Heads Will Roll but Wheelchairs Will Not

Don’t call them handicapped, call them stair-challenged! In the Du’OH! News category this week, spotted in the real-ink version of the Kansas City Star and online at mankatofreepress.com, the parched and wheelchaired crowd will need some serious new torque in Hudson, New York:

In April, officials in Hudson, N.Y., proudly unveiled their state-of-the-art water fountain for the disabled in the county courthouse, a fixture whose installation was agreed to in a 2003 settlement with federal officials enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, the fountain was installed on the courthouse’s second floor, which is accessible only by stairway. In defense, county officials said the fountain had several features for handicapped people other than those in wheelchairs.

Great Moments in Politics: Water Joke Faux Pas

I’ve been accused of tactlessness on occasion but even I wouldn’t have repeated this one! However, since U.S. National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones (Ret.) already did (while giving the key note speech at a Washington Institute For Near East Policy dinner in April) we’ll simply forward the flub for it’s water humor newsworthiness.

From blog.foreign policy.com (with more blow-by-blow details of the ensuing kerfuffle here)

Telling the following joke in public, at a meeting of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy no less, was not National Security Advsor Jim Jones’ finest moment in public service:

I’d like to begin with a story that I think is true, a Taliban militant gets lost and is wandering around the desert looking for water. He finally arrives at a store run by a Jew and asks for water. The Jewish vendor tells him he doesn’t have any water but can gladly sell him a tie. The Taliban, the jokes goes on, begins to curse and yell at the Jewish storeowner. The Jew, unmoved, offers the rude militant an idea: Beyond the hill, there is a restaurant; they can sell you water. The Taliban keeps cursing and finally leaves toward the hill. An hour later he’s back at the tie store. He walks in and tells the merchant: “Your brother tells me I need a tie to get into the restaurant.”

The White House clearly felt uncomfortable with the joke, and edited it out of an official transcript of the event.

An Ode to the Glorious Flagler Water Orb

Stanley Drescher was a man with a dream and a vision. His vision was one in which Flagler Beach, Florida’s plain-Jane water tower proudly displayed the town’s moniker for townspeople and tourists alike. Through tireless fundraising, hard work, indifferent city leadership, red tape and poetry (yes, poetry!) Stanley’s dream is about to become reality. From msnbc.com,

Drescher — whose love of the tower has moved him to write poems about it — raised the money just five months after announcing his desire to see the oceanside structure bear the city’s name. Most of the funds came from selling commemorative plaques about the fund drive to businesses, which enlisted sponsors who paid $100 to have their names engraved on the plaques, too. The plaques state, in part: “The tower tanks you.”

Stan Drescher and the soon-to-be-awesome Flagler Beach water tower (Photo: David Massey via The Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Why would this goal be so difficult to achieve? How did a sense of public duty turn into taking a load of public doody?

Drumming up support for a project so close to his heart wasn’t easy, Drescher said. “It was very, very difficult,” he said. “It didn’t happen overnight.”

Community organizations weren’t interested in hearing his pitch for the tower on the city’s south side, he said. And an attempt to raise the money through the sales of vanity license plates failed.

City Commissioners wouldn’t accept the money unless donations were tax-deductible and came from a nonprofit group. They wouldn’t match the money Drescher raised. The reaction from city commissioners was a surprise, Drescher said. “I never dreamed they would turn me down,” he said. “They put a lot of restrictions on me.”

Drescher’s love of poetry came into play in the campaign as he authored a number of poems about his trials, even reading some of them in the public comment portions of city and county meetings. From his composition, “The Beginning of a Quest”

“I had my work cut out for me/I saw every person/But no matter what I did/Effort seemed to worsen

We walked in all directions/’Til we got swollen feet/And all the while determined/Not to accept defeat.”

With victory at hand, Mr. Drescher notes “I have to find another project. Maybe I’ll form a poet’s society.”

Super! Can I join? Here’s my first contribution: I think that I shall never see/A tower with the town’s marquee…

Flagler Beach via armisteadbooker on Flickr