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Loose Lips

Newsmakers and the words they rode in on.

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JANUARY 5

A coalition of pro-Peotone-airport groups hired former senator Alan Dixon to lobby for their cause. Dixon arrived in Chicago and described his strategy for dealing with the Peotone airport's biggest enemy, Mayor Daley: "I came here to kiss his ring and talk him into considering a third airport, in Peotone."

JANUARY 6

A New Jersey man's friends taped him coming off heroin, planning to show him the tape later to persuade him to kick the habit. No one realized the guy had OD'd until a roommate came home and asked, "Does he always sleep with his mouth and eyes open?"

JANUARY 17

Republican members of Congress weren't thrilled at the prospect of President Clinton's State of the Union address, which would come not long after many of them had voted to impeach him. As Senator Phil Gramm of Texas put it on ABC's This Week, "Ouite frankly, I'd rather go to the dentist."

JANUARY 17

Gramm also said he thought Clinton should just submit a written speech, because otherwise "It's like adjourning a trial to have the accused give a pep rally before the grand jury."

FEBRUARY 2

Israeli lawyer Ron Major explained the genesis of his idea for a Sea of Galilee tourist attraction, a 240-foot-long platform just below the surface of the water that allows tourists to look like they're walking on water: "I was ashamed to share it with other people at first, for fear they would think that I was a lunatic."

FEBRUARY 3

The news of Walter Payton's need for a liver transplant persuaded a few holdouts to become organ donors. The Sun-Times Times quoted a Berwyn resident whose mother had survived cancer with the help of an organ transplant but who wasn't moved to become an organ donor until he heard about Payton's plight: "The news about Payton made me think about my mom....If it can happen to someone like Walter Payton, it really makes you feel vulnerable. So I'm going to be an organ donor."

FEBRUARY 20

Chicago Republican and former clown Ray Wardingley, who resoundingly lost the 1995 mayoral election to Mayor Daley, ran for alderman of the 19th Ward against incumbent Virginia Rugai. Wardingley made this election prediction: "You might see a pretty close race after all. And you could see an upset. I'm not kidding."

FEBRUARY 25

The FBI scooped up Terry Twist at a California bar. Twist had skipped town after allegedly masterminding a February 15 Naperville TCF Bank branch robbery in which authorities charge he got several local teenagers, including tellers at the bank, to help him stage a phony robbery that netted them $90,000. Twist, a bank supervisor, had fled to San Diego. When the judge asked him if he was employed, Twist answered, "Um...I don't think so."

MARCH 7

Illinois law requires children in cars to sit in child safety seats, but a coalition of motorcyclists still thinks it's OK for kids to ride motorcycles without helmets. When Illinois representative Eileen Lyons of Western Springs proposed legislation requiring helmets for kids, motorcyclist lobbyist Todd Vandermyde said, "is the state now going to become a wet nurse for every kid out there and try to protect them in every conceivable situation?"

MARCH 15

Monica Lewinsky, beginning a British book tour for her biography, Monica's Story, talked with Time magazine reporter Michael Duffy. Duffy asked her what part of the whole fiasco she considered herself responsible for. Lewinsky said she hadn't been mature enough to realize how serious the affair was, adding, "Although some people may find this hard to believe, me actually only telling 10 people was being pretty discreet for me."

MARCH 16

Cook County Circuit judge John J. Scotillo sentenced politically connected Forest Preserve District recreation superintendent Robert M. Kelly for his eighth DUI conviction. Scotillo slapped Kelly with a three-year prison term, saying, "I don't ever recall a person with more DUI convictions than Mr. Kelly, although I've only been practicing 24 years."

MARCH 17

A University of Minnesota study concluded that men snore louder than women. After measuring snores from 1,139 hospital patients, the study found that 85 percent of the snoring was as loud as highway traffic. Dr. Kent Wilson said, "You could ticket 12 percent of the people in this group."

