Quote of the Day - The bomb squad has been out here, and the public safety professionals have done their checks, and determined that this was not an explosive, fortunately, but we like to err on the side of caution.
Can Advertisers Think Beyond The Buck?
Earlier in the week, a promotional stunt in Boston was misinterpreted and went wrong, snarling traffic and commutes over the downtown area. Last year, Paramount Pictures teamed up with the Los Angeles Times to promote the new movie, Mission: Impossible III. Paramount, apparently with the LA Times' permission, hooked up a device in the news racks to play the them to the new movie each time a patron opened the door to get a newspaper.
The music was triggered by a device that resembled a six-inch long red tube with wires running to the paper box. After one of the devices was reported to the police as a possible explosive device, the LA bomb squad blew up the newspaper dispenser.
Advertisers continue to come up with creative ways to catch our attention (some better than others, many not that good), but it seems to MIPTC that these two apparent misunderstandings could have been easily prevented, by both the police and the advertisers.
Had the advertisers thought to notify the police ahead of time, reports of possible bombs attached to newspaper boxes could have been summarily dismissed, and the promotion gone on to successfully caught our attention. Had the police thought to call the LA Time and ask if they knew anything about the device, the Times could have explained it instead of having the bomb squad blow up one of its newspaper dispensers.
In Boston it might not have been so easy for the police to call the Cartoon Network, which apparently placed around the City computers displaying the company's new TV show.
In any event, both the police and advertisers need to remember the hypersensitive world we live in now, and talk with one another. Whether prosecutors should file criminal charges against these advertisers will likely depend on whether the advertisers actually sought the ultimate attention they got by designing something that looked like a bomb or could have been mistaken for a bomb.
It's a crazy world out there. Let's be careful and talk with one another more frequently.
Ninth Ward Victims To Get Their Day In Court Against Army Corps Of Engineers
There's only so many ways to get out of a lawsuit, and the federal government holds the trump card: sovereign immunity.
It works most of the time.
But not when the government agency is possibly grossly negligent. The allegations against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the way it built the dikes around New Orleans fall into that latter category. The USACOE tried to use the sovereign immunity trump card to buy its way out of a lawsuit, but it didn't work.
Now we'll get to see all of the evidence about what wasn't done right when the dikes were constructed. The victims in the Ninth Ward will have their day in Court.
MIPTC continues to believe that we should hire the experts in dike-building: the Dutch. They've got years of experience. We've just got big trucks and bulldozers that built those dikes in the 50's.
Yes, Goddammit, You Can Curse In A Public Meeting
Can you take the Lord's name in vain in a township meeting? According to the Sixth Circuit, yes you can. The court categorized one upset citizen's statement to the town's board, "That's why you're in a goddamn lawsuit," as mild profanity. If you've seen Chris Rock, that's a certainty. If you've been to church, perhaps not.
But this statement didn't arise in either of those venues. It arose during the portion of a public hearing where Thomas Leonard made the statement. He is the husband of Sarah Leonard, who was in a suit with the City of Montrose, Michigan, over the loss of her towing company's contract, and was addressing the town's board. He was taken outside and arrested for disorderly conduct, held in jail for an hour and released. The charges were later dropped.
As you'll see from reading the exchange between the participants in the meeting, one of the town board's members took issue with Leonard's "using the Lord's name in vain." Free speech rights, however, allow this type of exchange, and preclude the police from arresting people for expressing their opinions as long as they're not otherwise disorderly.
Yosemite Park Faces Questions Over Public Use And Rehabilitation
Yosemite is in shut-down mode. There will be no $60 million construction project for the fishing lodge and possibly no $442 million in rehab after a 1997 flood of the park. The battle for our national parks has shifted from snowmobiles to you and me.
The question before the house is whether we'll be able to use the park. There are those who think that these improvements will result in a direct pass-along of the cost to improve the park. The government claims it's like taxes. We all pay, we all get to enjoy. No rate increases they say.
The Friends of Yosemite Valley filed suit against the government to stop it from passing along the costs by stopping the improvements.
Baby? Bath water?
Certainly our parks deserve to be protected. There are too many of us who access the parks, potentially destroying the fragile ecosystem. Precautions may prevent that damage, and stopping construction on a part of the park that's already got a hotel, campgrounds and a parking lot doesn't make too much sense to me, but then again, the last time I was there, virtually no one else was, and there was plenty of space.
Associated Press writer Garance Burke notes in this article, "In 1996, when the park had a record 4 million visitors, rangers shut gates when all parking spaces were filled. But last year, the nation's third-most popular park hit a 16-year low with 3.36 million visitors."
