Matt LeMieux, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, says he has more important things to worry about than a Ten Commandments monument that has endured at the capitol in Jefferson City since it was donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1958. "My understanding is, as more monuments are donated to the state, that it moves, and now it's so far away and behind a bush that you'd really have to search hard to find it," LeMieux says.
Closer to home, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce figures hardly anyone sees the quotation from Deuteronomy 16:20 she had mounted outside her office last year: "Justice and only justice, you shall pursue...."
Joyce reports that a few attorneys have complained that biblical sentiments don't belong on courthouse walls. "It's not like it's down on the first floor or in the jury lounge or anything like that," counters Joyce, who refrained from reproducing the entire quotation (the conclusion: "...so that you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you"). "I could have put it in the warrant office and that would be really public."
She and her staff searched for a non-sectarian quote to reinforce the notion that prosecutors strive for justice and not merely convictions, Joyce says. "I'm not a particularly Bible-thumping or religious person at all -- in fact, I can't quote anything from the Bible. But I liked the quote, and I didn't want to put it up there without the attribution. I would love to change the quote. I've charged everybody with finding a better one. If they can find a quote that encapsulates the sentiment that's a secular quote, I will put it up there. I will change it."
Unreal loves a contest!
Come up with a mot juste to replace Joyce's biblical quote and we'll pay one (1) of your parking tickets, or a year's ACLU dues. We'll consider quotations from people no one has heard of, but we'll give preference to material from Cypress Hill, John Wayne or any inmate doing time in a state or local corrections facility. Send us as many entries as you'd like to email@example.com or mail to:
Jennifer Joyce Quote Contest
c/o Riverfront Times
6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200
St. Louis, MO 63130
Oh, and about that parking-ticket option: expired meter only; not parking in a handicap zone or anything real expensive.
A Little Older, A Little More Confused
Slagging this past Sunday's Washington University Sesquicentennial party is like making fun of dweebish Chancellor Mark Wrighton: too easy. But Unreal can't help it. What other event consisting mainly of hot dog and Ted Drewes giveaways would have a dozen Emergency Support Teamers on hand? And speaking of Ted Drewes, the cheap bastards handing out the "Ses-Quete" freebies stamped hands to make sure no one came back for seconds. Luckily, the ink rubbed off with a little spit.
After updating our alumni contact information to Anchorage, Alaska 90210 and hitting the Ted Drewes line again, we took our little 'crete into the new Library Technology Center, located in the basement of the main library and also known as the Arc. It is basically the nicest cyber-café you've ever seen, only without the café aspect ("ABSOLUTELY NO FOOD IS ALLOWED IN THE ARC"): plush, ergonomic chairs, flat-screen "UltraSharp" monitors, even padded semicircular booths for late-night chemistry problem-solving with your sweetheart. After checking our e-mail, we left the library and registered to win a ride in a hot-air balloon, then opted to skip the hot air at the Sesquicentennial Video of Engineering Lectures presentation and the Structural Control and Its Use in Structures talk.
Instead we stopped by Brown Hall, where international students wo-manned tables bearing information about their nations' most precious natural assets. In the midst of all this were kids swinging plastic bats, wildly trying to smash open a piñata. Little did they know that the piñata was a metaphor for Unreal's heart, smashed at by the real world ever since we left behind this tree-lined campus, where the concretes and wieners are free and the administration is always watching over you with a nerdy parental eye.
Bank of America saw the light. Charlie Webb, protagonist of Bruce Rushton's August 27 news story "Blood Money," recently got a call from a bank staffer who told him his account had been credited for the $805 that was removed after Webb's employer, the Gateway Blood Association, went belly-up.
"She said, 'I've gotten a lot of e-mails, and I even have a newspaper article,'" Webb recalls.
Webb's account was emptied when Bank of America sent his final paycheck, which had been direct-deposited, back to the payroll company's bank, leaving Webb with a negative balance. Three meetings with bank staffers got him nowhere -- though Bank of America helpfully offered to set up a payment plan so Webb could reimburse the money.
Bank of America spokeswoman Diane Wagner says her company intends to file a claim against the payroll company's bank. "We wanted to assist Mr. Webb in getting that taken care of, so that's what we're going to do," she says.
Sticking It to the (Little Yellow) Man
Last month Wal-Mart attorneys sent "cease and desist" letters to four St. Louis radio stations that were airing an ad, purchased by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 655, that criticizes working conditions and employee benefits at the company.
The radio stations didn't flinch, and the union scored a coup when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an editorial excoriating the retailer for trying to muzzle free speech. Now the union has conceived a new ad that compares Wal-Mart to a spoiled teenager. "Now it seems even giant corporations can become very upset when someone tells on them," begins the new ad, which began airing late last month. "Seems Wal-Mart, the world's largest employer, doesn't want radio listeners to know how few of its employees have health insurance or that those that do pay a lot more than an average American pays."
"We're not trying to pick a fight with Wal-Mart. We just want to expose them for what they are," says Local 655 spokesman Ed Finkelstein, whose group has also rented three billboards pointing folks to the anti-Wal-Mart Web site www.walmartwatch.com.
"It's no secret that the union has had a long-standing campaign against Wal-Mart," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Christi Gallagher told Unreal not once, not twice, but three times during a ten-minute conversation. "Our associates have rejected a union time and time again," she adds (time and time again). Wal-Mart's attorneys, she says, are weighing whether to take further action.
Erik Hellum, station manager for WIL (FM 92.3) isn't exactly quaking in his boots. "We're not going to censor the content of an advertisement on the radio," Hellum says. "That's up to the advertisers to be liable for what they want to say in their ad. "
You Don't Know Dick
"The arc of a human life inevitably leads to years when our physical strength is not what it used to be and our stamina for the working world is diminished."
--Dick Gephardt, age 62, during a September 12 speech in Des Moines