The people speak; Brooks backs down
Wow. That was quick. It only took a few hours for L. Brooks Patterson to back down from his threat to sue the state over its impending ban on public smoking. Early on Thursday, Patterson said Oakland County would not enforce the ban.
By 4 p.m., Patterson had backed down, so quickly that our reporter was editing video from Patterson's Democratic counterpart on the county commission.
That shows just how quickly news and public opinion can be delivered. No more waiting two or three days to see how a proposal sounds. You can find out instantly.
And our readers responded forcefully, commenting furiously and mostly against Patterson.
The longtime county executive and former tough-on-crime prosecutor was stuck in the details and nuances, arguing that this new law was an unfunded mandate and the county's Health Division could never enforce it. In fact, he's a nonsmoker and supports the ban. Oh, but he stepped into it, probably hoping that anti-tax furor could help this effort.
What readers and listeners of radio today heard was a Republican saying he wasn't going to follow a law he didn't like. Ouch. It was like saying, We're not going to enforce drunken driving.
Just two years ago, polls we ran showed about 60 percent of readers were against smoking bans. Then last year, it evened out, and this winter, nearly 60 percent favored the ban.
Today, so far, and it's very early, more than 80 percent said the county should enforce the ban.
People are ready, and they were quick to respond. Luckily, some politicians are still smart enough to listen.