Remember, you heard it here last: as reported in most of the state’s media by now, Indy bad boy George Ochenski has pissed off Montana ice queen Judy Martz for the umpteenth time. What’s new about this particular pissing-off is that this time Martz had hopes of extracting this blood-engorged tick from under her lapdog fur for good.
In a meeting with Montana tribal leaders, Martz reportedly asked them to turn the screws on Native American lawmakers to get behind her oft-mocked proposal to raid the Coal Tax Trust fund to balance the state budget (see Ochenski’s column in this issue). Ochenski, who switch-hits as a lobbyist for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, was at the back of the room at the time. When he heard this he says he shook his head and whispered to his clients: “Ain’t gonna happen.”
That’s when the gloves (and skates) came off.
While not quite as harsh as Chevy Chase’s immortal “Jane, you ignorant slut,” Martz’ rebuke left little to the imagination. She turned to our man Ochenski and growled: “You don’t get to sit in the back of the room and shake your head while I’m talking. You’re ignorant. You’re ignorant.”
In one of the those universe-shaking moments of inane serendipity, Martz’ outburst came the same day the Indy published the O-Man’s column “The yap from the lap.” Strange that Martz would go after Ochenski the same day he wrote the following about her then-recent state of the state address: “I hate to say it, but the speech was only last night, and I’m betting most Montanans who even bothered to watch or listen have already forgotten it.”
Two days after the incident, Ochenski was told he was no longer welcome in the governor’s Capitol office. But the threat appears to be all bark and no bite, as Martz doesn’t have the power to ban him from public meetings in her office or anywhere else. Looks like it’s back to the dog house for Martz. And as for us, we’ll defer to the sentiments of a certain bumper sticker we’ve been seeing around town lately: “Step down, Judy,” it reads. “Ochenski for Governor.”
Under pressure from MADD, SADD and most intelligent adults, the State Senate has passed two bills intended to improve Montana’s deplorable record of drunk driving—one lowers the maximum legal blood-alcohol level to .08, the other ends Montana’s rare-bird law allowing drivers to cruise with open containers. Also wanting to do its part, the House is looking at a bill that would limit the number of passengers under the age of 18 who can ride in an unsupervised vehicle.
Right now as many as 50 kids can ride together (remember that postcard with all those wacky coeds stuffed into that VW bug?). Under the House bill, that number would drop to three.
Not known for mincing words, students at Missoula’s Hellgate High School have called the idea “total bullshit.”
“It would give us no freedom,” says Steven, a 15-year-old Hellgate freshman. “And it’s totally unfair.”
Currently, Steven car-pools to school with three other kids. When asked how he would get to school if this bill was passed into law, he scratches his head and turns to his friend and fellow car-pooler and says in cowboy drawl: “It looks like you’ll be taking the bus son.”
The bill is aimed at curbing the number of traffic accidents in Montana, where a full one-third of all accidents involve a driver under the age of 18. But Hellgate senior Kevin thinks that the reckless teen driver is an inaccurate stereotype.
“What about old people?” he asks, without a hint of sarcasm. “They’re the ones who shouldn’t be on the road.”