Three cheers for liquor store owner Bernard Richter for turning the tables on Chico, California, officials who tried to catch him in an undercover "sting" operation designed to catch liquor stores that sell booze to minors. Three of Richter's clerks were arrested after undercover officers attempted to buy liquor using driver's licenses showing their ages as under 21. The clerks not only refused to sell the cops any liquor, but also refused to hand back the licenses—even after the officers identified themselves. Richter awards $20 bonuses to clerks who spot fake IDs and $100 bonuses to clerks who spot undercover police officers. The awards are handed out only if the ID is kept as proof. The clerks were charged with interfering with an officer. Ah, entrapment! Where is thy sting?
The stalwart salad bar, an American dining-out institution, has come under fire from the New Jersey Assembly. By a vote of 52-14, the legislators ordered the state health department to devise new regulations to protect the public from people who sneeze. So-called sneeze-guards are already mandatory, but Assemblyman Peter Genova says the shields don't protect the food from direct contact with the germs emanating from a sneeze or a cough. Some lawmakers felt Genova was needlessly instilling fear in people. "There hasn't been a certified case of a person being struck down by a carrot stick or a chick pea," says Assemblyman Alan Karcher. "You can't put everything into a plastic capsule," added Assemblyman Thomas Deverin. "This is America. This is a free society." During their private caucus meetings in the statehouse, the legislators often dine on cold cuts and salads spread out buffet-style, without any protective shield. Genova says he's complained about that also, but no one pays any attention.
It's somehow reassuring to know that Poland's Communist leaders still have a sense of humor. Angered by US Senate stipulations on a gift of powdered milk for Poles after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Poland announced it will give 5,000 blankets and sleeping bags to the homeless of New York City. The US Senate had offered 50,000 tons of surplus powdered milk to Poland, but on the condition that the aid be routed through church groups to assure it was distributed without regard to political preferences. Tit for tat, the Poles required that their blankets and sleeping bags be handed out by private charities rather than US officials. You might say the Communists were milking the situation for all they could.
Three cheers and a gold-plated specimen bottle to Rep. Gary Ackerman (D–N.Y.), who asked an official of the Presidential Commission on Organized Crime to provide a urine sample for a drug test before giving testimony to Congress. Rodney Smith, the embarrassed official who supports a proposal to require all federal workers to undergo such testing, declined to provide the sample and termed the request "a cheap stunt." Ackerman told Smith the sample would have to be given under the direct observation of a House subcommittee staff member. The request is similar to a requirement being pushed by the commission. When Smith protested he wasn't warned that he'd be subjected to the test, Ackerman shot back, "Are there warnings to federal employees as to when their urine will be tested?"
It isn't safe for New Jersey bureaucrats to fall asleep in the barber's chair anymore. A new law says all hair stylists, including barbers, must have taken a 500-hour beauty-culture course and pass an exam by a new Board of Cosmetologists and Hair Stylists. The state is terribly worried about the qualifications of barbers because the spread of unisex shops has blurred the traditional distinction between barbers and beauticians. Previously, barbers were licensed by the state Board of Barber Examiners while beauticians were licensed by the Board of Beauty Culture Control. Barbers could not bleach or color hair or give permanents. Beauticians could not shave customers, give tapered haircuts, or trim beards. "Who are they to tell me I'm not qualified when I've been doing it for over 20 years without any complaints by my customers?" asks irate barber Domenick Santucci. The bottom line of the law will mean the demise of a man's haircut for less than $10, he says. Regulators are unimpressed. Will barbershop quartets be next?
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".