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Dick Palmer: Smoke gets in Duluth council's eyes

This hassle with the historic Pickwick Restaurant is a classic example of government's inability to work with, not against, the very people whose support is essential.

This hassle with the historic Pickwick Restaurant is a classic example of government's inability to work with, not against, the very people whose support is essential.
For those who don't know what I'm referring to, last Friday a group representing the Twin Ports Area Youth and Tobacco Coalition handed out copies of a current city ordinance and some leaflets requiring restaurants in town to separate smoking and nonsmoking areas with walls and separate ventilating systems. It appears the owners of the Pickwick are having difficulty complying with this directive and maybe, just maybe, for good reason.
But no, this group may want to set the Pickwick up as an example. Don't mess with City Hall, it is the defenders of the people, like it or not. For some reason, in recent years, a number of City Councilors have anointed themselves with a special healing salve dedicated to personal healing, economic payroll mandates, a harsh view of anything that is pro-business. In the process, these people are biting the hand that feeds them and the rest of us.
To set the tone for this opinion, I personally abhor secondhand smoke. To me, it is offensive and terribly disturbing, especially when in a restaurant. In fact, I have walked out of some restaurants and seldom go to a bar because I don't want to be subjected to the undue discomfort of breathing secondhand smoke. This is my choice: I don't need a law to shield me from the implied health risks.
The Pickwick ownership has a problem changing the décor of this 85-year tradition, a heritage that fits the mold of many prominent eating places throughout the area. Remember the Flame, the Chinese Lantern, the Jolly Fisher, the Highland and others? All were as prominent in this area as is the Aerial Bridge, Skyline Parkway, Enger Tower and other landmarks that are or were germane to our city's character.
Current city issues need to be addressed with a purpose. We need permanent, good paying jobs. We need to fix our decaying public educational facilities, and the best way to do that is to develop a larger tax base. We need to change our industrial oriented attitude to one of flexibility and a desire to seek new solutions to counter our economic decay. We can't do this with a negative, overbearing attitude that seems to oppose every logical opportunity to improve our business climate by using common sense.
Maybe the Duluth City Council and other civic leaders should pause and listen to the people. No one seems to be concerned with the present smoke/no smoke arrangement at the Pickwick or most other eating establishments. Let the people decide for themselves, or take the chance of putting more businesses on the run. Some may keep on running ... away from this area.
Dick Palmer is the former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer News. He may be reached by telephone at 729-6470 or by e-mail at RPalmer341@aol.com .

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