One man, one vote: Because of an obscure state constitutional amendment, the terms of office of the four incumbents on the Loretto, Kentucky, city council automatically expired in November without the knowledge of most voters or politicians. Travis Greenwell, 23, voting by absentee ballot and perhaps the only person in town (population 800) who read the voting literature, cast the only votes in the election. For the four slots, he wrote in the names of his mother, his uncle, a friend, and a local character who runs a hardware store. (All except the hardware store owner declined to serve.)
Wrong place, wrong time: Phoenix cosmetic surgeon Steven Locniker, wanted for failure to pay child support, was arrested in September after officials learned he was Cosmopolitan magazine's "Bachelor of the Month." In October Thomas Georgevitch, 22, wanted for impersonating a police officer, was arrested in Bay Shore, New York, after a detective heard him call in to a radio station to request a song (Johnny Rivers's "Secret Agent Man"). And Tom Tipton, 63, wanted on two warrants in Minneapolis, was arrested in November when a sheriff's officer recognized him as the man singing the national anthem before the Vikings-Broncos football game.
The Litigious Society
Chris Morris filed a $1 million lawsuit against the state of Michigan in November, claiming that he caught a cold while viewing an art exhibit in the rotunda of the state capitol in Lansing.
Dale L. Larson's $41,000 trial-court award was upheld in October by a Wisconsin appeals court, which agreed that the Indianhead golf course in Wausau was 51 percent responsible for Larson's needing nine root canals and 23 dental crowns. Larson had tripped on his golf spikes and fallen facedown on a brick path outside the clubhouse, which he argued wouldn't have happened if the path had been a smooth concrete sidewalk. The trial court had ruled that only 49 percent of the accident was due to the fact that Larson consumed 13 drinks that day.
Andrew Daniels filed a $500,000 lawsuit against M&M/Mars Company and a Cleveland retailer because one of the Peanut M&Ms he bit down on had no peanut in it, causing him to bite through his lip and need surgery. One claim against the retailer is "failure to inspect" the candy.
In August Julie Leach filed a lawsuit in Macomb County, Michigan, seeking at least $10,000 from the owners of a beagle named Patch, which Leach said was constantly goading her German shepherd, Holly, into chasing him. In 1995 Holly was run over by a car and killed while pursuing Patch, and Leach blames Patch's owners for permitting their dog to harass Holly.
In July Alex Alzaldua filed a $25,000 lawsuit against Dennis Hickey in Raymondville, Texas, claiming he suffered injuries after he "suddenly without warning" tripped over Hickey's dog in Hickey's kitchen. The suit states that Hickey should've warned Alzaldua of "the dog's propensity of lying in certain areas" and that he was walking in the kitchen "at his own risk."
Cliches Come to Life
Trucker Franciszek Zygadlo was committed to a mental institution in Rochester, New York, in November after he led police on a high-speed chase in his trailerless cab for 280 miles. According to police, after finally driving the truck into Irondequoit Bay, Zygadlo ran toward the officers and proclaimed himself a hero for defusing a bomb on the truck that he said would've exploded if he had slowed to less than 40 miles an hour.
In October firefighters in Las Cruces, New Mexico, took two hours to extinguish a fire at the Cal-Compack Foods plant that started when a silo full of red chile powder grew so hot it began to smolder.
In August the Carons of Sandown, New Hampshire, were granted an extension in filing their quarterly federal income-tax forms after they discovered that their home had been ransacked by the family's pet pygmy goats while they were on vacation. Among the items the goats had eaten were toilet-bowl cleaner, a lampshade, a telephone directory, and all of the family's income-tax paperwork.
In November Jeen Han, 22, was charged in Irvine, California, with conspiracy to commit murder. According to police, Han plotted to kill her twin sister, Sunny, after she found out that Sunny had snitched about her stealing credit cards. Police said that the "evil twin" had planned on assuming the "good twin's" identity.
Thinning the Herd
In November a 60-year-old Polish man in the village of Kosianka Trojanowka was accidentally shot to death by two homemade guns he had mounted on his garage door to ward off trespassers (just 2 of 28 booby traps in his house). And in Slidell, Louisiana, in December, Jason Jinks, 20, opened his car door and backed up at 25 miles an hour in order to look for his hat, which had fallen off. When he hit the brakes he fell out on his head; he died three days later.
Longtime Belleville prison inmate Kelvin Lewis, asked by the Belleville Journal in January to evaluate the jail's new black-and-white, thick-horizontal-striped uniforms, graded them an 11 on a 10-point scale. Said Lewis, "I like their style. The younger generation will like [the rolled-up cuffs]."
Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration by Shawn Belshwender.