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News of the Weird

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Lead Story

Mimi Sunn, 67, manager until last February of the Fanny Farmer candy store in the New Rochelle (New York) Mall, filed a $10 million lawsuit against the company this February for illnesses and psychiatric problems she is now enduring. Last February Fanny Farmer investigators, concerned about ice cream pilferage in Sunn's store, came from the firm's Cleveland headquarters to question her. She admitted giving away ice cream to guards who escorted her to the night depository--a total of "30 or 40" cones in 16 years. The investigators made her sign a "stolen property" report and called police, who took her, handcuffed, to the station. Charges were dropped, but Ms. Sunn was fired.

Government in Action

T. Milton Street, assistant budget director of the Philadelphia Traffic Court, refused in November to pay the $1,967 in fines for moving vehicle violations he has accumulated. Said Street, "Why should I pay? They [the traffic court] violate people's rights every day."

Officials for a state food-inspection service in West Germany ruled last July that "edible ladies' underwear" sold in pornography stores was "unfit for human consumption." For example, the "Cherry-Flavored Love Bikini" contained illegal ingredients despite the seller's claim of "high-grade savory components."

Texas bureaucrat George Arroyos was up for a state government productivity award recently. Arroyos, earning $10,428 a year as a photocopy counter, suggested that his agency buy a $6 device (that attaches to most machines) to count the copies instead, which it did, thus eliminating his job.

Dana Reinhart, mayor of Columbus, Ohio, who launched a local honesty campaign in 1989 after citizens refused to return money that had spilled from an armored car, admitted in November that he had lied about an extramarital affair. Said Reinhart to a reporter, "You find somebody whose life is perfect, and let him lead the campaign."

Permissible, according to the Food and Drug Administration's updated list of "natural or unavoidable" substances in food: 20 maggots per 100 grams of canned mushrooms and 1 percent mammal excrement per pound of whole pepper.

In November Gilliam, Louisiana, had its first local election in more than 20 years. Said Mayor James Hall, "Up to this year, everybody has been content." (Some speculated that the reason for the discontent is that police had recently begun giving speeding tickets.)

In November Emanuel H. Norris, purchasing director for the Kansas City School District, sent a memo to the district's 6,000-plus employees for the sole purpose of requesting that everyone spell his name correctly.

In December, at the instigation of local businesses, the Harvest Ministries shelter for the homeless in downtown Dalton, Georgia, was ordered by police to close because it lacks a parking lot. The shelter's director, Sheila Reed, pointed out (to no avail) that her clients don't have cars.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was cited last year by the Colorado Department of Health for violating state air pollution standards in burning a half-ton of confiscated cocaine. Said a DEA official, "What do they think we're going to do with it--ship it back to Colombia?"

Ohio state representative Charles "Red" Ash and his wife were indicted in July for allegedly submitting various false claims to insurance companies about property stolen from their homes. Ash had recently voted to toughen the state law on insurance fraud, but will be tried under the old law because his claims were filed before the new law took effect.

Maryland governor Donald Schaefer proposed last year to alleviate the state's prison crowding by making inmates sleep in shifts.

Mayor Geraldine Dixon of Blacksburg, South Carolina, was charged last February with shoplifting two Valentine's Day cards and a candle from a Wal-Mart.

During October's federal budget showdown between Congress and President Bush, the House of Representatives appropriated $500,000 for the purpose of renovating Strasburg, North Dakota, the birthplace of bandleader Lawrence Welk. The money will go toward fixing up the house, building a motel for tourists, and further revitalizing the community of 700.

In August retired Philippine general Alfredo Lim was appointed by President Aquino to restore public confidence in the national lottery. During an undercover investigation of one lottery official, Lim purchased 80 tickets. One of them was the winning ticket, worth $200,000.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.

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