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The Farsider

May 8, 2014

 

Bill Mattos, Editor and Publisher <bilmat@comcast.net>
Leroy Pyle, Webmaster <leroypyle@sjpba.net>

 

The Farsider is an independent publication that is not affiliated with the San Jose Police Benevolent
Assn. The SJPBA has allowed the Farsider to be included on its web site solely for the convenience
of the retired San Jose Police community. The content of this newsletter does not represent or reflect
the views of the San Jose Police Benevolent Association's Board of Directors or its membership.


 

NATIONAL POLICE WEEK COMMENCES THIS COMING SUNDAY



http://www.nleomf.org/programs/policeweek/

~ ~ ~

Law Enforcement Fatalities Dip to Lowest Level in Six Decades

—33 officers killed in firearms-related incidents is fewest since 1887—

By John "JET" Trussler

<jetisonthenet@gmail.com>

Law Enforcement officer fatalities dropped for the second year in a row to the lowest level in six decades and the number of officers killed in firearms-related incidents in 2013 was the fewest since the 1800s, according to preliminary data compiled and recently released by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF.)

According to the report, 111 federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officers were killed in the line of duty nationwide in 2013. This was the fewest number of fatalities for the law enforcement profession since 1959 when 110 officers died. The 2013 total was eight percent fewer than 2012 when 121 made the ultimate sacrifice.

The number one cause of officer fatalities in 2013 was traffic-related incidents, which claimed 46 lives. Thirty-three officers were killed in firearms-related incidents last year, which was a 33 per cent drop from 2012 and is the lowest number since 1887 when 27 officers were shot to death. Thirty-two officers died due to other causes in 2013, including 14 who suffered heart attacks while performing their duties.

Just two years ago, officer fatalities spiked to 169, which led to a number of new initiatives aimed at promoting law enforcement safety. Among them were an increasing number of agencies requiring officers to wear bullet-resistant vests; the formation of the National Officer Safety and Wellness Group by the U.S. Department of Justice; and the VALOR program launched by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to provide training to help prevent violence against officers and to help officers survive violent encounters when they do occur. Since 2011, all categories of officer deaths have dropped by 34 percent, and firearms-related deaths have declined by 54 percent.

Key Data as of December 29, 2013:

• Traffic-related incidents declined 4 percent in 2013 (46) compared to 2012 (48).  Of these 46 officers, 31 were killed in auto crashes, 11 were struck outside their vehicle, and four were killed in motorcycle crashes.

• Firearms-related fatalities declined by 33 percent in 2013 (33) compared to 2012 (49). Of the 33 officers, seven officers were shot and killed in ambush attacks, six officers were shot and killed while responding to disturbance calls, and five officers were killed while conducting an investigative activity. Three officers were killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call. Three officers were feloniously killed during a traffic stop, three officers were shot and killed responding to a robbery in progress, and three officers were killed while attempting to arrest a suspect. Two officers were inadvertently shot and killed and one officer was killed       during a burglary in progress.

• Of the 32 officers who died due to other causes, 18 were caused by job-related illnesses; six officers fell to their death or died as a result of an injury sustained in a fall, two officers drowned while attempting to assist victims during a flash flood, two officers were stabbed to death, one officer was killed in a helicopter crash, one officer was killed in a boat-related accident, one officer was killed by an explosive device, and one officer was electrocuted

• During the past year, more officers were killed in Texas (13) than in any other state; this was followed by California (8); Mississippi and New York (7 each); and Arkansas (6).

• Nine of the officers killed in 2013 served with federal law enforcement agencies. Nine of the officers served with correctional agencies. Four of the 111 were female, which included Santa Cruz P.D. Detective Elizabeth Butler.
 

~ ~ ~


We will publish the updated SJPD Memorial List next Thursday, May 15th, which is recognized as National Police Memorial Day.

 

IS RICHARD HUERTA'S BADGE FOR SALE ON EBAY?



Unless this is a replica, it appears the answer is yes, Richard's badge is available for purchase on eBay. How it wound up on the popular auction site is unknown, but as of 2 p.m. yesterday (Wed. the 7th), the bid was up to $300.01 with five days and 5 hours remaining before the high bid takes it. This link will take you to the appropriate eBay page if you want to place a bid or follow the action.

<http://tinyurl.com/nhyw4j2>

Below is a photo that was taken at Richard's funeral in which the wreath was designed in the form of his badge…



 

NEWS FROM THE SJPOA



For Immediate Release
Contact: Tom Saggau, 408-209-6813

May 1, 2014

San Jose Agrees To Stop Further Implementation of Measure B Until July 1, 2015

Attempted implementation is destroying City services, legal issues compounding due to poorly authored measure

SAN JOSE, CA - Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas has signed a stipulated order, agreed upon by all parties, that prevents any further implementation of San Jose's divisive pension reform measure until at least July 1, 2015.

"This is a clear admission by the city of the detrimental and insurmountable issues with Measure B.  We have been, and are, willing to implement legal pension cost savings so that services can be restored. It was unfortunate that Mayor Reed and his council majority chose to champion the unlawful, uncompetitive and unmanageable Measure B," said Joel Phelan, President of San Jose Firefighters, IAFF Local 230.  "Firefighters, police officers, maintenance supervisors, architects and engineers have been waiting for the city to come to its senses and honestly negotiate instead of playing politics, and that day may finally be near," Phelan added.

