2 States Collect Contraband,
Boost Revenue by Selling It
In the market for some manicure scissors? How about a pocketknife? Maybe a nice box cutter?
Kentucky has a deal for you. Even though the Bluegrass State is more accustomed to selling whiskey and fast horses, it is also getting into the scissors and tiny knife business.
One catch: The stuff is used -- well, not just used, it's contraband.
Kentucky has been sending agents every few weeks to four airports in Florida, including the busy hubs in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and to several other airports to pick up items confiscated at security checkpoints. Alabama has been doing the same. The states then sell their respective hauls on eBay, the online auction site.
It's a novel idea, but neither state is going to be able to balance its budget with the revenue. After expenses, Kentucky makes only about $3,000 a year and Alabama about $6,000.
Officials in Florida have not been particularly impressed. The profit generated would be too tiny to deal with the hassle of inventory and sales, said John Kuczwanski, spokesman for the Florida Department of Management Services.
"It wouldn't even cover the staff costs," he said.
-- Manuel Roig-Franzia
Web Site Content May Have
Offended City's Top Cop
When Edward Polstein created NYPD Rant, the Web site drew lots of traffic from New York's finest -- gripes and lewd and racist comments.
But Polstein said it wasn't until he posted comments critical of Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly and others comparing the department to the Nazi party that he got in trouble.
The New York cop agreed to retire when an internal investigation found he had used the NYPD logo without permission and made offensive comments about top department officials.
That was two years ago. Earlier this month, the department decided to fire Polstein retroactively. That cost him part of his pension.
A police spokesman said Polstein violated the agreement when he later accepted a disability pension.
Polstein has sued the department claiming violations of his First Amendment rights. His lawyer, Jeffrey Goldberg, appears to have picked up on the vibe of NYPD Rant.
"If the Web site had said Kelly was the greatest police commissioner, there wouldn't be a problem," he told the New York Daily News, "but Kelly's thin-skinned, and he didn't like the content."
-- Michelle Garcia
Some Eschew Air Conditioning,
Prefer to Sweat Summer Heat
Most Central Texans avoid three-digit summer heat by scurrying from air-conditioned home to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned store to air-conditioned workplace. But not all.
Some proudly sweat it, relying only on fans and the humid breeze and call it more natural and healthy.
Artist James Talbot lives in a house he calls Casa Neverlandia, which, while it has a fire pole, does not have air conditioning.
And Cherylyn Van Kirk, who produces a line of organic skin care, keeps the air conditioning off in her 3,500-square-foot home because she likes to excrete toxins through sweat.
"It's good to perspire. That's what our bodies are made for," she said. "If you're in the AC all the time, 24-7, you never perspire. Nobody wants to perspire because they will smell, but it's a healthy thing."
-- Caroline Keating
Mo. Police Open Car Trunk,
Find Speedy Rocket Setup
A pair of Kentucky men intended to give new meaning to the idea of a methamphetamine high, but they never fired their rocket.
Missouri State Highway Patrol officers, who stopped the two last month, spotted a curious wire leading from the passenger compartment of the Ford Thunderbird to the trunk. Opening the trunk, they saw a system of weights and pulleys connected to a platform.
On the platform was a three-foot rocket with eight motors.
The rocket's payload? Two pounds of methamphetamine.
"They had a remote igniter device. They thought they'd open the trunk, ignite it and get the contraband away from the scene," Lt. Vernon Dougan said. "It's not every day you find a large hobby rocket in the trunk of a vehicle, let alone one with drugs tied to it."
Following the June 24 arrest in Kingdom City, Mo., Joseph C. Seidl and Michael Ray Sullivan were booked on drug trafficking charges. Investigators confiscated $13,534.
The rocket launch was scrubbed.
-- Peter Slevin