Jeopardy-style now, here’s the answer: erect an 8-foot fence around his yard. The question: What’s on Jerry Ballas’ to-do list?
At last Monday’s City Council meeting, Ward 4’s Ballas, straight face intact, proposed a public comment session—Nov. 24—purportedly for the general public to voice surely heated opinions about fence heights. It’s a sham and an insult—he invites the public to talk with him so he can further avoid talking with his neighbor, Jennifer Terzo, whom he recently sued over the Terzo family’s construction of a house adjacent to Ballas’ property. When Ward 2’s Jim McGrath suggested the issue might be more of a “private” matter, the chivalrous Ballas scapegoated his wife. It’s an emotional issue, said the recently reelected Council member; his fair maiden pleads with him to rescue her from the deteriorating view. Sue your neighbor! Hell, sue the city! Blame your sweetheart! Infuse city politics with neighborly and domestic disputes!
Call Ballas’ bluff: Boycott the public hearing.
When voters chose to adopt C-37 and C-38, the constitutional initiatives that make it more difficult for citizens to place initiatives—like the tobacco prevention measure—on the ballot, MontPIRG promised to sue. Not being a man who likes to go back on his word, MontPIRG Executive Director David Ponder and his organization filed suit in federal court in Missoula on Monday, Nov. 10.
C-37 and C-38 require that the signatures necessary to put an initiative on the ballot be gathered in counties, not legislative districts as they were before. Ponder believes that this violates the “one person, one vote” provision of the U.S. Constitution. And he’s not alone. In both Utah and Idaho, similar initiatives have been ruled unconstitutional.
“The Montana change is even worse than the Idaho statute,” says Ponder. “So we think the lawsuit is going to be a slam dunk.”
While debating the merits or demerits of MontPIRG’s lawsuit, here’s a fun fact to mull: C-37 and C-38 were placed on the ballot by the Legislature, not the citizens, so the state didn’t need a single citizen signature to overhaul the entire process.
Not only is Bush’s war in Iraq creating ripples on the civil liberties front, but it’s also drafting all our eco-friendly coffee cups. Try going over to Le Petite for an Americano and you’ll notice all their biodegradable cups are gone. Like all Bush takings, it started with an inch—first they went after only the 8 oz. cups—but quickly swelled to a mile.
What does Bush need with all the cups?
“They can throw them right off the [Navy] ships because they degrade right in the ocean,” says Erich Degner, whose company Treecycle provides Petite’s cups. “And in general, they just need a ton of these types of [biodegradable] supplies in the Middle East.”
Missoula-based Treecycle distributed biodegradable cups to dozens of Montana and out-of-state businesses until all its cup manufacturers received big government contracts and their supplies ran out.
“We’ve got a replacement cup for customers that just needed something—unfortunately it’s peroxide-bleached,” says Degner. “We did find a company in the Midwest that said they’d make some for us, but they kind of blew us off for a while. Then we found out that they also signed a contract with the government.”
Degner says Chinet, which makes their cups, dominates the market, and as long as the company’s supplying the military, there won’t be even close to enough biodegradable cups to meet the private sector demand.