MARCH 18

As the family of Richard Nixon battled in federal court to be paid more than $200 million for Nixon's tapes and papers, the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau chief, James Warren, reported many interesting snippets that were played in court. Besides calling Italians "untrustworthy" and Mexicans "wetbacks," Nixon had this to say on the issue of appointing women to high-level positions: "They are a pain In the neck, hard to control and you should only appoint them when they are competent."

MARCH 24

New governor George Ryan floated the idea of installing a pool at the lavish Springfield governor's mansion, reasoning, "You've got a mansion. There probably ought to be a pool there." The idea eventually sank.

MARCH 31

For two days Alabama lieutenant governor Steve Windom, a Republican, fought the state senate's Democratic majority over some partisan politics not even worth explaining. Windom was afraid to leave the chambers because that would have allowed Democrats to take control of the floor and then vote on senate procedures. So he brought in a pitcher that could be used as a chamber pot, placed it inside the podium, and stayed for 14 hours one day and 15 hours the next. He told a radio station, "it takes guts-and a bladder of steel."

APRIL 6

Just before rush hour, a tractor-trailer spilled around 70,000 pounds of Prego spaghetti sauce on the entrance ramp to I-80 from 1-57. The driver was ticketed for failing to reduce his speed. Master Sergeant Lincoln Hampton of the Illinois State Police explained why traffic was congested in the area: "Heck, you have to stop to look at sauce, right?"

APRIL 10

WKQX apologized for disc jockey Mancow Muller, who played a song about the Special Olympics. Muller didn't apologize. The song went like this: "Watch them laugh, watch them drool, watch them fall Into the swimming pool. That's diving at the Special Olympics."

APRIL 25

Residents of Littleton, Colorado, began to weigh in on Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who'd recently massacred students at Columbine High School, then committed suicide. One 16-year-old girl said, "I talked to both of them Friday [four days before the shooting]. They were both nice. They were probably the nicest people you could ever meet."

APRIL 25

Jefferson County sheriff John Stone was more circumspect about the boys' parents. "I think I would be a little concerned about my son's room If I went in there and I found a sawed-off shotgun barrel...sitting out there."

APRIL 27

The Wisconsin Supreme Court reprimanded Racine municipal court judge Robert Michelson for asking a defendant if her pregnant daughter could "keep her pants on and not behave like a slut."

APRIL 27

Judge Michelson defended himself "I am doing my best to be as sensitive to all the people that come in front of me and treat them with dignity and respect."

MAY 20

Mel Gibson denied that violent Hollywood movies are responsible for a violent culture, much less the Columbine slayings. He added, "I'll tell you what really turns my toes up--love scenes with 68-year-old men and young actresses. I promise you, when I get to that age I will say no."

MAY 22

The Illinois House passed gambling legislation that might help Arlington International Racecourse reopen and the Silver Eagle casino relocate to Rosemont. Representative Charles Morrow III, a Democrat from Chicago, was one of ten representatives who voted against it. He explained, "This seems to be the session of the rich fat cats. Unfortunately, no one In my community Is rich. They may be fat. But they're not rich."

JUNE 15

A federal judge ordered prosecutors to tell him whether the government had implanted a tracking device in the buttocks of reputed mobster Vincent "Gigi Portalla" Marino. Marino believes a device was implanted when when he had a bullet surgically removed. US. attorney Donald K. Stern told the judge, "We can confirm that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration did not implant a tracking device in defendant Vincent M. 'Gigi Portalla' Marino's buttocks. But we cannot speak, however, for any extraterrestrial beings."

JUNE 25

Governor George Ryan signed the gambling legislation the Illinois House passed in May, which included ending the requirement that riverboats cruise. Local casinos announced that they would stay at the dock beginning the next day, thrilling gamblers. As one gambler at Joliet's Harrah's boat put it, "You can lose your money quicker and go home."

JULY 8

Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, opened a drive-through for horse-race gamblers because, as track spokesman Darren Rogers put it, "People just don't have time these days."

