT, 01/11/06. Kansas Business Rights Association.

Samantha (from the Smokers Club) and everyone, thought I'd drop you a note regarding the state of affairs here in Kansas.

Smoke Ban hearing in Lansing.
A stint on Talk Radio.
A meeting in Lawrence
Further thoughts on court arguments.

Last Thursday, 01/06, the city of Lansing held a hearing on a smoke ban. The young man who presented the pro-ban side of the hearing had a different approach, one I think we would all do well to learn from. He presented his case via a Power Point presentation on his laptop. We need to start doing the same for a number of reasons:

Professionalism: It looks and comes across as much more professional than just getting up there and ranting for ten minutes. Attention Grabbing: I suspect many of you have been through the same thing as me, you're spilling your heart out and two or three board members are busy writing or reading something, apparently not paying any attention to you. With a graphic presentation, they HAVE to look up, at least once in awhile. They certainly can't use the excuse that “I'm listening”. It's easier to make counterpoints: You can list each of the pro-ban arguments with a corresponding counter argument right next to it. Makes for a a stronger impact, more relevance, a better “connection”. It's a video world: Just as reading is in decline, so to is the art of verbal conversation, and listening. People are conditioned to viewing information, not hearing it.

For those of you who are among the many who possess the bare necessity of computer skills, this isn't as difficult as you would think. Programs like Microsoft's Powerpoint pretty much walk you through the process with templates and wizards. Those of you with teenage children could just have them do it :).

Anyway, back to the ban hearing. I am not overly concerned at this point about them imposing a ban. Two of the city councilors were outright antagonistic towards the young man and I was able to refute all his points. If looks could kill, his cheering section would have shot me several times over. Another plus for our side is that some of the councilors, and the Mayor, are smokers, not to mention they are an older group. The ban has been referred to a study group where if we have our way it'll die. If they do do anything, it'll be awhile and it would be to pass one that is inactive till a certain number of surrounding communities enact a ban.

RADIO SHOW: (or: I risk major public embarrassment)
This past Tuesday (01/10) I did a morning talk show on one of the local NPR stations, KCUR. The particular talk show I was on has a surprisingly large audience composing a broad cross section of society. This was my first experience with this type of thing. I thought getting up in public was tough, this was downright scary. I knew nobody could actually see me but I knew they could hear me, thousands of them. I was also on my own against two representatives from the anti-smoking side. A representative from the state restaurant and hospitality association was originally going to join me. After several weeks of emails and unreturned phone calls I had pretty much written them off. I finally connected with my supposed “contact” at the Lansing hearing last Thursday where he informed me he couldn't make it but he had someone in mind to join me. I was also told I was welcome to a breakfast and meet the legislators event to be held 01/12, the location and schedule would be emailed to me. Last I heard from them. So, if you live in Kansas, be prepared to stand on your own, (though the KC area rep, Josh, strikes me as a good guy), or contact me. Anyway, I arrived at the station a little out of sorts, I don't venture into that part of town often so I got lost on the way there. There's a gentleman already sitting there from Clean Air Kansas who's to be one of my opponents on the show. And he has a bigger binder of documents than I do. I attempt to strike up a conversation but am politely rebuffed. I do learn though, that unlike me, this is not his first time on the radio or this show. The second gentleman arrived in a huff, he is a large individual that only two flights of stairs has winded. He is a doctor from the Kansas City, MO. Health Department. When he headed straight for the coffee without having to ask where it was, my butterflies turned into buzzards. Great, I'm up against two heavy hitters who are familiar with talk shows. Quick side thought, why is it that so many of the people promoting smoking bans for health reasons are themselves overweight, pasty faced, or otherwise just out of shape? I've rarely seen any of them who looks truly healthy. The show itself was a blur. I was surprised at how quickly the hour went. I was the first to speak which considering my inexperience was perhaps not the right way to do it. I stated my case, not as a smokers rights proponent but as a business rights, a personal rights, proponent.

Despite my nervousness and lack of skill at public debate I hope I did our side some good. The feedback I got from people who listened was mostly positive. I haven't listened to it yet- it's posted on KCUR. I'm afraid to listen to it myself. Something that came as a bit of a shock was one of the documents the doctor was referring to was the article I sent in to the Smokers Club last month regarding court arguments. Samantha, you are apparently making enough waves that you are now on their radar. While we never got the chance to discuss it, he took issue with my figures, noting that I had understated the population. In that he was somewhat correct as I did state metro area when I was using only Johnson County figures. The actual metro area population is about 1.6 million, not 500,000. I stand by the rest of the figures though. I would have liked to have discussed this but for some reason, perhaps work issues, or perhaps I'd annoyed him (I know I pushed his buttons a few times), the doctor was gone as soon as the show ended. All in all it was an interesting experience that I wouldn't hesitate to do again. I have a better understanding of how such a forum works and will hopefully be able to do better the next time. I'm already actively pursuing the next chance. I feel that rather than keep a low profile as the local hospitality association apparently prefers, I feel it's important to fight back in public forum, to show the electorate just how much they are being manipulated. The anti's have held the stage too long, it's our turn now. People, stand up and be counted, be public.

I had the opportunity to meet with an individual who has become a major thorn in the side of the City of Lawrence this past Saturday. Mr. Dennis Steffes, the owner of Coyotes and the Last Call has been fighting city hall since the beginning of the bans. And is determined to continue, hence our meeting. He and I had a great talk and found much in common. Though he is considerably more successful and educated than I am, he is a down to earth, great person who strongly believes in individual rights. What really strikes me about Dennis is here's an individual who immigrated to this country some 20 years ago, not a native US citizen but is willing to fight city hall. While many of the native citizens are all, aw, ya can't fight city hall or why bother, they'll just win anyway. Dennis is a lesson of what many of us have forgotten, we are the government, not the people in city hall. We put them there to represent us, not the other way around. We have the right, no, the requirement, to fight back when it is necessary. Thanks Dennis for reminding me, all of us, of what we've forgotten.

It was while looking over arguments for Dennis's cases that I came across an interesting premise. It's from a case that can make or break a Supreme Court appointee, Roe v. Wade. Contrary to what is generally thought, that case did not directly address abortion but an individuals right to choose a course of action. The court stated in essence that despite the benefit or cost to society, the individuals rights must take priority over all others. Now doesn't that sound familiar. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong but local courts are making anti-ban plaintiffs argue the constitutional aspects of their complaint when it appears it's already been argued. And decided. You lawyers out there, correct me if I'm wrong but does this not essentially supersede a local authorities power to inhibit our rights by restricting an otherwise legal activity, that our rights supersede any perceived benefit or cost to society that may be argued as supporting such an ordinance? Especially in the case of smoke bans where there is no definitive, justifiable, repeatable proof or reasoning for such restrictions? That's all for this month from Kansas. I look forward to hearing your comments.

Reach me at:
Or browse our site at:
Those of you from Kansas, help us keep up the fight, please join or donate.

Thanks, Joe Bolduc.

Thanks Joe, Glad you're on our side.

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