In a revote, Albion opposes SAFE Act

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Board also urged to prohibit smoking on all town property

ALBION Citing “confusion” in a resolution from a month ago about the state’s new gun control laws, the Albion Town Board weighed in on the issue again on Monday.

This time the board mustered three votes to formally go on the record against the SAFE Act, which has been opposed by most counties in upstate New York.

At last month’s meeting, Town Board members Dan Poprawski and Jake Olles voted against the SAFE Act while Tim Neilans and Matt Passarell abstained from a vote. Town Supervisor Dennis Stirk voted against opposing the SAFE Act.

After the meeting, Stirk realized by casting a negative vote, which he thought was opposing the act, he actually voted in support of the gun control measure.

“I accidently opposed it,” he said, acknowledging the mistake.

He put the issue on the agenda again on Monday, and this time the board secured three votes opposing the SAFE Act with Neilans and Passarell again abstaining.

Passarell said the resolution is symbolic. He noted the Orleans County Legislature already voiced its opposition to the state legislation.

“It really should be done at the county level,” he said about the resolution. Nearly all upstate New York counties, including Orleans, have gone on the record opposing provisions of the SAFE Act and the lack of public input in the legislation.

The legislation has been criticized for being open to interpretation, for requiring seven-magazine rounds when few currently exist in New York, and for requiring documentation of all ammunition sales in the state – “a significant unfunded mandate on business,” according to the resolution.

Another topic from last month’s meeting – the town’s smoking policy – was also debated again on Monday.

Kevin Keenan, program coordinator of Smoke Free NOW, asked the Town Board to reinstate a smoking policy that banned smoking inside town vehicles, and on town property, including the outside grounds and parking lot.

Stirk believes that policy would be impossible to enforce, especially when people come to the Town Hall for court. Many of them often take smoke breaks inside their vehicles.

Keenan said the policy could be tailored to allow for smoking inside private vehicles. Town Highway Superintendent Jed Standish last month said he should be allowed to smoke inside his town-issued highway truck.

But Keenan urged the board to not allow smoking in a publicly owned vehicle. Standish could have passengers or another town employee may someday drive that truck, Kennan said.

Neilans, Passarell and Town Councilman Dan Poprawski voted to support reinstating the full smoking ban last month, but Stirk then tabled the vote for more study of the issue.

He postponed a vote on the matter again on Monday, wanting one more month to consider Keenan’s information.

Keenan noted there is a baseball field behind the town building and an elementary school playground across the street. If town employees were allowed to smoke outside on town property, they may be visible to children, Keenan said.

“It’s a social modeling issue,” Keenan said. “There’s an image you’re trying to project.”

He praised the Village Board for banning smoking about two years ago at all village-owned parks. He urged the Town Board to take a similar no-tolerance policy.

“You’re taking a step backwards,” he said about the current policy, which allows smoking outside on town property. “You’re going in the wrong direction.”