Brickbats

Tough toenails! The Health Care Financing Administration is callously clipping the taxpayer of $45 million a year by allowing Medicare to foot the bill when podiatrists cut toenails, according to Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.). For patients who have a fungus infection around the toenail, Medicare pays about $90 million a year for a procedure called debridement of mycotic toenails. But government studies show that some podiatrists have been rather footloose in their diagnosis of the symptoms. After all, Medicare won't pay for routine toenail clipping, only infected toenail clipping. HFCA has refused to implement any reforms, and the foot-dragging is making Proxmire angry. "These bureaucrats gave the podiatrists an inch, but they took a foot," he says.

It's just like Mom always told us: Look, but don't touch. Boston stripper "Chesty" Morgan has no constitutional right to allow bar patrons to touch her 73-inch bosom to prove that her chest is real. Massachusetts Appeals Court Judge Alan Hale denied the stripper's plea for an injunction against a city ordinance forbidding her to circulate bare-chested among the customers at Alex's Lounge. The bar's liquor license had been suspended for five days because Chesty violated the ordinance. Hale says that by forcing the stripper to not allow patrons to touch her chest while she bumps and grinds her way through the crowd, the law does not infringe on Morgan's First Amendment rights.

What's a schoolmarm to do when the smack of a ruler across the knuckles won't do the trick? Nancy Eggert, a Williamsburg, Iowa, educator who smeared cow manure on the faces of two fifth-graders, says the punishment was a last-ditch attempt to force the pupils to do their homework. She stopped the unique behavior-modification program after the kids' parents smelled something, er, fishy, and decided to raise a stink with the school board. We shudder to think what might have happened if the kids played hooky.

Are the six giant steel and urethane mechanical frogs that dance and play musical instruments atop a popular Dallas nightclub objects of art or merely crass commercialism? It's a rib-beting question, and so far the frogs are losing. The city's Sign Control Board of Adjustment ruled that the frogs constitute a sign and thus jump all over a Dallas ordinance banning rooftop signs. Nightclub owner Shannon Wynne offered testimony from leading museum officials, but to no avail. A majority of the board was swayed by the "gorilla issue," raised by board member Rick Illes. "I have nothing against frogs personally," he says. "But if we agree to this, there's nothing to stop the local supermarket from putting a 25-foot gorilla with two heads of lettuce in his hands, and calling that art too." Isn't it reassuring to know that Dallas officials are hard at work on the compelling problems of municipalities?

It really pays to buckle up, especially in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Uncle Sam is spending $82,000 in the bayou town to find out if bribery will encourage motorists to wear seat belts. The money will be spent to hire people to stand at the town's 23 traffic lights and pass out prizes, including McDonald's restaurant gift certificates, to those who are properly strapped in. By the way, Natchitoches didn't have a single traffic death last year-before the grant program started.

Suzan Reboulet ran into some unforeseen trouble in her quest to secure a business permit as a clairvoyant in Monticello, Kentucky. The local clergy has denounced her as a witch, and one minister even cited biblical justification for burning her. Mrs. Reboulet says she's no witch, just an honest seer who uses her psychic powers to counsel her clients. "I never expected accusations of this nature," she says. She may be able to predict the future, but her crystal ball was a little cloudy this time.

Sauntering is against the law in Garden City, Kansas. During a heated debate on the hamlet's loitering ordinance, one wise guy piped up that even John Wayne sauntered. "Don't walk like John Wayne, then," shot back City Commissioner Frank Schmale. The trouble started when the commission wanted to make city ordinances more specific. The loitering ordinance, which was left unchanged, reads: "Loitering shall mean remaining idle in essentially one location and shall include the concept of spending time idly; to be dilatory; to linger; to stay; to saunter; to stand around and shall also include the colloquial expression 'hanging around.' " The ordinance against spitting also was left unchanged. "Sidewalks don't bother me so much," said Schmale. "But if somebody just wants to stand around and spit on a building like City Hall, I think we ought to nail him." But what else is there to do in Garden City?

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