Kennesaw City Council votes to ban smoking in parks
by Ricky Leroux
August 19, 2014 04:00 AM | 4884 views | 25 25 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KENNESAW — Kennesaw residents enjoying the city’s parks will now be able to “breathe easy.”

The Kennesaw City Council voted 3-2, with council members Leonard Church and Jim Sebastian opposed, to approve an ordinance removing smoking areas from city parks, making Kennesaw’s 130 acres of public parks smoke free. The ordinance also includes the city’s public cemeteries.

Kennesaw’s parks have been smoke-free since 2005 with the exception of the designated smoking areas.

During the public hearing on the ordinance, four citizens spoke in favor of removing the designated smoking areas from city parks, three spoke against it and one said the ordinance shouldn’t include cemeteries.

“I think the decision we made was the best decision for our community. And they’re not always easy decisions,” Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh said, addressing those who opposed the ban at the end of the meeting.

The amendment has drawn criticism from some residents for its similarity to a proposal by the City Council in 2013 which would have banned smoking in all public areas in the city.

“This is not what we brought up before, and, actually, I didn’t even bring this one up. Our staff came to us and said it was a problem, and could we please address it,” Eaton-Welsh said.

The city’s Parks and Recreation staff brought the matter to the council’s attention because the designated smoking areas are not being honored, she said.

“People aren’t respecting them. So, there are people smoking around the trail while people are running or walking or doing whatever it is they do on the trail. There are people smoking inside our dog park and leaving their cigarette butts all over the dog park. There are people smoking in the children’s playground,” Eaton-Welsh said.

Some residents said as much during the public hearing.

“I am appalled when I take my grandchildren to Swift-Cantrell (Park) and have to dodge the skaters with cigarettes in their hands on the sidewalks. It’s very offensive to me, and I wish that the ban gets passed,” said Kennesaw resident James Moore.

Councilmember Debra Williams shared a similar story involving a smoker in a children’s playground area. When the smoker finished her cigarette, Williams said she flicked the still-lit butt into the play area.

“A kid came off the sliding board. When he hit the bottom, he fell over. And guess where the palm of his hand fell? On that lit cigarette. Did she bother to come and check and see if he was ok? No. That’s where I have my issue. It’s not that you smoke. Truly, it is not. It’s where you put your butts,” she said.

Williams added if smokers had followed the rules and only smoked in the designated areas, “We wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”

Many of the residents who spoke in opposition to the ordinance said they were doing so not because they were smokers, but because they objected to the principle of the law.

“It is not right in a free society to limit and restrict the freedoms of law-abiding citizens. This ordinance reaches outside the boundaries of good government,” said Patricia Powers of Kennesaw.

Councilmember Church echoed this sentiment later in the meeting.

“I am tired of small government interfering in our lives,” Church said. “I don’t think it’s right to take that liberty away from smokers.”

Councilmember Tim Killingsworth addressed these concerns at the end of the meeting.

“I understand freedoms,” he said. “I understand people’s rights, and I stand up for people’s rights to be able to go and smoke in their private home or in their car and wherever. But unfortunately, those smokers’ freedoms stop when they infringe on the rights of … other people to breathe.”

