A district judge is expected to decide next week whether it is legal for Corpus Christi to ban pipes for smoking.Why would Corpus Christi need sales tax revenue, anyway? People drive to Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma to gamble, but the City Council doesn't think they'll go online to order a bong? And lots of just plain ol' tobacco smokers (like my own late great-grandfather) smoke pipes. I suppose this is what the Governor means when he says Texas has a "business friendly" environment - friendly so long as one doesn't offend any local prudish sensibilities. During election season, all these self-styled "conservatives" run promising "limited government," then once elected they want to use government power to shut down businesses and tell others what they can and can't do. What's so damn limited about that?
Five smoke shop owners have sued Corpus Christi to stop a city ordinance passed Feb. 8 that banned smoking paraphernalia such as bongs and pipes but excluded hookahs, which often are used to smoke legal tobacco. The ordinance also bans synthetic marijuana, such as K2.
Earlier this month District Judge Bobby Galvan denied an emergency request for the court to temporarily lift the ordinance until the case was decided. Shop owners said the ordinance will put them out of business because pipes account for most of their sales.
During a hearing Wednesday, Attorney José “Chito” Vela III, who represents shop owners, said the city ordinance exceeds state law. Assistant City Attorney Alison Logan said the city used other city ordinances to draft the one approved by City Council. She referenced a similar ordinance passed by the city of Plano.
The city has until Friday to file a court briefing that defends its position and can provide examples of other cities that have outlawed something the state says is legal.
Vela said the city also violated the Texas Open Meetings Act when it passed the ordinance in one meeting, as an emergency item, without giving proper notice on the agenda. Nonemergency ordinances must go before the City Council over the course of two regular meetings before they can be approved.
AFTERTHOUGHT/EPILOGUE: A college buddy of mine, Ron Tupa, grew up in Corpus Christi and went on to become a state senator in Colorado. When we were at UT-Austin together, he used to jokingly refer to his hometown as "Lubbock on the beach," but in this case he wasn't giving Lubbock enough credit: They have plenty of smoke shops and as far as I know Hub City doesn't hassle them.
UPDATE/BREAKING: The Caller-Times reported this afternoon that District "Judge Bobby Galvan ...[said] during a phone conference Monday that he will issue a temporary injunction" in the case, ultimately "requiring the city to lift the ban." Apparently Plano is the only other city in the state with a similar law. I wonder if their ordinance has ever been challenged, or if it will be now?