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Editorial: Short takes on crime, hunger, pets and a great grocer

Editorial: Short takes on crime, hunger, pets and a great grocer

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Generous grocer

As Texas’ political leaders so tragically dropped the ball during that state’s recent historic winter weather, one Austin-area grocery store stepped up. When a power failure made it impossible for H-E-B grocery to check out hundreds of shoppers queueing to stock up for the emergency, the store made a decision to simply let the customers leave without paying.

One of the shoppers, Tim Hennessy, told The Washington Post that when the lights in the store went out, there was a “collective groan” from people who immediately assumed they would have to put their items back on the shelves and leave with nothing. Instead, the checkout workers began waving people by with their carts. “And it hit us — like, wow, they’re just letting us walk out the door.”

A Houston Chronicle op-ed lauded the store’s response under the headline: “Why H-E-B comes through in a crisis when Texas government doesn’t.”

Definite flight risk

Heather Rene Nesler of St. Charles at least deserves credit for having lots of nerve. She was arrested last Saturday in St. Charles County by a State Highway Patrol officer during a traffic stop. The officer saw that Nesler was wanted on several outstanding warrants and proceeded to arrest her. That’s when things got really interesting and more than a little embarrassing for the officer involved.

First Nesler tricked the officer into loosening her handcuffs, which she said were too tight. Then, sitting in the front seat of the patrol car, she tricked the officer into retrieving her purse from the automobile she had been in. Nesler slipped out of her handcuffs then scooted over to the driver’s side and took off in the officer’s car, which contained the trooper’s loaded AR-15 rifle.

The Post-Dispatch’s Rachel Rice reported that police searched for about 20 minutes before finding the car abandoned with its engine running in O’Fallon, Missouri. Police ultimately found Nesler hiding in a trash can.

Now, on top of existing warrants in St. Charles for failing to appear in court, possession of a controlled substance and stealing — along with being wanted in O’Fallon for a traffic offense and having no proof of insurance, and being sought in Troy for alleged stealing, trespassing and failure to appear in court, and being wanted in Lincoln County for failure to appear — Nesler is now facing three felony charges: tampering with a motor vehicle, resisting arrest and escaping custody while under arrest.

Pets deserve protection, too

A Republican-sponsored bill before the state Senate would allow child and adult protection orders to be extended to include pets, which all too often become the target of abuse during domestic disputes. Logic would dictate that a person targeted under a protection order would not be allowed to attack or kidnap pets as a way of getting back at a spouse, but current state law doesn’t cover it.

State Sen. Elaine Gannon, R-De Soto, cited statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence that 71% of pet owners entering domestic violence shelters reported their abuser had threatened, injured or killed pets. One study found 87% of such incidents happen in the presence of the victim “for the purpose of revenge or control,” the Post-Dispatch’s Maria Benevento reported.

At least one shelter in Kansas City has long accepted pets because spouses are reluctant to leave an abusive household if they have to leave a beloved pet behind. The item under consideration is Senate Bill 71.

‘Limbaugh Day’?

It’s bad enough that Missouri’s state Capitol has long displayed a bust of the recently departed talk-show host Rush Limbaugh. But the movement now to name a statewide annual day in Limbaugh’s honor is a slap in the face to minorities, women, homosexuals and other targets of the conservative commentator’s bullying, blustery attacks.

As the Post-Dispatch’s Jack Suntrup reported this week, state Rep. Hardy Billington, R-Poplar Bluff, wants to designate each Jan. 12, Limbaugh’s birthday, as “Rush Limbaugh Day” in Missouri. Limbaugh, a Cape Girardeau native, died Feb. 17 after a battle with lung cancer.

“He gave you hope,” said Billington. “He’s just a great voice. He loved the people of Missouri. And see I want him to be remembered, not today, or tomorrow, but for many, many years.” The legislation calls for Missourians to “celebrate the day by participating in appropriate events and activities” to remember Limbaugh.

What activities would those be, exactly? Promoting racist tropes? Making jokes about dead AIDS victims? Calling a law student a “slut” for her contraception campaign? Or maybe we should just all spread misinformation about the pandemic. All this and more is Limbaugh’s dark legacy.

An unscheduled class in hunger awareness

A New Jersey third grader now has a full stomach and pantry because a food bank stepped in to help after the girl stood up during an online class and started crying uncontrollably. She admitted to the entire class that she was starving, and there wasn’t enough food in her home.

The girl’s mother had lost her restaurant job in March and hasn’t been able to find work since. “She does not qualify for unemployment or benefits,” Kim Guadagno, a former Republican lieutenant governor who now runs the Fulfill food bank, told Patch.com. “Can you imagine the trauma this little girl was going through to burst into tears and say this in front of a whole class of her peers?”

Thousands of kids around the country face similar crises as their principal source of food — school meals — is restricted because of the pandemic.

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