Comments
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Joe Bozeman
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August 22, 2014
Bruce, It's hard to tell if you are campaigning or just being a sore loser from the last election. Whichever it is, I don't think you have impressed anyone but Bill Harris.It is my opinion,you have a severe case of verbal diarrhea.Please do us a favor and either stick a Depends in your mouth or take a dose Imodium.The more you rant, the more I am am glad I pulled my support from you last November.
Bill in Kennesaw
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August 22, 2014
Well, you can't judge by who I like. I understand that some old cogger said that I have lost my mind.
Bruce Jenkins
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August 25, 2014
Thanks Joe, I guess your support was for Mr. Church. I see your choice worked out very well , enjoy !
John Galt
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August 21, 2014
This is an important issue and life here in North Korea, um, I mean Kennesaw, just wouldn't be as nice without ordinances like this.
Bruce Jenkins, PS
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August 20, 2014
Just an FYI, just a another thought about ideas to be concentrating on for the M/C, the museum and the original bonds should never have been created without an early "buyout" clause, this prevented early termination of the bond (aka debt) to the citizens. The "Foundation" of the museum has "raised" yes some funds, however most of the funds raised have been from City "staff" (Jeff Drobney) paid for by the City taxpayers to raise these funds. As for the Foundation "raising" these funds, they have also spent for more bricks and mortar, (aka more buildings to be taken care of by the taxpayers, without considering M/O on yearly expenditures). The Foundation has yet to have official approval from the M/C on the new addition to the museum, creating even more fiscal responsibility for the taxpayers. The museum should not be looked as a sole entity to be a profit making device, however at the total concept it should not have been this large a drain on the general fund either. I'm a great supporter of the museum, its rich history of the city is vital, however I am for stricter leaner government that finds constant creative ways to cut spending. The museum budget only until recent years has been double dipping on the books of the city, (using line item to be approved in the budget and returning for larger bailouts). The Foundation should have by this time have assumed the entire debt of the facility. By comparison, both of Cartersville's much larger museums are not subsidized by the local government payouts to this percentage. Since the original bond now is in its thirteenth year, the original bond is of $4.3 million is well over $13 million plus cost, and no end in sight except using the original plan that needs fresh perspective of financial restructuring at a minimal or at the very least more fiscal responsibility to the foundation. For a alternate perspective, think of the idea, IF the city had used $1 Million dollars a year in low interest loans through the KDDA to small businesses in the city to grow the economic development, (as they did for TLE, BurgerFi, etc.)For over thirteen years, you not only would have a revenue stream from the interest of these loans but obviously more of the downtown we all grave for our city, then we would not hear, "wish we had a downtown like Acworth" instead folks in Buckhead would be saying "wish we had a downtown and city like Kennesaw". Just my thoughts...
Bill in Kennesaw
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August 20, 2014
In 'internet' terms this is an old and probably not much read comments section. With that in mind I copied your 2 items and emailed it to the 5 member council and suggested they read it. This newly configured council is proving to be a disappointment as they do very little and when they actually try to do something they end up with 'no smoking in the park' legislation. A lot could be done in Kennesaw and it is NOT getting done.
Debra Williams
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August 20, 2014
Mr. Jenkins: You expect us to do in eight months what you had eight years to accomplish and now we are having to backtrack and work on correcting those issues to bring us to a point that we can actually focus on our campaign goals. Just wondering, did you have these same 'ideas' during your tenure? and if so, why weren't they implemented and why didn't your expenses support a stricter, leaner government? Just my thoughts.

Bruce Jenkins
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August 21, 2014
Council-member Williams,

I usually find that responding to hostile responses or emails is pretty much useless. I find that most are argumentative with motives that are less then transparent. However, since you have posed two questions and deserve respective insightful answers because of your elected post I will respond. Your first question,"did you have these same 'ideas' during your tenure?" The answer is no. Many of these have been created since my leaving office. I have had the time to reflect and see many things from the opposite side of the dais. However, that being presented, I have pondered these for many months. When the opportunity presented itself to share new ideas to focus on I felt obliged to do so. Many folks in our darling city have great wonderful ideas to share and create new opportunities for change. It is one of the many things that I love about our City.

The second question, "why didn't your expenses support a stricter, leaner government?" I am so pleased you brought this question up. I feel that many expenses were left without explanation. In meeting with many residents, all were pleased to understand these were in the line of duty to represent a darling southern community such as Kennesaw. For example, one that I remember was to purchase "Ice-Cream" for the amount of $35.00 This seems excessive agreed on the face, however when I purchased this I had been on the recipient of a dinner (as well as nine others) from another city,Council member from Denver attending the National League of Cities convention, (I was attending in the place of the late Council member Thrash). After the hosts purchased all our dinners, we adjourned and I returned the hosts courtesy by purchasing ice cream for our company, for the grand sum of $35.00. At first glance, many find this as being hospitable and sharing a great first impression of our daring City and its leadership. This understandably is how confusion, misrepresentations and sometimes distrust is fostered. I have spoken openly from the dais many times of the need for greater transparency of not only the M/C's expenses but also Department Heads who have city credit cards as well. I have made open statements during Council meetings of how if we as Council-members attend meetings, functions or any event that taxpayer funds are used, we should not only present receipts of expenses but additionally a brief explanation of what transpired, who attended, what was discussed and if applicable what action items were made because of the meeting. I hope this helps Council member Williams, and as always I am willing to share or or help in any way,

