Brickbats

For the last four years, hundreds of people have come by Rick Newman’s Boca Raton home to see the Halloween display in his front yard, which has included robotic monsters and fountains that look like they are filled with blood. But this year the city’s code enforcement office put the kibosh on part of Newman’s plans. The office said having children dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” would violate zoning rules for residential neighborhoods, and threatened to fine Newman up to $1,000 if he went ahead with that part of the show.

Unlike some people, Derrick C. Smith was probably quite happy to get a summons for jury duty in a murder trial in Schenectady, New York. That’s because he is the defendant in that trial.

Mark Chase got a federal court order allowing him to make paintings on the Ocean City, Maryland, boardwalk without a license. That didn’t impress Baltimore police, who arrested him for painting at the Inner Harbor without a permit. When Chase complained that the permit requirements violated his constitutional rights, an officer told him, “Your constitutional rights have nothing to do with the law.”

Denmark has banned Marmite, Rice Krispies, and Ovaltine, among other popular foods. The foods were banned because they have added vitamins or minerals, which are illegal in Denmark.

The FBI is refusing to pay for a $750,000 Ferrari wrecked by one of its agents, who was supposed to be moving it. It is also refusing to release records related to the accident. The Ferrari had been stolen and recovered by police, but the FBI kept it as part of an investigation.

Officials in Pennsylvania’s Richland School District have canceled plans to perform the Tony Award–winning musical Kismet after some community members complained that it featured Muslim characters. School officials concede that the play has no other objectionable content.

Scottsdale, Arizona, resident Raed Tarazi faces up to six months in jail and a $2,500-a-day fine if he doesn’t cut down a tree in his back yard. City officials say the tree violates the municipal code because it is nonnative and could grow taller than 50 feet. Tarazi says the tree was there when he moved into his house.

New York officials freed Oswind Davis from prison after discovering he had been convicted on charges that a judge dismissed before he went to trial, a fact that escaped Davis, his attorneys, prosecutors, and the judge who handled the trial. A jury found him not guilty of all other charges against him, including attempted murder.

For the last four years, Wesley Wood has supplemented his Social Security income by selling vegetables he grows from the front yard of his Parma, Ohio, home. But city officials have shut him down. The city’s code says vegetables can be grown only for private use and any home business must be conducted “wholly within the dwelling.”

Charles Oliver

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