An Inclusive Litany


In Camden, New Jersey, the family of an alleged killer who fell to his death while trying to escape jail has filed suit against the facility for failing to maintain a reasonable level of safety.

The City University of New York, faced with an acute fiscal squeeze and potential tuition hikes because of the state's $5 billion budget gap, spent $200,000 on a study to determine if the university needed more women's rooms on campus. University officials said they wanted to establish "potty parity" by constructing more bathrooms for females.

17-year-old Andy Marlowe, a Newport News, Virginia, high-school student who played on the varsity football and baseball teams, spent his after-school hours and summers working for his father's janitorial business and recently won the Duty to God award at his church. When Marlowe needed to raise money to pay for the missionary assignment he wanted to fulfill through the Mormon Church, he hit on the idea of offering to repaint people's house numbers on curbs for $10 each. The idea was an instant success.

It also brought him to the attention of the city's engineering department, which cited him for painting on public property without a permit, and warned him that each painted number (he painted more than 40) would constitute a separate offense. Further, they claimed that Marlowe's activities began four years earlier; the teenager said it had only been a few weeks. Marlowe faces fines totaling $750.


A four-hundred-pound woman sued Southwest Airlines for discrimination after a ticket agent allegedly ordered her to buy a second ticket.

Three inmates have sued the Mini-Cassia Jail in Idaho, charging that jailers' refusal to give them a midnight snack was cruel and unusual punishment.

In Salinas, California, doughnut shop owner Harjeet Singh pleaded guilty to insurance fraud. After an employee was shot during a holdup, Singh dragged the wounded man's body out to the sidewalk to make it appear he was a customer and not an employee, all because Singh did not have worker's compensation coverage.


On January 12, 1991, Denise Perrigo called a local community volunteer center to ask a question about breast-feeding, checking to see if it was unusual for a mother to become aroused while breast-feeding her child. (Perrigo's daughter, Cherilyn, was three years old at the time.) The local community volunteer service referred her to a rape crisis center, where the volunteer she talked to assumed that Perrigo was sexually abusing her daughter. The center phoned the police, who raided Perrigo's house, arrested and jailed her, and gave her daughter to social workers from the Onondaga County Department of Social Services in Syracuse, New York.

Perrigo was interrogated for five hours by the police. She later said that one of the policemen accused her of "having my daughter perform oral sex on me." Perrigo was formally accused of sexual abuse, including "acts of sexual conduct including mouth-to-breast contact." The term breast-feeding was never used.

Perrigo's case went before a local judge the following Monday morning, and the judge threw all charges against her out of court.

But rather than give Cherilyn back to her mother, the Department of Social Services immediately filed another set of charges. The daughter was placed in a foster home. The social workers effectively claimed that Perrigo was a pervert because she was still breast-feeding her three-year-old daughter. Yet, as Dr. Ruth Lawrence, a University of Rochester pediatrician and one of the nation's foremost authorities on breast-feeding, notes, the international average length of nursing is 4.2 years. (One policeman reportedly lectured Perrigo on the night of her arrest that it was "physically impossible to nurse after eighteen months," so she must be nursing for her own gratification.)

The case against Perrigo was heard by a local family court judge three months later—and once again all the charges were thrown out of court.

Yet Cherilyn was kept in foster care, and social workers permitted Perrigo to see her daughter only two hours once every two weeks.

In the following months, Cherilyn was interrogated by social workers and psychologists more than thirty times. Five months later, family court judge Edward McLaughlin again dismissed all charges.

ABC newsman Sam Donaldson, the host of a weekly show that frequently accuses the federal government of wasting tax dollars on a privileged few, received $97,000 in federal wool and mohair subsidies for his New Mexico ranch. Donaldson said he reluctantly accepted the subsidy in order to compete with fellow ranchers.

Donaldson also benefits from the Animal Damage Control Program, which allowed him to call USDA agents over to his ranch 412 times over five years in order to kill 74 coyotes and three bobcats that were preying on his livestock. This service cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

Families USA received $250,000 in taxpayer funds between July 1993 and June 1994 while organizing demonstrations in favor of the Clinton Health Care plan.

