Oct 18, 2004

Big Brother is watching

Don’t park here, don’t chew there and nevermind why the highways are so congested

A frank investigation

Officials in Shapleigh, Maine, say they were only looking out for motorist safety when they told Katharine Schultze to move her buns somewhere else.
For 10 years, the bikini-clad Schultze has sold hot dogs from a cart near a popular lake in York County. But this summer local officials decided her operation was a traffic hazard and passed an ordinance prohibiting Schultze from parking at her usual spot.
Known around town as the “Hot Dog Lady,” Schultze has become a local celebrity around Shapleigh and suspects the ruling has more to do with her bikinis than any traffic concerns. She continues to sell hot dogs at her usual spot despite the new no-parking signs, and has collected more than 500 signatures on a petition supporting her business.
This is not the first curbside operation that police in Shapleigh have had to crack down on. Three years ago police sent the elusive Crab Cake Lady packing, and last year they finally busted the rogue operation of the Spaghetti Squash Lady.

Safety first

Washington, D.C., no longer tolerates potential terrorist activities, and that includes eating.
A government scientist learned this lesson the hard way recently when she failed to finish chewing the last bite of her candy bar before entering a Washington subway station, a clear violation of the no-eating rule.
A transit policeman quickly asked for the brazen chewer’s identification, and when he was ignored he handcuffed and arrested the scientist, detaining her for three hours.
This kind of dedicated subway security is nothing new in D.C. In 2000, an officer handcuffed a 12-year-old girl for eating a french fry on a subway platform. And in 2002, a wheelchair-bound man with cerebral palsy was ticketed for cursing when he was unable to find a working elevator to leave a station.

Breaking news

The Texas Transportation Institute released its annual Urban Mobility Report last month which revealed some not-so-startling findings: Traffic jams stink and they’re becoming more and more common.
Based on 2002 federal and state highway data, the report found that the average U.S. motorist spends 46 hours each year, nearly two full days, stuck in traffic jams. In 1982, the national average was just 16 hours.
If you enjoy congestion, the report suggests you visit Los Angeles where motorists topped all U.S. cities by spending an average of 93 hours a year in gridlock.
The study also revealed that the annual cost of traffic congestion, as measured in wasted fuel and lost productivity, has increased to more than $63 billion, up from $14 billion two decades ago.
AASHTO estimates that it would cost as much as $400 billion in federal spending over the next six years to solve these traffic problems, just a tad more than the $218 billion that has been allocated by the government over the past six years. They also say they expect a significant increase in spending, but it still won’t be enough.
To see the complete results of the report, go to http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/.

The key to success is preparation

A getaway car is crucial to any successful bank robbery. That’s why it’s important to take a thorough test drive before you purchase.
Zach Hayden of Warsaw, Ind., knew this when he arrived at a used car lot in South Ogden, Utah. With a salesman accompanying him, Hayden took one of the dealership’s cars on a test drive to the Wells Fargo Bank.
He told the salesman he just needed to run in and withdraw some money to buy the vehicle. What the salesman didn’t realize was that Hayden planned to do so at gunpoint.
Moments later, Hayden came running out of the bank with his “withdrawal.” The salesman had gotten out to help a woman who needed directions, so Hayden was able to make a clean escape in the car.
The salesman would learn later that the Wells Fargo Bank wasn’t even the first one Hayden had tried to rob with him. Earlier, the pair stopped at another bank, but Hayden left without incident when tellers became suspicious and called police.
Hayden was arrested later that day in Nevada. Police had no trouble identifying the car since it still had the dealer plates on and the price written in white letters on the window.

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