Assorted Stupidity #3

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  • In February, a dispute over pet turkeys led to a $4.25 million verdict in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Robert and Jennifer Klippel admitted they stole seven turkeys from Ralph Dupps' yard, but said the birds were a nuisance and should not have been kept there.  Dupps had them prosecuted, but the charges were dismissed.  The Klippels then sued him for malicious prosecution, arguing the arrest had caused public humiliation and emotional distress.  A jury agreed.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle reported last month that the city spent up to $210,000 to move a bush. The bush, which was found in the path of a proposed roadway, was a "Franciscan manzanita," a native of the area that was believed to be extinct.  Columnists reported that the bill for moving the bush less than a mile was $175,000, plus $35,000 for "support" services from various experts.
  • Across the Bay, a student has created a plan for building a streetcar line in Oakland of the kind that has revitalized downtown areas elsewhere.  Daniel Johnson's plan includes land-use and job projections as well as possible funding sources.  In 2005, the city paid $300,000 for a streetcar-feasibility study (and has applied for another $330,000).  No streetcars have materialized. Johnson's project was funded by a $1,275 grant, but he only spent $987.
  • In May, a man called police in Redding, California, to tell them he was in the process of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old.  Police traced the phone number to a home in Florida, and police in that state found Paul Hartness at home alone.  Hartness, who was charged with false reporting, said he made the call accusing himself of rape because he was "bored."  According to police, Hartness has made two similar phone calls in the past to police in Maryland and Tennessee.