Bernardine Dohrn, a former leader of the terrorist Weather Underground who was on the FBI's most-wanted list for nearly a decade and who never renounced her organization's violent tactics or apologized to its victims' families, has been named co-chair of the Litigation Task Force on Children by the American Bar Association. "We are tremendously fortunate to have her," ABA president George Bushnell commented. Dohrn, a 1967 graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, is not permitted to practice law in any state.

Officials at the University of the District of Columbia proposed to spend $1.6 million to acquire Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party, a massive art installation depicting women's genitals on plates.

Allentown school superintendent Diane Scott was criticized after she took a $2,000 junket to Puerto Rico in the middle of the winter in order to recruit Spanish-speaking teachers for the city's bilingual-education programs. Mayor William Heydt called the visit, which garnered no teachers, "frivolous," and noted that Allentown did not have the money to compete with other school districts, such as New York City's, which sends representatives to Puerto Rico offering bounties to potential bilingual teachers. (The practice is the focus of some resentment in Puerto Rico, which is often forced to recruit teachers unable to pass mainland credentials tests.)


When officials in the Clinton administration read a Washington Post series on alleged lending bias by Washington D.C.-area banks, they responded by launching an investigation. Federal investigators went through thousands of loan files of the Chevy Chase Federal Savings Bank and did not find a single case in which the Montgomery County, Maryland, Savings & Loan had discriminated against a black loan applicant. The Justice Department responded that the bank was still guilty because it did not pursue and bankroll potential black borrowers in neighboring Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County, Maryland—rules that had not been promulgated at the time the loans were made.

The Justice Department also condemned Chevy Chase for not opening any branches in census tracts with a majority of black residents. Ironically, federal agencies had repeatedly denied the Chevy Chase permission to expand into black areas. Chevy Chase had requested permission to open a branch in a black area of neighboring Prince George's County, and twice permission had been denied. The federal oversight banking agency had been concerned that Chevy Chase might have a higher loan default rate in those black areas, and that the losses from loans to minorities could undermine the bank's financial health.

The Justice Department's settlement required Chevy Chase to open four branches in black areas and to make loans to blacks with interest rates at 1 percent less than the prevailing mortgage rate. The bank was also obliged to give black borrowers a cash handout to help them with their down payments.

A former assistant stage director has filed suit against New York City's Metropolitan Opera. She claims that she was fired because she is not a homosexual man.

In 1987, Ford Motor Co. aggressively recruited black North Carolina businessman Samuel R. Foster II to join the company's "Minority Dealer Program," which it began in the 1960s in an effort to increase black ownership of local franchised Ford dealerships. As a result, in March 1988, Mr. Foster bought the River City Ford dealership in Selma, Alabama. In 1991, the dealership went bankrupt and closed. Mr. Foster promptly sued Ford, claiming that they had committed intentional, malicious fraud by failing to disclose internal data to him indicating that blacks, as a group, were more likely to fail than the "average," non-minority Ford dealer.

The Alabama Supreme Court sustained a lower court's $6 million punitive damage award against Ford, plus compensatory awards of $700,000 for "mental anguish" and nearly $1 million for economic loss. Mr. Foster's partner Dee-Witt Sperau, who is white, also joined the suit and will share in the awards.

[Ed: Like a snake eating its tail, liability can stem from failure to provide the sort of information that is often considered racist...]


Sportswriter Robert Lipsyte in the New York Times, June 11, 1995:
Mickey Mantle was 19 years old when he burst into our lives, as strong as the heart of the great golden West, a fielder of dreams in a time of infinite promise. It was 1951, the boom-time after a world war won, early summer afternoon in the American Century....

And like America in the 50's, he was burdened with a distant sense of doom. For America it was the threat of atomic attack by the Soviet Union. A generation of sports fans grew up with the Mick and with "duck and cover" air-raid drills in school. For Mantle it was Hodgkin's disease that killed most males in his family before they reached 40. His father, his biggest booster, died after Mantle's rookie season.

