June 20, 2006

The $600,000 Tee Shirt.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:21 pm

Here we have a case of a New Jersey high school kid in 2001 who was suspended for three days for wearing a $5.00 tee shirt to school. The offending shirt quoted Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck if …” routine. The school’s stated reason, according to the Star Ledger’s report, was that wearing the tee shirt violated the school’s anti-harassment policy, “in the wake of racial incidents in which students referring to themselves as ‘Hicks’ and ‘Rednecks’ harassed black students”.

The kid sued, claiming that the suspension violated his First Amendment rights. After five years of litigation, the “kid”, now 23 and working for a living, dropped the suit, claiming that he has “moved on his life” and that he wore the tee shirt because he thought that it was “funny”.

Now, the Court has ruled that the municipality must pay almost $600,000 in legal fees to the “kid’s” lawyer.

So, what the heck happened here? All I know is what the newspaper article reported, but here’s my guess as to how this played out.

The school, probably genuinely troubled with racial tensions existing at the time among the students, told the kid to go home and change his shirt. [My guess].

The kid went home and told his moonbat parents that he was sent home for wearing a shirt, which, according to the school, violated school policy. [My guess]

Rather than simply telling the kid not to wear the shirt to school, the kid’s parents (probably children of the sixties) got all “Chicago Seven” and called a lawyer. [All my guess, except for the part about actually calling a lawyer].

The lawyer read just enough First Amendment case law to figure he had enough to “get to a jury”, filed a summons and complaint. [My guess regarding the lawyer’s state of mind, but a lawsuit obviously had been filed]

The town had to hire a lawyer to defend the action. [My guess, but a pretty solid one, methinks.]

Discovery begins.

Each side pounds the other with oppressive and ridiculous discovery demands. E.g. “Produce any and all documents related directly or indirectly to any and all school policies, including, without limitation, any and all documents drafted by, reviewed by, or referred to in such documents within the past ten years.” Depositions of countless school officials are demanded, as are depositions of the kid and his parents. Experts may have been retained by each side. [My guess, but an educated guess]

Motion practice begins.

Each side seeks the court to declare the other side’s discovery demands to be overbroad, vague and nothing more than a “fishing expedition”. [Another educated guess]

The case lies dormant for a long while. [My guess]

The case is called for trial.

Now the case is five years old, and the kid’s and his parents’ fist-pumping satisfaction over “suing the bastards” has long since passed, and the town just wants to stop the financial bleeding. Nobody wants to proceed with the expensive discovery in order meet the trial deadline, and the lawyers on both sides are worried about getting paid – especially the “kid’s” lawyer. [My guess]

The “kid” drops the suit, and now the only issue is whether the town pays the “kid’s” legal fees, the size of which his parents never envisioned when they embarked on this adventure. [Dropping the lawsuit is a fact. The rest is my guess]

The “kid’s” lawyer (looking down the barrel of large, likely uncollectable legal fee) files a motion for payment by the town of the “kid’s” legal fees. The town’s lawyers oppose the motion. Both sides drag out their now old files, and briefs are written. The town loses the motion, and the Court orders the payment of almost $600,000 to the “kid’s” lawyers. [My guess, except for the ruling on the fees]

Who Wins Here?

The “Kid”? Apparently not, because, now that he’s a grownup, he decided that making a living is more important than paying lawyers over the issue of wearing a tee shirt five years ago.

The Kid’s Lawyer? Well, the lawyer was awarded almost $600,000 in fees, so it looks like the lawyer was the clearly “winner”. [It is, however, possible that the lawyer sunk much more than $600,000 worth of time into the case. The story does not make that clear.] Notably, the town’s lawyer claimed a “victory” in that the “kid” dropped the suit.

Who Loses Here?

The “Kid”? No. He’s “moved on” with his life and someone else is paying his lawyer.

The “Kid’s” parents? Nope. They can brag to their cocktail party friends about suing the school to vindicate important First Amendment rights. [My guess]

The Taxpayers of the Town? Bingo! Big losers. They have to pay probably something like a half a million to defend the action brought by the “kid”, and they also have to pony up the $600,000 to pay the “kid’s” lawyer for this exercise in which not a single constitutional right was vindicated or clarified.

