Nine bite-size Lemmon drops, four of them soaked in nicotine for obvious reasons: Time to break up your public pity party, Toledo bar owners. The city's smoking ban takes effect today, and dealing with reality has more of an upside than indulging in self-fulfilling prophecies.
It will be easy to tell which owners stayed too long at the pity party. They'll be the ones who adopt a “blame it on the smoking ban” strategy for each business failure by their peers. They will ignore the economy and the entrepreneur's business acumen.
Smoking ban or not, “x” number of bars are going to fail. One would think the bars that are successful before the smoking ban will be successful afterward, and the bars that struggled pre-ban will struggle post-ban. I hope Toledo Mayor Jack Ford has a Plan B ready to go should Westfield America Trust decide against buying Southwyck Shopping Center. Hard to believe that we might have to erase the checkmark next to “Save Southwyck” on Mr. Ford's list of campaign pledges. With 121 shopping days until Christmas, it appears another bleak holiday season is in Southwyck's future. Instead of Toledo bar owners trying to guilt-trip us into thinking the smoking ban is bad, I'd like to see the city embrace it with a billboard campaign along I-75 and the Ohio Turnpike. As it is now, those traveling from Michigan to Ohio on I-75 see billboards for strip clubs in Toledo. OK, I was wrong. The former Brenda's Body Shop, even in its decrepit state, looked better than the plywood fence that replaced it. (Of course, I didn't expect the fence to make it through an entire baseball season at Fifth Third Field.) I assume the first act of civil disobedience regarding the smoking ban took place at 12:01 a.m. Unless Jeanette Ball, manager of the city's Division of Environment Services, enforces the ban with diligence right from the start, she will be doing the city a huge disservice. A recent letter in the Readers' Forum was critical of the possible expansion of “TARTA's wasteful empire.” An excerpt: “As anyone who peers through the buses' smoked glass can attest, the seats are mostly empty.” It's obvious the author has never peered through the glass of buses I take to and from work. On Wednesday, for example, there were 32 people on the one I took home. If one bus saved 20 automobiles from being on the streets, how many does TARTA's entire fleet save? Now that the smoking ban is in effect, I will give Toledo restaurants and bars the tiebreaker over their suburban counterparts until the end of the year. Just my way of saying “thank you” to the city for taking such a bold step (by Rust Belt standards, anyway). What's the first thing that came to mind when you read that Lucas County Treasurer Ray Kest was charged with driving while under the influence? For me, it was the momentum for a new arena shifting from downtown back to the Marina District. Today marks the 700th day since President Bush declared that he wanted Osama bin Laden “dead or alive.” Meanwhile, we've reached triple digits for our inability to account for Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. Not that those things are worth pointing out -- Bush apologists seem to have an endless supply of excuses.