The threats to both America and Mantle ultimately proved empty, but they dominated the psyche of the country and the center fielder and gave them each an urgency and a poignancy that affected behavior in often destructive ways. America abused itself with the cold war. Mantle had booze.

A senior official of the Mormon Church warned followers against patronizing groups that purport to enhance one's self-esteem. Instead, he urged Mormons to live their lives according to biblical teaching. So the church has now been sued for $189 million by the owners of Life Management International, a self-esteem company. Although their company was not mentioned by name, the owners claim injurious falsehood, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

In one of its final issues before folding, New York Newsday referred to The Five Blind Boys of Alabama, the black gospel group, as The Five Blind Men of Alabama.


The city of Coral Gables, Florida, charges residents thirty-five dollars to get a permit to paint the interior of their homes. Local building inspectors patrol the streets looking for painting trucks parked at homes that have not paid the permit fee.

Nebraska state auditor John Breslow criticized the state's department of health for paying a consultant $200 an hour, plus expenses, totaling $239,585—even though state employees did most of the work. The consultant's project was to find ways for the state to save money.

The City Union Mission in Kansas City, Missouri, announced it intended to evict low-income tenants Violet Williams, 86, a resident for 27 years, and Bob Dodson, 71, from the apartment building it owns because it needs the building in order to construct a homeless shelter—a need which it says was created by a shortage of low-income housing in the area.

A dispatch from Reuters:
Taking their protest against France's nuclear tests in the Pacific to new heights this past Christmas, activists in Britain urged that no French-kissing be done under the mistletoe. They also urged their fellow countrymen to boycott French mistletoe in favor of the homegrown variety.
[Ed.: A trade association of Australian prostitutes announced that to protest French nuclear testing, they would boycott French underwear, hosiery, and cosmetics. Also, Australia's largest chain of adult sex shops and cinemas has taken all French products off its shelves.]


Pamela Price told the Los Angeles Times that "this is like Christmas" after she used her new Section 8 certificate to move into a luxurious apartment complex with a heated swimming pool, four spas, six tennis courts, and two air-conditioned racquetball courts.

HUD also financed apartments with market values of up to $500,000 each in La Jolla, California, a super-rich suburb of San Diego, with lavish furnishings and panoramic 180-degree views of the Pacific ocean. HUD then placed twenty-eight welfare-recipient families with incomes as high as $34,000 in the units under Section 8. Even some local activists recognized that the project would spark great resentment among taxpayers who could only dream about such housing. Mel Shapiro of San Diego told one newspaper, "I'm a housing advocate, but I'm not an idiot."

HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, on the other hand, is pushing to expand the program, calling Section 8 "a wonderful mechanism because it gives people tremendous choice and mobility."

The Washington Post, August 4, 1995:
Neighbors will tell you there's no doubt that neglect killed the [two] Elmore [toddlers, who suffocated in a locked car], but it wasn't the neglect of a distracted parent or an indifferent community that doesn't watch its own. They say it is years of neglect by the city, the federal government and the media.


Under pressure from the zoning board of Darien, New York, for keeping an unregistered car on his property, artist Charles Flagg dug a hole in his backyard, buried half the car with the front end down, and called it a sculpture.

New York City resident Robert Kanter was surprised when his apartment buzzer rang and a voice announced, "This is the sanitation police." Kanter came out and, according to the New York Times, the sanitation officer demanded to know, "Did you throw this envelope in the litter basket?" The officer declared that it was against the law to throw household garbage in a litter basket. The sanitation cop had found two envelopes addressed to Kanter in a litter basket she had pawed through nearby. Kanter denied placing his household trash in the basket; he suggested that someone had taken the garbage bag from his apartment house and carried it off to look for soda cans. The officer sternly informed Kanter that he faced a $50 fine if he pled guilty, and a $100 fine if he contested the fine and was later found guilty.