Wednesday, August 07, 2002


Well, sort of.

Since I was elected to Saratoga’s town council a little over a year and a half ago, I have held one dream close to my heart, cherished it like a cute puppy or a rare and precious orchid or a proven anti-gravity technology.

I was fer-shootin’ sure that it would be great, great fun to get to repeal a stupid, pointless ordinance, or at least that it would be more fun to repeal an existing stupid pointless ordinance than passing new stupid, pointless ordinances is.

Instead of muttering somewhat dementedly to myself “ho, hum, another stupid, pointless ordinance added to the books despite my ‘no’ vote” I would get to shout out from the rooftops “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Yes! Yes! Yes! We got rid of that stupid law that says its illegal to ride an ugly horse in town!” (to use my personal favorite example from

Well, reality is never so satisfying, is it?

Case in point, Ordinance #708, which my colleagues and I passed last night on the first reading. I mean, check out the promising text with which this baby begins: AN ORDINANCE REPEALING!

“Repealing” is fast becoming one of my favorite words ever. Its dictionary meaning is “to revoke or rescind”, it is derived from the Middle English “repelen” from the Anglo-Norman “repeler” alteration of the Old French “rapeler” meaning to re-appeal – “appeal” of course coming from the Latin “appellere”, “to entreat”, meaning the word originally meant “to entreat again” or basically to beg a body to maybe reconsider an unjust or unenforceable or basically dumb decision, which is pretty much what it’s all about, really. So yes, it’s a wonderful word, music to the ear, tingly to the toes, a word with which I imagine angels would sing me to sleep in multi-part harmonies were I the sort of person who in any way deserves to be sung to sleep by angels.

But alas, the header on Ordinance #708 continues, getting drearier by the word: “AN ORDINANCE REPEALING" – ah, just wanted to type that word again – "OBSOLETE OR UNCONSTITUTIONAL ORDINANCES AND/OR PORTIONS THEREOF FOR THE TOWN OF SARATOGA, CARBON COUNTY, WYOMING

What follows after a wad of formal cover-your-ass “WHEREAS” clauses is a short, terse hit lists of ordinances that are to be hereby repealed. And what a dull lot they are – almost as dull as the reasons for which they are being repealed, by recommendation of the legal reviewer and publication company that we overpaid grossly to update our municipal codebook. To wit:

- We shall hereby repeal 5.20.020 prohibiting the sale of liquor in pool or billiard halls because, well, there aren’t any pool or billiard halls anymore but there are pool tables in a few of the bars.

- We shall hereby repeal 8.04.030 which allows for the removal by the fire warden or chief of police of any “dangerous accumulation of waste, rubble or inflammable material or any other serious fire hazard or any obstruction in streets and alleys likely to interfere with the operations of the fire department” because this is superseded by 8.12.050 which governs crap lying around generally and makes it a misdemeanor offense to let it pile up. Yawn.

- We shall hereby repeal 8.08.060 for similar reasons. 8.08.060 says if an animal dies on you, you have to bury it, and if you bury it, you have to do it outside city limits. Basically, beating a dead horse when you consider that whole crap thing discussed above.

- We shall hereby repeal 9.24.020 prohibiting gambling – OK, actually this is the only really interesting one, because while of course we’re not legalizing gambling in Saratoga we are making things a little bit easier for, e.g. certain male-dominated social clubs who weekly engage in games that are most certainly not Canasta in a certain back room of a certain pub and who also conduct calcutta auctions once a year for our town's annual chariot races, 10% of the take from which goes to pay part of your humble blogger’s annual salary but I’m of course getting ahead of myself – because the definition of gambling contained therein is hilariously restrictive and makes criminals even of, say, the Saratoga Middle School Booster Club’s halftime cake raffle ladies.

That definition reads: “No person shall play, deal, carry on or conduct any game whatsoever or any plan scheme or device for money, checks, credits, goods, chattels or anything of value by means of cards, dice, wheels, slot machines, vending devices, tops, punchboards, lotteries, raffles or any contrivance, means, device or machine of any denomination or name whatsoever within the town.”

I mean, holy crap, we should all be jail!

So anyway, we’re going to replace this with language more closely aligned with Wyoming state law, specifically §6-7-101 (a)(iii) which discusses gambling thusly:

"Gambling" means risking any property for gain contingent in whole or in part upon lot, chance, the operation of a gambling device or the happening or outcome of an event, including a sporting event, over which the person taking a risk has no control, but does not include:
(A)  Bona fide contests of skill, speed, strength or endurance in which awards are made only to entrants or the owners of entries;
(B)  Bona fide business transactions which are valid under the law of contracts;
(C)  Other acts or transactions now or hereafter expressly authorized by law;
(D)  Raffles or bingo conducted, or pull tabs sold, by charitable or nonprofit organizations where the tickets for the raffle or bingo are sold only in this state and the pull tabs are sold only on the premises owned or occupied by the charitable or nonprofit organization;
(E)  Any game, wager or transaction which is incidental to a bona fide social relationship, is participated in by natural persons only, and in which no person is participating, directly or indirectly, in professional gambling; or
(F)  Calcutta wagering on contests or events conducted by a bona fide nationally chartered veterans', religious, charitable, educational or fraternal organization or nonprofit local civic or service club organized or incorporated under the laws of this state

Much better, no? Now: ONWARD!

- We shall hereby repeal 9.24.060 which prohibits prostitution because, well, it’s a felony offense and kind of beyond our jurisdiction now since it’s illegal all over the state (for now. But I may stay in politics for a while yet, so stay tuned).

