The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

July 18, 2013

Reader: Make positive changes for all

The Clinton Herald

---- — I feel the need to answer Leslie Mussmann’s letter to the editor that was published in the July 4 Clinton Herald since I am the person who wrote the letter to the editor that she mentioned.

I never accused her group of being some big government lobby group that rammed legislation down anyone’s throat. The City Council is taking that role by passing the ban on smoking. I get the feeling she thinks this is a personal attack on Jennifer Gerdes and the Breathe Easy Coalition. I wonder if she and the City Council realize banning smoking in one more place is a personal attack on a minority group, smokers.

The June 7 article in the Herald states the Breathe Easy Coalition conducted a surveys on this and other possible bans they would like to see happen. I ask, does your survey meet the Code of Professional Ethics and Practices as prescribed by the American Association for Public Opinion Research? The paper stated 75 percent of the people polled had children. Looking at the census for Clinton — it shows 35 percent of the households do not have children. Your pool of people surveyed is a little lopsided. Of that 75 percent how many were smokers? Were your results independently verified?

Mussmann mentioned getting the facts straight. Here are some for her. There have been outdoor smoking bans enacted by local municipalities that have been overturned by state Supreme Courts in Kentucky (Herchley v. Barbourville) and in our neighboring state of Illinois, ruling number 9136. Those rulings have stood for years not ever being reversed by a higher court. Even present-day North Carolina is passing a bill reversing outdoor bans enacted by municipalities. New York state had to lift its ban at parks, beaches and other areas due to legal challenges. Our City Council should look into this before they have to spend taxpayer dollars to defend this ban. Our tax money needs to go for higher-priority issues. Maybe we can ask the Breathe Easy Coalition to pay the legal bills since they are so proud they raised the money for signage.

I, as Mussmann, also think debate is good. I would like to have been at the City Council meetings to debate this ban. But my priorities were to be out in the same parks they are banning smoking in. I had to make a choice. Coaching children in baseball or defending my rights. The kids won out. I thought my City Council would look out for my rights that our founding fathers gave us. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The same rights I defended while serving 12 years of my life in the Iowa National Guard. The same rights our military still defends today. The same military that is made up of over 30 percent smokers. But then again I would bet Gerdes or Mussmann have never served our country in the military. The only thing groups like theirs supports is banning things they don’t like.

I hate always being negative so let’s talk about a great group out there. My hat is off to Emily Steenhard and Erin George and their Save the Fourth Campaign. Those ladies have done something that is really positive for everyone in this community. Not being able to get out on the river this year I went to the festivities with my daughter-in-law and my grandchildren.

What these ladies have put together made me happily surprised. The parade was great. Afterward we went down to the park. My grandchildren loved the petting zoo. Then there were the firemen’s water fights. My grandkids and I moved to a spot where we could get the overspray to fall on us. They loved it and I loved doing it with them. Then we found out they had a junior water fight challenge set up. I can’t tell you about all the smiles I saw on my grandchildren and the other children that were doing this.

I personally want to thank Steenhard, George and their group who put on a wonderful event for everyone in our town — even the smokers in the crowd.

Gerdes, Mussmann and their group could learn something from these ladies. If you want to put a group of passionate people together to make a change then put one together that makes a positive change for everyone.

Richard Eggers,