Delivering that personal touch
Quick, what’s the name of your neighborhood UPS driver? Most people probably would answer with befuddlement. But residents around Concordia Park in Clayton are so familiar and enamored with their driver, Carolyn Crump, that they got together and organized a GoFundMe campaign that collected enough money to buy Crump a new roof for her house.
Even residents of the area who didn’t know Crump’s name were aware of her neighborly demeanor and her trademark technique for winning over any unwelcoming dogs on the route: a hefty supply of doggy treats. “If I’d known this was happening, I would have brought the whole canister” of treats Crump said, holding a giant check that read “Happy Birthday.” Crump’s birthday was Monday.
As the Post-Dispatch’s Taylor Tiamoyo Harris reported, more than 60 of her customers turned out for the surprise delivery — this one, to Crump herself — of a check to thank her for 23 years of dedicated customer service. She had happened to mention a few weeks ago that she was planning to get a new roof next summer on her house. One customer, who works in roofing, put together an estimate, and the fund-collecting (several thousand dollars’ worth) began.
“She’s got a heart of gold. The day before we had to put our dog down, I found her in our foyer saying her goodbyes to our dog,” said Jason Lehtman, one of the organizers. “That’s the type of person she is.”
Chilling encounterHow crazy has TrumpWorld gone in its false belief that the Nov. 3 elections were riddled with fraud? This crazy: An “investigator” for a conservative group of self-styled anti-vote-fraud crusaders in Houston ran a truck driver off the road before the election and held him at gunpoint on the allegation that his truck was full of fraudulent ballots.
In fact, it was full of air-conditioning parts.
Mark Aguirre, a former Houston police captain and private investigator, was charged last week with assault with a deadly weapon for the October incident. After using an SUV to run into the truck and stop it, Aguirre pulled a gun on the driver, David Lopez-Zuñiga, and ordered him to the ground. Aguirre, still holding Lopez-Zuñiga at gunpoint when police arrived, told a responding officer, “I hope you’re a patriot.”
It turned out Aguirre had been paid more than a quarter-million dollars by a nonprofit called Liberty Center for God and Country that had somehow come to believe Lopez-Zuñiga was the “mastermind” behind a mass election-fraud scheme heading into the election. In fact, he is what police described as “an innocent and ordinary” air-conditioner repairman.
Lee’s final surrenderNo one would ever consider erecting statues in the U.S. Capitol to, say, Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin. Yet for more than a century, an enemy who was arguably even more damaging to America — Robert E. Lee — has been honored in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. That honor ended with the long-overdue removal of Lee’s statue.
Each state is represented by two statues in the Capitol; Virginia’s statues were of George Washington and Lee. The removal of Lee’s statue Monday comes as part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s wider campaign to dethrone that state’s numerous monuments to the Confederacy. Similar statuary removal has been happening around the nation this year as America rethinks the rationale for honoring a rebellion that cost more than 600,000 American lives with the goal of keeping millions more enslaved.
The Lee statue is now bound for a Virginia museum — a more appropriate home for a figure who merits historical study but not veneration. Lee’s former pedestal in the Capitol will be occupied by a statue honoring teenage civil rights leader Barbara Johns, who led a school walkout in 1951 to protest segregation in education.
Worthy attention-getting anticsWe’ve poked a lot of fun at Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt this year for attention-getting antics like suing China and trying to overturn millions of legally cast votes in the Nov. 3 election. But not enough attention was paid to some good work Schmitt has done recently: taking down 17 illicit prostitution shops that advertised themselves as massage parlors.
Schmitt launched what he called the Hope Initiative in October, targeting businesses that advertise online by disguising themselves as massage parlors. All too often, they serve as fronts for exploitative and coercive prostitution rings in which women, sometimes underage, are held against their will. Among the telltale signs is that the masseuses appear to live at the site where they work, they serve a male-only clientele, and their ads tend to be overtly sexual in nature.
Schmitt announced last week that 17 such sites had been closed down, including five in the St. Louis area.
Rare public apology shakes nation’s capitalIn a city where nobody seems to apologize for anything ever, the nation’s capital gasped in awe last Saturday when the Army general overseeing coronavirus vaccine distribution apologized for getting some distribution forecasts wrong. Gen. Gustave Perna said he had “miscommunicated” by telling some states, including Missouri, that they would be getting fewer vaccine doses than originally promised.
“I know that’s not done much these days,” Perna said of his apology. “But I am responsible. … I failed. I’m adjusting.”
Fact checkers went to the record to verify the stunning event, and sure enough, it was an actual apology. Perhaps even more extraordinary was that the Trump administration didn’t immediately fire him for honesty beyond the call of duty.