Smokefree DC is a citizen-based group whose goal is to promote smokefree environments in Washington, DC.

A chat with Fenty

On Monday at lunchtime, as I was walking down Connecticut Ave. NW  toward Dupont Circle to have my sandwich outside, I saw none other than Mayor Adrian Fenty standing outside Starbucks, campaigning.

“Great!” I thought. An excellent opportunity to finally get a response from the mayor to the request we sent him many months ago to veto really bad”emergency” legislation sponsored by Councilmember Jack Evans (Ward 2) that would carve out an exemption to the smokefree workplaces law. Fenty not only ignored our letter and e-mail, but he signed the bill into law.

This was particularly disappointing because Fenty had been such a big proponent of the smokefree workplaces bill when he was on the Council.

He recognized me and said hello. I asked him how he was doing, then dived right in. “We were quite disappointed that you didn’t respond to our request to veto that Jack Evans bill that weakened the smokefree law,” I said. Fenty looked at me blankly. I tried to jog his memory a bit more. “Not only did you not respond to us, but you signed the bill.”

He looked as though he was grasping to remember. I can understand that – the man sees a lot of bills cross his desk, and this was quite a few months ago.

He responded with something along the lines of — and I’m paraphrasing here — I signed what my staff gave me. My staff gave me a bunch of bills, and it must have been in the stack.

I persisted. But this was controversial, I explained. It was written up in the papers. We sent you a request and you didn’t respond.

“That shouldn’t have happened,” he said. “I apologize.”

I can just imagine how many times he has said that recently, given that every time I turn on the TV or look at news stories, it seems that he is apologizing for one thing or another.

I told him that I hope that if Jack tries to pull the same stunt again next year (as he does pretty much every year) that we can count on the mayor to veto the bill.

“I have always been a strong supporter of smokefree,” Fenty replied.

He might not get the chance to decide. As I write this, election results are rolling in. Council Chair Vincent Gray is ahead.

Gray, by the way, has also been a longtime and strong supporter of the smokefree movement. He voted against the Evans bill.

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