The stipulated agreement delays Measure B's 16% automatic pay cuts and delays the implementation of its disability provision that removed the guarantee of a disability retirement for police officers and firefighters hurt in the line of duty.

"It is our hope that Mayor Reed and his council majority will stop kicking the can down the road and allow the new City Manager to negotiate a lawful pension cost savings ballot measure to replace the divisive and destructive Measure B," said John Muhkar, President, Association of Engineers & Architects, IFPTE Local 21.

The loss of hundreds of police officers, a 23% vacancy rate in the Planning Department, emergency medical response times increasing at alarming rates and crime increasing in San Jose neighborhoods have been the results of the ill fated Measure B and associated council actions.

"It is never easy for politicians to say they were wrong and I don't care if those responsible for Measure B ever apologize to the residents of San Jose. All I care about is fixing the mess they created before the safety of the residents we serve deteriorates any further," said Jim Unland, President of the San Jose Police Officers' Association.

 

PENSION NEWS


This article appeared in last Thursday's paper after we had already gone to press. It ties into the press release above.

Pension Reform: Slowed by Judge's Ruling; San Jose Delays Key Part of Measure B

By Mike Rosenberg <
mrosenberg@mercurynews.com
Mercury News — May 1, 2014

SAN JOSE -- In the latest setback for San Jose's landmark pension reform, city officials have agreed with their employee unions to wait at least another year to implement certain pension and pay cuts following a judge's ruling.

The provisions of Measure B that required existing employees to pay more into their pensions had been scheduled to take effect July 1 after being delayed previously. It was a key part of the June 2010 measure that San Jose voters approved in hopes of reducing the city's pension costs, a move that cops and other public workers sued to halt.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas in December ruled that provision violated the unions' "vested rights" that are enshrined in state law, and forbid the city from raising employee pension contributions. She did affirm, however, that the city could cut workers' pay to make up the difference -- a move city unions feared but that city officials considered unlikely because they have been giving out pay raises recently to keep upset employees from leaving.

The new agreement between the unions and the city, and signed by Lucas this week, maintains the pension contribution increase that the judge struck down can't go into effect before July 1, 2015, and the city also can't cut worker pay until then. It's unclear if the ongoing legal fight will be settled by then. Lucas closed the lower-court case this week and both sides have two months to appeal.

The agreement does not affect new hires, which already work under the new pension rules, or the city budget, which did not anticipate further pension savings.

Mayor Chuck Reed, who championed pension reform, noted other parts of Measure B have saved the city $20 million annually and said the delay will "allow more time for the legal process to come to resolution."

The unions sent their adversary, Reed, a thank-you card at a press conference Thursday for agreeing to the delay.
 

~ ~ ~


Ed. — The online version of the article includes several comments about the story by readers of the paper. Click on this link to pull up the story <http://tinyurl.com/o4tcxfe>.

Embedded in the comments was a YouTube video of former budget director Bob Brownstein who doesn't pull any punches about Mayor Reed and the Council as he discusses the fiscal challenges in the City of San Jose and how they affect City employees and Public Safety. We strongly recommend you take the time to watch this video and listen to what he says…



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzYVlLtQuiY>

 

~ ~ ~


Don't mix up Bronwstein, the former budget director, with Borenstein, who writes a column for the Contra Costa Times (a cousin to the Mercury News). His column in last Sunday's paper poo-pooed Mayoral candidate Dave Cortese's idea of moving San Jose's retirement system to CalPERS…

Pension Plan Will Make Things Worse

By Daniel Borenstein
<dborenstein@bayareanewsgroup.com>
Special to the Mercury News — May 4, 2014

Two years ago, San Jose police and firefighters floated a proposal to move their pensions from the city’s retirement plan to the statewide California Public Employees’ Retirement System. They claimed the switch would save the city a quarter-billion dollars over five years.

If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

The idea seemed to have died a proper death. But now Contra Costa County firefighters are promoting a similar move, and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese has resurrected the San Jose proposal in his campaign to become the city’s mayor.

Indeed, Cortese has doubled down. In an editorial board interview with the San Jose Mercury News, he portrayed the claimed savings at “half a billion dollars right off the top.”

That’s fantasy. But it rhetorically bolsters the San Jose labor agenda to move public employees’ retirements from the reform-minded city’s pension plan to CalPERS, which has been more resistant to cost-saving changes.

The key question is whether moving to CalPERS per se would produce real savings for the city. It wouldn’t. It would only make matters worse. Any short-term savings would result in greater long-term costs, kicking the proverbial can further down the road.

To understanding why, start with a fundamental pension principle: Public retirement plans are supposed to be prefunded. As working employees earn future pension benefits, sufficient money should be invested to later cover the retirement payments.

San Jose’s retirement plan does a much better job of prefunding than CalPERS. Here are the differences:

• Investment earnings assumption. To calculate the amount that should be set aside now to pay for future benefits, pension systems predict how much they expect to earn on those investments.

