Louis Forrisi tried to climb the peaks of legalistic foolishness. But a court told him to climb a tree instead. Still, you have to hand it to Forrisi for striving. The laborer was hired in February 1983 by the Department of Health and Human Services to climb stairways and ladders for maintenance duty. Two months later, Forrisi told his boss he suffered from acrophobia, the fear of heights, and therefore was unable to do his job. He was fired. He sued, contending illegal discrimination against the handicapped. Forrisi eventually lost his case, but it climbed all the way up to the US Court of Appeals. Why? Because it was there?
It's often a fine line between bribery and public service. That's the situation in Thailand where congressional candidate Charnchai Pairatchakul has given away 5,000 coffins over the past four years to families that could not afford proper burials. Charnchai says he was upset that bodies of accident and crime victims were left unclaimed at his district's police stations. And the families' gratitude hasn't hurt him at the ballot box. Are his campaign tactics much different from those of our legislators who finagle giant military contracts for their districts?
Pssst. Wanna see some real hot porno? Just send $35 to the US Government Printing Office and ask for the report by the presidential commission on pornography. That's the panel that spent over a year to determine that reading or viewing pornography turns people into sex fiends. Therefore, the commission called for harsh laws to ban the steamy stuff. But the commission's 2,000-page report is crammed with juicy little examples of the quivering variety, including memorable dialogue from that classic film Biker Slave Girls. The government has printed 4,000 copies of the report, but better hurry. If the government succeeds in censoring porn distributors, this report will have the market cornered.
A Twinkie in every belly? No, it wasn't George Belair's slogan for his losing campaign for a seat on the Minneapolis City Council. But the 71-year-old was dragged into court in handcuffs and threatened with a 90-day jail term for allegedly violating election laws. Belair spent all of $31 on Twinkies, HoHos, Kool-Aid, and coffee while wooing a group of senior citizens. The state's Fair Campaign Practices Act bars candidates from providing voters with meat, drink, or any entertainment or provisions. "I had no intention of bribing anybody with Twinkies and a cup of coffee," the losing candidate said. Charges were eventually dropped as Belair's attorney had a field day pointing out what a waste of time and public money the prosecution was. The real villains: the sore winner, Councilman Walter Dziedzic, who convinced a fool of a county Attorney, Tom Johnson, to file the idiotic charges.
No matter how many times officials of St. Thomas, Pennsylvania, tell the federal government they don't want a $6.5-million grant, Washington's spenders insist on cramming our money down the little town's throat. The feds are adamant that the town build a new sewer system. But residents complain that its construction would lead to hookup costs as high as $2,500 per house and drive away about 20 percent of the businesses and a third of its dwellings, which are mobile homes. "We'd be far better off if we didn't have Federal money coming to town," says a town supervisor. "But it's very difficult to give money back. We've tried."
A regular snail with a broken foot could have gotten it there sooner. And the US Snail? It took 39 years to deliver a letter 90 miles. A postage stamp cost three cents in 1947 when Arizona Gov. Sidney P. Osborn wrote a letter to Mrs. Charlie Coffee of Prescott. Postal Service spokeswoman Margot Myers says, "This is one of the mysteries we'll never solve."
A 54-year-old Iowa man told a judge he's too old to go to prison. He'd prefer to be publicly stoned to make amends for terrorizing his former employer. But Ellsworth Donald Griffith's request had a catch. He insisted that only those without sin be allowed to cast stones. Judge Richard Strickler, who may or may not live in a glass house, applauded Griffith for a nice try. He then sentenced him to five years in prison anyway.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".