And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:
To Pay or Not Toupee
Convicted former Congressman Jim Traficant still has supporters in some places. Wednesday night will be "Jim Traficant Night" at the minor league game of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, which could have been named for the unpredictable congressman. Traficant, who is now in jail, was known in part for his flamboyant hairstyle, which many speculated was a hairpiece. Indeed it was, as we learned when the authorities refused to allow him to wear it in jail. So at Wednesday night's game, those with a hairpiece get in free as do sons of truck drivers, another Traficant claim to fame. The baseball event also features a Traficant impersonator, Traficant trading cards and a mock election. Traficant says he'll run for another term from his jail cell. The general manager of the team says the former Congressman played a vital role in attracting the baseball franchise to the Mahoning Valley. And, he said, "We felt a ‘Jim Traficant Night’ would show our sincere gratitude for his efforts."
Cleansing the Air by Burning Menthol?
What's a small town council to do when its deliberations are full of nasty squabbling and negative energy? Simple, call on a shaman, or medicine man. That's what officials in Telluride, Colo., did back in June. The ceremony included burning menthol and wafting smoke into every corner of the hall, and since then setting town policy has never been easier. Town leaders are reluctant to attribute their more agreeable atmosphere to the ceremony, but they do say it opened their minds. The town leaders already have some other unusual practices in place, including opening meetings with a poetry reading. In fact, they say the meetings are so agreeable that they now go on for hours. Proving that even a good thing has some disadvantages.
When San Antonio computer consultant David Williamson was summoned for federal jury duty and told to keep the month of August free, he wrote the court saying he would serve at his normal rate of $100 an hour, and prepared a bill for $16,800. The court didn’t reply to that but did tell him to report for a seven-week trial. Williamson wrote back saying he couldn't miss work for seven weeks, but added, "If you would like to meet and discuss this, please have his honor call and schedule an appointment." The court did just that -- sending him a letter that said, "The court is happy to accommodate" his request for an appointment -- and said he was hereby ordered to appear " before Judge John H. Wood Jr. to show cause why he should not be held in “contempt of the court and jailed accordingly." The order also noted Williamson had shirked federal jury duty for seven years, a figure Williamson disputes. But he now says he will show up and will not try to bill the court for his time.