There will be cigars on Saint Patrick's Day. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty has signed legislation allowing a one-time exemption to the District's smoke-free laws for an annual March 17 gathering of Washington's government and business elite. The mayor's spokesperson Mafara Hobson was not immediately available for comment.
Time was of the essence for the bill by Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who is a member of the all-male Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, which hosts the 640-person celebration of Irish-American culture at the Capital Hilton.
Evans had succeeded in passing legislation last week to keep tradition alive for the Friendly Sons and another group, Fight for Children, that hosts an annual professional boxing fundraiser.
The bill was transmitted to Fenty on March 8. The mayor had 10 business days to decide whether to sign or veto the measure, taking him to March 22.
If the mayor had not acted before March 17, the Friendly Sons would not have been able to light up at their big event next Wednesday.
As a member of the council, Fenty was among those who introduced and championed the workplace smoking ban in 2006. While Evans is a close ally of the mayor, the measure was opposed by Fenty's potential rival, Council Chairman Vincent Gray.