Despite their affable demeanors and exquisite manners, most members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors would be right at home in Nazi Germany. They wouldn’t be manning the concentration camps, mind you, and would find the cult of personality surrounding Hitler vulgar but all in all a society in which the elite exercised absolute control over a subservient proletariat is just the the sort of world they would understand and enjoy all too well. There is, however, a skunk at the Supervisors’ garden party and that noisome beast is fellow board member Chris Daly.

While most members of the board craft and pass measures that stamp out freedom with genteel smiles plastered on their lips, Daly is a truculent Brown Shirt reincarnate. Loud, profane and prone to threats, both political and physical, Daly tramples the decorum that permeates the Board chamber, playing to the "progressive" radicals that make up much of his constituency and all of his political support. It’s somewhat surprising that this big bruiser, whose primary interest so far has been to shake down developers, hand cuff the police and try to fool the voters into giving him more power, has latched onto an agenda pushed by the biggest corporations on earth.

Whatever his motive, Daly has emerged as the premier anti-tobacco advocate on the Board of Supervisors and is slavishly attempting to implement the steps promoted by the pharmaceutical industry to end smoking. While the ban against drug stores selling tobacco products has lately attracted the most notice, Daly has written legislation that will negatively affect smokers in San Francisco the most. What few exemptions still exist that allow smoking in bars and some businesses will be brutally removed if Daly’s legislation is passed. Smoking outdoors will be severely curtailed and home sweet home will not be exempt from Daly’s smoke police.

It’s on the home front that, finally, Daly’s anti-smoker crusade is meeting resistance. As the article to which we link reports, Daly is getting flack from one of his most ardent allies; the tenants union. The politically powerful lobby is angry that Daly’s legislation will enable landlords to evict smokers just because they smoke. In a city where it takes almost an act of God to remove a renter, tenants are furious that it would be easier to evict a working, single mother who happens to smoke than it would be to evict a prostitute or drug dealer.

When the base talks, the smart politician listens. Daly held up approval of his smoking ban to modify it to specify no evictions for smoking. What he might not yet realize is that Big Drugs is a hell of a lot more powerful than a tenants union and enshrining the rights of smokers in the law, even in such narrow circumstances, is not to be tolerated. Daly will find that thuggish though he is, he is a flower-sniffing pussy cat compared to the big boys that run the pharmaceuticals and fund the so-called anti-smoking movement.

The tenants union, despite its limited focus, is to be commended for standing up to the anti-smoking goons and their operative in city hall. From the American Civil Liberties Union, as always, not one word of condemnation over the rights and freedoms ripped away from American citizens who choose to smoke.



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