Mountain News: Another city takes aim at cell phones 

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BOZEMAN, Mont. – Bozeman's city council last week adopted a law that will make holding and talking into a cell phone while driving against the law. The question is how effective the ban will be.

Ten states and a number of other Montana towns and cities have already put the kibosh on cell phones — at least in theory. In Billings, Montana's largest city, the ban was widely honored at first, the police chief tells the Bozeman Chronicle, but compliance has dropped.

Statistics cited by the Chronicle describe a strong correlation between traffic accidents, including fatal ones, and use of cell phones. However, a study by the Montana-based Western Transportation Institute tried to further narrow the specific cause. It concluded that it was the conversation itself that distracted drivers, not necessarily holding the cell phone.

In that case, Bozeman's new law may be ineffective. It bans holding and talking, but allows talking with hands-free headset.

Quotas for chain restaurants studied

BANFF, Alberta — And after 20 years of debate about the so-called formula franchise stores and restaurants, what will Banff do?

The Rocky Mountain Outlook reports that the municipal council refuses to adopt an outright ban. Instead, it will look at a quota system aimed specifically at restaurants — but not retail.

The latest row came when a Toronto-based retailer of bulk teas, David's, laid plans to open a store in Banff. It has 20 stores across Canada and the United States. The proprietor of an existing tea store, Banff Tea Co., is alarmed, fearful that there's just not enough customers for tea for two, nor two for tea.

Locally owned businesses have had their troubles competing with chains, but even the local teashop proprietor believes chains have their place.

"I am not against all chains. I think some chains are necessary, like Safeway and The Dollar Store," said Susanne Gillies Smith.

"If quotas mean finding a balance within the community and we will be able to represent Banff with a unique mountain town, then I'm all for it."

The Outlook reports that council members want a process to establish the type and level of quotas for all chain restaurants, not just fast food stores. The town currently has a McDonald's and a Subway. Quotas for chain retail stores may come later.

Councillor Stavros Karlos said the community needs closure on the issue. "I've stayed up all night worrying and figuring out how to move it along in a respectful manner," he said at a council meeting.

Karlos said he could only consider a quota system it if were tied to an economic development strategy for the town.

"What I'm looking for is a thriving, vibrant downtown core," he said. "That's what my vision is."

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