The greater the anticipated rate of return, the less money the pension system requires up front. The San Jose system forecasts an average annual return of 7.125 percent; CalPERS uses a 7.5 percent rate, dismissing its actuary’s more conservative recommendation. As a result, San Jose requires a higher and more realistic annual contribution from the employer and employees than CalPERS.

• “Smoothing” gains and losses. When calculating rates, pension plans typically phase in recognition of market gains and losses, an accounting practice called smoothing. The San Jose retirement plan uses a five-year smoothing period. CalPERS uses 15 years, an outlier in the pension world, although it plans to effectively move to a five-year period.

Because of its longer smoothing period, CalPERS, unlike San Jose, has yet to recognize most of its losses from the Great Recession and, consequently, has not yet sufficiently increased rates to replenish its accounts.

• Amortizing the debt.

When pension systems are underfunded, they treat the shortfall like a mortgage. They establish a repayment schedule and add the installments to annual pension payments.

San Jose amortizes most debt over 16 years; CalPERS effectively stretches it out over 30 years. Consequently, the individual installment payments to CalPERS are lower. But, as any mortgage holder knows, a longer payoff period adds interest costs.

All three factors mean CalPERS would require smaller immediate pension contributions than the San Jose system. But they also mean that there will be less money put into the system in early years on which to earn investments. The result: much bigger payments by taxpayers later, driving up the total cost and forcing future generations to pay significantly more for current obligations.

There’s another problem with the San Jose fire and police unions’ proposal. The move to CalPERS would not replace the San Jose retirement plan; it would divide it. Members already retired and an unknown number of current employees would remain in the San Jose plan.

As a result, the ratio of retirees to active employees in the San Jose plan would increase, making it what actuaries call a more “mature” plan. Just as an individual nearing retirement should move investments into more conservative holdings, so too should pension plans invest more cautiously as their memberships mature.

More conservative holdings mean lower investment return potential. And that means, yes, higher public contributions to cover the costs of those who remain in the city plan.

In short, this idea is no magic bullet — unless taxpayers want to shoot themselves in the foot.

Daniel Borenstein is a Contra Costa Times columnist and editorial writer. Reach him at 925-943-8248 or
<dborenstein@ bayareanewsgroup.com>.

 

POA UPDATES



May 1st

As you know, our current stay on any further implementation of Measure B only runs to June 30, 2014. We are therefore pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with the City to extend the Stay for one additional year. All of the parties in the Measure B litigation stipulated to the extension and a new order effectuating it was signed by Judge Lucas today. This will prevent the implementation of even those provisions upheld by Judge Lucas.

Most notably, this will prevent the "New Definition" for disability retirement eligibility from going into effect for our Tier 1 members. It will also prevent the unilateral pay cuts that were part of the Measure B "Poison Pill Language." Remember, that language calls for pay reductions of up to 4% per year, for a total of up to16%, as a cost recovery measure if the City's attempt to force officers to pay for unfunded liabilities was ruled illegal (which it was).

While this is good news for our Tier 1 members, unfortunately the extension of the stay will NOT protect our Tier 2 members who were hired after Measure B took effect. The POA will continue to press the City to change its flawed policies regarding our Tier 2 members so that San Jose can again become a City where police want to spend their careers.

For all of our members, the POA continues to stress good officer safety as we try and correct the many flaws contained in Measure B. Thank you for your continued support, we appreciate it.

 

• • • • •

 



May 2nd

NBC Bay Area: Measure B delayed until July 2015 (video)



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JEkUaKe7Dc&feature=youtu.be>

~ ~ ~

KTVU Channel 2: Setback for Reed's Measure B (video)



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vrr2n2XL0Y&feature=youtu.be>

~ ~ ~

KGO Channel 7: Measure B put on hold (video)



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbdXB3yvUIo>

~ ~ ~

The Daily Fetch: SJ Pension Defeat for Reed (article)

<http://www.thedailyfetch.com/silicon-valley/>

~ ~ ~

San Jose Inside: Judge’s Ruling Protects City Employee Pay Until at Least 2015 (article)

<http://tinyurl.com/nmm3tn8>

 

 

THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF SAN JOSE AND THE S.J.P.D.

We wouldn't blame Chief Esquivel if he had a dream in which he had brought a taser with him and used it last week when he was chastised by the Mayor and City Council when they were dissatisfied with his answer as to why officers' complaints about other officers were down. This item from last Sunday's I.A. column in the Merc explains…



Police Chief Gets Quizzed About the Numbers

Larry Esquivel this week had his first major test before the City Council since he became San Jose’s permanent police chief in December, and the results were mixed. The chief was under the lights in the council chamber last week to talk about two reports. The first showed that internal investigations initiated by officers against fellow cops had plummeted 83 percent in the last few years.

Esquivel maintained that was “a good thing” and that it showed training was paying off, implying officers were better behaved and didn’t need to be investigated as much. But the chief’s purely positive viewpoint irked the City Council, which ordered Esquivel to come back with a better explanation this summer.

