If you're a free-lancer, watch out for zoning laws. Chicago's managing to show the tyrannical potential of zoning. Patrick and Leah O'Connor, both teachers who moonlight as free-lance educational writers, each bought home computers. Then came the knock on the door from a city inspector who said they were violating the zoning law by conducting a commercial enterprise in a residential area. "I'm in shock over this," says O'Connor. "The ordinance seems to mean that I'm violating the law when I type my work on the computer. What's the difference between using a computer and a typewriter? Maybe they're just kidding." Sorry, no such luck. Zoning administrator Harry L. Manley says the city is serious. "Look, it's no different than someone cutting hair in his spare time. If it provides income, it's considered a business." Could pencils and paper be next? Stay tuned.
They finally got old Judge Hutzky. The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct probably could have lived with the fact that Saratoga Town Court Justice Paul Hutzky "neglected nearly every aspect of his job" (just like a lot of other state employees?) and couldn't reconstruct what cases had come before him and how they were handled. Just some darned paperwork, anyway. What convinced the commission to remove the judge from the bench was his practice of keeping thousands of dollars in court funds stuffed in his shoes and his freezer. The judge wasn't appropriating funds; he just didn't believe in banks. And clearly, believing in shoes is no good for justice!
New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority has $7 million worth of parts stored in quantities far greater than the MTA will ever need. An audit found 285 years' worth of air-compressor clutches, 168 years' worth of rear windows, and 114 years' worth of skid chains. Another $7 million worth of parts stored in bus depots have not been requisitioned in almost three years, and many of the parts fit only buses long ago retired from the MTA fleet. Meanwhile, an average of 70 buses sit idle every day because parts needed to repair them are out of stock. The auditors recommended a new inventory system. And as it has announced each and every time there's an audit, MTA brass say they were already in the process of putting the recommendations into effect when the report came out. Sure, and the check is in the mail.
Blood is thicker than oil, and in shorter supply. That's why Iran's blood-thirsty rulers are executing prisoners by draining their blood so it can be given to wounded soldiers, according to the International Federation for Human Rights. Other condemned prisoners have been forced to "contribute" blood before being shot, the group says. A document signed by the chief revolutionary prosecutor's office in Tehran notes that the Ayatollah Khomeini says the order is not at variance with Islamic law.
News reporters and photographers are admittedly a pretty scruffy lot when it comes to the latest clothing fashions. Remember "Animal" on the old Lou Grant show? But First Lady Nancy Reagan probably went too far in reminding the scribes how to dress for her recent trip to a Japanese art exhibit in Tokyo. Her press office posted the following memo at the White House press room: "Be sure to wear clean, hole-less socks, as you will be required to remove your shoes before entering the exhibition hall."
Titus Tomescu, a 17-year-old Romanian immigrant who is a part-time grocery bagger at a Chicago supermarket, worked a total of 34 hours at $3.75 an hour. He received two paychecks totaling $3.09. Is it new math at work? No, just union dues. Titus's gross pay for 17 hours of work was $63.75, but his net pay was one penny. Payroll deductions included $4.41 for federal income taxes, $4.27 for Social Security, $2.23 for state income taxes and $2 for health and other insurance-plus $10.83 for union dues and $40 toward a union initiation fee. The next week, based on the same gross earnings, Titus got a check for $3.08. Union deductions were $47.50. Titus says he'll try not to spend all his paycheck in one place.
The Army spent $20,000 to prepare 30,000 multicolored pamphlets explaining how to engage in the old playground game King of the Hill. The pamphlet contains a preface and four pages of detailed rules. The purpose of the pamphlet is to "incorporate leadership, strategy-planning and decision-making skills into the physical fitness training program," says the Army. Sen. William Proxmire points out that children have been able to learn the rules of the game for decades without military assistance. He also questions whether Yuri Andropov will lose any sleep because American GIs are developing proficiency in the game.