Monthly Archives: June 2010

‘Townhall’ closed to the public?

We understand that Max Baucus was at the Conoco Phillips Refinery in Billings, MT to present a special plaque thanking employees of the refinery for their generous withdrawal of nearly 200,000 BLM leases in the Flathead area.

We had a team of quick response tea party members there to attempt to get a minute of his time.

He did not even wave when he raced by in his gas guzzling SUV.   It sure appeared that he gave us the middle finger but because of the distance we couldn’t get a perfect picture for proof.

He drove into secure area at Conoco refinery and rushed into the building followed by his entourage of security and secretaries.!/video/video.php?v=399981884380

As he crossed over an open area we again tried to get his attention only to be shunned.

After an hour in meetings with no so interested Conoco employees, he came out to his getaway car which was moved by his driver from front entrance to near the meeting place. I wonder if that was due to our presence hear his car at the front gate of the refinery?  He really didn’t want to talk to us that was for sure.

After entering the car, they apparently opened other gates and drove through the labyrinth of exits to escape our view.

I sure am glad that Max talks to all Montanans.

KULR8 and KTVQ2 were also there.  Guess we scared them as well as they trained their eyes ahead and never acknowledged us.  Shame on them…especially since they wre both the specific reporters that we helped get a private interview with county singer Aaron Tippin while he was in town.  Shame on you for only reporting one side of the story.  We will certainly not be giving them a helping hand in the future.

Ouch, and I thought they were my friends.

And finally, when we approached the gate guard provided by Securitas upon first arrival, we inquired about standing on the sidewalk.  He called into the refinery and they said the sidewalk was private property….hmmmmmmmmmmmm.

So we protested on street for a bit.

After checking the records at the city, we determined that the sidewalk was in fact public.  Hence, I addressed our concerns with the guard, explaining to him that our sources said the sidewalk was public.  I asked for name of superior that he was talking with.  After he called up, they told him that it was public and we could rally on it.  Oh really, sir, that is curious, I said, as I gathered crowd onto sidewalk.

Shame on Conoco for lying, eh?!/video/video.php?v=399979434380

Shame on Baucus for having closed town halls.

Baucus and his entourage walk to the Learning Center on the campus of Billings Conoco Phillips Refinery

Educated a few curious employees from Jones trucking as to what the tea party was up to.  Got rally orders from them.

Educated a few refinery employees as well.  One even offered his security card to get in to the meeting.  Of course, we declined as we did not want to endanger his job.


We don’t need another law…enforce what is already on the books

Laws…..laws…..and more laws…..where does one draw the line?

It’s creeping totalitarianism that has to stop before we end up like the guy in “1984” who had to suffer the churlish bureaucrat in a two-way TV barking order at him to exercise.

Or, since lack of sleep is a major cause of motor vehicle accidents, why shouldn’t the State install two-way radios in our cars and demand to know how many hours we slept before starting our cars in the morning?  But then, why give them more ideas such as this one to toss around at city council meetings?  I certainly hope they are not the audience I’m blogging for.  Who knows.

The answer to those who would advocate such totalitarian methods is this: it’s none of the state’s business.

As many of you may know, the members of Billings, MT city council are trying to pass a anti-cell phone (while driving) law.  Why is it up to the police to determine if you are checking the time?  Or reaching for your soda can for that matter.  As I asked before, where does one draw the line?

If they pass this bill why wouldn’t they pass another law to outlaw rolling your windown down?  Bees are also a distraction you know?  What about passengers in the front (or back) seat?  What about the navigation systems installed into your dash?  Car radios, satellite radios, etc…..I think you get the gist.

So… is what we’ve come up with thus far as to what this bill would violate.


