With Americans burdened with high taxes, one would hope that the government they pay for would at least be used efficiently and wisely. These Top 10 Examples of Government Stupidity from around the country would suggest otherwise:
1. Sensitivity training: The Omaha, Neb., public school district spent $130,000 in federal stimulus money to buy manuals to instruct teachers and school administrators on how to be culturally sensitive. The book, The Cultural Proficiency Journey: Moving Beyond Ethical Barriers Toward Profound School Change, says that teachers need to work for social justice in order to overcome a white-privileged society. The book says racism, sexism, homophobia and ableism are forces of oppression in schools, and that institutions in America “channel wealth and power to white people.”
2. Green car bust: The city of Salinas, Calif., invested more than $500,000 in Green Vehicles, an electric car venture that failed to produce a single car. In addition to the city money, the State of California chipped in another $187,000, but the owner of the company said it folded due to a lack of investors. The city ponied up the money after the company promised it would create 70 new jobs and generate some $700,000 in tax revenue annually for city coffers. City officials were reportedly irked when they learned of the company’s collapse by e-mail.
3. Don’t help the homeless: The city of Houston shut down a Christian couple’s effort to aid the homeless earlier this year because they did not have a permit to distribute free food. Anyone serving food to the public for any reason must prepare meals in a certified kitchen that has a certified food manager, according to the city’s Department of Health and Human Services. But because the couple gave out food donated and prepared by various stores and volunteers throughout the city, they ran afoul of a city ordinance, leaving the 100 or so recipients of their daily charity out of luck.
4. Right to View Porn in Jail: The Washington State Supreme Court ruled that a man awaiting trial for making child pornography videos while raping boys will be allowed to watch the videos of the acts while in jail. Weldon Marc Gilbert is acting as his own attorney and therefore has the right to review the evidence against him, which includes 28 hours of porn on some 100 videos, the court ruled.
5. Sex-offender custody: After Trista Crews Coleman died in a car wreck some four years ago, her one-month-old daughter, Miranda, was raised by her grandmother. But a Baker County, Fla., judge has given custody of the little girl to Crews Coleman’s ex-husband, a registered sex offender who has a history of domestic violence. The ex-husband, Donald Coleman, divorced Crews Coleman, saying Miranda was fathered by another man, but he still has paternity rights because he was married to her mother when she was born.
6. Ex-cons protected: City officials in San Francisco are seeking to make ex-convicts a “protected class,” joining blacks, Hispanics, homosexuals, the disabled and transgendered, and pregnant women. Ex-cons already have the special status when applying for city government jobs, but a council of top city officials wants to extend the protection to make it illegal for landlords and private employers to ask about a person’s criminal record.
7. Bee watering fine: New York City fined Tip Sempliner $2,000 for failing to water his beehive. There was a beehive waterer two feet from the hive and nearby ponds on his property on Little Neck Bay. Only after public outcry did the city replace the fine with a “warning.” As Queens Councilman Daniel Halloran told CBS News, “There are criminals who get cases in city criminal court who don’t have a $500 fine, let alone a $2,000 … this is absolutely absurd.”
8. Homeless custody: A Family Court judge in New York City awarded custody of a teenage boy to his homeless father and chided the boy’s mother for criticizing the court and the legal system. The father, John Jacobs, has lived in storefronts and borrowed rooms for years, yet Judge Bernard Graham ordered the son to live in a shelter with his dad despite his mother’s attempt to retain custody. The mother, who makes $90,000 working as a court clerk for the Manhattan Supreme Court, and father have spent a decade locked in the custody battle.
9. Massachusetts’ Big Brother: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is setting up a massive database that tracks drivers via scanners on police cars and stores the information indefinitely. Thousands of license plate numbers, and the car’s location, can be gathered per hour, and data will be made available to local, state and federal law enforcement officials. The Executive Office of Public Safety is spending some $500,000 for the scanners and will distribute them to local police throughout the state.
10. Go Gore, not Palin: The state of Nevada last year denied a request for a vanity license plate that said “GOPALIN” because, in the view of the Department of Motor Vehicles, such a plate was “vulgar or obscene or expressing superiority of political affiliation.” That policy didn’t stop the agency from issuing personalized plates that said “AL GORE,” “GO OBAMA,” “GOGREEN,” “DMOCRAT,” and “KERRY.” While an administrative law judge rescinded the rejection, the state now faces a lawsuit challenging the policy.