Smoking ban: Clampdown continues

Council's PS&RS to tighten sidewalk restrictions?

Word was out yesterday among the bar-owner consortium dedicated to reworking the Minneapolis smoking ban that the city was considering more municipal meddling to make their lives miserable.

Now that everyone who wants to smoke while enjoying a night on the town has been relegated to the sidewalks, the city is strengthening its sidewalk cafe restrictions. As reportered earlier on The Blotter here (second item), requests for patio and sidewalk licenses have skyrocketed since the ban took effect March 31. (One reader then wrote to point out that such requests increase each spring; but there's no doubt now that this spike is related to the ban.)

So, today at 1:30 p.m., the city council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services committee will look at "New sidewalk cafe standards." A number of local bureacrats are behind this, but most notable is regulatory services czar (and former fire chief) Rocco Forte--who had a huge hand in pushing the ban through in the first place. (Forte, you may recall, once took money from the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco just for hanging MPAAT banners on firetrucks--ostensibly to save some firefighter jobs. MPAAT is one of the very powerful forces behind the ban.)

 Dan Niziolek, chair of the PS&RS committee, is also reportedly hot on tightening the noose on the bar biz.

The official request is here, and the "letter" detailing a new "process" is here. Suffice to say that many bar owners aren't thrilled with their sidewalks being clogged with smokers, but there is, in fact, no where else for these patrons to go in most cases. Tavern business continues to tumble; the sidewalk tinkering will not help matters.

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