The Odd Side – November 24, 2015

Mayor Tries To Pay $4K Fine With Coins

HIALEAH, Fla. (AP) – Talk about some loose change.

A Miami-area mayor who is feuding with his local commission tried to use 360,000 pennies and nickels — that’s 28 buckets full of coins — to pay a $4,000 fine.

Instead of accepting the change, the ethics commission doubled the fine for Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, saying he intentionally broke the rules because he knew the panel only accepted checks. And now the Miami-Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust is suing the mayor.

The commission ruled in July that Hernandez lied about interest rates on a $180,000 loan to a jewelry salesman now jailed for a pyramid scheme.

El Nuevo Herald reports that Hernandez has called complaints against him a “political circus” and described commission members as “clowns.”

Amish Man Runs Marathon In Traditional Slacks and Suspenders

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – An Amish man turned heads as he whizzed by fellow runners at a recent marathon — not because of his speed but because of his racing attire.

Twenty-two-year-old Leroy Stolzfus finished the 26.2-mile Harrisburg Marathon on Nov. 8 in just over three hours and five minutes, all while wearing his community’s traditional clothing, slacks and suspenders, Pennlive.com reported.

Stolzfus said he’s used to running in that outfit, and he believes he would have run closer to a three-hour marathon if he hadn’t started out so fast.

“I was feeling good, but I kind of almost crashed at mile 15,” Stolzfus said.

His clothes were not a factor, the Gordonville resident insists, and he did wear sneakers.

“I had no pain whatsoever,” Stolzfus said. “It was more mental anguish than in my legs. You have to train yourself not to think about it. It will just slow you down. I was once told by someone that it’s 20 percent training and 80 percent mental. I do believe that.”

Stolzfus finished under a minute short of a Boston Marathon qualifying time for his age group.

Stolzfus was introduced to running by his brother-in-law.

Unlike most runners, Stolzfus doesn’t run every day. But he makes a point to get in at least 20 miles a week.

“It’s a natural talent, but I do a lot more training than I used to,” Stolzfus said.

The future is uncertain for Stolzfus, but he said he is interested in running an ultramarathon and of course attempting to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Facing Highest Threat Alert, Belgians Bring Out Their Cats

BRUSSELS (AP) — What police force would start playing along with a practical joke when the capital is facing its highest state of alert and its most-wanted fugitive is still on the run? Right! This is surreal Belgium.

Late Sunday, police asked people to stop commenting on ongoing raids  in social media to avoid tipping off suspects.

En masse, they did more than that, becoming mischievous within minutes.

The hashtag #BrusselsLockdown suddenly shifted from serious to humorous, tweeting a flood of pictures of all-too-innocent cats in all kinds of situations — holding their paws up as if captured, posing as police snipers with automatic weapons, and ignoring police warnings to stay away from windows.

One tweet had a cat wearing a bowler hat, the trademark of Rene Magritte, Belgium’s greatest surrealist artist.

Within hours, federal prosecutor Eric Van Der Syp said police wanted to thank “social media users because they took the need of this operation into account.”

Police joined the party on Monday, posting a picture of a dish overflowing with dry cat food “For the cats that came to our aid last evening. Serve yourself! #BrusselsLockdown”.

News Photographer’s Tripod Mistaken for Gun Prompts 911 Call

LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) – Police were called to a central Pennsylvania office building after someone mistakenly thought a photographer’s tripod was a gun.

LNP reports the incident happened about 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Griest Building in Lancaster.

The caller thought a machine gun was carried into the building, so police conducted a floor-by-floor search only to find the photographer and her tripod.

Employees at Industrial Resolution, a software firm in the building, took a photo of the responding officers and the photographer, who mugged for the camera. The company posted the image online.

Lancaster Police Lt. Todd Umstead says the caller did the right thing and that police would “much rather respond to a call like this” —and find nothing — than not get a call when someone really does have a gun.