NewsQuirks 684

Home-Rule Follies

Although Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams faces no Republican opponent in November and no serious challenge from his own party in the September primary, he failed to secure a spot on the Democratic primary ballot because his nominating petition fell short of the required 2,000 signatures. The mayor's campaign submitted 10,000 signatures, but most were invalidated because they appeared to be forgeries, including the names of prominent Republicans and Hollywood celebrities. In addition, two of Williams's petition circulators refused to testify before the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, which unanimously voted to exclude the mayor's name from the ballot. "We are not comfortable relying on signatures on nominating petitions submitted by people who invoke the Fifth Amendment," said board Chairman Benjamin F. Williams.

Four candidates did qualify for the primary ballot. Faith, a 79-year-old exotic ballet dancer and cabaret performer, likes to campaign while riding a horse and blowing a bugle. Douglas E. Moore, 74, a pastor and former D.C. Council member, was convicted of biting a tow-truck operator and required to undergo a psychiatric exam. Osie Thorpe, a Disciples of Christ bishop, has run unsuccessfully for the city council, mayor and U.S. president. James W. Clark, who has run for mayor several times, once was removed from the ballot after an aide to Mayor Marion Barry argued that his nominating petition lacked enough valid signatures. Clark responded by hitting the aide with a metal chair.

Fetes Worse Than Death

When two men at a wedding reception in Columbia Heights, Minn., began playfully tossing watermelon rinds, a security officer asked them to stop. The men responded by shouting obscenities at the guard, who called police for help. Officers were greeted "by an uncooperative group that shouted obscenities and refused to leave," according to a police statement, which noted the guests "encroached on the officers, causing the police to fear for their safety." Officers summoned reinforcements, until as many as 40 squad cars from eight police departments had arrived, sending dozens of officers and at least one police dog into the crowd of 100. After restoring order, police arrested the groom's father, Dennis Draack, and eight other guests. Newlyweds Jeff Draack and Nacole Blum weren't arrested but canceled plans for their honeymoon.

A wedding reception at a saloon in Seguin, Texas, turned into a brawl in which two people were stabbed, one person was knocked in the back of the head with a pool cue and several others were hurt with broken beer bottles. Sheriff's deputies arrested three people. "When I got there, there were tables overturned, food thrown everywhere, broken beer bottles and blood pretty much throughout the hall, including outside," Guadalupe County Sheriff Arnold Zwicke said. "My understanding: Somebody got upset about taking a picture or didn't want to be in a picture, and it turned into a large fight."

Irony Illustrated

A single-engine plane towing a banner in memory of a teen-ager killed in a car accident crashed in a field next to a grass landing strip near Bradenton, Fla., killing the pilot, Brian Mason, 21.

Curses, Foiled Again

Two or three men attempting to rob a bank in Rickman, Tenn., were thwarted when tellers spotted them approaching wearing masks and carrying a long gun. The tellers locked the doors and sounded an alarm. The robbers grabbed the door handle and shook on it, then jumped back into their car and headed out of town. Overton County Sheriff's Deputy Sgt. Eddie Mott said the car was found abandoned.

Michael Maslar, 46, walked up to a bank in Middletown, Conn., wearing a mask, but he arrived eight minutes after the bank closed. He pulled on the door but found it locked. Meanwhile, employees inside called the police, who spotted the suspect driving a truck down Main Street and pursued him. Sgt. Michael Marino said that during the chase Maslar threw a mask and his intended holdup note out the window.

Land of the Setting Sun

Six Japanese high school students were disqualified from a judo tournament in Utsunomiya because their shaved eyebrows gave them an unfair advantage. "We have banned thin eyebrows because they are intimidating to opponents and cause displeasure," tournament organizer Tatsuo Kakizaki said.

Authorities accused Shoko Tanaka of making 50,000 silent phone calls to a couple living in her condominium in suburban Tokyo, hanging up as soon as someone answered, then counting to 10 and dialing again. "On a busy day, she'd make over 300 calls in a single night," an investigator said. "Police traced the calls to a prepaid mobile phone being used by somebody who could only be in the same area, which led them to Tanaka. A raid on her home unearthed 31 prepaid mobile phones." The calls began two years ago, after Tanaka shared her concerns about not seeing her boyfriend for a while, and the woman who would become her victim told her to forget about "the bum," the investigator said. "The insult to the man she loved seems to have sparked all the silent calls she made."

Peerless Panels

Charged with possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, Roderick B. Carter, 24, won a new trial in Miami after his lawyer argued that too many potential jurors had last names starting with the letter "G." Of the 38 members of the jury pool, 21 had last names starting with "G," and 14 of those were of Hispanic origin. Carter is black. Attorney David O. Markus said that the imbalance violated his client's Sixth Amendment right to a jury of his peers. The second jury, which comprised six blacks, two whites and four Hispanics, acquitted Carter.

After a jury pool in Northumberland County, Pa., included 140 men but only 10 women, President Judge Robert Sacavage ordered Sheriff Charles Berkoski to round up 50 more women for jury duty. The sheriff subpoenaed his own wife and two daughters, while a deputy handed summonses to his mother, grandmother and great-aunt. Berkoski said that several women asked Wal-Mart em ployees if there was a back exit so they could avoid the deputies subpoenaing shoppers at the front of the store.

False Alarms

German police investigating reports of screams coming from an apartment in Offenbach found a 76-year-old woman practicing for a yodeling diploma. "The officers weren't able to judge whether the neighbors were unfamiliar with Bavarian folk music," a police statement said, "or whether the lady still requires a lot of practice."

The same day, in the German town of Aachen, police were called to investigate loud yells coming from a local forest. "We found a 25-year-old man who said walking into the forest at night alone and screaming as loudly as he could was his way of dealing with the stress of everyday life," police representative Paul Kemen said, noting that the man's screams had prompted neighbors to call police three other times. When the man learned he faces a fine of $75, Kemen said, "that stressed him out again, but officers told him not to go in the forest this time."

Compiled by Roland Sweet from the nation's press. Send clippings, citing source and date, to POB 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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