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Friday, May 27, 2011

Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird

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Montana Values

In March, the Montana House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at reducing the state's high rate of driving under the influence (DUI), but it came over the objection of Republican Rep. Alan Hale (and, later, Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy). Hale, who owns a bar in Basin, Mont., complained that tough DUI laws are hurting small businesses and "destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years." Until 2005 in Montana, drinking while driving was legal outside of towns as long as the driver wasn't drunk. Furthermore, Hale said, people need to drive home after they drink, as "they are not going to hitchhike." Sen. Windy Boy said such laws put the Legislature on "the path of criminalizing everyone in Montana."

Cavalcade of Rednecks


(1) In February in Waterville, Maine, police cited Shelly Waddell, 36, after multiple drivers reported seeing two children riding on the roof of the van she was driving early one morning. Waddell told police she was helping a friend deliver newspapers to customers. She denied that the kids were on the roof. (2) At the Dec. 4 holiday parade in Niceville, Fla., a municipal employee was arrested when he approached a city truck that was part of the parade and challenged the driver to a fight. The employee accused the driver, who apparently was a colleague, of taking his overtime hours for the previous two years and ordered him out of the truck so he could "whip your ass." (The employee was charged with disorderly intoxication.)

Oops!


Wheeee! (1) In March, in Pierce County, Wash., a 37-year-old sewer worker came loose from a safety line and slid about 3,000 feet through a 6-foot-diameter sewer pipe at the Chambers Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. One rescuer said the man was fortunate in that he "could have drowned," but instead received only minor injuries. (2) Firefighters in Gilbert, Ariz., rescued Eugene Gimzelberg, 32, in March after he had climbed down a 40-foot sewer hole—naked. Gimzelberg said he had smoked PCP and marijuana and consumed hallucinogenic mushrooms. He was hospitalized in critical condition.

Chutzpah!


Overreaching: (1) In April, Texas state Rep. John Davis (a Republican from Houston) proposed a tax break for people who buy a yacht for more than a quarter-million dollars. Davis claimed that the tax break would lead to more yacht sales and, through a ripple effect, more jobs. He wanted Texas to cap the sales tax on yachts at the amount due on a $250,000 vessel—a break of almost $16,000 on a $500,000 boat. (2) A police officer ticketed Adam Yarbrough, 22, in Indianapolis in March after he was observed swerving in and out of traffic on an Interstate highway. Yarbrough allegedly compounded the problem by offering the cop $5 to "get rid of this ticket" and then offering to have sex with her. Felony bribery charges were filed. (Bonus fact: Yarbrough was riding a moped.)

Least Competent Criminals


Marissa Mark, 28, was indicted in March in Allentown, Pa., for hiring a hit man in 2006 via the then-active website HitManForHire.com. Allegedly, Mark agreed to pay $37,000 to have a California woman killed. Mark allegedly made traceable payments through the PayPal service (which in recent years has refused to process transactions involving online gambling, but which in 2006 did handle payments for HitManForHire.com). The hit man site was run by a man who told the Las Vegas Sun in 2008 that he would never contract for murder, but instead sought to make money by double-crossing clients and alerting (for a fee) the intended victims.

© 2011 Chuck Shepherd
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