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Published: Friday, 3/19/2004

Warrant issued in smoking ban battle

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A bench warrant was issued yesterday for the owner of one Toledo tavern as the city continues to have growing pains enforcing its ban on smoking inside bars, restaurants, and other public places.

Toledo Municipal Court Judge C. Allen McConnell issued the warrant after William Delaney, owner of Delaney s Lounge, 309 West Alexis Rd., failed to appear for a hearing on 15 notices of violations charging he failed to enforce the smoking ban.

Contacted afterward by The Blade, Mr. Delaney said it was news to him that he was supposed to be in court.

I don t know anything about it, he said. If they want me to show up, I d be more than happy to appear I will fight them. I don t care what they want to do.

The city is also dealing with complaints from Toledo police offi cers about who has the authority to issue smoking ban citations.

The Toledo Police Patrolman s Association filed a grievance with Chief Mike Navarre stating the ordinance allowing city department of environmental services inspectors to issue citations to smoking

ban violators should have been negotiated with the union fi rst before the legislation was enacted.

That s our job, Gregg Harris, TPPA president, said yesterday.

The police s role in enforcement actions with the inspectors has been to handle any disturbances that might arise. Mr. Harris said although the grievance has been filed, the union and city council are trying to resolve the issue, which he believes will be

settled.

Contract issues between the police and the administration

are not uncommon, Mr. Harris said. Finally, the city is still dealing with bar owners who are resisting the city s attempts to investigate

violation complaints.

Police were sent to assist the city s environmental services at The Distillery, 4311 Heatherdowns Blvd., Tuesday night as an inspector was trying to follow-up on a notice of violation letter sent to the bar.

City police and health and environmental service inspectors

were kept waiting until the bar owner, Jim Avolt, arrived.

Once on site, Mr. Avolt allowed health inspector and police

inside to check for any sanitary violations. But Mr. Avolt denied the environmental inspector entry, telling her that his tavern was

hosting a private social gathering not open to the public, so the

smoking ban didn t apply to his establishment.

Without further direction from the [city] law department it

is unclear as to what can be done to enforce the smoking ban, according to a police report of the incident.

Geoff Davis, an attorney with the city law department, issued

this statement yesterday: Obviously we re interested in enforcing the law. It appears there s a certain degree of attempt to get around the law it stands now. We don t want that to happen. Over the course

of the enforcement of the ordinance, we ll be methodical

about this. We ll approach this from whatever different enforcement

avenues we need to.

Mr. Davis declined to say what sort of enforcement avenues

the city might try in instances like that encountered at The Distillery,

saying he can t be specific because of pending litigation

federal court.

We will continue to enforce the smoking ban even at taverns

that claim private club status, Chief Navarre said.

Officers will be available to accompany inspectors.

Blade staff writer Luke Shockman contributed to this report.



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