Democracy in Action
While “democracy” in most of America means electing representatives to run government, on Nov. 8 in San Francisco it also expected voters to decide 43 often vague, densely worded “issues” that, according to critics, could better be handled by the professionals who are, after all, elected by those very same voters. Except for hot-button issues like tax increases or hardened legislative gridlock, solutions on these “propositions” (e.g., how certain contractors’ fees should be structured, which obscure official has primary responsibility for which obscure job, or the notorious proposition asking whether actors in the tax-paying porno industry must use condoms) would be, in other states, left to elected officials, lessening voter need for a deep dive into civics.
Inexplicable: (1) The police chief of Bath Township, Ohio, acknowledged the overnight break-in on Oct. 10 or 11 at the University Hospitals Ghent Family Practice, but said nothing was missing. It appeared that an intruder (or intruders) had performed some medical procedure in a clinical office (probably on an ear) because instruments were left in bowls and a surgical glove and medication wrappings tossed into a trash can (and a gown left on a table). (2) A 35-year-old man was detained by police in Vancouver, British Columbia, in October after a home break-in in which the intruder took off his clothes, grabbed some eggs and began preparing a meal. The homeowner, elsewhere in the house, noticed the commotion and the intruder fled (still naked).
How To Tell If You’ve Had Too Much To Drink: Ashley Basich, 49, was arrested in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in October and charged with DUI after police found her, late at night, using an industrial forklift to pick up and move a van that she explained was blocking her driveway. Problems: She works for the state forestry department and had commandeered a state-owned vehicle, she had a cooler of beer in the forklift and was operating it while wearing flip-flops (OSHA violation!), and the van “blocking” her driveway was her own.
Though most Chicago Police Department officers get no more than five civilian complaints in their entire careers (according to one defense attorney), CPD internal records released in October reveal that some had more than 100, and, of 13,000 complaints over 47 years in which police wrongdoing was conceded, only 68 cases resulted in the officer actually being fired (although the worst police offender, Jerome Finnigan, with 157 complaints over two decades, is now in federal prison).
Compelling Explanations: Two men in rural Coffee County, Georgia, told sheriff’s deputies in November that they had planned to soon attack a science-research center in Alaska because peoples’ “souls” were trapped there and needed to be released (or at least that is what God told Michael Mancil, 30, and James Dryden Jr., 22, causing them to amass a small, but “something out of a movie” arsenal, according to the sheriff). The High Frequency Active Aural Research Facility, run by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, has long been a target of conspiracists, in that “the study of the Earth’s atmosphere” obviously, they say, facilitates “mind control,” snatching souls.
Well, Of Course! (1) Motorist Luke Campbell, 28, was arrested near Minneapolis in September and charged with firing his gun at several passing cars, wounding one man (a bus passenger) — explaining to a bystander that shooting at other vehicles “relieves stress.” (2) Briton Mark Wright, 45, caught with illegal drugs taped to his penis following his arrest for burglary, told Newcastle Crown Court in September that he had “hidden” them there to keep them secret from his wife (perhaps identifying one place that she no longer visits).
Leading Economic Indicators
Recent Hospital Bills: (1) Paula D’Amore claimed she deserved a discount from the $7,400 “delivery room” charge for the April birth of her daughter at Boca Raton (Florida) Regional Hospital — because the baby was actually born in the backseat of her car in the hospital’s parking lot. (Nurses came out to assist D’Amore’s husband in the final stages, but, said D’Amore, only the placenta was delivered inside.) (2) In October, new father Ryan Grassley balked at the $39.95 line-item charge from Utah Valley Hospital (Provo, Utah) — for the mother’s holding her new C-section son momentarily to her bare chest (a “bonding” ritual). (Doctors countered that C-section mothers are usually drugged and require extra security during that ritual — but that Utah Valley might rethink making that charge a “line item.”)