In August, a troop of Turlock, California, Girl Scouts asked the city council to consider a ban on smoking in public parks. Months of sporadic—and occasionally heated—debate followed. The Scouts said they were seeking the ban, in part, to reduce childrens' exposure to secondhand smoke, though the girls also asked that e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco be included in the ban.
Then, last week, Parks, Recreation & Public Facilities Superintendent Erik Schulze piped up. It turns out smoking in Turlock's public parks has been illegal for more than a decade:
"In our research over the last month we were trying to figure out why our sports complex—the soccer fields—had a no smoking ban but none of our other parks did. Due to our research we came across a council resolution from back in 2003 and within that council resolution there was a banning of smoking in parks and parking lots—all parks and parking lots….For whatever reason after the council took action on that item there was never any enforcement, never any signs posted."
Looks like the Girl Scouts learned some valuable lessons about local government, though perhaps not the ones their troop leaders intended when the set out.