Prepared for the worst during the Democratic National Convention, San Francisco officials lined up as many beds as they could for the city's psychiatric hospitals. The officials were concerned about the effect power struggles might have on the mentally ill. Unstable people might flee because of the commotion and the police, and wander around disoriented, said Dr. Larry Meredith of the city Health Department. "There are many people in this town who exist on a very thin edge," echoed Dr. Thomas Peters, head of psychiatric services in San Francisco jails. But the problem never presented itself. The people the good doctors should have been worried about were all inside the convention hall.
It was bound to happen. The California kiwi fruit started gaining in popularity, served in salads or as a garnish for sandwiches. So naturally, the Kiwifruit Growers of California want the US Agriculture Department to issue a kiwi marketing order to control the quality and packaging of the fruit. The order would establish a 12-member board, mostly kiwi-industry people, to set standards. Of course, this would result in formation of a kiwi cartel (just as there are government-enforced cartels for oranges and many other agricultural products), forcing the destruction of at least 15 percent of the crop and causing the price to rise substantially. Guess who's supporting the kiwi growers in their attempt to control the market? None other than the "supply side" Reagan administration. California agribusiness is a big campaign contributor.
Life in Jefferson, Texas, is so fascinating that the biggest issue in town is whether or not mules should be diapered. Mule buggies have been a tourist attraction for 18 years and travel a three-mile tour of antebellum homes and churches. One faction says the mule droppings on downtown streets are an eye- and nose-sore, while the other faction believes that mules weren't meant to wear Pampers. Every jackass in town has an opinion on the subject.
Crabb, Texas, used to be a nice little unincorporated town where you hardly noticed any local government at all. Then Brian Zimmerman was elected mayor. Brian is 11 years old. Brian has big ideas. After decades of getting by just fine without a fire or police department, Brian changed that. He also had a weight limit passed to keep big trucks off the road, and a leash law for dogs. Now the little snot wants to pass a curfew, and not just for juveniles. "If you're on the streets of Crabb after 10 p.m., you're probably doing something wrong," the tiny despot says. Somebody ought to wash the little statist's mouth out with soap.
Kansas City fire officials beamed with pride when their 12 brand-new fire trucks were delivered to replace aging pumpers and vehicles. There's just one problem: With automobiles parked on both sides of the streets in the city's older sections, there is only 10 feet of clearance—the new trucks need 13 feet to unload equipment. Hope they carry extra-long hoses.
The inherent foolishness of affirmative action quotas hit home in Palm Beach, Florida. When the County Commission agreed to set aside four permits for minority companies to provide taxi service at Palm Beach International Airport, it was forced to pick one group over another. "We can't win on this," lamented Commissioner Dennis Koehler. "When you vote for the motion, you exclude women. If you vote against it, you exclude blacks." White women were barred under the motion. Instead of bemoaning the terrible choice it had to make, the commission should have considered why there was any need for taxi permits at all. A free market for cab rides would solve their problem.
Ice cream lovers beware! Your local malt shop may be finking for the Selective Service. Seven years ago, brothers Eric and Greg Hentzel invented a fictitious friend named "Johnny Klomberg," gave him their own Palo Alto, California, address, and signed him up for a birthday club at Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor so that they and their "friend" could get free ice cream. The parlor didn't fall for the scam, but Uncle Sam did. "Johnny" just received notice reminding him to register for the draft. Col. Will Ebel, assistant director of the Selective Service System, says his agency has a computerized list from the ice cream parlor with the names and addresses of young boys from 12 Western states. "Johnny Klomberg, Uncle Sam Wants You." Think about that the next time you enjoy your tutti-frutti.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".