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Wednesday, March 19, 2008 12:58 pm

Cap City

Untitled Document READYTOROCK Thirty reflective jackets, 22 chainsaws, 10 axes, eight crowbars, four industrial-sized ladders, and enough safety glasses-rope-and-gloves-for-an-army later — Brad Schaive, business manager of Laborers Local 477, says the Emergency Response Coalition is “ready to rock.”
Schaive, along with fellow business managers from the Teamsters, Operating Engineers, and Carpenters unions and Ward 10 Ald. Tim Griffin, announced last week that the new Springfield-Sangamon County initiative is finally off the ground. The coalition has purchased the first round of equipment, thanks to $6,800 in union and county donations. Springfield won’t be caught off guard this time, Schaive says. The next time a monster storm blows through the capital city, union troops will be outfitted and ready to go [see Amanda Robert, “Labor made,” Oct. 18].
DRESSEDDOWN With nothing better to do on Tuesday night, we stopped by the Route 66 Hotel and Conference Center for Cosmetologists-Illinois of Springfield’s Holiday Hair student mannequin contest. No, the 27 student stylists weren’t spritzing and clipping to honor the March 18 observance of Flag Day in Aruba. They were charged with creating a “fashionable, marketable, ‘holiday’ updo style that represents a consumer-oriented special event look,” according to the contest rules. The stylists-in-training spent an hour in total silence bending, squatting, and contorting their appendages to claim one of five trophies and other prizes. After an initial judges’ deadlock and reevaluation, Springfield resident Dana Brooks’ “basket weave” garnered first-place honors. Suellen Clarke, one of the organizers says, “Hairdressers have to be psychiatrists and chemists. We know anatomy — and people think we’re dumb!”

CHARGE AGAINSTPAULCARPENTERDROPPED In 1999, Paul Carpenter provided false information in an affidavit to obtain a search warrant, a mistake that eventually resulted in the nullification of conviction of a man police had found in possession of 20 pounds of marijuana. In 2001, a federal judge ruled that a drug case involving Carpenter and two other Springfield Police officers was so “replete with inaccuracies, to put it mildly,” that the accused dealer was “more credible than the officers.” In 2005, Carpenter and his partner, Jim Graham, obtained a warrant to search the home of Larry Washington, where officers discovered a half-kilogram of cocaine. But when the plastic bags that they claimed to have found in Washington’s trash — the basis for the search warrant —  failed to test positive for cocaine, charges against Washington were dropped. Despite this colorful history, Carpenter never received any serious discipline until 2006, when he was fired and indicted for wire fraud and official misconduct for faxing a phony community-service time card to a probation officer in another state. Last week, however, the wire-fraud charge was dismissed, and pretty soon, the misconduct charge will evaporate and Carpenter may win back his old job. We know it’s true; we read it in the State Journal-Register.
Most urban officials use the cover of darkness and super shady maneuvers to get their hands on drugs, but here in Springfield they just come right out and ask for them. The drop-off can be made at the IDOT parking lot, 2300 S. Dirksen Pkwy., on April 12. They’re looking for any kind of unused medication. Vicodin, Prozac, Cialis — you got it, they’ll take it. Unfortunately, we don’t think it’s as scandalous as it sounds. The whole deal is part of the renewed initiative to keep pharmaceuticals out of the city’s water supply, and, as they say, passing them along to professionals is “better than flushing them down the toilet.”

AMIGHTYWIND Mayor Tim Davlin wouldn’t wish another tornado on anyone or anything in Springfield — except maybe, he says, in the case of the deteriorating downtown garage at Fourth and Washington streets. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Davlin withdrew an ordinance that would lend $39,700 to help fund a structural condition survey and a replacement estimate for the garage, built in 1962. Davlin says it’s clear that the structure isn’t worth saving, but the citizens who use it are. Chunks of concrete have already begun falling from the ceiling, denting and damaging cars parked below.