“I would suggest the chief spend some time thinking about that,” Mayor Chuck Reed said, noting the number of investigations had dipped from 84 in 2010 to 16 last year. “That’s a pretty big drop … It’s something I think is concerning to me.” Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen agreed, and Councilmen Sam Liccardo and Ash Kalra also questioned the chief for further explanation. But on the other report — the independent police auditor’s recommendation that two lying cops should be fired — Esquivel fared better. He pulled out data on all 16 officers who lied to internal affairs since 2006, and said the chief has recommended the “vast majority” be terminated.

Although he said privacy laws prevented him from discussing specific cases, his forceful and serious tone — “believe me, we take all misconduct seriously,” he said at one point — was enough to appease council members. They voted against a memo from Liccardo and Councilwoman Rose Herrera that would have made lying cops automatically subject to termination, which the majority of the council thought would unduly take away power from the chief.
 


 
WEEKLY POLL
 


Last Week's Poll Results




For the most recent Rasmussen Reports releases, click here:
<http://www.rasmussenreports.com/older_content/home/top_stories/most_recent_articles>


 

MAIL CALL

May 1st

Bill,

Bill Leavy called me yesterday and informed me of Jim Hellam's passing. Brought back some fond memories. I first met Jim when he was partnered with Don Mills working the Eastside. Being new I was the odd man out, splitting my shifts working with Don Black and Rich Reyes on B-15. Bob Moir was our sergeant, one of the best you could work for. The old guys can remember that the '70s were an interesting time with lots of stories, and Jim was involved in many of them. The close knit group of guys who worked the streets back then were unique, but there was never a question as to who had your back. Jim will be missed.

Don Carraher, Badge 1464
<dcarraher369@hotmail.com>
 

• • • • •

 

May 2nd

Jeeze, Bill, what a shake-up to hear about "Spacey."
 
Jim had been my partner off-and-on for about 2+ of my 7 years in Vice.
 
Never really ran across him much after he left the Department. Tried to get an invite to him for my retirement party in July 2001 using the last known address I had for him up in the Oakland hills but never heard back. (I 'did' get several of the other Vice guys there, however.)
 
Strangely, I'd been asking about his whereabouts and his doings more often these past 2 years or so. During a recent chance visit with Phil Beltran about a month ago I asked him for what must have been the 5th time over the recent years and still nothing. We couldn't figure out what Jim was up to.
 
As far as photos for the Farsider are concerned, I must have 3-dozen from back in our Vice days — lots of sports shots, a half dozen or more of our various capers, and there's always the one in the Historical Album when he was in uniform at the time.
 
I hope to hear of any services scheduled.
 
You and I probably have about the most Hellam stories still around, along with Donnie Ben Mills and Louie Hernandez.
 
Kenn Christie
<ChrissakisEime@aol.com>

Sorry, Kenn, but I have to plead innocent regarding stories about Jim as I never worked with him. And your comment about a photo of him in uniform in the "History Album" has me confused. If you are referring to the Commemorative Album that I had a hand in producing in 1983, Jim isn't in it as he resigned from the Dept. in Jan. of 1981 to pursue another career. As for Jim's funeral, you and all other Farsider subscribers should have received an email with the information last Friday.

 

• • • • •

 

May 2nd

I was sorry to hear of the death of Jim Hellam. We were partners together with Dennis Sorahan in H-18 a hundred years ago. In those days it took three officers to field an H-car seven days a week with the 8/5 plan. I was the Jr. Officer at the time so I got farmed out on the 5th day.

I have great memories of our experiences. One was when we saw H-10's car parked behind the donut shop on Hwy 9 in the early morning hours. The owner was a great guy and good to us. Jim and I tied tin cans to the rear bumper and gently hid them beneath the car. We then waited down the street and had the pleasure of watching and hearing H-10 drive off. Then there was the rabbit we put in the same car on Stevens Creek. And then there was our trip up to Mt. Umunhum where we filled bags with snow for our fight in the police garage. But we also did some great police work.

Although it has been a long time since Jim and I spoke, I will cherish his memory.

Jim Silvers
<jimsilvers@icloud.com>

• • • • •

 

Should any of you wish to view, leave a message or upload a photo to Jim's guest book in the Mercury News, you can do so by clicking on this link: <http://tinyurl.com/mzlxsy8>

 

• • • • •

 

May 2nd

Hi Bill,
 
I see (POA President) Jim Unland's point about politicians, and it might have a double benefit. Lying politicians would be fired and we would not have to hear from non-lying politicians because for the most part, if you see their lips moving…well, you know the rest. A little tongue-in-cheek with more truth than we would like, i.e. "If you like your present health care plan you can keep your present health care plan" and my favorite, "I did not have sex with that woman," eh Miss Lewinski."
 
Bruce
(Hodgin)
<brucehodgin@yahoo.com>
 
P.S. I understand it would be too incendiary to print the above, but enjoy it just the same.

Too incendiary? What's too incendiary?

• • • • •

 

May 6th

Bill,

Can you run this clip of Trey Gowdy addressing the media last October? Not only does he take the reporters to task, it also explains why he has been chosen to lead the select committee on Benghazi. I noticed that you have withheld the names of contributors on occasion. So I don't receive some grief from my left-handed friends, I'd appreciate it if you would withhold mine.

