The aesthetic sensibilities of Lakeside Park, Kentucky, residents were apparently deeply offended by 13-year-old Jeffrey Kisor's tree house. The city council voted that it must be torn down because an ordinance prohibits such detached structures. "I think the city is weird to say I have to get rid of it," says the young anarchist. "It's in my own yard and my own tree." Jeffrey's father hasn't given up yet. He says he might run wooden beams from the tree house to his house—a distance of 50 feet—thus technically attaching the structure to the house. It won't look very pretty, but it will meet the letter of the law.
Two Atlantic City casinos in the middle of an advertising war over which offers the best odds to gamblers have been told by New Jersey officials to cease the promotional campaigns. Harrah's Marina Hotel claims that its slot machines paid out the most overall in recent months, while Trump's Castle counters that Harrah's players lost more overall. Neither claim is in dispute, apparently because Harrah's overall slot-machine volume is greater than that of other casinos. So what's the problem? The casinos violated a law that prohibits advertising the odds of games. Hmm—maybe the state doesn't want people to know casinos offer better odds than its lottery.
You know the old dean's tale, misery loves company? It's now the University of California's official policy that students display sympathy for the have-nots. Every undergraduate student is now required to participate in the Human Corps, a program to promote "the ethics of public service" by foisting 19-year-olds on the populace to fight illiteracy, environmental contamination, inadequate housing, etc. The student whose heart bleeds the most gets an A?
Take pity on Joseph Mauri, an unemployed outcast and victim of cruel American capitalism. At least that's what Mauri and the Soviets would like us to believe. Mauri, the subject of a Soviet propaganda film on America's poor and homeless, claims he was evicted from his New York apartment last year by a heartless landlady who wanted a sewing room. The poor lad says he supports himself by doing odd jobs and now lives in a hotel room paid for by friends. But the Soviets got caught red-faced on this one. "Homeless" Mauri in fact has two homes in New York, one a rent-stabilized apartment and the other a hotel room subsidized by the taxpayers. And Mauri has a job as a substitute mailroom worker at the New York Times that could pay him over $35,000 a year. But Mauri doesn't bother to show up. No doubt he'll consider all offers of employment once he returns from his expense-paid tour of Mother Russia.
Is little Niels Hoven white or Oriental? In our quota-conscious age, it makes a big difference. Or does it? When John and Sue Hoven decided that their son needed special reading, math, and science classes, they asked their Maryland school board for permission to transfer him to another elementary school. Because John is white and Sue is Asian, Niels is classified as a minority student. Good? No, bad. There were already too many minorities at the school he wanted to go to. Yet being "white" wouldn't have helped, either. That would have prevented Niels from transferring out of his current school. Why? There are too few white students there.
Schizophrenia is alive and well in New Jersey. A task force to eliminate paperwork in state government has been trashed because it wasn't submitting enough reports. The paperwork management task force saved the state $5.5 million in two years by reducing the number of forms in various departments. For example, the group found there were 30 different forms and 15 different publications for new employees explaining benefits, lunch hours, ethics, etc. The task force designed one brochure and one form for all state employees. But the group was "too independent," says budget director Richard B. Standiford. "We needed reports from them…to make sure there is no duplication." Was the team disbanded because they didn't produce enough paper? "Well, I wouldn't put it quite that way," he demurs.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".