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In June the Phoenix New Times published an unidentified man's detailed list of pros and cons about his two girlfriends, Brenda and Dominique (pseudonyms supplied by the paper), that had been found in a magazine pocket after an Air Reno flight. Under Brenda's name were, among other things, "wealthy" and "nice cars"; under Dominique's "chipping teeth" and "cuts me down." Yet Dominique appeared to have the upper hand on the list, which was scrawled on bookkeeping ledger sheets. Dominique had 18 pros and 11 cons; Brenda 15 and 22. "I love her" appeared as pro number three under Dominique, but number fifteen under Brenda. And con number nine under Brenda was "She's married."

The Democratic Process

In May in Eddyville, Kentucky, the sample ballot required by law to be printed in the daily newspapers before the election appeared with an X next to the name of J.R. Gray, one of five candidates for a state house seat. Gray is the cousin of David Gray, the county clerk, who told a reporter, "How it happened would be just pure speculation." David Gray agreed to pay for a second printing without the X.

Voter decisions: Friendsville, Maryland, mayor Spencer Schlosnagle was returned to office in February, though he'd been convicted a week before of indecent exposure and had four other such charges pending. Hialeah, Florida, voters elected Raul Martinez mayor in November, though he was awaiting sentencing on federal extortion charges; in 1971 Hialeah voted in as mayor a recently convicted felon. And Baldwin, Georgia, voters returned ex-mayor Tommy Lee Barrett to office in November, though in 1991 he'd faced theft and forgery charges and under a plea bargain was forced to resign and to promise never to run for mayor again.

Recent candidates for office: Leslie Elaine Perez, 56, the leading vote getter in the March primary to head the Texas Democratic Party organization in Houston, is a convicted murderer whose death penalty was stayed at the last minute in 1963 and who ultimately was paroled in 1971. (Perez is the former Leslie Douglas Ashley, having switched genders shortly after being released.) And ex-state senator George Hohman, 61, who still owes $9,000 of the $20,000 fine he was assessed on a 1981 bribery conviction, said he was running again for the Alaska senate because it was the only way he knew to get enough money to pay off the fine.

Among the losing candidates in November in the Raleigh, North Carolina, mayor's race was the former Cecil McGirt, 45, an African American who changed his name in 1981 to Doctor O.B. Aal-Anubiaimhotepokorohamz. That's a shortened form of the much longer name he chose after extensively researching his family history, a project he undertook after realizing he was foolish to believe he was Irish. His wife and each of their six children also have the first name Doctor, as a message of support for educational achievement.

In May a surveillance camera revealed Florida state representative Carlos Valdes as the man scribbling on the walls of a condominium complex in Miami with a black marker; he's also suspected of being responsible for several other episodes of graffiti vandalism. Said Valdes, "I can only characterize my actions as embarrassing and unacceptable."

A scandal erupted in February in Brazil over the appearance of a topless model (who donned a short minidress for the occasion) in the president's box on a parade route during the country's annual carnival. President Itamar Franco, 63, held hands with Lilian Ramos, 27, occasionally kissed her, and, according to an audiotape made surreptitiously in the box, asked her out on a date. Photos of the couple showed clearly that Ramos, who frequently raised her arms to wave to the parade, was not wearing underpants. Responding to the subsequent criticism, Franco told reporters, "How am I supposed to know if people are wearing underwear?"

Cliches Come to Life

Shortly after 2 PM on May 23 in Pomona, California, Tamika Johnson, 19, was issued a jaywalking ticket for making a dangerous street crossing in front of a county building. Minutes later, after the officer left, Johnson tried the crossing again, was hit by a car, and suffered a broken leg.

Alfred, Maine, police chief Richard Griffin agreed in May to pay a $250 fine and restitution to settle charges that he punched Louis DeAngelis over who was next in line at a doughnut shop.

In April in New Orleans a fleeing bank robber fired several shots at a police officer, but hit a nearby 38-year-old nun from the Sisters Servants of Mary Convent. The nun's wound was slight because the bullet first passed through the prayer book she was carrying.

Christopher Swihart, 20, was arrested in Berkeley, California, in August after breaking into a house and taking a suitcase. Swihart told police he didn't know where he was, that he thought the suitcase was his, and that the last thing he remembered doing was attending a Grateful Dead concert the night before.

Raleigh, North Carolina, bankruptcy lawyer Mark Kirby was indicted on federal fraud charges in December. According to a prosecutor, while Kirby was working for the Brown, Kirby & Bunch law firm in 1990 and 1991, he billed clients an average of nearly 1,200 hours a month--from a low of 851 hours to a high of 1,547. (A 31-day month has only 744 hours.)

Most Dysfunctional Family

In December in Oxnard, California, Dale Chester, 22, was sentenced to three years in prison for raping the pregnant girlfriend of his brother Ruben. Dale's brothers Leonard, 32, and Samuel, 29, are serving long prison terms for the violent rapes of five women in separate incidents, and Ruben, 24, is serving time for robbery and assault. Their father is a local pastor and their mother a Christian missionary, and police and prosecutors say there's no evidence of the childhood abuse that typically portends this kind of adult violence.

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

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