Static: Wednesday, July 11, 2002
A Different Free Ride

Pardon taxpayers if they feel like a bully just kicked them in the face, then asked for money to clean the blood off his shoes. RadioShack recently announced it was ending a longtime tradition of providing free parking and subway rides for downtown visitors, jurors, and county workers. The company is planning to build a $200 million corporate campus near the intersection of Belknap and Henderson streets once the pesky poor people at Ripley Arnold housing project have been scattered, and wants to use the riverside parking lot as a construction staging area. In an astounding example of gall, RadioShack this week asked the city for a $67 million package of tax rebates and other incentives for the project.

Let’s get this straight: RadioShack kills a historic subway and free parking lot, and then gets a subsidy from taxpayers — the same ones who got booted out of the parking lot and subway. As Foghorn Leghorn might put it, that company’s got more nerve than a bum tooth.


A recent encounter with security at Arlington city hall was terribly confusing. First, metal detectors: Well-trained Static put down its bag and trudged through. No, no, the unblinking officers said, go through with the bag. Yep, the machine cleverly detected the bag’s two-dozen pennies, pens, and other metal minutiae. The bag itself, deep enough to hold a small nuclear warhead, merited only a cursory look. Static dutifully dug out and turned over its Swiss Army knife. No, the officers didn’t need to take that — carry it all over city hall, no problem. But in order to enter a taxpayer-provided building, Static did have to provide proof of identification.

As a test, Static claimed to have no driver’s license. No problem, security officers said. We take business cards, bills, library cards — just about anything with a name on it. Static got the feeling that a name scribbled in crayon on a paper sack would have been sufficient, and questioned the point of having such a convoluted security system.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Collie said the I.D. process, begun because of the anthrax scares, continues mostly “to ensure that visitor passes are returned” — passes that were never even used before Sept. 11. Is this Arlington or Alice in Wonderland?

Collie said the pocketknife was OK because it’s not an illegal weapon, it’s a tool (so is a box-cutter), and that too many people carry them to take them away. Static doesn’t know whether to be scared about too much security or too little.

He’s Not Going Away

Kim Emigh’s tale of whistleblowing at Worldcom (“Accounting for Anguish,” May 16, 2002) continues to attract interest. A July 2 Associated Press story, which included information about the former budget analyst’s refusal to implement what he considered fraudulent policies for the telecommunications giant, was picked up by the Washington Post, a Canadian tv network and others.

In the meantime, CNN has corrected the claim that its piece last week on Emigh — whom CNN learned of through the Weekly’s story — was an “exclusive” (Static, July 4). In follow-up reports on Lou Dobbs Moneyline, the reporter correctly credited the Weekly for first reporting Emigh’s story. Static now feels vindicated — and petty. Forgive us.

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