The Rest of Us? Yes, we all lose a little each time mindless litigiousness prevails over a bit of common sense.

And, the beat goes on.

June 19, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 6:58 pm

You Are 97% New Jersey!

Wow, you’re totally Jersey. There’s no doubt about it. Congratulations, and always be proud to be Jersey–it’s a great thing to be!

How New Jersey Are You?

I scored 97%. Damn, I wuz robbed. I woulda figured 100% for sure.

Tanks to Usual Suspect Jeff for da link.

June 18, 2006

Father’s Day 2006.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:23 pm

Bonus! This year, Father’s Day is a two-day event. Yesterday, daughter TJ and husband came by for a visit, which included taking me (and Mrs. Parkway) out to dinner, which included a couple soup bowl-sized martinis (Bombay Sapphire, up with olives – a civilized drink). Thereafter, we assembled on the deck for some excellent champagne AMERICAN sparkling wine and lots of shoot-the-breeze.

This morning I was a little under the weather as a result of enjoying yesterday’s refreshments, but I managed to drag my ass out the door for the morning walk, albeit with a kinder cadence. I took advantage of the alone time to “visit” with my dad, and a pleasant visit it was, even though I miss him dearly.

In a little while, I’ll be heading to THE Deck, at the home of my Bodyguard and the Deckmistriss, to hang with the Usual Suspects. There will be several fathers in attendance, and we’ll see how well we fare with taking the position that we should be waited on all day, a prospect about which I am not terribly optimistic.

Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there and to the people who love them.

June 17, 2006

An Evening of THEE-AH-TAH.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:59 pm

Hello Dolly.jpgFor many years I have had a subscription to the Paper Mill Playhouse. Our season tickets are always for Friday night performances. As such, it is frankly a bit of a chore to come home from work at the end of the week and immediately hustle off to the theater. However, in all the years I have been schlepping to the theater on Fridays, I can count the times on one hand that I wasn’t glad I went.

Last night was no exception. It was hot; I was tired, and I would have preferred a seat on the deck with a cold drink. But, off to the theater we schlepped. Last night was also no exception in that I am particularly glad I went.

The show was “Hello, Dolly!” and it was excellent. “Dolly” was played by Tovah Feldshuh, an extremely talented woman of many voices, all of them wonderful. The supporting characters were also terrific. There aren’t many things quite as impressive as an entire ensemble facing the audience and singing full out, and “Hello, Dolly!” provided lots of that and some first-class hoofing as well.

Should you live anywhere near the Paper Mill Playhouse (Millburn, NJ), I urge you to see “Hello, Dolly!”. You won’t be disappointed.

June 16, 2006

Now Appearing . . . Baby Dax!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 11:55 pm

Jawja Blogger and friend, Dax Montana and his bride, the “lovely and extremely talented Priscilla” welcomed Baby Dax into the world yesterday. The little feller weighed in at 8 pounds 2 ounces. Everyone is doing fine.

Dax called a few hours ago, but I wasn’t in. Just damn! I’ll track him down tomorrow for some congratulations.

Very Dangerous Gig.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 6:02 pm


Dead Man Walking

June 15, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:39 pm

I worked late, and I’m generally cranky. What’s more, I had to choose between watching Matt Lauer interview Britney Spears, or staring at a blank “Write” screen without a clue in the world about what I might write.

To your detriment, I chose the blank screen.

I figured you deserve the backstory.

June 14, 2006

Purrrty Names.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:32 pm

Suzette at Bob the Corgi, in her usual entertaining way, was discussing particularly nice sounding names. For some reason, the electrochemical basis for which I do not know, that reminded me of a college class a zillion years ago in which we learned that a bunch of well-known linguists got together and decided that the two English words that sounded the most beautiful when put together are “cellar door”. Say it a few times, trying not to think of what it means, and it does have a nice sound to it. I think so, anyway.

Still, I don’t know if “Cellar Door Jones” would work so well.

Summer Camp Health Tonic.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 2:28 am


Behold one of the many medications the Usual Suspects used to cope with the Florida heat a few weeks ago.

