Political Hack Matt Cunningham
Last night the Orange County Harbors Beaches and Parks Commission took a positive step in protecting the health of both the environment and visitors to County owned beaches. In a 4-3 vote the Commission reversed their position from December 2005 to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that Orange County beaches join those operated by the cities of San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach as tobacco smoke free zones.
During the 10 months since the Commission took up this issue a few things have changed. First the California Air Resources Board has classified tobacco smoke as a toxic air contaminate in both indoor and outdoor settings. Second, the U.S. Surgeon General has reported that second-hand tobacco smoke is a health hazard in any quantity or level of exposure. These new facts, combined with the existing environmental data about the effects of tobacco litter and the effectiveness of the regulations in other cities in reducing litter provided the necessary impetus to move four of the seven commissioners to recommend the proposal of a county ordinance.
The meeting last night was of particular significance of another reason, that has nothing to do with environmental and public health. It was the first meeting for new member Matt Cunningham (aka Jubal) of the Red County/OC Blog. On October 2nd, Matt asked the readers of the Red County/ OC Blog to provide him input on the issue. From his comments, Matt made it seem like he was genuinely looking for feedback on the issue and that he would approach the topic with an open mind, weigh the facts, and choose a position. While that is what a Commission member is supposed to do, when that commissioner is a political hack, logic and facts donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t matter.
Simply put, Matt was not interested in the facts or the public good. Rather than focus on protecting the rights of people who have respiratory problems and those who find tobacco smoke disgusting, Matt had a problem with whether or not tobacco litter was an actual threat to marine life. Since he felt that the data was insufficient to support such a finding, he apparently concluded that no regulations were needed. In reaching his decision he claimed that although he had Asthma as a child and has four children that Ã¢â‚¬Å“it comes down to liberty.Ã¢â‚¬Â Matt raised the tired and old argument that if someoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tobacco smoke is bothering him he just asks the person to snuff out their smoke or move away.
Similar to the way President Bush, his administration, and the Republican leadership in Congress ignore the facts on everything, as well as cover for child predators, in order to support their political goals, Matt Cunningham chose to ignore the facts rather than do the right thing. Overall, a shameful performance for his first meeting and about what I expected from a conservative political hack.