Yes, folks, it's time for another edition of the biweekly tragicomedy, The Claremont City Council. In tonight's episode: Behind Closed Doors - secret talk about our men in blue. More specifically, our costly men in blue.
As this is being written, the regular session has begun, and you can watch it all here.
Among the hot topics tonight are:
- New paratransit vehicles - four at a cost of $305,261.64 from the city's transit funds.
- Trash contracts - two, one for recyclable material processing and one for solid waste transfer.
- Funding for community-based organizations and for homeless programs.
The council is also considering a ban on smoking in outdoor public places in Claremont. We're not sure where this one came from.
Smoking used to have a friend in the film industry, but that's no longer the case. Bogart's Rick in Casablanca would have a hard time taking a drag in or out of his Café Américain nowadays. AMC's Mad Men gets away with a good deal of smoking, though it isn't necessarily romanticized, and Jim Jarmusch would have to retitle Cigarettes and Coffee. Come to think of it, if China Forbes comes to Claremont, she would need to think twice before launching into "Sympathique" (....Je veux seulement l'oublier/Et puis je fume.)
We haven't a clue as to how Wim Wenders would recast the Peter Falk's cigarette and coffee scene in Wings of Desire (Der Himmel über Berlin, 1987). For those of you don't know the film, Falk explains some of the life's pleasures to the unseen angel Damiel, played by Bruno Ganz:
(If the film seems familiar, it was made into the really awful Nicholas Cage-Meg Ryan vehicle City of Angels in 1998.)
UPDATE, 8:20PM: The council just rejected the outdoor smoking ban, thanks in no small part to the Tessier brothers, Ed and Jerry, whose Arteco Partners refurbished and rebuilt the Packing House and the Padua Hills Theatre. The Tessiers reminded the council that restaurants like Casablanca with its hookahs and Nancy Tessier's Hip Kitty rely on customers who like to step outside for a smoke. Ed Tessier also mentioned the fact that wedding goers at the Padua Theatre often step out onto the patio for a cigar (not in fire season, we hope).
Councilmember Yao seemed a bit perturbed at the Community Services Commission, which approved of the ban and forwarded the issue to the council. Yao was bothered that none of the commissioners consulted with the council before referring the matter to the council. Yao and councilmember Corey Calaycay were also bothered by what they felt was an attempt to legislate behavior.
Mayor Linda Elderkin and Mayor Pro Tem Sam Pedroza were torn between not wanting to appear anti-business and the risk of displeasing their left-leaning supporters, many of whom were in favor of the outdoor smoking ban. Pedroza seemed particularly uncomfortable, giving his long, tongue-tied Sammy explanation for his vote. Councilmember Larry Schroeder was the only one who seemed to be in favor of the proposed ordinance.
Communitarian and Fourth of July Committee member Ed Reece, by the way, spoke in favor of of the ban, saying he was a cancer survivor. Frankly, Reece being for anything is usually enough evidence for us to vote against it.