SUE UNTO OTHERS
In September, the U.K.’s coalition government announced the imminent consolidation of anti-discrimination laws known as the Equality Act—despite critics’ warnings that it could stunt economic growth by tying up the workplace in a morass of lawsuits in which workers could sue for almost any perceived offense. Under the new concept of “third-party harassment,” for example, an employee who merely overhears another person—even a customer of his employer—say something he finds offensive could sue the employer. Critics also complained that the law adds to the traditional group of specially protected, oppressed people Gypsies, vegans, teetotalers and con artists.
In October, Freddie Mac (the government-sponsored but privately owned home mortgage financier whose massive debts have been assumed in a federal “bailout” administered by the Treasury Department) filed a claim in Tax Court against the Internal Revenue Service, denying the IRS’s claim that it owes $3 billion in back taxes from 1998-2005. Should taxpayers care? If Freddie Mac wins, the IRS (which is also housed in the Treasury Department) loses out on the $3 billion in alleged back taxes. If the IRS wins, it gets its $3 billion, which will undoubtedly be paid with taxpayer bailout money.
WATER THEY THINKING?
In November, patrons using rest rooms at City Hall in Chandler, Arizona, were stunned to see wall signs warning users not to drink out of the urinals and toilets. As officials explained, the environmentally friendly facilities flush with “reused” water—from the building’s cooling system—which must normally be colorized to discourage inadvertent drinking, and if it is not colored, must, by regulation, be accompanied by warning signs.
AT LEAST THEY WON THE SUPERBOWL
After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, Congress underwrote $7.9 billion in tax-free bonds that Louisiana could sell in order to rehabilitate the area. According to an August status report in Newsweek, $5.9 billion in bonds have been sold by the state, but only $55 million of that (1 percent) is for projects inside New Orleans—and none in the devastated Lower Ninth Ward. By contrast, $1.7 billion (about 29 percent) is going to projects that benefit the state’s oil industry.
One of midtown Manhattan’s favorite meet-up spots, according to an October report in The New York Times, is Colombian artist Fernando Botero’s 12-foot-tall “Adam” statue at Time Warner Center. However, since Adam is nude and the statue is so pedestrian-friendly, maintaining it has become a problem, according to the center’s general manager. As the Times described it, “Most of Adam is deep dark brown,” but the easily-accessible penis “is worn golden from extensive handling.”
SLEEPING AROUND ON THE JOB
In September, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing appointed Ralph Godbee police chief—a job he had held on an interim basis for several months. Godbee ascended to the job when Warren Evans was fired for, among other things, having an affair with a subordinate, Lt. Monique Patterson. Before turning to Evans, Patterson had had an affair with Godbee, also.
In July, Wayne Short’s iguana was certified by the National Service Animal Registry (NSAR) and thus allowed to attend to him on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, where she had previously been barred. Mayor Rick Meehan, eyeing the NSAR card, asked Short what sort of “service” Hillary provided, but Short declined to answer.
TRAPPED IN PARADISE
In October, firefighters were once again called to a claw-toy vending machine to extract a boy who had crawled up the toy-release chute—this time at a Walmart in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. As is often the case, the boy appeared to be joyously in his element among the toys and not immediately receptive to coaxing from firefighters or his parents.