Thanks,

(Name withheld)



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1jeJmeeMjs>



 

ANNUAL BOBBY BURROUGHS MEMBERS FOLSOM BBQ


It's that time of the year again. Our 9th Annual Bobby Burroughs Folsom BBQ is scheduled for Saturday, May 17. Unlike last year, there is no cost for people who sign up in advance. As always, we will have a meeting with our Northern Californian members in attendance following lunch.  

Click on the link below to sign up…
<http://www.gaylonn.com/assoc_2007/forms/folsom_lunch_signup/folsom_reg.html>

Click on the link below to see who has already signed up
<http://www.gaylonn.com/sorted_dinner_list.txt>
 


 

RETIREES ASSN. NEWSLETTER ON LINE

Click on the link below to download the April edition of the Billy & Spanner, then click on the newsletter link on the right side of the page. That will download a .pdf file of the new Billy & Spanner to your desktop that you can open with a double-click of your mouse.

<http://www.gaylonn.com/assoc_2007/index.html>



 

MAY VANGUARD IN THE MAIL AND ONLINE
 

The May 2014 edition of the eVanguard is online. Hard copies of the magazine are in the mail and will be arriving soon if they haven't already been received. Click on the link below to download a .pdf file of the May Vanguard.

<http://www.sjpoa.com/PDF/vanguard/may2014vanguard.pdf>


 

THE BEST OF THE LATE NITE JOKES
     
May 1st thru May 5th

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's wife, Rochelle, is being accused of making racist remarks during an incident back in 2009. Sterling should break up with his girlfriend and go out with his wife. They're perfect for each other.

Donald Sterling's girlfriend said she's “going to be president of the United States” one day. Yeah, like we’re going to elect someone who secretly records people’s private phone calls and conversations.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford announced today that he is checking into rehab. He said he entered rehab this week to deal with the problem swiftly — and also because Monday is Cinco de Mayo, and he ain’t missing that.

Heisman Trophy-winner Jameis Winston is in the news after he shoplifted $32 worth of crab legs from a Florida grocery store. Experts say if he doesn’t clean up his act and stop breaking the law, he could end up in the NFL.

For the first time in NBA Playoff history, tomorrow there will be three Game 7’s on the same day. Very exciting. And in even better news, Donald Sterling can't go to ANY of them!

Tomorrow night, reporters and celebrities will attend the White House Correspondents Dinner.” Of course, it'll be awkward when the reporters from CNN just spend all night trying to find their table.

After taking a leave of absence, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is apparently going to rehab in Chicago. That's right, he’s headed to the Second City. As in, "the second city where he'll be caught with crack."

Lawmakers in Illinois have started a new push to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Rob Ford said, “Looks like I got here just in time!”

It's Cinco de Mayo. A lot of people mistakenly think this is Mexico's Independence Day. So remember to correct people if you want to be the most annoying guy at happy hour.

This weekend was the White House Correspondents Dinner. President Obama made fun of his low poll numbers, the botched Obamacare rollout, and Governor Chris Christie — while I was on the phone with Putin, negotiating a cease-fire in Ukraine.

On Saturday, Chris Christie tweeted that he had a colonoscopy just hours before he went to the White House Correspondents Dinner. Yeah, that’s what you want to see at a dinner — Chris Christie after he wasn’t able to eat for 24 hours.

A new study found that a growing number of dog owners are giving their pets anti-anxiety medication as a way to calm them down and reduce unwanted stress in their lives. Then dogs said, “Or, you could just sell the vacuum cleaner.”

Toronto mayor Rob Ford has decided to take a leave of absence to seek help. Specifically what he's seeking help with is getting more crack.

After rumors surfaced of another video of him smoking crack, Rob Ford said he's taking a leave of absence, and of course he's earned it. The guy's been up since 2004.

Ronald McDonald recently received a makeover, which includes a new vest and bow tie. Not to be outdone, after an operation the Burger King is now the Burger Queen.

This weekend "Spider-Man 2" earned $22 million at the box office. That makes it the fourth most successful "Spider-Man 2." I swear to God they've made 11 of them.

Vladimir Putin has signed a new law banning the F-word from movies. Now the Russian version of "Wolf of Wall Street" is eight seconds long. You sit down and it's over.

Michelle Obama's brother has been fired as the basketball coach at Oregon State. Like most Americans who lost their job, he blames Obama.

The Supreme Court has ruled that city council meetings may open with a prayer. Especially if the city in question is Detroit.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is apparently back smoking the crack. There is a picture of him smoking the crack and a videotape is out as well. Is there a videotape out there of him not smoking crack?

The crack dealer videotaped him smoking crack. It is a sad state of affairs, ladies and gentlemen, when you can't trust your drug dealer.

A show business insider told us that the Los Angeles Clippers are up for sale and will be purchased by Oprah Winfrey. The new team physician will be Dr. Phil.

The Clippers will be the only team in the league with a book club.

The new "Spider-Man" movie opened this weekend. You know, whenever there is mortal danger, what you want is a teenager in spandex.

