NewsBriefs BUTTONS


January 1997

"Sometimes you call the cops ..."

Aptos, California -- Pot thieves may have mistakenly stolen seven fake marijuana plants that were tucked away among redwood trees. "They looked really real. They had buds on them and everything," said Tina Williams, a state park ranger at the Forest of Nicene Marks in Santa Cruz County. Williams said the thieves may have known the plants were fake, and may have stolen them in protest of the movie company moving truckloads of heavy gear into the usually peaceful California park. Underdog Films had been using the plants made from silk for their new film, "Home Grown," about marijuana farmers, starring Ted Danson, John Lithgow, Kelly Lynch, Jon Bon Jovi and Jamie Lee Curtis (Associated Press, "Pot Thieves Take Film-Prop Plants," Washington Post, November 29, 1996, p. A12).

"... Sometimes you don't!"

Coeur D'Alene, Idaho -- When Officer S.W. Childers arrived at the home of Harlan Collinsworth on December 4, Collinsworth gave them a list of items stolen from his home: a VCR, a bong and a film canister containing marijuana. Collinsworth showed Childers a metal container where he had stored the canister of marijuana. "While showing me this container, he explained that the suspect had failed to take his marijuana pipe," Childers wrote in his report, adding, "When I asked where it was, Harlan pulled it from the container." Collinsworth, 20, was given a citation for possession of drug paraphernalia. "We won't generally get lots of calls about stolen controlled substances," said Captain Carl Bergh (Associated Press, "Here's proof that pot kills brain cells," The Oregonian (Portland), December 5, 1996, p. D4).

"House? What House?"

Albany, New York -- Police announced on December 2 that a house owned by state Assemblywoman Gloria Davis (D-Bronx) was the site of $25,000-a-week heroin ring. Davis, 58, denied any knowledge of the drug activities. Police said their 6-month investigation did not produce any evidence that Davis was involved or knew about the activities in her house. Police arrested five people in connection with the heroin ring, including Davis' daughter, Gwendolyn Gibbs, 42, and her granddaughter, Jacqueline Davis, 19. William J. Dreyer, a spokesman for Ms. Davis, said that Davis only uses the home in Albany when the legislature meets between January and July. Davis was elected to the New York Assembly in 1980 and became the first woman to head the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus in 1991 (Raymond Hernandez, "Lawmaker Owns Home Linked to Drug Sales," New York Times, December 4, 1993, p. B8; "New York," USA Today, December 4, 1996, p. 12A).

"Over the top? Not over the wall."

Denver, Colorado -- In late December, Colorado officials and lawmakers began debating whether nonviolent convicts should be behind bars, given the state's high costs of operating its prisons. Officials predict that Colorado will be paying $500 million by the year 2002 to operate state prisons. Colorado currently has 12,101 inmates, about 3,000 over capacity. In 1979, Colorado spent $20 million operting its prisons, compared to the $317 it expects to spend this year ("Colorado," USA Today, December 23, 1996, p. 11A).

"Today's lesson: Do what I say, not what I do."

Stevenson, Maryland -- Villa Julie College president Carolyn Manuszak was fined $1,312 in November for violating the state's workplace smoking ban. Manuszak was fined after an employee of the college, who was guaranteed anonymity, filed a complaint with Maryland's Occupational Safety and Health Office. Investigators discovered that Manuszak was smoking in her office bathroom, using an open window to clear the smoke. Though Manuszak banned indoor smoking at the college a year before Maryland's strict anti-smoking policy went into effect in 1995, she continued to smoke indoors. The agency reduced her fine from $2,625 after the college president agreed not to smoke on campus anymore ("College President Fined for Smoking in the Bathroom," Washington Post, November 24, 1996, p. B3).