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Watercooler Stories

By United Press International

Chicago cracks down on cabdrivers

CHICAGO, July 6 (UPI) -- If disciplinary actions against Chicago's cabdrivers continue on the same pace, citations will be up 21 percent and fines will rise 68 percent from 2006.

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From Jan. 1 to June 26, more than 2,600 citations and $280,246 in fines have been issued to cabdrivers for everything from unclean or damaged vehicles to reckless driving and abusive behavior, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

In all of 2006, City Hall issued 4,289 citations and $333,504 in fines.

Three drivers have had their licenses revoked, two more have been suspended and 30 renewals have been denied this year.

Consumer Services Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey told the Sun-Times the number of complaints is up from 7,445 during all of last year to 5,063 so far this year.

"More passengers are filing complaints about talking on cell phones," McCaffrey said. "They may be more aware that these rules are in place and that all they need to do is call 311 to file a complaint. It's also possible that passengers are frustrated with cab service."

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Fort Worth man shoots robbery suspect

FORT WORTH, Texas, July 6 (UPI) -- A Fort Worth, Texas, man said all he wanted was to get his wife out of danger, not confront the men who were robbing the grocery store where she was shopping.

The husband shot a robbery suspect Wednesday after walking into the store with a .45-caliber handgun concealed under his shirt. He had hoped to sneak his wife out the back, The Dallas Morning News reported.

"I really thought I'd find her in the store shopping and get her out the back door," he said. "That was my intention. ... I had no intention of confronting these armed bandits."

Once he got into the store, one of the three robbers pointed a gun at him while the others took wallets and purses from customers, Fort Worth police spokesman Lt. Dean Sullivan said.

The man then fired twice, possibly hitting 17-year-old Rayshaun Johnson, who was dropped off in the parking lot of the Huguley Memorial Medical Center in Fort Worth with bullet wounds in his posterior and foot.

Sullivan said Johnson faces a charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon once he's released from the hospital. The search for the other two suspects is continuing.

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Parade leader dropped after questions

OAK PARK, Ill., July 6 (UPI) -- An Oak Park, Ill., man who was chosen to lead the village's Fourth of July parade was sacked after questions arose about his background.

John Dietz, 72, was named grand marshal of the parade after sharing his story with former Oak Park resident Marianne Trifone, who shared the story with the Community Relations Commission subcommittee in charge of the parade, The Chicago Tribune reported.

The subcommittee named Dietz grand marshal of the parade after hearing his account of his life, which included receiving three purple hearts during his time in the Marines, playing football for the University of Michigan, losing two brothers in the Vietnam War and losing his wife and infant daughter in a house fire while he was deployed in Vietnam.

Doug Sterner, an Army veteran and military historian from Pueblo, Colo., said he and other experts found a number of discrepancies in Dietz's story. He said learning later Dietz claimed to have served under the name Diaz only caused more contradictions to come to light.

"Our approach is to trust but verify," Sterner said. "It's a sad situation that when we see veterans or someone who appears to be a veteran, that there's a sense of suspicion about them."

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Liquor stores in Wichita may open Sunday

WICHITA, Kan., July 6 (UPI) -- A Wichita, Kan., minister is confident enough signatures have been amassed to force a full vote on Sunday liquor-store sales.

The City Council in April voted to allow the sales, but the Rev. Wade Moore has been spearheading a movement to put the issue to a city-wide vote. More than 7,000 signatures have been collected, and if they are valid, the issue will go before voters Aug. 7.

Liquor-store owners are preparing to be open this Sunday no matter what, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Shelly Breault of R&J Discount Liquor said she hopes voters get a say.

"It would just give us another six to eight weeks not to be open on Sundays," she said. "We know it's (Sunday openings) going to happen. I do think people will vote it in on Aug. 7 anyway."

Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale will finish reviewing the petition Friday.

Dave Gross of Dave's Liquor Store on South Oliver said if the petition fails, it will not be as simple as choosing whether or not to be open on Sunday.

"You almost have to (be open) because of all the competition," he said. "It's a fallacy to say you really can't be open because you lose all the money."

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