Nice day today. It was such a beautiful, bright, spring day that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford came out of rehab squinting.

Now Rob Ford is going to rehab. He didn't necessarily want to go to rehab but he has to go to rehab because he promised he would go to rehab. It's like a George Clooney engagement.

George Clooney bought a beautiful diamond engagement ring. Over three years the ring slowly dissolves, at which point the bride knows she should leave George to make room for his next relationship.

Happy Cinco de Mayo. Earlier today Joe Biden pardoned a burrito.

Peyton Manning is here tonight from the Denver Broncos. Last weekend at the Vatican, Eli and Peyton Manning were canonized.

They've named a street after Yankees great Mariano Rivera in the Bronx. I'm retiring next year and I just heard from the mayor that they're naming a pothole after me.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford checked himself into rehab. I didn't see that coming.

A sober mayor of Toronto? I'm getting out of late night just in time.

The Daytime Emmy Awards were announced — a record 24 nominations for the soap opera "The Young and the Restless." Or was it their evil twin? They probably don't know because their evil twin has amnesia.

We've got a huge drought here in California. It's so dry and windy here in L.A. that firefighters are already hosing down David Hasselhoff's chest hair.

An old tour bus used by Willie Nelson is for sale on eBay for $36,000. That makes sense — 6 grand for the bus, 30 grand for whatever you find in the seat cushions.

The political scene in Washington one of few places I've seen that's more grasping and desperate than show business. Hollywood and politics are very different, of course. One puts out big-budget crap filled with explosions. And the other one is Hollywood.

The white house correspondents dinner is strange. The E! channel actually live-streams the red carpet. "Oooh, I hope the secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, is wearing Valentino."

It's Cinco de Mayo. Today Clippers owner Donald Sterling said his girlfriend could take a photo with one Mexican.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican army's defeat of the French, which may not sound like much today. Celebrating a victory over today's French army would be like celebrating a victory over the Lakers.

Back in 1862, the French army was tough. They'd say, "We will hit you with a baguette and frighten you with smelly cheese."

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford announced he's taking a leave of absence to deal with issues related to substance abuse. A video was reportedly shot by his drug dealer. The guy is constantly being taped but never seems to notice the cameras. Is that a side effect of crack?

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life and urged NBA owners to force him to sell the team, which they need three quarters of the vote to do. So far there's been no statement from Sterling, who is believed to be holed up in his fortress of whiteitude.

I hope the rehab works. I talk about Rob Ford so much, I almost feel like he works here.

"The Amazing Spiderman 2" opened tonight. They say it's the best since the last "Amazing Spiderman 2."

Happy Cinco de Mayo. A lot of Americans think it is Mexican Independence Day. It isn't. Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico's unlikely victory over the French army in 1862. Not to rain on anyone's fiesta, but just how unlikely is a victory over the French army?

While Cinco de Mayo is kind of a big deal here in the United States, in Mexico it's not. What would be the American equivalent to Cinco de Mayo in Mexico? Would it be maybe Flag Day?

That is what's great about this country. We will celebrate the beauty of any culture as long as it allows us to drink in the daytime.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s lawyers said that he will take a leave of absence to seek help for substance abuse. Though they didn’t say whether the substance in question was crack or gravy.

The Royal Court of Saudi Arabia has launched a website that will accept complaints against the government and send them directly to the king. You can even submit a second complaint if you want — using your remaining hand.

This year the Colorado symphony will host a bring-your-own-marijuana concert series, called “Classically Cannabis.” Or if you don’t like classical music, you can attend the bring-your-own-marijuana concert called “any other concert.”

Today is Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates the day that French armies were defeated at the Battle of Puebla by drunk blond girls in sombreros.

Adele posted a cryptic tweet today that hints about a possible album release in the coming months. In anticipation of the album, women everywhere have already started crying.

The album is good news for Adele fans, bad news for her boyfriend.

Saturday was World Naked Gardening Day. Well, at least according to a man being dragged away in handcuffs.


 

WEEKLY SNOPES URBAN LEGEND UPDATE AS OF MAY 3, 2014

The facts behind the legends, information and
misinformation that has or may show up in your inbox


 

Did a couple that rented a video camera and a VCR record themselves having sex,
then accidentally leave the tape in the VCR when they returned it to the store?

New Articles

• Has the Subway sandwich chain stopped selling ham and bacon due to pressure from Muslims?
<http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/subwayhalal.asp>

• Did King Christian X of Denmark wear a yellow star during that country's occupation by Nazis during World War II to show solidarity with the Jews?
<http://www.snopes.com/history/govern/yellowstars.asp>

• Was a 'Dear Abby' advice column pulled because it included a letter taken from an episode of The Simpsons?
<http://www.snopes.com/humor/mediagoofs/dearabby.asp>

• Did Taco Bell end its famous ad campaign because the dog died?
<http://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/tacobell.asp>

• Does being an only child (or an only son) automatically exempt you from military service?
<http://www.snopes.com/military/onlyson.asp>

• Expectant mother produces growing cascade of guffaws by reseating herself under a series of ads on a bus.
<http://www.snopes.com/pregnant/busrider.asp>

