• Smoking Ban Petitions Missing
  • Signed petitions targeted at overturning a city smoking cigarettes ban have been disappearing from Topeka businesses, and organizers of the petition drive say they were stolen.

    Topeka police Capt. Jerry Stanley said Thursday that Gail Trembley, an organizer of the drive, filed a police report Wednesday indicating petitions were missing from several businesses. Stanley said it wasn't clear how many petitions were gone.

    Stanley said the responding officer took an "incident" report of the type police generally fill out when they see no clear criminal wrongdoing but think the situation merits further review as to whether criminal activity was involved.

    Trembley said Thursday petition organizers wouldn't pursue theft charges if whoever took the signed petitions returns them. She said the petitions may be turned in by calling her at (785) 408-8984 or e-mailing her at gailtrembley@topekansagainsttheban.com.

    The petition drive, initiated in October by Topekans Against the Ban, seeks to overturn the Topeka City Council's Sept. 29 passage of a clean air ordinance banning smoking cigarettes in most public places.

    Petition drive organizers must acquire 5,744 valid signatures of registered Topeka voters within 180 days of the date of the first signature on the petition to force the council to either overturn the ordinance or give the public a vote on whether to overturn it.

    Topekans Against the Ban had gathered 3,838 signatures as of Monday, the group indicated Thursday on its Web site.