Taxes

Brickbats

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? San Francisco has moved to fire 37 city bus drivers after finding that they've had their licenses suspended for offenses such as drunken and reckless driving. Not to fear, none of them are on active duty. They're all out on disability. "There was an uncanny relationship between the time somebody lost their license and when they went out on worker's comp," noted transit boss Michael Burns. Meanwhile, the drivers' union has vowed to fight the dismissals. "The guy is already having to pay a big fine from the state, so this is double jeopardy," one union official explained.

? Officials meeting at the League of California Cities' annual conference got to hear political consultant Max Besler advise them on how to slip taxes past unwitting voters. He recommends "run silent, run deep" tactics, and says to avoid the word tax. Another piece of his advice: "Don't do any press releases."

? The Drug Enforcement Administration raided Nelson Robles' house at 4 a.m., rousting him, his wife, and son. Turns out they had the wrong Nelson Robles: Their man was 15 years younger and lived at a completely different address in Miami. When the agents discovered they had the wrong man, they didn't apologize. Instead, they searched his house anyway to see if he was hiding the other Nelson. Robles isn't related to the younger man and had never even met him.

? Florida Gov. Jeb Bush wants students to be tested in the fourth, fifth, eighth, and 10th grades, so parents can tell just how well their schools are educating children. His plan, passed last year, links teacher salaries and vouchers to school performance. Some teachers are still crying foul, but not, they say, because they'd lose money if their students don't pass the tests. Oh, no. They say they're concerned about the children. "Can you imagine what it's like to…see [students] just put their heads down and cry because they don't know the answers on the test?" one elementary school teacher asked.

? In Virginia's Spotswood High School, Jeff Newton posted a list of 60 books that have been banned, including such fare as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Color Purple, and Of Mice and Men. After a parent complained, Principal Jim Slye told him to take the list down because it wasn't part of any class curriculum, and some of the books on the list haven't been approved by school officials.

? Sylvia Johnson was dismissed from the Internal Revenue Service after the agency found she had improperly accessed the personal returns of taxpayers 476 times. Now she's suing to get her job back. She says her firing didn't "promote the efficiency of the service" and violated her due process rights. She's also claiming discrimination, saying the IRS fired her because she's black.