Cubs Hit the Ceiling, Sue
Businesses Over Rooftop Fans
Fans watching the Chicago Cubs from rooftop businesses overlooking Wrigley Field are a familiar sight to baseball fans across the nation who follow the team on WGN-TV.
But if the team has its way, that practice could become a thing of the past. The Tribune Company, which owns the team, last week sued 13 business owners, charging they were stealing from the team by competing with it for ticket sales.
Where once fans were just local residents who set out lawn chairs, many of the establishments are businesses that charge fans to watch the games while selling them drinks and food. The Cubs have long held that they should profit from the enterprises.
"The free ride is over," Cubs President Andy MacPhail said last week.
But Ken Jakubowski, a consultant for businesses, said the lawsuit was disappointing because rooftop business owners offered the Cubs $14 for each ticket they sell and had been working to settle outstanding differences, including concerns about the Cubs' plans to expand the stadium.
"It sets us back significantly in our efforts to solve this privately," Jakubowski told WGN-TV, which is also owned by the Tribune Co.
-- Robert E. Pierre
Confederate Flag T-Shirts
Refuel an Old Dispute in South
Just about anybody could come up with a T-shirt featuring a plain old Confederate flag -- the evidence of that is everywhere in the South. But Dewey Barber conceived of a little twist a few years back that has him shipping about a million T-shirts a year from his Dixie Outfitters offices in the southeastern Georgia town of Odom.
Barber's artists place day-to-day images in front of Confederate flags. They've got puppies in front of the Confederate flag. They've got kittens, stallions and an American bald eagle, too.
About 400 vendors sell Barber's products. Some rent space in malls, and that has led to a fight that is reopening the long-standing battle over the Confederate flag in the modern-day South.
During this month's holiday shopping crush, at least three malls in Alabama have evicted vendors selling Dixie Outfitters products after receiving complaints from the NAACP. The head of one mall said a local NAACP representative threatened a boycott.
"Are we still promoting hatred and racism?" said the Rev. R.L. Shanklin, president of the Alabama NAACP.
Barber says the NAACP is missing the point.
"There are Southerners, and others, that use the flag in a racist way," Barber said. 'What we're trying to do is to show our Southern history and our heritage in our T-shirt designs."
-- Manuel Roig-Franzia
At Harley-Davidson Plant,
Bikes and Bambi Don't Mix
The motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson will turn 100 years old next year, but some folks around its plant in York, Pa., aren't celebrating.
The company decided to rid itself of more than 100 white-tailed deer that lived on 80 acres of fenced-company grounds when the Pennsylvania plant expanded. Instead of relocating the herd or launching a neutering program -- both costly and time-consuming -- the company brought in U.S. Department of Agriculture sharpshooters with night vision goggles, who stalked and killed the deer over a two-month period.
"For years, those deer were eating out of neighbors' hands, but then the company sent in hunters . . . who killed spring fawns and does," said Jane Heller, president of the Humane Society of Southern Maryland and York. "They killed Bambi."
A company spokesman said that executives "struggled" with the decision, but were limited in what they could do by state game law and concern about traumatizing the deer. "After talking to all the experts and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, we made the decision that the most humane way to treat the animals was to take their lives," said Joe Hice, a corporate spokesman.
Gary Killian, a professor of reproductive physiology at Penn State University, who studied the controversy, concluded, "There really isn't a good decision that would satisfy everyone."
-- Eric Pianin
Colorado Forest Ranger Faces
More Charges in Deadly Fire
Terry Lynn Barton, the U.S. Forest Service ranger who admitted she started the blaze that killed five firefighters and destroyed 138,000 acres last June, has pleaded guilty to two federal felony charges in the case. But her legal problems are hardly extinguished.
Federal prosecutors agreed to a six-year prison term for Barton as part of a plea bargain entered earlier this month. While she waits for a judge to approve the deal, though, Barton faces an even tougher sentence under state charges.
Four central Colorado counties have agreed on state arson charges that could cost Barton 12 years in state prison, beyond whatever time she serves on the federal charge. The arson charge was filed by the prosecutor of Teller County, Colo., the jurisdiction that had the most damage from the "Hayman Fire."
Barton said she decided to burn a letter from her estranged husband while on patrol in Pike National Forest. Wind carried the flame into the bone-dry trees, and the fire was out of control within minutes.
-- T.R. Reid