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February 17, 2011

Dishonoring a Friend

Jeff Coudriet Yesterday I attended the memorial service for Jeff Coudreit. We had been friends for almost 20 years, and he was an inspiration to me. Jeff died of smoking-related lung cancer. He was 48.

Speakers at the memorial included two of Jeff's brothers, Mayor Vince Gray, Rick Rosendall, Councilmember David Catania, and Jeff's boss, Councilmember Jack Evans. Jeff was the Clerk of the Committee on Finance and Revenue.

Today I learned that Jack Evans introduced a a bill, just days before Jeff died, to weaken our indoor smokefree workplace law. Bill 19-0070 is the "Special Event Exemption Act of 2011." It would allow hotels to once a year host cigar smoking events if they notify the Department of Health and pay a fee of $2,500. For hotel events, that is chump change.

Last year Jack introduced, and got passed, emergency legislation so that his buddies in the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick could have their cigar party. Not outside where it would be legal, not in a cigar bar where it would be legal, but inside a hotel. This creating a hazard not only for the members, but also the staff who had to work at the event and clean the room of the cigar odor. This is a special favor for Jack's friends. It isn't illegal, but it isn't ethical, and it isn't good for D.C.

David Catania spoke about Jeff and lamented his passing of a smoking related illness so young. David noted that the indoor smokefree workplace law, smoking cessation programs, and higher taxes on cigarettes has significantly reduced smoking in D.C. David suggested that some legislation related to reducing smoking or smoking related illness be named for Jeff.

Jack, this is no way to honor Jeff. This is an insult to Jeff. Withdraw the bill now, and never do this again.

Comments

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Boy, that was pretty tone deaf on Jack's part.

bob -

you may be the biggest jerk on the planet.

if you really knew jeff, you would know a) he liked smoking, despite its risks and b) he did not support a nanny state and the government up in everybodys business about everything.

this is a disgusting piece of writing and if jeff were here, he would continue to talk mad smack about what a giant d*ck you really are.

you should be ashamed of yourself.

Agree with William. Poor taste, Bob. You should know better. Taking a political potshot and using Jeff's death as leverage the day after his memorial service? You no doubt owe Jack and his staff an apology.

1) You are waaaaay overstating Catania's comments. I was there and he did not come close to saying all of that.

2) This is written about every year. The workers can take the day off if they want to.

3) Bob has gone off of the deep end. Poor Bob.

Bob - You are clearly out of line here.

If you knew Jeff at all (I am wondering if you really did),you would know that Jeff drafted this legislation himself, both this year and last. I really hope his family doesn't see this.

Larry

PS - You suck.

Dear angry commenters: Considering that Jeff died of lung cancer and was a longtime smoker, I can assure you that yes, Bob and I are well aware that Jeff enjoyed smoking. Perhaps it doesn't occur to you that sometimes one can best honor someone by disagreeing with him. Perhaps it was a bit harsh of Bob to invoke Jeff's much-lamented death to make his point, but the exemption is still wrong. Only someone still angry over the existence of the smokefree workplace law in the first place would argue that workers can take off that day, blithely setting aside the realities of hospitality industry work schedules and seniority--not to mention the fact that rooms that have been filled with cigar smoke will still reek of it after the smoke has cleared. Of course, anyone who can comfortably enjoy a cigar in public has had to overcome any concerns about the offense it would cause to others nearby.

By the way, Jeff had good things to say about the smokefree workplace law, even while he was smoking--which incidentally he tried for years to stop.

Another thought: There is a touch of irony in people going overboard in reaction to someone who they think has gone overboard. Let's tone down the nastiness by an order of magnitude, why don't we?

Incidentally, Mike DeBonis reports on Bob's post, and comment "Ouch!"

Rick:

You have plenty of Shakespeare quotes up your sleeve, but you and Bob are both desperately out of touch.

Jeff paved the way only for you and Bob to flounder in the road. What a shame.

Bob used Jeff's death for political purposes which will never be forgiven. I'm sure his family and Jack have written Bob off as a cook if they had not already.

Jeff despised the nanny state and would certainly despise your lame attempts to control us all.

Larry, what in the world does my Shakespeare quote from Sonnet 30 (one brief quote, not "plenty") that was in my eulogy have to do with this discussion? Was there some need for you to make some kind of cheap put-down, and that was the best you could do?

Anyway, how does your not liking what Bob wrote make us "out of touch"? Instead of refuting what I wrote, you just make a bunch of claims. That you refuse my suggestion to tone down the anger, and react as if I did not acknowledge that Bob's invoking Jeff as he did was a bit harsh, only shows that you are too busy being angry to pay attention to the details. As it happened, Bob too was angry at Jack's inappropriate seeking of an exemption; if others are to cut you some slack when you get angry, shouldn't you cut others the same slack? "Never be forgiven?" How melodramatic.

As I pointed out and as you blithely ignored, Jeff in fact had good things to say about the smokefree workplace bill. He noted that he and other smokers could easily go outside to smoke. But your "nanny state" and "control us all" comments demonstrate nicely that what you are really mad about is the smokefree workplace law itself, so you pretend that regulation based on public health is somehow illegitimate and beyond the pale. I am aware that you can cite slanted stuff, generally from the tobacco industry, as Mark Lee endlessly did back when the bill was pending and for quite a while after it passed; but I do not care to re-litigate all of that.

If government regulation in general were deemed improper, we could go back to Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle." No. People have their differences over where the line of government regulation should be drawn, but rhetoric that treats any and all government regulation as tyranny is just overheated. If you are going to respond do Bob's bit of excess with your own excess, then you have no grounds for moral superiority. Let's cool down. If you won't, I leave you to your anger.

Larry-

Your post is ridiculous, farcical, and just plain silly. No one thinks I'm a cook.

-Bob

Bob:

I am not angry, only shocked that someone could be such a jerk. JEFF WROTE THE LEGISLATION. how does that mean nothing to you?

I know that you didn't get to speak at the memorial and this probably hurt your feelings, but to attack Jack (and in turn, Jeff), who has done so much for us is just ridiculous.

You give us all a bad name.

Interesting comment thread here. In the end, I feel most will see Bob as completely out of line. The timing of this post is also quite disgusting considering Jeff's memorial service on Wednesday. I always thought that many of us advocates needed better training - looks like this applies to Bob here. He has totally shot himself in the foot by presenting his argument this way. No one, including Councilman Evans, will even give his argument the time of day now. Using the death of a loved one to promote a political agenda, especially the death of someone as loved as Jeff, is in a word - lame.

The notion that Bob was motivated by disappointment at not being asked to speak at the memorial is bizarre. I can assure you that that is not the case. As to the bill in question: Jeff worked for Jack, so it is no surprise that he wrote bills for him. It is also true that Jeff tried to quit smoking and (like many others) had difficulty doing so.

If one feels that it is unseemly to squabble over (figuratively) someone's fresh grave, and I would agree with that, then isn't it also unseemly to argue over who knew the dead man better, etc.? Jeff was a fine and generous man who died too soon, mourned by many people. The best way to honor him at this point is to pray for a moment of grace and smile as he would, and, having made one's point, move on. The emotion that lingers is sorrow at the loss of a friend. Political wrangling is so much noise by comparison.

Agree with Rick. Still makes GLAA look really bad to have Bob shooting his mouth off like this.

This whole post makes me sick to my stomach. Mixing politics with the death of one of our greatest - stay classy, Bob.

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