The whack pack

If you’re prone to despair when following the madcap adventures of Detroit City Council, you may find some comfort in looking to other cities.

For example, browsing for any useful information on the City of Detroit’s Web site, you stumble across Councilmember Barbara-Rose Collins’ page only to discover that first on her list of “most significant accomplishments” is being named “queen mother” by the people of Pepease, in a potato-growing region of Ghana. This, she points out, “is not merely an honorary position, but a genuine coronation, with all the responsibilities and privileges afforded to royal family members.”

You begin to fret about just how heavy weighs the crown and how well she bears that burden while tending full time to such pesky local problems as the $274 million deficit now menacing the city.

You need distraction. Your misery needs company. And if you’re not aware, there’s plenty to be found.

A good centralized source is, which has assumed the solemn duty of collecting whack news items from sources far and wide.

Detroit’s only recent mention came after the pre-Christmas snowfall when a bunch of folks were ticketed for violating the city’s snow-emergency parking law when the city had not declared such a red alert.

Then there are the vigilant officials of La Cañada Flintridge, Calif., and Miami Beach, Fla., who addressed entrepreneurial impulses in kids by, in the former, harassing four 11-year-olds for selling hand-collected mistletoe in a city park without a license, and, in the latter, by shutting down a 10-year-old girl for trying to sell cookies and drinks in her front yard to raise a few bucks for tsunami relief.

Over in Eagle Lake, Fla. (the only state with its own Fark category), the vice mayor tried to formalize a rule against spitting at City Council meetings when the former city manager appeared to try to hork on him after one session.

Way yonder, in Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov warned his ministers to think before talking, after President Vladimir Putin moved cabinet meetings out of TV range because, “When the cameras are on, you want to look good but your head turns off.”

Also overseas, it emerged that British bureaucrats spent 18 years trying to find toilet paper suitable for government-issue after an ambassador’s doctor suggested that the diplomat’s ’roids were under assault by “out of date” tissue.

Back in Westminster, Md., a local TV station discovered that two wheelchair-bound students were left in a second floor stairwell during a fire evacuation as a matter of policy, not neglect. School officials were unable to explain why the policy was in effect.

And in Jonesboro, Ga., where elections apparently are more contentious than they are here, the new sheriff fired 27 department employees, took their badges, told them to hit the road and posted rooftop snipers to keep an eye on them as they left. The sheriff is one of “a spate” of black officials recently elected to replace a long line of country whites in a town not far from De Kalb County where a newly elected sheriff was assassinated a few years ago.


Not Beatty: In the interest of correcting an error, fair play and taking our own medicine, I need to tell you that we earned a place on our own Dubious Achievements list last week by inadvertently running a photo of the Detroit Law Department’s Ruth Carter when we meant to show mayoral pal and sidelined chief of staff Christine Beatty. No excuses; we made a mistake and do regret the error.

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