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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

If you were being chased by bad guys and managed to make it to a police station, would you feel safe? You might not be safe if the police station were in Jersey City, N.J. This news item didn't receive much national coverage, but it should have.

Feb. 8 a man walked into a Jersey City police station, where he assaulted one officer and took the gun away from another. The news story said the incident raised the question: "Are Jersey City police stations secure?" I think I know the answer. No! A more important question: What does this incident say about what life is like in a city where even police officers aren't safe in a police station?

What's so scary about this story is that the intruder was so morally bankrupt, with such little respect for authority, that he would attack a police station. Even more scary is that he was mean-spirited enough to do it.

I wonder if the police called 911. If so, what did they say? Did the conversation go like this? "We're under siege by an out-of-control thug; send help!" The 911 operator responds: "Relax, stay calm. The police are on their way." The caller says: "The police are already here; we are the police! Send in the heavy artillery!" Aren't you glad you live in the dull, boring, unsophisticated Ozarks?

Elsewhere in the news, this from Washington, D.C.: Our nation's capital loses $500,000 a month in revenue to parking-meter vandalism. This isn't a typo. We're talking heavy vandalism. The city loses $6 million a year if my math is correct in meter replacement, money stolen from meters, and loss of revenues when drivers park in places with dead meters.

What could the city do with $6 million a year? Washington, D.C., Beirut on the Potomac, has one of the highest crime rates in the nation. I'll bet the police could put $6 million to good use to help make the streets a little safer.

Washington isn't taking this vandalism lying down. They are installing 15,000 high-tech parking meters in an attempt to thwart vandals.

I don't know how high-tech parking meters might be different from low-tech ones; however, I'll put my money on the vandals to figure out a way to trash them. I suppose they might thwart vandals if they were high-tech enough to be programmed to shoot back at the vandals. I'm afraid this might involve a constitutional violation or two.

From Rhode Island comes this story: The state legislature is threatening to withdraw $1.5 million in state aid from the Narragansett School District for its refusal to administer a survey prepared by the state, because the district feels it's too intrusive.

A sample survey question: "Do you believe you are ugly?" (I don't make this stuff up; I just report it.) Assuming students were willing to say "Yeah, I'm as ugly as dirt," what possible benefit could be gained from the answers to this idiotic question? I hope the school district sticks to its guns.

If need be, it should take the mushy-headed, psycho-babblers who prepared this survey to court. Let them explain to a judge why they need to know if students believe they are ugly. If the locals are forced to toe the line, and they have to cooperate to get their money, perhaps a compromise could be worked out.

The question might be rewritten: "Do you believe you can look at a clock, and cause it to stop?" Or, "When people look at you, does their hair begin to curl?" No, Narragansett. No compromises. Take them to court.

From North Dakota comes this story from the "Idea Whose Time Has Come Department." The Department of Transportation has created a list of the Top 10 Worst Drivers in North Dakota. The names and faces of the worst of the worst are made public.

Now get this. Those on the list have lost their drivers licenses for at least 30 years. The No. 1 offender, a man named Craig Irwin, can't even apply for a new license until 2048. What would cause drivers to lose their licenses for 30 to 50 years? It may be that North Dakota judges are serious about ridding the state of dangerous drivers a novel idea, indeed.

One last news item: The Rusty Limerick contest winners will be announced next week. I'm trying to contain my excitement. You do the same, please.

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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