The hand-held cell phone ban violates equal protection under the law, in that many forms of expression that might also cause motor vehicle accidents will be exempted or excluded from the law. These include:

• Using a hands-free cell phone
• Police and firemen using cell phones (even though they have alternative means of communication)
• Using a ham radio
• Using a telephone linked to a private network (e.g. city buses)
• Using a citizens band radio
• Using a dispatch radio
• Using a walkie-talkie
• Talking to passengers in the car

Since the City Council excluded numerous forms of expression from the reach of the statute, with an emphasis on government speech by government employees, the statute is not properly tailored to serve citizen’s interests.

Please also note that a large portion of cell phone calls are made to spouses and immediate family members, or concern the children of the callers. Thus, this statute directly interferes not only with speech but with speech pertaining to intimate family associations that are entitled to strong protection under the federal Constitution. See Patel v. Searles, 305 F.3d 130 (2nd Cir. 2002).

Therefore, the statute violates freedom of speech in the context of the right to intimate family association.


The law burdens interstate commerce by regulating an instrumentality thereof (cell phones) and by interfering with interstate phone calls which themselves may involve commercial transactions. Cell phones not only are instrumentalities of interstate commerce, but also directly facilitate thousands of acts of interstate commerce. A prime example would be calling ahead to make a hotel reservation in another state. Also, for any service providers based outside Billings, each call is itself an act of interstate commerce.

Under dormant commerce clause analysis, when a state law burdens interstate commerce, the validity of the legislation is determined by weighing the burden on interstate commerce versus the state interest. See Loren J. Pike v. Bruce Church, Inc., 397 U.S.137 (1970), Bibb, Director, Dept. of Public Safety of IL. v. Navajo Freight Lines, Inc., 359 U.S. 520 (1959); Kassel v. Consolidated Freightways Corporation of Delaware, 450 U.S. 662 (1980) (a court should weigh the asserted safety purpose against the degree of interference with interstate commerce.); Raymond Motor Transportation, Inc. v. Rice, 434 U.S. 429 (1978).

The only thorough economic analysis we are aware of addressing cell phone use in this context concluded: “[B]anning [all] cellular phone usage by drivers is a bad idea. A ban in the United States is estimated to result in annual economic welfare losses of about $20 billion.” R. W. Hahn, et al., “Should You Be Allowed to Use Your Cellular Phone While Driving?”, 23 Regulation 46, (Oct. 2000).

Even if drivers from out-of-town are aware of Billing’s law and comply with it, the result will be a depression of all cell phone use while in this city (since they presumably lack hands-free devices) and therefore a lessening of free interstate commerce, the very result the interstate commerce clause was designed to prevent.



Study: Cell phone bans don’t stop car crashes

Cell phone ban – exception for using a hand-held device while stopped at a red light

Exception for emergency situations or to call 911

‘EVERYTHING’ is technically a distraction…

Since there is all this controversy over the idea of  banning cell phones while driving…..I figured I’d enlighten you on an email that I just recently sent to all of our city council members and our Mayor here in Billings.

City Council Members and Mayor Hanel,

We submit to you the attached research document that is the primary study utilized by Federal DOT in determining that distracted driving is a concern.  Please note that cell phone usage is a variable discussed with many other distractions in the study.  The statistics are very misleading and the results not statistically significant.  There are no direct correlations that cell phone usage is as critical as any other distraction that people encounter while driving, i.e. kids, food, cigarettes, bees, etc.

WE ask your wisdom when making a decision to render fines on people for using cell phones or any other hand held device for that matter.

Distracted Much?

WE mentioned in previous council meeting that we believed any law as such is an invasion of peoples 4th Amendment right to be secure in their person….

We still believe this to be true.  WE also stated in that meeting that you already have Careless and Reckless driving laws on the books.   If a person is found guilty of using a cell phone and or any other distraction that caused the accident through due process, then the city, county and State has the power to levy penalties.

Please consider the weakness of the data and do not pass any sort of law or regulation to fine or otherwise penalize citizens without cause.

I also included the following document.  It’s worth the read.

An Examination of Driver Distraction as Recorded in NHTSA Databases


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