For months a would-be hero has fascinated audiences with his stories of his own heroism in the minutes following the Sept. 11 attacks. To hear former Philadelphia policeman Bill Breshnahan talk, he sped from New Jersey to "Ground Zero" just inutes after the first plane hit; stopped a mob from killing an Arab hot dog vendor in Manhattan and talked with the Rev. Mychal Judge just moments before the police chaplain was killed. The problem is that his tales aren't true.
Since last fall Breshnahan has been on the speakers' circuit, wowing audiences ... and taking their money. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that he's now been arrested in Illinois, charged with theft by deception, after appearances at local churches netting him more than $3,000. If convicted he could be in jail for three years.
CINCINNATI FESTIVAL OPENS ON JOYOUS NOTE
The 129th annual May Festival got off to a great start this week in Cincinnati. The Enquirer says that the opening night audience burst into spontaneous applause as part of Dr. Martin Luther King's "Dream" speech was piped through loudspeakers.
The theme of this year's event is "Beethoven, Bernstein and Brotherhood."
In the wake of the serious Over-the-Rhine riots in the Queen City, sponsors of the event are going out of their way to enlist a racial cross-section of the area in producing the festival.
Actor Clifton Davis served as the opening night's narrator.
KANSAS CITY COURT SYSTEM JAMMED
A new report shows that the court system in Kansas City, Mo., under the aegis of Jackson County, is so jammed that it's two months behind in processing arrest warrants. The Kansas City Star reports that the backlog means that accused robbers, drug dealers and others are still roaming free, putting the public in jeopardy.
Sheriff Tom Phillips tells the publication that a major reason for the legal gridlock is the lack of clerks in that county.
The county did have four clerks, but one quit recently and has not been replaced. Phillips says the court needs six or more and he's requesting the money to hire new ones in an effort to deal with the backlog.
DOCTOR SHORTAGE GETTING WORSE
The American Medical Association's latest survey of the number of doctors in this country has some alarming numbers. The medical group says that more than a dozen states have now reached the "crisis" level when it comes to doctor-to-population ratios.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal, in reporting state and regional statistics, notes that in parts of rural Arizona "women have given birth in cars and on roadsides," miles from the nearest doctor. Doctors in Washington state are going bankrupt. The result is that the remaining doctors have too many patients to care for.
As a result of the shortage, many maternity wards have had to close and some cardiac units have been shut down at hospitals. In Las Vegas, for example, more than half of the city's "baby experts" are refusing to take any new maternity patients.