Thursday, April 15, 2010

Brooks Patterson taps taxpayers to fund fight against smoking ban: Gee thanks Brooks!

Michigan's ban on smoking in bars and restaurants takes effect May 1. But Oakland County Executive, L. Brooks Patterson, plans to use my tax dollars to go to court and stop it:

Here's my letter to his aides. His PR guy is Bill Mullan, who you can reach at if you're inclined to let them know how you feel.

I am a 14-year resident of Oakland County. (Gerry, you may remember me from my days covering Oakland for the Freep in the late 90s?)
I have a good deal of respect for the stewardship of taxpayer money that Brooks Patterson's administration has exhibited over the years.

But this expenditure of taxpayer money to try and stall an important public health measure -- the smoking ban approved by the legislature and signed by the governor -- is unconscionable and ill advised.
I understand the "unfunded mandate" logic. But I can not recall the county ever going to court prior to this on the many unfunded mandates that have been handed down over the years. (I may be wrong, and I trust Gerry will set me straight if that's so).
I can remember the resolutions passed by the County Board in the 1990s complaining bitterly about unfunded mandates. If there were a tactical decision on choosing a legal test case, surely it would not be a popular public health measure that requires -- relative to many other mandates -- a rather limited amount of manpower and paperwork.
I understand the county, like all of us, is cutting back and trying to make ends meet.
Spending scarce taxpayer money to fight an important public health law is inconsistent with the Patterson Administration's typical fiscal prudence, and a violation of the the Executive Office's promise to look after the health and financial well being of its constituents.


Hugh McDiarmid Jr.


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