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Keep the Courthouse clean



Published: Wed, May 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



You would think that after millions were spent to renovate the Mahoning County Courthouse, every person who worked there would accept as his or her personal responsibility maintaining its beauty and condition. Further, you would think that judges and the county prosecutor would have enough basic intelligence to understand that smoking in public places is bad for the health of those who work there or come to the buildings. You might think that just about anyone would get the message after the county commissioners passed a resolution banning smoking in county facilities. You might think so. But you would be wrong.

Scofflaws: We already know that Mahoning County is home to an inordinate number of scoff laws and those who don't believe rules apply to them. Now we're also learning how many officials believe that promoting the general welfare is a fine concept when kept to the Constitution, but it certainly doesn't apply in their fiefdoms.

One of the judges who allows smoking in some parts of the courthouse under his control is Judge R. Scott Krichbaum. He asserts a judge's prerogative to set the rules in and around his courtroom. "I'm no more wrong to allow it than someone is to disallow it," Krichbaum said.

Well, not exactly.

We think all the county's officeholders should do whatever they can to make the courthouse a smoke-free environment.

Fortunately for Mahoning County residents, Judges Maureen A. Cronin, Jack Durkin, James C. Evans, Beth A. Smith and Theresa Dellick don't permit smoking in their offices. They recognize that the courthouse belongs to the people and not to the judges. Perhaps it's time for those judges at the court's next meeting to make it clear that lawyers and others who have business in the courthouse can smoke outside just like everybody else. No more smoking in the restrooms like a bunch of delinquent junior high school boys and girls.

And does Prosecutor Paul Gains really think that citizens will buy his argument that his employees are more productive if they don't have to drop what they're doing to go outside and smoke. It seems to us they'd be a lot better off if their brains weren't starved for oxygen.

We'd be inclined to give Judge Krichbaum one point, and that regards jurors. He makes the point that jurors are summoned to appear and that if they have a smoking addiction, reasonable accommodations should be made. That's worth discussing.

New ordinance: The county commissioners are turning to the Youngstown City Council for help, asking for the passage of a local ordinance to ban smoking in all public buildings. Under Ohio law, counties can't pass such laws but a charter city with home-rule powers can.

Smoking is deleterious to the health of those who come to the Courthouse, and it's deleterious to the building as well. And no public employee should have to be hit over the head to understand that.




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