Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "GOP: No room for error," Oct. 19, 2002

In with the old

The CDs at the music store may look familiar this fall. USA Today's David Lieberman reports that with album sales down 11 percent this year, record companies are dusting off old hit titles and rereleasing them. "We're all desperate to generate revenues and stop this slide," RCA Music Group Chairman Bob Jamieson told the paper. In such a climate, he said, "viable catalog (industry-speak for the oldies in their vault) is tried and true." Among the old acts to hit the shelves: The Carpenters, Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Roy Orbison, Sly and the Family Stone, and Dusty Springfield.

Bait for switches

Has the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates to widespread disregard of election laws? On Oct. 7, the high court declined to hear a GOP appeal on the legality of New Jersey Democrats' replacement of Robert Torricelli with Frank Lautenberg as the party's candidate for the Senate, even though New Jersey's deadline for substitutions had passed. A Wall Street Journal editorial points out that since then, both parties have cited the case as a precedent for "illegal, 11th-hour switcheroos." In Montville, N.J., Republicans want to field a replacement candidate for a township committee: "If the Democrats can do it, why not Republicans?" asked Montville Republican Party chairman Joe O'Dowd. In Hawaii, Gov. Ben Cayetano, a Democrat, is trying to appoint a replacement for deceased Democratic Rep. Patsy Mink, despite the passing of a state deadline to do so. (According to Hawaii law, Ms. Mink's name will remain on the ballot, and if she wins, a special election will be held on Nov. 30.) "If the Supremes find themselves deluged with this sort of thing in coming years, it will serve them right," the Journal editorializes. "They passed on an early chance to reaffirm, as they did in Bush v. Gore, that election laws mean something."

'Cut to the chase'

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Aileen Wuornos is the subject of three books, two movies, and one opera. Last week, she also became the 10th woman executed in the United States since 1977. Ms. Wuornos was a rarity, a female serial killer, a hitchhiker who shot to death at least six middle-aged men along Florida highways in 1989 and 1990. Twelve years later, the killer fired her lawyers and gave up on appeals. According to UPI reporter John Koch, she told the Florida Supreme Court that she "would prefer to cut to the chase and get on with the execution. Taxpayers' money has been squandered and the families have suffered enough." After three psychiatrists concluded that she was competent, Gov. Jeb Bush approved the execution. Mr. Koch reports that 367 inmates remain on Florida's death row, but their executions will be delayed due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision against death sentences issued by judges instead of juries.

They can fight city hall, but not main street

After a four-year legal battle, the Word of God has found a new home in Elkhart, Ind. And, say some, the new site is superior to the old one. Back in May 1958 the Fraternal Order of Eagles presented the city with a copy of the Ten Commandments engraved on a large granite slab. For 40 years the Decalogue stood in front of the City Building, where relatively few people noticed it in the shadow of a nearby tree. But in 1998 two Elkhart residents and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union sued the city to have the monument removed. Ironically, the lawsuit pulled the statue into a spotlight of media attention that it had never previously known in the Hoosier community. However, after spending four years and almost $63,000 fighting that lawsuit, Mayor David Miller opted to halt the legal battle and accept an offer from the Banks Lumber Company to move the monument to its corporate headquarters on Main Street, where it would be much more visible. Said Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter: "These controversies are still going to go on. But solutions like the one found in Elkhart are probably going to be reasonable ones for communities in Indiana to adopt."

Political spam?

Is Elizabeth Dole a spammer? A North Carolina computer consultant sued her Senate campaign under the state's anti-spam statute. Ken Pugh is seeking a whopping $80 in damages, saying he wants to see if the law really works. "It wouldn't have mattered if the spam mail came from the Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or Green Party," he told the Durham Herald-Sun. The Dole camp says the law doesn't affect it because its e-mails are not commercial. Mr. Pugh told the paper that he once lost work because his mailbox was so clogged with spam that he deleted mail too quickly. "In the process, he inadvertently erased a message about the consulting opportunity and did not learn about it until it was too late," Herald-Sun reporter John Stevenson writes.

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