Talk about slinging mud. The New York City Sanitation Department paid almost $500,000 for landfill dug out of a site already owned by the city. Sanitation, which needs 300,000 cubic yards of dirt every day to spread on its garbage dumps, gave a contract to a Bronx company—which already had a contract to cart off soil from a Transit Authority excavation. So the company got paid twice—once by the TA, once by Sanitation—for handling the same dirt. Then it was learned that one of the company's owners is a prominent state senator and the other is a reputed organized crime figure who's in the federal pen on a hijacking conviction. Well, it's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.
"Be quiet! This is a hospital and people are sleeping!" Like the doctors on duty and most of the staff. Boy, are they tired at Pilgrim Psychiatric Center, New York State's largest hospital for the mentally ill. Wouldn't you be sleepy if you worked five consecutive 24-hour shifts? That's what several hospital employees claimed—and got paid for. One orderly, whose salary is $12,000 a year, made $31,000 in overtime last year—and while asleep most of the time. The state controller conducted a surprise inspection one night and found that doctors who were supposed to be on duty were at home in dreamland while getting paid $20 an hour. And state investigators also found 11 night-shift employees cuddled up with pillows and blankets—looking so cute—while the lunatics literally ran the asylum. The lethargic employees were blasted with stinging letters of reprimand and forced to promise they'd never do it again. Crazy? Like a fox!
Remember how the liberal press jumped all over President Reagan for suggesting that there might be some fraud connected with the issuance of millions of dollars' worth of food stamps? Well, Ronnie may be right after all. Undercover agents in Florida used $60,000 in food stamps to purchase a sports car, a motorcycle, television sets, refrigerators, and $40,000 worth of drugs—almost everything but food. So far, 34 people have been charged, and the investigators didn't even work up a sweat. Stamp collecting can be a very lucrative hobby.
The China Youth News says young workers who wear T-shirts with such English-language messages as "Kiss Me" and "USA" are guilty of "ignorance, exhibitionism and spiritual pollution." The paper says that Chinese shops that sell such counterrevolutionary items are "catering to some people's blind worship of foreign things and low taste to make profits." Nag, nag, nag.
The federal trust-busters scored another victory—this time for higher medical costs. American Hospital Supply Corp. of Evanston, Illinois, committed a flagrant violation of the antitrust laws. Its pricing plan that offered merchandise at low prices allowed it to become the nation's largest hospital supplier. Four smaller supply companies were awarded $430,000 in damages by a federal judge who warned robber baron American Hospital Supply to raise its prices and stop being so anticompetitive. And he chastised a hospital chain for being so undemocratic as to look for a bargain. In the same breath, the judge had the gall to moan about how medical costs keep rising. They do escalate, but not as fast as the mental dullness of the federal judiciary.
Melina Mercouri, who went from portraying a prostitute in the film Never on Sunday to becoming the shrillest supporter of Greek socialism, has a new cause. The former actress is now Greece's minister of culture. She is demanding that Great Britain return the Elgin Marbles, taken from the Acropolis at the start of the 19th century. She said the act constituted "vandalism and barbarism" and termed the British government's refusal to return the marbles "provocative." The marbles were shipped to England in 1810 when Lord Elgin wanted to save them from the invading Turks. Well, England has been pretty busy lately, what with the war in the Falklands, IRA bombings, and midnight visitors to Bucky Palace. So the Brits are saying they can't really be bothered with this now, although they're sorry that Melina has lost her marbles. So is everyone who has to listen to her.
You're under arrest. No, you're under arrest. That was the gist of the conversation when two Los Angeles police undercover officers tried to incarcerate each other during a crackdown on Hollywood prostitution. A male officer approached what he thought was a hooker, propositioned her, and then tried to arrest her when she reportedly said yes to his question. Then she, policewoman that she was, tried to arrest him. They escorted each other downtown to explain the situation to their superiors. Something like, "But, Sarge, that was no lady. That was my vice."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".