Five new members have been named to a committee that will work on establishing an ordinance to regulate smoking in public places in Meridian. The committee would have a total of eleven.
Each council member has named someone from their ward to the committee. Previously, council president Bobby Smith had selected six. The committee itself had been the idea of Mayor John Robert Smith following his veto of the original ordinance.
"I asked council that night, make sure it is fair and balanced. If it is not fair and balanced, then whatever the recommendation is, is going to be tainted," said Smith Wednesday at his regular news conference.
The new appointees are Bill McBride, Ward 1; Cathy Jones, Ward 2; Sam Hudnall, Ward 3; Jeffrey Dubose, Ward 4; Maurice Lefevre, Ward 5.
"Nothing would please me more than to hear a unanimous report that a good ordinance has been bargained out and can be embraced," Smith said. "Quite honestly, I think odds are not good for that. There will probably be a majority report and a minority report."
Previously-appointed committee members who supported the smoking ban in public places were Alicia Parker and Dennis Warren, both representing the American Cancer Society and councilwoman Barbara Henson. Lefevre and Lisi are businessmen who prohibit smoking in their establishments. That's five votes.
Opposition is likely from restaurant manager, Grae Dickson, Ward 4 councilman Jesse Palmer and Hudnall, a retired businessman. That's three votes.
McBride lists himself as undecided. Jones and Dubose could not be reached. The unknown is whether or not the mayor might veto the ordinance the committee produces.
"If in fact committee members come back and I have any information that the process has not been fair and balanced, then I will (veto)," said Smith. "It will certainly be a consideration."
The mayor says his current position is, let the committee do its work and give them time to do it.