The population of Carter, South Dakota, consists of just six adults and one child. Yet Washington insists on treating the prairie hamlet as a full-fledged city and swamps it with offers of unneeded aid. "Every day we get at least one government letter telling us about a sewer program or some kind of grant," says town treasurer Betty Tideman. "I tried to tell these agencies we are just a town of seven people, but it never made any difference." The South Dakotans finally came up with a solution. Carter will simply cease to exist by giving up its status as an incorporated town. "It was either that, or hire someone to fill out all these foolish forms," explains Mrs. Tideman.
The Environmental Protection Agency admits to a slight statistical goof. It announced that DuPont's plant in Deepwater, New Jersey, generated 40 million tons of hazardous wastes in 1981. But that's as much hazardous waste as the agency thought was produced nationwide. EPA spokesman George Garland explains now that 99 percent of the 40 million tons was water used to dilute the wastes. "Under our mixture rule, when you mix hazardous wastes with other substances, they all become hazardous wastes," he says. "It boils down to a philosophical issue of whether you believe dilution is the solution to pollution." Whatever that means. New Jersey officials say they've never had a problem with the plant. State purification tests require that fish live in the treated waste water for several days before the water is pumped back into the Delaware River. Not a single fish has died in the holding tank, the state says.
Down at Local 420 of the New York City Hospital Employees Union, they've apparently got some ideas about enforcing solidarity. Four union officials have been indicted on charges of stabbing a union member. What prompted the alleged attack? Why, the reactionary dolt thought he could stand up at a union meeting and voice his opposition to a dues increase, according to the indictment. The union had no comment about the assault, and—need you ask?—the dues increase was overwhelmingly adopted by the rank and file.
A New Jersey administrative law judge has ruled that a Japanese motorcycle manufacturer may not open a dealership in one county because it would take business away from a franchise in another county. U.S. Suzuki Motor Corp.'s desire to increase its product share is understandable, said Judge R. Jackson Dwyer; but the proposed dealership, he noted, would be selling in an area from which House of Suzuki, the other dealership, draws a substantial number of its customers. The problem is, said the judge, that a favorable credit agreement between U.S. Suzuki and its proposed dealership would allow it to undercut House of Suzuki's prices. That's marvelous. Now the government is protecting us from lower-priced motorcycles direct from the manufacturer. Hara-kiri is becoming a more viable option every day.
George Washington would never be allowed to chop down a cherry tree in Honolulu. In fact, a "certificate of appropriateness" is required by the Department of Land Utilization when a Makiki tree you wish to remove is larger than the law allows. All yard areas in the Punchbowl neighborhood must be landscaped, and any tree that's six inches or greater in trunk diameter cannot be removed unless it's either dead or a hazard to public safety. Any tree that is removed, which is visible from any street, must be replaced at the owner's expense. Government officials ask residents to turn in anyone cutting down a tree without the proper documents. Big Makiki is watching you!
Otto, a 14-year-old German school boy, objected to attending a "textile fabrication" class, otherwise known as knitting. He persuaded his high school to allow him to do extra math and English homework instead. But a new teacher, a real knit-picker with strong feminist views, revoked the youth's special status: knit or else! Otto refused to knit one, purl two, and was suspended. His father took it to court, and a judge ruled that knitting doesn't denigrate a boy's masculinity. Otto must knit, ja? Nein. As the court was deliberating, Otto, now 15, moved on to the next grade, where knitting was not part of the curriculum. There's a moral here someplace, but if you can unravel it, please let us know.
Restaurant owner Michael O'Keeffe thought it would be a fun idea to fill a barge with 200 tons of white sand and tie it up in the East River in New York City—a mini-beach in the middle of Manhattan. But some spoilsports complained that it blocked the view of the river and brought extra traffic. So, naturally, the city ordered the beach towed away. "You need a license to drive a car, and you need a permit to park a barge," said Susan Frank, City Ports and Terminals commissioner. "It's very basic."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".
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