It Happened Last Year...

 If He Only Had a Brain

Called onstage to accept the "Key to Munchkinland" during a June performance of The Wizard of Oz starring Mickey Rooney and Jo Anne Worley, Phoenix Mayor Skip Rimsza told a Grady Gammage Auditorium audience: "Politicians and actors do have something in common -- we both say things we don't mean."

Next: CPS Case Workers See the Darndest Things

Mark Poutenis

Beth Compton, an emergency dispatcher for the Tolleson Police Department, penned Did You Say an Alligator?, a self-published collection of the most hilarious 911 calls she'd ever handled.


In December, 20-year-old Amber Tyler filed a $300,000 wrongful-arrest suit against the Town of Gilbert. Tyler, an employee of Greenfield Elementary School, was arrested at the school after she ignored a police officer's order to cover up a "vulgar" bumper sticker reading "IF THIS MUSIC IS TOO LOUD, YOU'RE TOO FUCKIN' OLD." Tyler's bumper was also decorated with a sticker reading: "GOT WEED?"

Urine Luck

After a sewer line broke in March, drizzling 2,000 books with waste-laden water, several employees of the Burton Barr Central Library were seen rummaging through a Dumpster full of the tainted tomes, apparently looking for new additions for their bookshelves at home.

Soul on Ice

Needing a photo of an ice skater to illustrate an April Fool's Day cover story that appeared in The Rep, the Arizona Republic's weekly entertainment tabloid, the newspaper ran a wire service photo of teenage murder victim Julie Sund, one of three women found dead in a burned-up rental car near Yosemite National Park. The widely published shot, which featured Sund skating on a frozen lake, was from a roll of film police found near the car where the bodies were discovered.

Ascent of a Woman?

To raise money for a Gay Pride festival last spring, local female impersonator Celia Putty (a.k.a. Richard Black) scaled Squaw Peak in full drag.

Lawn Order

After paying the University of California-Riverside $160,000 to develop a new Kentucky bluegrass hybrid to be used in Bank One Ballpark, officials opted instead for a common variety of Bermuda grass available at any well-stocked nursery.

Crime in a Bottle

In September, an unidentified 10-year-old Mesa girl chased two intruders from her home after clobbering one of the men over the head with a bottle.

So That's What They Do When They're Not Shooting Up the Schools . . .

What do high schoolers do with all their spare time and disposable income? For the answer to that head-scratcher, check this Arizona Republic headline that ran in September: VALLEY TEENS HIT MALLS TO SPEND MONEY.

But Don't Quote Us

In August, the Arizona Republic made a front-page announcement that the paper had dismissed columnist Julie Amparano after editors discovered that she could not verify the existence of a number of people, quotes and events that appeared under her byline. Ironically, Republic staffers claimed that management had earlier held Amparano up to fellow scribes as an example of a stellar reporter.


Claiming to be the country's largest museum of its kind, the Bead Museum opened in Glendale last fall.

But What Dog Has That Kind of Money?

Responding to public outcry over noise pollution, the Surprise City Council passed an ordinance against "unreasonable dog barking," an offense that carries fines of up to $2,500.

Well, It Was an Exhaustive Investigation

In the wake of an undercover sting operation, 13 employees of the county's largest auto emissions testing station were charged with bribery. According to agents who'd visited the testing center at 49th Street and Madison, the employees routinely accepted bribes ranging from $50 to $200 to give passing grades to cars that should have flunked the test.

So That's What They Mean by "Hall Pass"

In August, a 31-year-old Mesa mom told police she'd been raped at Mendoza Elementary School while on campus for a "Meet Your Teacher" event. The woman -- who sustained a head injury, scratches and a torn brassiere during the alleged assault -- later admitted all the damage was self-inflicted and that the entire incident was a hoax.

Bum Steer

In March, two fifth-grade girls triggered neighborhood hysteria after telling Mesa police they'd been kidnaped at knifepoint by a beer-swilling derelict, but had managed to escape by kicking and hitting him. Upon further questioning, however, the girls confessed the episode was just a prank.

Ship Happens

To commemorate the millennium, Gerry Berg of Quartzsite (a desert RV community two hours west of Phoenix) spent several months assembling a 53-foot-long statue out of a scrapped barge. Explaining that the sculpture (modestly touted by its creator as "the most unique thing in the state") represented "how man is ruining his own habitat," Berg revealed plans to display his creation during a $100-per-person New Year's Eve unveiling ceremony.

Here Comes the Bride . . .

In March, a Sierra Vista judge unwittingly married Richard and Tiffany Edgar, both of whom turned out to be men. When the couple filed for divorce several months later, the groom swore he was unaware that his bride was actually a preoperative transsexual.

Here Comes the Womb . . .

"I didn't see any boobs on her," explained Reverend Victoria Collins, after learning she'd been duped into presiding over the wedding of two women in Tombstone last July. "She" was "groom" Aida Lopez, 20, who'd presented Collins with a marriage license that claimed she was a man. Upon discovering the ruse, the Cochise County Sheriff's Department began a criminal investigation: Not only had Lopez fraudulently represented her gender, but records showed she was already married to a Sierra Vista man, this time as a woman.

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