The Odd Side – November 25, 2014

NJ Man Accused of Stealing Bulldozer for Ride Home

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) – Police say a New Jersey man who was drunk stole a bulldozer in order to get a ride home.

Police say 30-year-old Christopher Russell left behind a path of destruction as he tried to maneuver the bulldozer through West Hudson Park. The bulldozer leveled signs, three benches, a tree, a drinking fountain, and left a maze of tracks in the grass.

Harrison Police Capt. Mike Green tells the Jersey Journal that Russell told officers he was cold and was trying to ride home to Newark.

Russell was charged with driving while intoxicated, criminal mischief, leaving the scene of an accident and theft of the bulldozer.

Lost Kitten From New Mexico Turns Up in Duffel Bag in Maine

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) –An Albuquerque cat owner can sleep easier now that the kitten that went missing last month will be home soon, despite a mysterious 2,300-mile side trip to Maine.

Patsy Murphy, who runs an animal refuge center in Westbrook, Maine, said the kitten, named Spice, was brought to her shelter on Nov. 11 by a man who found the feline in a duffel bag while unloading furniture at a local charity.

“This is a very odd story; we wish she could tell us what happened,” Murphy said of the kitten, which was found inside the bag with food and kitty litter.

Murphy said Maine resident Bob Watterson brought the kitten home on Nov. 5, and cared for it for six days before he turned it over to the animal refuge, which found a microchip in the cat that could identify it.

Murphy was shocked when the cat was traced back to New Mexico, and it remained unknown exactly how the cat made its way to Maine.

“We immediately contacted the owner to begin working on returning her the kitten,” Murphy said, adding that a Maine businessman offered to pay the cat’s transportation cost home.

She said the cat would be sent home after it is treated for a respiratory infection, likely in about a week’s time.

“I’m thankful the kitten is going home to her owner and how so many people pulled together to make this happen,” Watterson said.

Dog Has Its Day as Mayor of San Francisco

(Reuters) – A previously unknown female chihuahua named Frida has won her first political office, being named Mayor of San Francisco for the day as part of a campaign to support the city’s animal shelter.

Frida, whose owner bid $5,000 for the privilege, will spend her special day touring Bay Area landmarks and receiving a commendation from the Board of Supervisors, according to a spokeswoman with the city and county Department of Animal Care and Control.

She will then be shown around city hall and presented with a retirement package that includes a doggy bed, gift basket and play products.

“We applaud Mayor Frida’s ability to rise above her humble start … in an animal shelter to Mayor for the Day,” said Miriam Saez, acting director of the Animal Care and Control department.

Boxed Turkeys Spilled in Highway Will Be Donated

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) – About 25,000 pounds of frozen boxed turkeys that an overturned tractor-trailer spilled on a Northern California freeway will be donated to a local food bank.

California Highway Patrol Officer Kevin Bartlett said that a health inspector determined the turkeys are still safe to eat.

The semi-truck also spilled an estimated 40 gallons of diesel fuel on Interstate 680 about 40 miles east of San Francisco, snarling traffic during the morning commute.

The driver had minor injuries.

CHP Sgt. Joseph Azevedo said that the driver took a highway off-ramp too quickly around 2:30 a.m., and the truck’s trailer flipped on its side.

The turkeys were headed to a wholesale distributor, who was going to deliver them to a big-box retail store.

Small Town With Many Prisons Debates Whether It Needs Another One

ADELANTO, Calif. – The budget deficit and the detention centers are about the only things growing in this economically depressed High Desert city.

Amid the tumbleweeds on the edge of town, construction crews are adding 650 beds at a privately run detention facility for immigrants facing deportation. A few blocks away, San Bernardino County recently completed a $145 million expansion of its jail. A third prison down the street started housing state inmates last year.

Now, with the city of Adelanto facing a $2.6 million budget deficit, some officials want to add another jail, this one to house overflow inmates from Los Angeles County.

Supporters say the proposed 3,264-bed jail, which is being pushed by a pair out-of-town developers, would bring in $1.2 million in taxes annually. They call it the only option to help Adelanto avoid insolvency.

But critics question the wisdom of expanding the city’s incarceration industry at a time when the number of inmates is falling nationally and changes to state and federal laws could reduce demand for jail beds.

“The industry is approaching the crest of demand,” said Doctor R. Crants, of Nashville, who co-founded Corrections Corp. of America, which today houses nearly 70,000 inmates in more than 60 facilities across the country. Crants left the firm in 2001.

His former company and other private prison firms have built hundreds of jails in recent decades with a focus on places like Adelanto —rural towns with cheap land and few other economic options.

Letty Guerrero, who is raising three sons in Adelanto, said she thinks the facilities have dissuaded other kinds of businesses from moving to the region and that the razor-wire fences and busloads of inmates passing through town are not a positive influence.

“It’s not a good environment for our teens,” she said. “There’s no jobs here, no colleges. Just jails.”