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Deplorable conditions at T.E.H. Realty property Southwest Crossing Apartments

Ciara Anderson, 11, empties trash into the overflowing dumpster trash piles on Nov. 6 at Southwest Crossing Apartments in St. Louis. Several residents said trash had not been picked up in weeks.

Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Call for help, with pepperoni

In Oregon, Ohio, an unusually savvy police dispatcher resisted the urge to hang up on a 911 caller who wanted to order a pizza. It turned out that the caller needed urgent help to deal with a domestic abuser. And help arrived, all because dispatcher Tim Teneyck stayed on the line. The call went like this:

Dispatcher: Oregon 911.

Caller: I would like to order a pizza at — Bickle Road.

Dispatcher: You called 911 to order a pizza?

Caller: Uh, yeah. Apartment ...

Dispatcher: This is the wrong number to call for a pizza.

Caller: No, no, no, no, no, you’re not understanding.

Dispatcher: I’m getting you now. We’ll get ‘em going.

Teneyck advised responding officers to turn off their siren before arriving. When police arrived, they arrested Simon Lopez, 56, who allegedly punched and pushed the 911 caller’s mother.

Oregon Police Chief Michael Navarre credited Teneyck with reading the subtle signal that something was wrong. “He picked up on a woman who was in distress, but was in a position where she couldn’t convey it to him in those words,” Navarre said, according to the Toledo Blade. “And then he was able to ask her all the right questions without putting her in harm’s way.”

Florida Dog. Need we say more?

It happened in the Sunshine State, of course. A dog sat alone in a car on a Port St. Lucie cul-de-sac. Somehow the car was placed into reverse with the engine running. The owner blames the dog. The dog isn’t talking. What police do know is that the car backed up with the wheels turned so that it went around in circles — for an entire hour.

The owner apparently wasn’t aware of the problem until alert neighbor Anne Sabol noticed the car weirdly going around in circles. Police arrived, then firefighters. All watched in disbelief.

At one point, the car smashed into a neighbor’s mailbox, causing it to slow enough that an officer could open the door. Out hopped the dog.

But don’t forget St. Louis Dog, a shih tzu mix that apparently hadn’t seen all the online videos of a cat dressed in a shark suit riding on top of a robotic vacuum cleaner. Sleep, it appears, was more important than world domination for the shih tzu. The robotic vacuum attacked and sucked up enough of the dog’s tail fur to cause a major ruckus. Police were summoned, apparently because vacuum repairmen don’t make emergency house calls. Tail fur was cut. Dog was freed. And somewhere in the world, a cat in a shark suit chuckled to itself.

Addressing adult abuse

Last year, about half the calls to Missouri’s adult abuse hotline went unanswered — an astounding failure of a system meant to protect the elderly and other vulnerable adults. And no wonder: The hotline was only accessible by phone, and only open from 7 a.m. to midnight. As of last week, the state has opened a much-needed online alternative that will be available around the clock.

The hotline is for people to report things like physical abuse, neglect or financial exploitation of elderly or otherwise vulnerable adults. It’s a necessary service addressing real issues — yet last year, some 17,000 callers who tried to file reports on the hotline got a “please call back” recording. Others were just put on hold for so long that they hung up. There’s no way to know now many abused or exploited people have continued to suffer as a result.

As the Post-Dispatch’s Jack Suntrup reported this week, the new online portal is an alternative for making the same kinds of reports. It is reachable at https://apps4.mo.gov/APS_Portal/.

The real climate fraudsters

The Supreme Court this week declined to halt in the defamation lawsuit of a climate scientist against a conservative magazine and think tank that had falsely accused the scientist of fraud. The climate-denial crowd is the ultimate peddler of fraud, and if it takes litigation to call them out, so be it.

Pennsylvania State University professor Michael Mann is suing The National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute over their unfounded allegations that his work on climate change has been fraudulent.

As if to show how low they could go, one of the defendants, riffing on the former Penn State football coach convicted of child molestation, called Mann the “Jerry Sandusky of climate science,” because he “molested and tortured data in service of politicized science.”

When Mann demanded an apology for the false accusation, the National Review instead ran a response claiming, bizarrely, that “‘fraudulent’ doesn’t mean honest-to-goodness fraud.”

Just the kind of clear thinking you’d expect from the anti-science crowd. Mann’s lawsuit can now go forward, as it should.

Finally, action against scofflaw landlordSt. Louis area low-income residents have struggled to cope with major health hazards, caving ceilings and crumbling walkways at apartment complexes owned by T.E.H. Realty, whose owners have doggedly resisted code compliance and accountability. Residents’ complaints, outlined in a long series of stories by the Post-Dispatch’s Jesse Bogan, seemed to fall on deaf ears.

At long last, federal and state lawmakers are demanding action to shut down T.E.H. operations before the company can do more damage. State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, called for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt to launch an investigation. Republican U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley contacted Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and called for a federal investigation. The federal home mortgage backer Fannie Mae also is reportedly investigating.

A longtime scofflaw landlord appears about to be brought to justice.