Lubbock City Council Tables Smoking Ordinance Amendment, Approves Storm Water Rate Adjustments
At their second regularly scheduled meeting in October 2014, the Lubbock City Council voted to indefinitely postpone the first reading of a proposed amendment to Lubbock’s smoking ordinance to much chagrin from the public and Mayor Glen Robertson.
The council chambers were filled to nearly capacity on Thursday, October 23, in anticipation of the vote which was indefinitely postponed in a 4-3 vote with Mayor Robertson and council members Jeff Griffith and Karen Gibson dissenting. Councilman Victor Hernandez said he supported the postponement of the reading, but not indefinitely. Because he did not sponsor the movement, Hernandez could not dictate the term of the postponement.
Mayor Robertson said postponing the item during its first reading was, “in poor governance… and an insult to tax payers” because a first reading allows council members to speak with the public and to make informed fair decisions that are beneficial to citizens. The sentiments reflected comments by the mayor weeks earlier at the budget approval meeting about council’s inability to push through tough issues.
Council Woman Latrelle Joy cited one council member’s unpreparedness and inability to make an informed decision as reasoning to postpone the amendment reading.
After postponing the item, the council listened to lengthy citizen comments concerning the amendment. The lion’s share of comments were against strengthening the ordinance. Mayor Robertson commented that an email was allegedly circulated to members of the West Texas Smoke Free Coalition stating that the item would be postponed and possibly affected their attendance.
Although the amendment is effectively quashed for now, Mayor Robertson said the amendment – co-authored by council member Floyd Price and Latrelle Joy - may reappear on a forthcoming city council agenda.
Proposed changes to storm water rates were approved unanimously by the council. Mayor Robertson said the council has discussed the changes extensively in previous meetings and executive session and that the proposal was well researched enabling council members were able to make a quick vote.
There was a resolution considering a plan proposed by TxDOT that would allow Lubbock to obtain control of certain highways running through town including Avenue Q, which is US Highway 84, that passed 4-3 with council members Joy, Price and Hernandez dissenting. Council member Hernandez was adamant about the issue when on the dais, but refused to comment to reporters after the meeting.
Council members also approved a number of zoning changes with little discussion or contention as well as annexing 775 acres of land in South Lubbock. There are some perceived issues with the land annexations in South Lubbock that include the extension of water and sewer systems that caused council members Price, Joy and Hernandez to dissent.
Finish the evening, council members considered appointments to multiple boards including four appointments to the Electric Utility Board.