It's illegal to cut down oak trees in Thousand Oaks, California, even if you own the tree and the land where it resides. Willard G. Vose received 12 months probation and a $300 fine after pleading guilty to violating the city's oak tree preservation law. He was charged with removing a limb from a tree on land he owns behind his tavern. Of course, officials merely want to preserve a basis for the city's name. But if this trend continues, we could see some interesting legislation in Climax, Michigan.
In the face of intense public resentment, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has decided to ease up on his anti-boozing campaign. Liquor stores will now stay open longer. Gorbachev had become the butt of a few jokes because of his antidrinking attitudes: A Soviet consumer, infuriated by the endless line outside a liquor store, announces that he is going off to assassinate Gorbachev. He returns several hours later and, shaking his head, he reports, "The line over there was even longer. "
Police in Pittsburgh can't seem to make up their minds. Do they want motorists to drive more slowly in the interest of public safety? Or do they want them to keep speeding so they can be caught and fined? John Thiry, who has chalked up $2,000 in traffic fines over the past few years, thought he'd help the police. He held up a sign telling motorists to slow down because of a police radar trap. They slowed down…and Thiry got arrested for obstructing traffic. He figures his 20-minute protest saved fellow motorists $3,000 in traffic fines. "I stopped a lot of people from having a miserable day," he boasts.
To suppress a boxer rebellion, corrections officials in New York's overcrowded jails will no longer allow inmates to wear sexy nylon underpants. Under existing regulations, prisoners wear standardized uniforms but are permitted to keep their own underwear. However, inmates in passe white cotton drawers are jealous of their sartorial superiors, and fights, muggings, and thefts often ensue, according to jail officials. They've decided to end this class warfare by creating an egalitarian society of have-nots: all inmates will be issued cotton briefs. Perhaps tensions could be eased more by distributing briefs with humorous slogans, such as "Armed robbers do it for 10 to 15 years," or "My cellmate got parole and all I got was this lousy pair of underwear."
Bergen County, New Jersey, officials are just saying no to damn near everything anyone might want to do in the county parks. No bare feet. No drinking in the park. No feeding the geese. No sailing toy boats in the ponds. No taking longer than 15 minutes in the bathrooms. Violation of the edicts could result in a jail term of 90 days and a $500 fine. Freeholder Chairman Charles J. O'Dowd was the dissenting vote. He called outdoor drinking one of life's pleasures. Of his colleagues, he says, "They're on a temperance movement."
Pamela Prodan faces up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine in Maine because she covered the picture of a red lobster and the word Vacationland on her car's license plates. The plates were introduced in 1987, and opponents complain they project an affluent image, ignoring the state's rural poor. But a state law makes it illegal to obscure any part of a license plate. "Right now, I'm looking into freedom of speech laws," says Prodan, who intends to fight the charges.
Increasingly violent protests in South Korea are making Han Young Ja quite rich. In fact, she earned more money in 1987 than anyone in the country—$7.3 million, of which she paid $3.4 million in income tax. Her secret? Han is president of the Sam Young Chemical Co., which holds a monopoly on the production of tear gas.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Brickbats".