May God Richly bless you in your service.
Debra Williams
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August 22, 2014
Mr. Jenkins: My response wasn't hostile. You made statements I felt were slanted as though this Council wasn't addressing, like I said, we're having to go back to correct prior issues in order to forge a better path for Kennesaw and work on our campaign goals. Why didn't you come to the Council members with these suggestion or 'enlightenments' rather than take to Social Media with long diatribes of reflection. Are we listening to someone with other motives that are less than transparent? Like my Dad told me, Those who talk so much have much more to hide.
Bruce Jenkins
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August 25, 2014
Nothing to hide Council member Williams, btw how is the extra $350,000 working out for the spending of Council members this year? (Just approved budget) Lets see, five voting members...that works out to $70,000 a piece. Quite a price tag for a newly elected crew that was promising reform and publicly touted wasteful spending to end, Nice work!
SmokeItUp
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August 19, 2014
I'm tired of all these smoking rules around this area---I should be able to smoke wherever i want outside. I may move back to philly next year--up there, you can smoke all you want!
Bruce Jenkins
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August 19, 2014
I am glad this issue now is resolved and we can focus on issues of the City, such as the budget and creating better communication with a marketing plan for our City. Our budget still has the taxpayers paying the lion share of supporting the museum. This needs to have a sound revisit and creation of an updated financial plan with a target date to have a reduction/elimination of the current average subsidizing of one million dollars a year from the annual budget. Additionally the past Council has asked for a marketing plan for the City, including all entities, (such as the museum, gardens, and skate park). The creation of a master marketing plan for these and the cultural aspect of our city should be the focus of economic development. This is needed to bring into focus the overlapping of separate repetitive individual plans that exist currently. In addition, we need better communication between our boards and commissions. We need a board created with just the chairman of each of the different boards and commissions that currently exist. This board could share with each of its members projects, goals and visions of the people and the individual boards. Additionally this M/C needs to be addressing, most importantly a projected plan on how to roll back the tax rate on our homes. So lets see what the team can do
Debra Williams
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August 20, 2014
Mr. Jenkins: While serving on the Planning & Zoning Board I did ask for a committee of Chairmen from the various Boards to gather to discuss "what the right hand is doing", so to speak. It's easier said than done when everyone has prior commitments and the City business isn't all they do. Consideration for a monthly report may be the better answer, but what do I know, I've only been serving for 8 months, not 8 years. We have already discussed the roll back, however, at an earlier Council meeting it was brought to the attention of the public that we wouldn't have the highest millage rate had the voter's not voted on a 1.5 bond added to our millage rate to raise it. Without the 1.5 added to it, we would be at 8, which is not the highest and we are lower than two other cities. This was also done before my 8 months began. Lowering the millage rate also could have been handled during your tenure. Please be careful in pointing fingers when there are three pointing back.
Bruce Jenkins
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August 21, 2014
I find myself once again, seeing your comments attached to my suggestions to help. Your comments bare closer inspection with better understanding of our City's budget. The millage rate and projected tax revenue this year show an increase by an increase of property values and an increase in our taxable real estate areas because of annexation. This increase gave us a surplus from last year's budget. Your suggestion of, " Without the 1.5 added to it, we would be at 8, which is not the highest and we are lower than two other cities." My response simply, "SO" if we could be the lowest and still provide the same services, why not?? Just because a rate has been applied in previous years, when opportunity presents itself of even the smallest surplus, it should be refunded to the taxpayers or put into a "rainy-day" fund to cover an emergency. Neither is projected in the budget posted online as of today. This is not an 8 Year old budget, but the current one, yours to approve or not. Also while we are on the subject of approval or "Lowering the millage rate also could have been handled during your tenure". The only increase of millage rate that has occurred in 17 years was approved during my "tenure"; I voted against it, however majority approved it. In addition last year I was uncomfortable with many factors of the budget, (and even if it had only been one factor) I voted against it. However, again the majority approved the budget you now are deciding upon, (you remember the one with the surplus). My record stands clear, I vote against wasteful spending, over taxation and intrusion of any kind of government into our personal life. My record is a part of history, you might want to research it before casting stones, or fingers which ever is more darling,the future is yours...
Debra Williams
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August 22, 2014
Mr. Jenkins: Bless Your Heart.
Kennesaw Voter
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August 19, 2014
Great, now that this crucial, front burner ordinance has been passed, maybe the Council can actually started working on items that really concern the citizens of Kennesaw. How long does it take to create/edit the City Handbook? Start doing the jobs you said you said you were going to do during your campaigning!!
Be Careful
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August 19, 2014
Dear Kennesaw City Council,

can we PLEASE do something MEANINGFUL.

For example, term limits?

For example, settle once and for all if elected "officials" are city employees or not, so they have to follow the city's code of ethics, or not.

For exampls, part time positions that some say aren't even really city employees get pensions based on years of service? Stop that immediately. Once someone gets in office all they think about is getting reelected and racking up those years for their pension. See term limits above.

For example, changing the rules on travel so the city tax payers don't pay for spouses, children and friends of children to go on "city trips"?