June 12, 2006

Rental Car$.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:28 pm

I had occasion to dig out my bill for the seven-passenger minivan I rented to use for the week while in Fort Myers Beach last month. Clearly, I don’t pay nearly enough attention to the details.

Sure, I had signed all that stuff (i.e. the charges) when I picked up the car at the airport. Excited about being away and in a rush to get underway, I didn’t pay all that much attention to what the woman behind the counter was saying, and when all the papers were done, I placed them over the visor until it was time to turn the car in, at which time I hurriedly stuffed them into a carry-on. Once home, they were tucked away with e-tickets, boarding passes, brochures, and the usual detritus one accumulates when traveling.

Only now, I actually read the bill. Holy crap! The “additional charges” and other stuff brought the price for the week from $161 to $388! Some of this, as you shall see, was the result of the Rental Car Company’s venality (in my opinion), combined with my lack of paying proper attention.

Here’s the story.

The “Basic Rate”
Several weeks before the trip, I used priceline.com and placed a bid for a seven-passenger minivan. My bid of $23.00 per day was accepted. So, to get a feel for what the van would cost, I multiplied $23.00 times 7 days, which turns out to be $161.00. Seemed pretty reasonable to me, given that simply going to the rental car website and making the same deal (I checked today to be sure) would cost $512.00!. The information on Priceline properly advises that there will be “additional charges” that will have to be paid to the rental car company. I figured that the “additional charges” would amount to a few bucks. I did not figure that the “additional charges” would be $140% of the base rate.

The “Additional Charges”
Here’s the breakdown:

$ 69.93 ($9.99 per day x 7 days) for “CDW”
$ 73.75 Fuel Service Option
$ 56.00 Additional Driver
$ 22.18 “Concession Recoupment Fee”
$ 04.69 Sales tax

$226.56 TOTAL (in addition to the $161.00 “base rate”)

NOTE: I declined all the insurance gimmicks, so none of the following includes any of that.

Christ only knows what “CDW” is, but I paid almost seventy bucks for it.

Fuel Service Charge
This bit of douchebaggery was my own fault. The “sell” is, “Pay for the fuel up front, and bring it back empty. Don’t worry about filling up.” As I said above, I was in a rush, and I didn’t do the mental calculus I should have done. As such, I ended up using only about a half tank of gas, for which I paid $73.75. Knucklehead!!!

Hell, even if I had used ALL the gas, I figure it would have cost me, at most, $54.00 to fill the tank (18 gallons at $3.00 per gallon). Instead, I paid $73.00 for about $20.00 worth of gas.

The moral of the story is that, unless the airport is more than 15 miles away from the nearest gas station, tell the rental car people to shove their “Fuel Service”.

Additional Driver
It cost $8.00 per day ($56.00 for the week) for Mrs. Parkway to be allowed to drive the van. As it turns out, she never needed to drive the damned thing, but I know I would be up Shits Creek if I had not paid the charge and she had driven the car and gotten into an accident.

I seem to recall that one of the other rental companies does not charge extra if the “additional driver” is a spouse over 25. In my view, that ought to be the standard practice, but obviously it is not.

Concession Recoupment Fee
I have no goddamned idea what this is, but somebody or something ended up with $22.18.

Sales Tax
This one I understand, and, at 4% it is a bargain. In Jersey, it would have been 6% and quite possibly 7% if our new governor has his way.

Summing Up
1. Use priceline.com. If you are certain of your dates and times, use priceline.com. I say this, because, once your bid is accepted by Priceline, that’s it. There are no changes permitted. As noted above the difference in cost was $161.00, via Priceline, as compared to $512.00 directly from the rental company.

2. “Fuel Service” DON’T BUY IT. Even if you were to smoke up the entire tank of gas to “return it empty” you’ll still pay way too much. Fill it up near the airport instead.

3. Additional Driver Here’s a dilemma. You could search out a rental company that does not charge for a spouse as the additional driver, but that rules out using Priceline.com, because with Priceline, you get whatever national rental company accepts your bid.

4. CDW If anyone knows what the hell “CDW” or the “Concession Recoupment Fee” is, please let me know.

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