Death sentence
Continuing in its tradition of giving its readers a twisted version of reality, the Star-Telegram did what not even Judge Lance Ito would dare try--it fired a jury. In this case, it was the celebrated Arlington 10, the group of "ordinary citizens" that the S-T had impaneled to watch the O.J. Simpson trial. Editor Jim Witt says he disbanded the panel because the antagonism between some members was threatening to escalate to "unsafe or intolerable levels."

Word around the Arlington news room, however, is that Witt's budget couldn't stand the strain of buying daily lunches for the ravenous Arlington 10--particularly since the Simpson trial is threatening to go on for years. "Our panel had very healthy appetites," admits John Austin, who covered the panel for the S-T. "I don't think anyone was forgoing deserts."

As for Austin, he fears he may soon have to leave the office to cover some actual news--a commodity in short supply in Arlington. "It's brutal out there," he says.

You won; get over it
Has anyone else noticed how mean-spirited conservative bumper stickers have gotten? Sentiments like "Bill Clinton: Why stupid people shouldn't vote" and "Clinton, keep your hands off my wallet and my ass" are among the bitter--and artless--pronouncements. Particularly charmless: a sticker that reads "Hoover promised a chicken in every pot. Clinton promises a fag in every pup tent." Go on the air with that one, Paul Harvey.

Let's face it, being a good loser has never been a GOP trait--ask Ollie North. But didn't they win this time?

HAL, let us in
Speaking of dubious technological advances, you might have noticed that Norma Vann and Barbara Nealey, the underground parking attendants at the downtown library, have been phased out in favor of a vending-machine-sized box that eerily drones, "Please pay the amount shown," and keeps repeating the message until you do.

Library officials say the box will save money; it costs $99,987, while the combined annual salaries of Norma and Barbara were $46,000.

Unfortunately, sometimes the box doesn't like the quarters we try to feed it or, on exit, refuses the ticket it issued us. As low-tech as ol' Norma and Barbara were, they could always get the damn gate up.

It's nap time in America
"Joe Barton Is No John Dingell," read the headline in the recent story about the Dallas Republican congressman in the Washington weekly Legal Times.

With the Republican sweep in the last election, Barton succeeded Dingell as chairman of the House Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations subcommittee. For years, the Michigan Democrat has made grist for the nightly network newscasts by grilling any unfortunate government or corporate official who had the bad luck to find himself before the panel.

But Barton, as a straight-party-line Republican, is likely to preside over a far duller subcommittee, Legal Times concluded.

How much duller?
Barton's wife, Janet Sue, flew up for her husband's first subcommittee hearing in February--and dozed off during the historic event. Barton, the story said, had "surprised the packed room by gently but publicly chiding her for falling asleep.

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