For example, limit the amount people can put on their credit cards, so meals aren't at the most expensive restaurants in town.

For example, stop pouring tax money into "attractions" that nobody goes to.

There are SO MANY meaningful things that could be done. But we get fluff.

If you want to proove you're in this to better the city, and not yourselves, you'll do something about these things.

The one bright spot is the mayor will be GONE, GONE, GONE after the next election.
Bill in Kennesaw
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August 19, 2014
Totally agree!

I understood that the 2 new councilmembers had been against pensions, what happened there. Have not heard about this issue in a long time.

590Let's square this away ASAP. Some things might take awhile but this might be the easiest of all promises to keep and could be done quickly.
kennysawyer
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August 19, 2014
This should be very interesting. If the old smoking laws were not enforced, why should we believe the new ones will? In my opinion, the only place smoking has been a problem is at the skate park. I hope am wrong, but smoking is a small problem compared to things I predict will happen in the skatepark in the future .It will be interesting to see if the city enforces the smoking ban in the Depot Park during the Beer Fest there. Also, smoking and drinking is common at the 4th of July fireworks show at the Depot Park, not to mention the smoke that lingers over the downtown area during this celebration.
221
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August 19, 2014
DO KENNESAW CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS HAVE ANY NEW IDEAS? PROBABLY NOT!

The last configuration of the Council didn't seem to do anything or originate any ideas. They just did what the mayor told them they should do and any opposition to that was fragmented and unsuccessful.

Much was made about all those standing for reelection being swept out of office and 'new' people replacing them.

Voters had an initial hope that the 'new' configuration on the council would actually do something. 8 months into the new council there are no signs that the council is doing anything of worth.

The council continues to drift along and at best comes up with 'smoking legislation'. A quote from antiquity comes to mind, "to a ship with no destimation, no wind is a fair one'.

So far the council has produced no leader and it probably will not.

With the next mayorial race not that far off it seems that any new leadership of the City won't spring from the ranks of serving council members, we will have to look for it from concerned citizens otherwise we will end up with another 4 years of the current ethically challenged mayor.
CobbRes
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August 19, 2014
"...But unfortunately, those smokers’ freedoms stop when they infringe on the rights of … other people to breathe.”

So typical of the current crop of do-gooders worshiping at the altar of political correctness who pick and choose whose rights should be infringed.

I'm SURE that the moron who was already smoking in a prohibited area will decide to turn over a new leaf as a result.

*Note: I am a lifelong non-smoker.
Too funny
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August 19, 2014
What Killingsworth said. Church is a moron. If smokers want to commit slow suicide so be it; but no way are they taking me and my family down too.
Ron C
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August 19, 2014
What a bunch of clowns! The Kennesaw City Council created an issue out of nothing. Seriously, how many people really smoke in these city parks? Outdoors of all places... Of all the things these morons should be focused on, especially during a decade-long recession, they waste time and money on this. People are laughing at them right now. Up next... They'll ban sleeping while driving, chewing gum on Saturday mornings, cell phone use in the shower and handheld video games in church. Only the beloved government nanny-state can protect us from ourselves!
Bill in Kennesaw
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August 19, 2014
Far more time and effort was spent on this totally stupid and useless piece of legislation than was warranted.

If the City Council has so much time on their hands that they can waste it on trivia then how about spending some time and effort on things that have needed to be done through several councils?

Why don't we have any discussions of:

1) Term limits for mayor and council? I say 2 terms and you must stand down for an election, and,

2) Do away with running for Council 'posts'. Let's elect those with the most votes and never mind for running for these meaningless 'posts'. If 6 people run for 3 seats, then the top 3 vote getters have the jobs.

3) If God made the Heavens and the Earth in 6 days is it asking to much for the City Council to finally produce their Kennesaw City Handbook after 8 months? Yeah, I know they are 'working on it', how about working faster? Or at the very least putting out a summary of what is going to be included, and hey, how about asking us 'Citizens' what we think should be in the thing
Jerry in Kennesaw
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August 19, 2014
People that I know in Kennesaw and around Cobb County who live in the real world are more concerned about personal safety in parks and on trails than an errant wisp of smoke; it would be better suited to utilize the police for this service rather than writing warnings and tickets for smokers. Capricious government at it's finest. Of course this is the same government that will tell you that there are no long-term health concerns with exposure to CS and CR gas in an open air environment. I hope that the political pay-off of this ad hoc government is worth it for the cost of personal liberty. I'm sure that the monument to the political vanity of certain councilmembers will be erected soon in Swift Cantrell.
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