Restaurateur Turns State Law

Against Dogs Into Kibble

First, city health inspectors ordered an Austin eatery to take the item labeled "Dog Stuff" off the menu; it's a half-pound of cooked hamburger for pooches, cut up and served in nice doggie bowls out on the patio. Then the inspectors returned and declared pups were prohibited from the porch. Now the top dog at Freddie's Place is fighting back.

Restaurateur Fred Nelson has found a way to get around a state law prohibiting dogs on his premises: deputize the owners, which elevates their four-legged friends to "patrol dogs." Texas law allows patrol dogs to accompany police or security officers inside a restaurant. Freddie's dog-toting customers now get a paper badge declaring them a "Freddie's Official Security Officer," along with a penny for their "work."

Nelson said that pups have never been allowed inside his enclosed dining room, just outside on the patio and in the dirt yard where customers eat at tables shaded by huge oak trees. "Restaurants and clubs hire security guards all the time," Nelson said. "The fact I don't pay mine very well is another thing."

The city is studying Nelson's ploy at the request of the Austin-Travis County Health Department. "What we were told is the test would be whether a reasonable person would believe that these are, in fact, security dogs," said department spokesman Bob Flocke. "We're waiting for a ruling."

-- Sylvia Moreno

High School Senior Teaches

A Lesson in Political Science

When people talk about Michael Sessions doing his homework before he campaigned to be mayor of Hillsdale, Mich., they do not mean it figuratively. They mean the three R's.

Every day after school, he hit the books before he knocked on doors.

Sessions, 18, is a senior at Hillsdale High.

He is also the mayor-elect.

By two votes, 670 to 668, Sessions defeated incumbent Doug Ingles in a write-in campaign after a recount. He declared the town of 8,200 residents was "too laid-back" and persuaded plenty of adults that he had brains and ideas to match his moxie.

Nor is he beholden to special interests. He financed the business cards and yard signs for his campaign with $700 in summer job earnings. He promised "to work to make Hillsdale a better place."

Sessions read a specially crafted top ten list on David Letterman's Thursday night show. Number 10 was, "Parents try to tell me what to do, I raise their taxes."

-- Peter Slevin

Moving Fish Market Was Like

Trying to Swim Upstream

To yank the Fulton Fish Market from its more than 180-year-old perch in Lower Manhattan and move it to the Bronx, the city had to battle preservationists, fishmongers and community activists. No problem.

But the most formidable opposition came from the company that unloads the fish.

Turns out former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) had installed Laro Service Systems Inc. as a way of keeping the Mafia out of the fish market. Mob bosses had figured out that the best way to shake down fish vendors was to control the men who deliver the goods.

Fish vendors wanted to boot Laro once the market was moved. A year of legal battles ensued until both sides agreed to keep Laro for three years after the move this weekend.

"Getting rid of the mob was great," William Kuntz, a lawyer for the New Fulton Fish Market, told the New York Daily News, "but dealing with a monopoly is not."

-- Michelle Garcia

Native Whalers Are Granted

A Quicker Means of Killing

Officials on the International Whaling Commission have long pondered this question: Is it better to die after being hit by grenades filled with gunpowder, or after having a blasting agent explode under the skin?

Now those in favor of the blasting agent, a chemical known as penthrite, have won the day. Beginning next year, native whale hunters will upgrade their technology to make death less painful for the whales.

Eskimo hunters will use harpoons to fire penthrite capsules at bowhead whales migrating past Alaska. The new explosive knocks out the central nervous system and kills the animal in 15 minutes. The old gunpowder system -- developed in the 1800s -- takes about an hour to kill.

Eugene Brower, a whaling captain in charge of weapons improvement for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, said penthrite was given to hunters in two locales.

"The ones that tested it this fall love it," he said. "When you strike the whale and it explodes, it's more of an instantaneous kill."

Although the new technology is a far cry from the lances Alaskan natives once used, still, Brower said, "It's a difficult hunt."

-- Sonya Geis

Michael Sessions ousted the incumbent by a 2-vote margin.