“Ginny State + Nanny State = Ninny State,” wrote one Facebook user upon learning of Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick’s latest proposal. At the most recent council meeting, Ms. Chadwick started the ball rolling toward an ordinance that would change the legal age for the purchase of tobacco from 18 to 21 and also place tighter restrictions on e-cigarettes within the city limits of Columbia.
Her latest proposal comes fresh on the heels of her astoundingly racist and seemingly defunct push to ban alcohol consumption in Douglass Park, a popular gathering place for Columbia’s African-American community. Couple these two overtly overprotective prohibition propositions with her unwavering support of the Opus student housing development and her willingness to completely ignore her constituency on all issues and Ms. Chadwick is a contender for Columbia’s most hated councilperson. There have even been rumblings of recall on social media.
There is, however, one constituent to whom Ms. Chadwick will lend the royal ear. School Board Member Jonathan Sessions, the young entrepreneur and politician rumored to be a Democrat favorite for state office, has taken credit for proposing the new tobacco age restrictions and, according to city insiders, was the man behind the original plan to ban alcohol in Douglass Park when it was first proposed by Chadwick’s predecessor Fred Schmidt.
So, what’s so wrong with changing the legal age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21?
In a town the size of Columbia — i.e. not very big — this change would likely move tobacco sales to just outside the city limits. Unlike the few suburban cities that have made the change, Columbia’s outskirts are relatively under-developed and ripe for a burgeoning tobacco trade. In Columbia, migration of the 18 to 21 tobacco trade is inevitable.
Speaking of suburban cities that have made the change, Ms. Chadwick touted the successes seen in Needham, Massachusetts. The problem is, Needham is the ONLY city where the change has been made and any success has been seen. The leading organization behind this push, Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, on their website Tobacco21.org, lists only Needham, MA while offering no other evidence regarding tobacco and age limitations. The rest of the evidence is loosely extrapolated from data based on alcohol, a completely different and unrelated drug. And let’s not forget, Columbia is not a densely populated suburb of Boston. Columbia is a small, unique, and independent Midwestern city with a large, transient student population between the ages of 18 and 21. Columbia is the apple to Needham’s orange.
And, there is really no reason to make the change since smoking is already trending down. Read the CDC report HERE.
Statistics aside, the philosophical problems with the proposal are almost too many to list — but I’ll give it a shot…
Eighteen is the universally accepted, legal age of adulthood in the developed world. It’s the age at which we allow our men and women to join the military so we can send them across the globe to kill and die on our behalf. It is the age that we force all young men to register for the Selective Service so that our government can force them to join the military to kill and die on our behalf (or at least on behalf of the corporatists who run our government). We’ll ask and/or force these adults to kill and die, but Ginny Chadwick thinks that they can’t be trusted to buy cigarettes.
People between the ages of 18 and 21 can choose to have sex with another consenting adult of any age. People under age 21 can even have children and we allow them to be responsible for the health of these children, but Ginny Chadwick thinks these same people cannot be trusted to make their own health decisions regarding tobacco.
People under 21 are allowed to work in Columbia restaurants an be certified by the Health Department to handle food. Ginny Chadwick thinks that these people are a danger to themselves and must be stopped from buying cigarettes, yet they are trusted with the health of restaurant patrons.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates how many people between the ages of 18 and 21 are employed. Take a look at the healthcare and social services statistics for under 21 employees. Wow! We trust these young adults to work in these industries, but Ginny Chadwick doesn’t trust them to buy cigarettes. What’s next? Will she outlaw babysitting for anyone under 21?
And, let’s not forget that 18 is the voting age. We trust 18-year-olds to help choose our leaders, yet Ginny Chadwick doesn’t trust these same citizens to make their own decisions regarding tobacco.
What is Chadwick’s Game?
There has been a great deal of speculation, some rather well-educated speculation, regarding what might be driving Ms. Chadwick’s ninny-nanny behavior. Some have suggested that she merely enjoys all forms of attention, both good and bad. Some have suggested that her belief that she is more intelligent than everyone around her has morphed into some sort of frightening, yet common, elected narcissism. Some have suggested that she is using her elected position as a résumé builder for a future career in the public health field. What is clear is that in spite of her tortured campaign slogan, “The key to the city is the voice of the people,” Ms. Chadwick has completely ignored her constituency, the very citizens she was elected to represent.
Comments posted to her Facebook page, a page which she floods with anti-smoking propaganda, even posting updates during Council meetings, go unacknowledged.
When she does take the time to answer a constituent, her answer is best described as a ‘non-answer.’ Ms. Chadwick is pursuing a master’s degree in Public Health and Strategic Communication. Here is an example of a strategic non-answer that will curl the hair of staunch grammarians. Did I mention that she studies in the Missouri School of Journalism?
When listening to Ms. Chadwick discuss the Opus student housing agreement, it became clear that she was part of “The City” and not part of the First Ward. She often projected a tone of us (The City) vs. them (the people). During an interview on Steve Spellman’s Mid-Missouri Freedom Forum on KOPN she often referred to the City as “we” and called Mayor McDavid “Bob” and City Manager Matthes “Mike” as if they were old friends. She seemed to relish her insider roll, hobnobbing with Opus attorneys and high-ranking bureaucrats.
In the footnote on page 6 of the lawsuit filed by the anti-Opus petitioners, it is noted that Ms. Chadwick seemed to be working with Opus while ignoring her constituents by passing information from the City Manager to one but not the other.
Click HERE for a news report on her Opus press conference that further demonstrates the us vs. them mentality she holds. She literally thinks she needs to educate her ignorant constituents.
But really, for the narcissist in a seat of power, isn’t it all about “me” and the attention “me” gets? Take this Facebook exchange for instance. Note how Ms. Chadwick talks about her smoking age restriction and how it is an issue that is important to her, not to her constituency. The comment from her Facebook comrade is also quite telling as the friend and citizen pleads with her benevolent overlord to stop the unwashed poor from stinking up the town with their smoking. This is the very arrogance that has come to characterize Ginny Chadwick’s policy making. Birds of a feather flock together.
Besides the ego-boosting attention she is receiving, what’s in it for Ms. Chadwick? For one, she’s seeking a degree, and one would assume a career, in the Public Health field. Is this all just a means for Ms. Chadwick to bolster her professional résumé? Why else would she undertake such unpopular crusades while ignoring more pressing issues important to her constituents like gun violence and crumbling infrastructure?
Perhaps she has her sites set on higher office. She does seem to be taking her marching orders from the local establishment Democrat up-and-comer Jonathan Sessions. Is G-Chad just trying to please J-Sesh? He does seem to be the anointed one among local, big-money Dems like Chris Kelly and John Wright.
Who knows what her angle is? Maybe it’s all of the above. What’s clear is that in less than six months from taking her oath of office, Ginny Chadwick has made three extremely unpopular and very public displays of poor political judgement. Sadly, this is par for the course with First Ward representation. It is high time that this community figure out how to get good, trustworthy candidates to run for local office. Many promising candidates cannot afford to donate the time (yes the Council receives a small salary that won’t even cover the gas it takes to drive to the top of a parking garage) required to serve adequately, leaving the job to those with residual or retirement incomes. It is likely time to pay our Council a meaningful salary like our county officials receive. Sadly, it also takes money to be elected. It is time for people to pool their resources and support good candidates. If a First Ward recall were to be undertaken, there is little doubt that the 200 or so signatures could be gathered in only a few days. The real question is — who will take Ms. Chadwick’s place?