• College student who restricts himself to only one foodstuff contracts scurvy.
<http://www.snopes.com/college/horrors/scurvy.asp>

• Does the average person swallow eight spiders per year?
http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/spiders.asp

• A couple rents a video camera and VCR and records themselves engaging in sex, then accidentally leaves the tape in the player when they return it to the video store.
<http://www.snopes.com/risque/porn/video.asp>

• Update on the legend of Atari's burying millions of unsold 'E.T.' game cartridges in a New Mexico landfill.
<http://www.snopes.com/business/market/atari.asp>

• Don't forget to visit our Daily Snopes page for a collection of odd news stories from around the world!
<http://www.snopes.com/daily/>


Worth a Second Look

• Did an employee of Zantex Computers pen a scathing resignation letter?
<http://www.snopes.com/humor/letters/zantex.asp>


Still Haunting the Inbox

• Check out our 25 Hottest Urban Legends list to keep abreast of what's circulating in the on-line world.
<http://www.snopes.com/info/top25uls.asp>


Fraud Afoot

• Visit our Top Scams page for a list of schemes commonly used by crooks to separate the unwary from their money.
<http://www.snopes.com/fraud/topscams.asp>


 

THE LIGHTER SIDE & OTHER ODDS AND ENDS



Large or Full screen recommended for YouTube videos.


The Critter Corner


We have a couple of doggy clips that show the difference between the dignified Japanese culture and the not-so-dignified culture here in the U.S. We start with these canines in Japan that say grace before dinner, then return their empty dishes when they are finished eating. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrpqLnMpcyg>


In contrast, this is how their canine counterparts in the U.S. prepare for dinner. (30 Secs.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYnQQL5oB7k>


• • • • •


Sharon Lansdowne thought this pachyderm was a pretty good piano player. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjsu3SGAdLs>


• • • • •


Better to receive the hugs and kisses from these four Lion cubs now than a year from now when they are much bigger and hungry. (2 Mins.)

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdhovtVB1Bg>


• • • • •


We'd appreciate it if one of you would remind us to run this clip again just prior to Christmas. Thanks in advance. (20 Secs.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6ru61Rnebc>


• • • • •


Does this clip serve as evidence that some animals — a dog in this case — can sense an earthquake before it strikes? (1 Min.)

 

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8_saKQrDQY>

 

• • • • •


This is a moving video about a group of chimps stepping into the sunlight and feeling grass under their feet for the first time in 30 years. A few of the chimps were born in captivity but most were kidnapped from African jungles as babies and flown to Europe, where they were locked in metal laboratory cages to be used in a long series of experiments. Their ordeal finally ended in September 2011 when 38 of the surviving chimps were released into a sanctuary in Austria called Gut Aiderbichl, allowing them to feel the nurturing contact of their fellow chimps after years of being separated by bars and bullet-proof glass. (4 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDgo6ee6uas>


This is a similar video, but it's about the release of over 100 chimps who are being retired and allowed to see sky for the very first time. These were U.S. government chimps that will now live out their lives at Chimp Haven in Keithville, LA. The video was sponsored by the Humane Society. (4 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV4e4A3Dz4s>


This is Chimp Haven's website if you want to take a look around and/or would like to make a donation in support of our furry cousins. <http://www.chimphaven.org/>
 

• • • • •


An Army EOD sergeant and his bomb-sniffing partner were reunited a couple of weeks ago at O'Hare International. Best of all, the canine was being retired and given to his former partner. Watch their reunion. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXsH42X087Q>

 

The Critter Corner's gate is now closed and locked.



We are starting with this Britain's Got Talent video for two reasons: First, the clip was received from almost a dozen readers, which is very unusual; second, the illusionist you are about to see is literally mind boggling and has the judges (including Simon) befuddled. Don't believe us? Take a look. (6 Mins.)



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stUC4xVnyzs>


• • • • •
 

This is another one of those amazing French cabaret performances that require perfect muscular control and balance. In the pic below, the male is doing a handstand on the knees of the female who is supporting herself only with her feet and forearms. (6 Mins.)

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJxxHvWwQBw>


• • • • •
 

This will take you back to the "Good Old Days" when dancing was fun. Behold the Junior 2 Division winners of the 2012 National SHAG Dance Championships by checking out the happy feet of 17-year-old Jeremy Webb as he dances with his partner, 15-year-old Kayla Henley, to Joe Turner's "Flip, Flop and Fly." (3 Mins.)



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NF80SbicjBE>


• • • • •


If that dance routine didn't put a smile on your face, this 3-year-old contestant who appeared on China's Got Talent should. If it doesn't, you have our sympathy for apparently being incapable of smiling. (9 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdcuaeYV9oM>


• • • • •

 

Tom Macris says he can't be sure, but he suspects this Virgin Atlantic 747 on final approach was created by CGI (computer generated imagery). Au contraire, mon frére. (To the contrary, by brother.) I think the pilot was simply trying to impress the dancing girls. (1 Min.)

<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgKkvh1JRYQ>


• • • • •


Want to see where the astronauts aboard the ISS are right this minute? Their exact position, if they were to look straight down, is marked by the crosshair which is displayed on a Google Map that shows towns, cities, ocean mountain ranges, coastal shelves and other details. The ISS was traveling at 17,132 mph at an altitude of 262 miles above Brazil when we accessed the site on Tuesday.

