This week! Chris and Laura dive into jury duty tomfoolery, Norfolk’s surprising decline (in STD cases), sinister conspiracies afoot in seventeenth-century Jamestown (or not?), the Tides and their Spongebob obsession, and of course, the Swiftybeat.
As presidential candidate/android-trying-to-understand-human-emotions Mittens Romney reminded us in 2012, corporations are people, my friend. However, unlike the people that you and I are, they can’t be called to serve jury duty. But that doesn’t keep them from getting some of that sweet, sweet jury duty pay.
According to this piece, the City of Norfolk has been issuing pre-loaded Suntrust cash cards to jurors in lieu of sending them a check for their jury service. City Treasurer Anthony Burfoot contends, as did his predecessor Thomas Moss, that the cards are cheaper for the city, and faster to get into the hands of jurors. And that looks to be true—Burfoot’s office reports that the cards save about $18,000 a year. The problem is, as with many cash cards, if the card goes unused, the bank can charge an “inactivity fee”—and this might put this all at odds with Virginia law, which states that jurors are entitled to their full pay for jury duty. If Suntrust is dipping into the cash, then it’s not all going to the juror. Circuit Court Chief Judge Jack Doyle has sent Burfoot’s office a letter asking the City to fix the problem or ask for further guidance from the state attorney general’s office.
How Suntrust believes people should react to their prepaid card services. They actually named this picture file “prepaid hero.”
From the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like this is a case of active mismanagement by the City. There are very good reasons for the Treasurer’s office to seek savings where they can (as Burfoot himself says, “It makes no sense for a city that just built a $138 million courthouse to… not look at any opportunity for savings.”), and they’ve refunded money to the jurors who have lost it to the Suntrust fees. But, this points to a bigger problem—why is the City on the hook for fees to Suntrust? And really, why are we continuing to allow corporations like Suntrust to effectively harvest our tax dollars? This passive mismanagement is something we see all over government, especially at the local level. It’s a good story to tell when you save the taxpayers $18k right off the top, but then just below the surface, it becomes clear that these savings are not free, and someone other than the taxpayer is the ultimate beneficiary. Anybody else tired of backdoor tricks like this? Time for Burfoot to negotiate a deal like DC has for no-fee cards.
Norfolk—previously #3* in the U.S. for booty cooties—may have finally embraced the wrap-it-ere-you-tap-it methodology, enjoying a drop to #5 in the national STD ranking. We can now boast that since 2014, Norfolk has seen a decline in both chlamydia (“Aunt Clammy”; “Taking the C Train”) and syphilis (“syfy”; “Al Capone’s Bumpy Valentine”). Jimmy Dugan would be proud!
*But #1 in our hearts
OK gang, CONSPIRACY TUESDAY IS BACK!
Everybody who had to take Virginia History in third grade knows that Jamestown was the first permanent, English-speaking settlement in the New World, and that the first Thanksgiving in America was here, not somewhere up north where those insufferable killjoy Puritans settled 15 years later. Of course, the Jamestown settlement had less to do with that great American tradition of freedom of religion, and more to do with that other great American tradition, making a quick buck. They came looking for gold, silver, or a route to China, but ended up mostly starving until they finally realized the weed the Indians liked smoking could be grown industrially and sold in Europe and elsewhere, starting the ball rolling on what would ultimately turn into a series of horrifying anti-tobacco ads.
But you might also know that Jamestown was a staunchly Protestant colony—and the stakes of Protestant England versus Catholic Spain (and France) were incredibly high in the New World. All this makes it surprising to find a member of the colony’s founding elite buried with a Catholic reliquary—the kind of thing you wouldn’t expect to find in a graveyard full of the King’s most loyal Protestant subjects. So is it possible the dead man was a leader of a secret Catholic cell, in the midst of one of England’s earliest ventures in the New World? Fascinating stuff!
On Aug. 7, the Tides will play in SpongeBob jerseys, serving as fun reminder of the lost childhood you try so desperately to resurrect every summer night at the ballpark. You’ve always loved the game. But now the music is a little too loud, and lately even the old songs are starting to sound less familiar. The people in the stands look tired, removed. Even the stadium lights that once burned bright and untouchable as distant stars are dimmer, smearing a cold glow across an ink-gray sky. As the players take the field, you wonder: did the game change? Or did you?
There will also be music, trivia, and an appearance by SpongeBob and Patrick!
OK, it’s not only his, but it is named after him. The retired five-term US Senator, former Secretary of the Navy, and only-Republican-I-ever-voted-for will be honored Saturday as the newest Virginia-class attack submarine is commissioned at Norfolk Naval Station. The U.S.S. John Warner will be based in Norfolk. Senator Warner will personally take command and immediately put it to sea, hunting Russkies. Sorry, that’s a lie. That’s the U.S.S. Fred Thompson.
In the movie interlude, Chris says,
As usual for a Wednesday night, the Naro’s New Non Fiction Film series continues, this week with Cartel Land, a searing look at the US-Mexico drug trade from both sides of the border.
Profiling two paramilitary groups operating on each side of the border against the cartels, this film takes a hard look at the real cost of drug trafficking and the war on drugs. Post-show discussion will be led by Neill Franklin, executive director of L.E.A.P. (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), a national organization of law enforcement professionals advocating for decriminalization and treatment of drug addiction and abuse.
And finally, Laura reports from the Swiftybeat,
The battle between Queen Frostine and Princess Lolly continues to rage. As you no doubt heard through your “Taylor Swift news” Google Alert last week, there was a kerfuffle on Twitter over the MTV Awards. It’s a long story. The important part is this: Katy Perry used the opportunity to subtweet our precious Tay Tay, eerily constructing the exact same sentence your drunken roommate arranged with your refrigerator poetry magnets two weeks ago:
This aggression will not stand, man.
T-Swift supposedly responded by bringing out the dancing Left Shark—made famous in Perry’s Super Bowel (typo, but I’m leaving it) performance—during “Bad Blood,” a song reportedly about Perry. How deliciously Shakespearian!
The libtard media is now reporting the shark was just a prank by one of the backup dancers, but don’t you dare for one second buy that bullshittery. Taylor Swift is the Wendy Peffercorn of our time: she knows exactly what she’s doing.
Long ago, a prophesy foretold of two great ones who would alter the course of history with their unmatched witticisms about the world around them. But until they arrive, Chris O’ Brien and Laura Watkins are filling in. Sharing a love of tacos, cats, justice, as well as an overarching ambition to perform history’s greatest karaoke duet of “Lightning Crashes,” and last but not least, a common ancestor in Charlemagne, Chris and Laura excel at beer drinking, trivia, and giving the Price side-eye to the patriarchy. They’re also pretty sure they were orphaned Russian siblings in another life, but that’s a story for another time.