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Ballwin repeals law that led to finger-gesture citation

City also plans more Canada goose control

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Extending your arm outside your car window to signal a turn or to make a one-fingered salute to your fellow drivers is now legal in Ballwin.

But while you can flip the bird in Ballwin, the city wants birds, themselves, specifically Canada geese, run out of town.

The board of alderman voted 6-2 Monday to repeal all city ordinances that would ban extending body parts outside a car by the driver or passengers.

Aldermen Frank Fleming and Kathy Kerlagon were opposed, as was Mayor Tim Pogue.

The new ordinance is the result of a lawsuit filed last year after a motorist was cited in a road rage incident in which he made the obscene gesture to another motorist.

The case never came to trial in municipal court. Instead, the case was dropped when the American Civil Liberties Union hired an attorney to defend the motorist, citing freedom of speech.

City Attorney Bob Jones and the city's prosecuting attorney wanted to simply amend the law to ban anyone from extending arms or other body parts from a car while it was moving. However, some alderman wanted the entire law repealed.

"It's a basic liberty," Alderman Shamed Dogan said. "Why can't a motorist stick an arm out the window? It's kind of absurd that they couldn't."

Alderman Mark Harder said he feared only amending the law could lead to someone being cited for smoking with their arm hanging out of the car.

Meanwhile, the mild winter has led to more people using city parks and more people complaining about having to step around goose droppings.

The board moved to remedy the situation by voting 7-1 to award a $3,500 contract to Humane Goose Management to use dogs to chase Canada geese out of the city's parks and off the golf course.

It's at least the fourth year the city has used border collies for goose control. The measure is viewed as less drastic and less likely to rile residents who previously protested plans to round up and kill geese.

Although Alderman Jim Leahy voted for the goose roundup, he was critical.

"Not too many people can go to Vlasis Park and not step in this stuff every day, and it's a disaster," he said. "I don't think the dogs have worked. We need another plan. I feel we need to take this to the next level next year."

Alderman James Terbrock added that all the dogs do is move the geese from the parks to neighboring subdivisions.

"Due to the tremendous goose overpopulation, this problem will never be resolved by dogs alone," he said.

But Fleming warned them that even killing local geese wouldn't solve the problem because geese from elsewhere would simply replace them.

"The dogs are all we have at the moment, and doing something is better than nothing," Fleming said.


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