<http://iss.astroviewer.net/>


• • • • •


With just sixty feet separating the walls of the Corinth Canal in Greece, it takes a steady hand on the stick to fly through it, but that's what Hungarian pilot Peter Besenyei does in this short video. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OG8UdfiEErY>


• • • • •


Speaking of flying, we have featured several clips over the years showing on-board footage shot from the Navy's Blue Angels. Here's a twist in which a civilian caught a ride in the backseat of an Air Force Thunderbird F-16. As always, grab your barf bag and hold on. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5aN5ecs920>


• • • • •


While we're on the subject of military jet aircraft, come take a ride in the fastest plane in the world, the SR-71 Blackbird. (7 Mins.)


<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1250fZuhUg>


• • • • •


The SkyRunner is a dune buggy that can go from 0 to 60 in about 4 seconds, has a top speed of 115, and best of all, it can fly. Odds are it's going to sell well when it goes on the market later this year. (2 Mins.)



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iYT8eg1F8s>


• • • • •


It would help to have had experience riding a motor to fully appreciate this clip received from Paul Salerno It's on-board footage of a 200 mph practice lap at the Isle of Man TT from this past March. (3 Mins.)



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMs86Xe1NNY>


• • • • •


Speaking of motorcycles, this compilation clip of bike crashes is not for the squeamish. Having said that, it's OK to chuckle when you get to the part where the guy in the pic below drops his bike at an intersection. Twice. (13 Mins.)



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0UkKEvnVkU>


• • • • •


Any of you have an idea what's going on in the photo below? How 'bout you golfers? Here's a clue: It's a frame from a 36-second slow motion video…



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMqM13EUSKw


• • • • •


Speaking of golf, have any of you who play the game seen these European pros try to hit the gong in the water? It's something that most of us should find easy since we've had a lot more practice hitting balls in the water. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu3OIT7mxDQ>


• • • • •


Could you fit inside this toy car? Have a look at this 32 second clip and you may be surprised to learn that it's much more radical than those cars at the circus that hold a dozen clowns.



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhyFo9Q6ak8>


• • • • •


While we're talking about toy cars, have a look the world's largest collection of Mattel's Hot Wheels and the largest track built to accommodate them. You can even watch them run. (2 mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZJ_VuPbtMI>


• • • • •


To see this break-dancing ice skater spin on his head has to be seen to be believed. Could this be a subtle Internet ad sponsored by Samsung? That's our guess. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2SFtfKz19s>


• • • • •


Are you one of those who suffer from allergies due to a high pollen count. If you are and you run across a tree like this one in Lewisburg, Tenn., we suggest you stand upwind if someone decides to give it a shake. (30 Secs.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLY-8_PfxAw>


• • • • •


Have you ever seen this dash cam footage of the Ghost Car that disappeared during a police chase? It took place back in 2007 and aired on a couple of stations that highlight the paranormal. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62_eIsxLalA>


Our best guess: The fence wasn't attached at the bottom, which allowed the bad guy to drive under it. Then it immediately sprang back and was in place moments later when the cop arrived.
 

• • • • •


So why didn't the Fordson Snowmobile ever catch on and become popular with farmers and ranchers who lived in snow country? Perhaps it had something to do with the year it was introduced. We all remember what happened in 1929, right? (4 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fo31_3UzTTY>


• • • • •


Can you think of a better way to fight a brush fire than to dig a wide fire line with a huge plow pulled by an 8-wheel tractor with an enclosed air-conditioned cab? (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQAvk5faMfQ>


• • • • •


We were surprised to learn that Rube Goldberg had a son with a mind as creative as his dad's. Watch how he effortlessly turns the pages of his newspaper. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOMIBdM6N7Q>


• • • • •


I thought I had found the perfect snack machine when I ran across the Popinator. With it I could spend an entire afternoon snacking on popcorn kernel-by-kernel and not put on even an ounce of weight. Check this out. (2 Mins.)



<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1cz8IasV4w&sns=em>

So I logged onto Amazon to order one. To my surprise, Amazon didn't carry it. So I checked WalMart, nothing. Target, nada. As a last resort I searched Google for a Popinator, and this is what I found…

<http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/bizarre&id=8818328> 

Bummer!
 

• • • • •


This week's final clip is dedicated to those of you whose lives have been impacted by a loved one who has waged a battle with breast cancer. The description of the video says it all: (4 Mins.)

"Late last year Gerdi McKenna of Pretoria, South Africa was diagnosed with breast cancer. In February, McKenna's friends decided to do something incredible to show their love and support. They booked a photographer, shaved their heads, and surprised McKenna with their new makeovers. On top of that, all of the hair was donated to the Cancer Association of South Africa."



<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTLYQwuLrEU>


• • • • •




C'ya


Pic of the Week

A soldier coming home from Afghanistan naps during an airport layover
with his canine partner. When boarding time came, his buddies wisely
woke him by yelling his name, not by giving him a good shake…

 
   

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