Wanna Smoke in Dallas? Don’t Plan on Leaving the House.

A stricter smoking ban in Dallas appears imminent.

The first sip: The city council, which just may reveal the operator of the convention center hotel today, is poised to take a significant step toward strengthening Dallas’ smoking ordinance when it hears a briefing on the issue Wednesday. As Dave Levinthal pointed out yesterday, council member Pauline Medrano says the item skipped the Quality of Life and Government Services Committee because it’s such a big issue and all of the council members want to be heard.

The question doesn’t appear to be if council members will act to stiffen the ordinance at the November 19 agenda meeting; it’s a matter of how closely they want it to resemble California’s total ban. Among the ideas under consideration: banning smoking in bars, pool halls, streets, sidewalks, public parks and while driving in a car with a child.

The number of people willing to defend smoking seems to be a dwindling minority, most of which are die-hard smokers themselves. So I fall into a very, very small faction of non-smokers who think the government needs to stay outta the bidness of telling people where they can and can’t exercise their right to smoke.

The second sip: Pete Oppel takes a look at a vote facing Californians on Tuesday regarding the construction of a high-speed rail line for a bullet train that will connect the San Francisco Bay area with Los Angeles. Oppel says Texas should adopt a similar idea, linking Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio, with possible expansions to the Gulf Coast and Mexican border. He says the rail service would be great for downtown, “especially in conjunction with a new convention center hotel.”

Proposition 1A approves a $9.95 billion down payment for the $32 billion project, with expansions to San Diego and Sacramento expected to cost an additional $10 billion. Some opponents say the final cost of the project could approach a whopping $80 billion.

It’s not a terrible idea, but given TxDOT’s inability to fund current road projects and Dallas’ need for improved DART service within the city, I would love to know where the billions will come from to pay for it.

The third sip: Oppel, former entertainment editor at The DMN, polled Oscar voters and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” maintains the top spot in the Best Picture category.

The fourth sip: Obama and McCain’s best lines and worst gaffes of the presidential campaign.

The final gulp: Mixing politics and Halloween is never a good idea. Here’s proof: --Sam Merten

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