JULY 8

Russell Hale, father of World Church of the Creator leader Matthew Hale, became popular with reporters after Hale follower Benjamin Smith went on a shooting spree, killing two people and wounding nine before killing himself. Russell Hale wasn't especially upset about his son's white-supremacist views when he spoke to Sun-Times reporters, though he was concerned about his son's atheism. "That part really bothers me. I understand it, but I don't like it."

JULY 22

Arriving at Bears training camp in Platteville, Wisconsin, Curtis Enis regaled reporters with descriptions of his life now that he's over his association with Champions for Christ. Mike Nadel, a Copley News Service columnist, asked Enis if he still considered himself a Christian. Ellis ascertained that Nadel was Jewish, then observed: "Well, I have no problem being Jewish. I like to get money and make things happen."

AUGUST 29

The Tribune's Mike Dorning reportcd that Dan Lipinski, son of Representative Bill Lipinski, got a legislative assistant's job with Representative Rod Blagojevich. Lipinski has a doctorate in political science from Duke University. Blagojevich told Dorning, "We're very happy to have him. If you can't hire a PhD just because he's a colleague's son, what kind of a country is this?"

SEPTEMBER 6

Rupert Murdoch brought oil the wrath of Tibetans and human rights activists when he made this comment about the Dalai Lama in a Vanity Fair interview: "I have heard cynics who say he's a very political old monk shuffling around in Gucci shoes."

SEPTEMBER 7

South-side resident Levorn Black filed a complaint with the Chicago Police Department against his neighbor, a police officer, who shot Black's rottweiler The dog bad to be put to sleep. Black insisted his dog was, running away when the officer shot it, but police, spokesman Par Camden said the officer was walking through his 'yard on his way to work when the dog charged him. As Camden put it, "We're talking about a rottweiler here. This ain't no little Taco Bell dog."

SEPTEMER 22

Lake County Circuit Court judge John Goshgarian admitted that he'd repeatedly called fellow judge Barbara Gilleran Johnson a derogatory term for women, which wasn't reported but which we can all probably guess, and agreed to the Illinois judicial Inquiry Board's recommendation to the Illinois Courts Commission of a three-month suspension without pay. Goshgarian denied that he'd intimidated a juror in an attempted-murder case, though he did admit telling her, "The jury came back with a stupid, goofball verdict."

SEPTEMBER 27

Chicago Streets and Sanitation Department spokesman Terry Levin disputed claims by employees that the city's new Department of Human Services office building in West Town is infested with rats. Levin said the rat rumors might have been started by employees unhappy about various other working conditions. According to Levin, Streets and San set out traps and bait but caught no rats. And there were no rat droppings. As Levin pointed out, "Rats and mice, for lack of better words, can't hold it in."

OCTOBER 6

Two months after Kansas dropped evolution from its public school curriculum, the Kentucky Education Department tried sidestepping its own evolution controversy by replacing the word "evolution" with "change over time" in its teaching guidelines. Ken Rosenbaum, director of the Kentucky Science Teachers Association, didn't approve. "In science we have big words like photosynthesis. Do we not call it photosynthesis? Do we call it plant food making?"

OCTOBER 29

Pictures showing a bloody Allen Lee "Tiny" Davis after his July execution in Florida's electric chair drew multitudes of visitors to the Florida Supreme Court's Web site. The court had reviewed the constitutionality of the electric chair, and in a 4 to 3 decision found that the electric chair worked just fine, even though blood had poured from Davis's mask all over his white shirt, apparently because he had a nosebleed before they turned the chair on. Pictures of him were attached to a dissent by one of the justices. Many Web-site visitors found the pictures disgusting, but not the North Redington Beach, Florida, woman who sent this E-mail to the court: "The photos on this Web site are WONDERFUL!"

NOVEMBER 18

Although India long ago outlawed the Hindu practice of sati, in which a widow throws herself on the funeral pyre of her husband, the Tribune reported that Charan Shah did it anyway. A police investigation showed that Shah's family and friends observed her preparations and did nothing to stop her. The Tribune account said Shah's sons and relatives proudly described her death this way: "She didn't complain and she didn't scream as she burned."

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