Membership has its privileges

Richard Morrison at CEI points out this story about DC Councilman Jack Evans introducing special legislation to exempt a private club from the city’s smoking ban — a club of which he just happens to be a member:

The city’s smoke-free law provides an economic hardship waiver for struggling bars and restaurants, Evans said, but it leaves no wiggle room for a single event, like the St. Patrick’s Day gala or Fight Night at the Washington Hilton.

“Once a year, 1,000-plus people go there to drink Irish whiskey, smoke cigars and have dinner,” Evans said of the dinner. “Now they’re not allowed to do that. From my reading of the law there’s no other way to get an exemption but to legislate.” [...]

At-large Councilman David Catania, chairman of the health committee, will not move Evans’ legislation or any other exemption proposal, one Catania aide told The Examiner Wednesday. The ban, the aide said, “has been a huge success.”

Evans responded that he might move the measure as an emergency to skirt Catania’s panel. He would need nine votes to get it through the whole body. He’s got one in Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells.

“Absolutely no concern,” Wells said. “I think that having some flexibility is part of good government.”

Evans has discovered the pain of having one’s treasured tradition banned by a bunch of meddling bureaucrats. I’d be sympathetic if not for the fact that Evans is one of those meddling bureaucrats. If he doesn’t like the law, he should introduce changes that open up smoking venues to everyone, not just to clubs that happen to have a city councilman in their membership.

My Crispy on the Outside co-blogger Baylen wrote about DC’s practically meaningless hardship waivers for Culture11 last month.

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