- We shall hereby repeal 9.28.040 which prohibits threatening to use a weapon on someone. Again, illegal all over the state, pretty much out of our hands to say whether it’s legal or not in Saratoga.

- Ditto 9.28.050 regarding concealed carrying of firearms. I’m getting sleepy again. You?

- And we’re also getting rid of 12.16.030(a)(4), one of the rules of the hot pool saying “no obscene or profane language,” not because everybody’s decided that the hot pool is a fine place to cuss, but rather because “No person in the town shall make, countenance or assist in making any improper noise, riot, disturbance or breach of the peace or use profane, obscene or offensive language to any person” according to 9.20.030. So, it’s actually illegal to cuss everywhere in the city limits, so we don’t need to emphasize it at the hot pool. What a fucking relief that is!

And so another dream disappoints when it comes true. Like discovering you have to pay taxes on your lottery winnings or finally getting a date with that special someone one has been admiring from afar only to learn that said someone is actually a crashing bore with daunting personal hygiene problems, the fulfillment isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

But hey, at least I got to bore you all with some etymology.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002


As those of you who have been paying attention to the world around us already know, we are as of today just two weeks away from Wyoming’s primary election (For those of you just joining us, why don’t you just skip this blog entry, ok? Wouldn’t want to give you a headache or make you scratch your scalp bloody or anything, would we? And just pretend all of those cute, colorful signs in the yards of the many, many people around who are much smarter than you are are just there for decoration).

Once upon a time, I let primary election day pass by with nary a thought because my political party never had more than one person vying for its nomination (and usually about half of the candidates on said party’s slate had been drafted, using various and sundry methods of persuasion, by your humble blogger in her capacity as the executive director [unpaid] of the state party). If I voted at all in the primaries, it was merely to make sure that it would continue to be possible to do so against the chance that someday there would be a real primary with choices and contested votes and all.

Running a third party in a big liberal state that will remain nameless (but rhymes, somewhat poorly, with Taxachusetts) had its ups and downs, o yes...

Last time around, I did vote in the primaries, but I was still stubbornly registered as a member of the nation’s largest and wackiest third party (yes, yes, yes, it’s the Libertarians. But they’re not all crackpots like the big letter writers in Wyoming; they’re not!) so all I got to vote on were non-partisan offices like Saratoga’s mayorship and two town council seats.

That’s all right; it was all I cared about anyway. There was no gubernatorial election, our member of the Wyoming state house was running unopposed as was our state’s lone Congresswoman (effectively, at least – as she is again, more’s the pity). Our senior member of the U.S. Senate had token opposition at best, and that only in the general election – no other Republican even wanted to try. So ho hum, guess I’ll just do my boring civic duty and register my preference for mayor (our current fella, who is running again this time) and council (not much of a choice there, since basically one of two incumbents and a local looney were all that were on offer)...

(Interestingly enough, the primary election of 2000 was how my own political career got its premature start, when an old classmate of mine decided she’d write me in for town council. I fell for the town clerk’s old “can we put your name in a hat” gambit and the rest is history)

This time around is a little more interesting, however. Not only is there a pretty hotly contested governor’s race, with bigshot tough guys who bring pantloads of name recognition and dubious experience to the contest, but there is actually someone running against our incumbent state house representative as well.

So I guess I’m finally going to have to pick a real political party, if I want to make a difference in any of these newly important primaries.

But there’s a problem!

My favorite candidate for governor (I’ll save you the trouble of asking; it’s THIS GUY) is on a Democratic ticket with several others who have been spending even more money on campaign ads and whatnot. He could probably use my vote to survive the primary and take on whichever of a raft of lunatics gunning for the Republican nomination comes out on top in the general election.


The guy who is giving our long-standing incumbent state house member a run for his money is running for the same party’s nomination. And of course, both of them are Republicans.

Never in my life have I hated this two-party system bullshit more.

See, the nice thing is that I can re-register and change my party affiliation right on primary election day, but the not-so-nice thing is that, by current state law, I have to pick one and can therefore only vote in either the Democratic or the Republican primary.

So I have to decide which one is more important: that my guy for state house (hint: not the incumbent) nails the local Republican nomination, or that my guy for governor gets the Democratic nod to move on. High stakes either way: the Republican primary is winner-take-all, There Can Be Only One, the Tribe Has Spoken, the general election all but meaningless, which most of the time leads me to conclude that I have to register as a Republican on Aug. 20.


There are a lot of yo-yos on the Democratic ballot for governor, and only one whom I actually like – and he’s the only candidate for governor that I like, period (i.e. I really, really don’t want anyone else in that governor’s mansion come January. Not any of the Republican candidates, not any loose cannon Libertarians, none of ‘em). And whoever wins the governor’s race is king of our castle for four years, whereas if my challenger loses out to the incumbent for our state house seat, we’re still only stuck with the incumbent for two more before there’s another chance to boot him out.

Plus, a governor is in office, at work (if you can call it that) all year round, while state house members are only in formal session for about two months and in committee meetings from time to time a total of maybe ten more days out of the year.

In other words, a governor can do a lot more damage.

So as you see, I’m still on the horns of a dilemma, and they’re pretty uncomfortable sitting, I can tell you.

A solution has occurred to me, though. I’m not the only kid in town with a schizophrenic display of political yard signs (Bucholz/Freudenthal seems to be a pretty popular combination). Maybe I need to call a caucus among those with displays like mine and we’ll divvy it up: half of us can make the Whiny Democrat Sacrifice to preserve our gubernatorial candidate, and the other half can take the Fat Cat Republican Pledge to see our boy through to the state house.

But really, we shouldn't be having to do this. Once upon a time, there were open primaries in our fair state and voters were just voters. Why did we allow this to vanish?