A Collection Of A Different Kind, Thank God
Yep, my Dad was a minister in the Congregational Church, which makes me a PK (Preacher's Kid), or as some of the more erudite of you would say, a TO (Theologian's Offspring). And yes, I walked up and down the aisle with a collection plate.
But not everyone is so tactful about it.
In this article, two guys walked into a church and shouted, "This is a robbery," proceeding to take an entirely different style of collection. Flashing a handgun, they took women's purses.
Not willing to put up with the interlopers, the parishioners tackled the robbers, and they ended up capturing both crooks.
Even though I passed around the plate, I never got tackled in church.
Hazing Lands Two Frat Brothers In Jail For The Next Two Years; Victim With Surgery
Two Florida Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers who hazed a student rushing their fraternity will spend the next two years in prison. Both were within weeks of graduating Florida's A&M University, one with a degree in engineering and the other in pharmacology.
Neither will likely be able to obtain licenses to practice those professions, however, now that they've got a felony on their record. Likewise, they will not be able to vote or legally possess a firearm for the rest of their lives. After the judge read the verdict, they were led from the courtroom in handcuffs.
One of the frat brothers beat the student, and he consequently suffered a broken eardrum had to have surgery for bruising. They hit him with a cane so hard he passed out, and the other frat brother then revived him with water so the student could undergo more punishment, and the second frat brother yelled at the student to buck up and take the punishment. Despite arguments that the victim was a willing participant, that evidence was disallowed, consistent with the provisions of Florida's anti-hazing law.
Hazing used to be something quite different, but it's not at all like I remember. This verdict was one of the first under Florida's new law, enacted because a student died from hazing. Check out Stophazing.org for more information.
No Wonder His Fees Were So Low
When you pay someone $100 to fight an eviction or 10 bucks to fight a traffic ticket, you may want to ask the person doing the work to see his bar license. He probably doesn't have one. The low fee may be your first clue.
But when George Robotis appeared in an Illinois criminal court, Judge John Kirby noticed that the "lawyer" hadn't included his bar number on the pleading he filed to represent a criminal defendant. That was the second clue. The Judge asked him for his bar number, and according to Eric Herman of The Chicago Sun-Times, who had a source in the courtroom, Mr. Robotis responded, "Oh, I'm not an attorney."
The Judge promptly hooked up Mr. Robotis, who's now in jail under $75,000 of bail. He's charged with one misdemeanor count, and it's likely more will follow. He's been "representing" people for over a year, according to this article in the Sun-Times, not only in Illinois, but also in Indiana.
Anyone else who "hired" Mr. Roberts should call 773-869-6403 and ask for Sheriff Tom Darts. The Sheriff says Mr. Robotis has an extensive criminal record, stretching to some 30 convictions, which include 23 for larceny, robbery, narcotics and weapons charges.
Just the kind of "lawyer" I want to hire.
California Supreme Court Slices Through Privacy Rights, Opens Corporate Records To Class-action Counsel
As MIPTC reported to you last April, Pioneer Electronics filed a challenge to a class-action plaintiff's request for the contact information for everyone who's written complaining to Pioneer about their DVD players. Pioneer was trying to keep the size of the class down, while the plaintiff was trying to increase the size of the class. In other words, it all turned on money: whether it was going to stay either in Pioneer's pocket or in the pockets of the class-action attorneys and the class.
The flag that both sides waved before the courts, however, was privacy. Yours, if you've ever written in to Pioneer Electronics asking to have your defective DVD repaired or replaced under the terms of the warranty.
The trial court required the parties to submit what's known as a "Colonial Life" letter because it thought your privacy rights were paramount. That letter was to be sent by Pioneer to you asking your consent to provide your name to the class-action plaintiff. The net effect of such a letter cuts class actions down to practically nothing because virtually no one responds to junk mail. The trial court modified the letter, though and said if you don't reply, then your information will be provided to class-action counsel.
As you can imagine, Pioneer appealed. The court of appeal, on the other hand, vacated the trial court's order, and restored the "Colonial Life" letter requirements. Again, as you can imagine this time, the class-action plaintiff appealed to the California Supreme Court.
The Supremes reversed the court of appeal and essentially ordered the parties back to the trial court's version of the notification to potential class-action members. Now, Pioneer will send the letter and then if you fail to respond, give up your private information to class-action attorneys. The California Supreme Court reasoned in part that if you wrote to Pioneer asking for warranty coverage, you probably wouldn't have much of an objection to someone invading your privacy rights and learning about this class action.
The case is a two-sided sword, with one blade slicing through your privacy rights while the other blade slices through Pioneer's checkbook.