September 25, 2013

Charles Oliver: Is free speech in the Constitution?

Charles Oliver

— • Modesto Junior College blocked a student from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution on Constitution Day. Officials told Robert Van Tuinen he could pass out the Constitution only in a very restricted “free speech” area and only after reserving it several days in advance.

• The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department can’t find an M-16 rifle it got from a military surplus program. The department sent an internal email urging deputies to “turn over EVERY rock” to find the rifle. The department has been barred from receiving any more surplus equipment until it accounts for the weapon.

• British officials have fined the Tesco supermarket chain £300,000 (about $480,000) for improperly advertising strawberries. Tesco had advertised a 400-gram container of strawberries at “half off” at £1.99 (about $3.18) with the original price of £3.99 (about $6.38) marked out. But one customer — one — complained she’d never actually seen the strawberries priced at £3.99 and thought that was deceitful. The company admitted it had only briefly sold the strawberries for £3.99 and had sold them at £1.99 much longer.

• Egg Harbor Township, N.J., Mayor James “Sonny” McCullough says he doesn’t want to but he’s selling the home he has lived in for the past 28 years because he can no longer afford the property taxes. McCullough, who has lived in Egg Harbor Township for 39 years, says he hopes to find another home in the city.

• An off-duty police officer forcibly removed Robert Small from a Towson, Md., meeting on national Common Core education standards. Small’s crime? Asking a question out of turn during the question and answer part of a presentation by the state Department of Education. The officer charged Small with disturbing a school activity and assaulting a police officer (apparently because Small pulled away when the officer, who wasn’t in a police uniform, grabbed him). After local and national media picked up the story, local prosecutors dropped all charges against Small.

• An appropriations bill recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives includes $174,000 in tax-free benefits to the widow of former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. Congress routinely makes such payments to the families of members who die in office. According to press reports, Lautenberg left an estate valued at around $56 million.

• The Virginia Beach City Public School System has suspended seventh-graders Aidan Clark and Khalid Caraballo for the rest of the school year for playing with an airsoft pellet gun in Caraballo’s front yard. They were part of a group of children playing zombie war. School officials say they suspended the boys because there was a bus stop nearby. In fact, they say one of the children they shot may have been as close as 10 feet from the bus stop.

• John Crockett, principal of Idaho’s Malad High School, says he was only trying to preserve the school’s heritage by selling many of the athletic trophies its athletes have won over the years. He said the school doesn’t have room to display them all, and rather than box them up and put them in storage, he said it made more sense to sell them to former students, team members and coaches. But after many in the community complained, Crockett said he would sell no more trophies.

Charles Oliver is a staff writer for The Daily Citizen.