Apartheid stinks, proclaims Passaic, New Jersey, councilman Wayne Alston. Therefore, he's introduced an ordinance to rename four city streets that have (gasp! shudder!) Dutch Afrikaner names. Pretoria Street, Cornje Place, Steyn Place, and Kruger Place will be no more if Alston gets his way. Of course, Alston never bothered to ask the residents of those streets how they feel about changing their addresses. But he has an answer to those who argue that the streets were named decades ago in honor of the city's Dutch settlers. "It's a moral question," Alston intones. "It's only proper that Passaic residents show their compassion by purging their Dutch roots." Are wooden shoes and tulip gardens next?
Only in California. West Hollywood Mayor Valerie Terrigno says she's going to stay on as head of the city despite her pledge to turn over the mayoralty to Councilman John Heilman. So is this little power dispute headed for the courts? Nope. The issue will be resolved at a weekend group therapy session for all council members at a cost of $4,000 in taxpayers' money. Council members would be urged to talk openly about their goals and pressed to understand the views of other members, says the shrink who's running the weekend encounter meeting. Sorry, but neurotics who aren't on the city council have to pay their own way.
The Central Utah Project, an irrigation program begun 20 years ago with an estimated price tag of $332 million, is more than 10 years behind schedule, and its estimated cost has soared beyond $2 billion. The isolated town of Duchesne, Utah, asked the federal government for some financial aid because of the cost to the town of absorbing some 200 employees of the US Bureau of Reclamation. The workers and their families constitute 30 percent of Duchesne's population and live in a federal trailer camp exempt from municipal property taxes. Well, the bureau ruled that it would be illegal to make direct cash payments to the town in lieu of taxes. So the government decided to build a new $450,000 bowling alley to provide recreation. "You ask them for a dam and they give you a bowling alley," complains Rep. George Miller (D–Calif.), chairman of the House Interior subcommittee on water and power resources.
Let them eat cake? West German ecologists are hopping mad at their countrymen for importing 538 tons of frogs' legs annually from Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia. So the National Environmental Foundation has launched a media blitz—complete with TV ads depicting how the poor little froggies are caught, cut up, and eaten—to raise the German consciousness. One supermarket chain uses bags with a picture of a turtle kissing a frog emblazoned on them, and the slogan, "Turtles don't belong in soup, nor frogs on the table." The environmentalists scoff at the notion that countries such as Bangladesh will suffer economically if they are unable to export frogs.
Government Planning 101. First, you construct an office building that no one needs. Then, you charge more than twice as much per square foot of office space as the prevailing rate in town. Finally, you force government agencies to move into the higher-priced building, whether they want to or not. That's what's happened in Milwaukee at the Henry S. Reuss Federal Plaza. Agencies paying $8 a square foot were ordered into the new plaza, where rents cost $20 a square foot. Government apologists concede it may have been a mistake to erect the building, but as long as it's here, the government had damn well better use it.
Everyone hates filling out forms, right? But sailors on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk routinely toss overboard items ranging from desks to radar equipment rather than fill out the paperwork necessary to return surplus supplies, according to a former Navy auditor's statement to federal investigators. The Navy supply system is in such disarray that parts worth millions of dollars are neither checked in as they are received nor accounted for in the ship's records, says Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Jackson. His attorney goes even further. "The system is so sloppy that you can punch a few keys on the computer and get 30 bars of silver," says D. Anthony Gaston.