a4s_pastattoo120509a_97551cPasco County, Florida, taxpayers will pay up to $150 a day for a cosmetologist to cover neo-Nazi John Ditullio’s tattoos before he appears each day at his murder trial.   Defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand argued that the average juror might be offended or intimidated by the tattoos. Aside from a tattoo of a swastika and another of barbed wire, there’s one that says “f— you.”

If jurors are afraid, “they should be,” Charlene Bricken, mother of the victim, told the St. Petersburg Times. Her son, 17-year-old Kristofer King, was stabbed to death when Ditullio allegedly assaulted the house of a white woman who had a black friend and a gay son.  The woman was wounded.

Then, there’s the matter of hairstyle: The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that eight Rastafarian inmates who refused for religious reasons to allow their hair to be cut in 1999 are still  in segregated cells in Virginia 10 years later.

When cosmetology is not enough: Tennessee is experiencing a sharp rise in applications from people wanting their arrest records erased, apparently in hopes of improving their chances of getting jobs.  The state allows arrest records that did not result in conviction to be taken out of the public realm.  Through November, nearly 26,700 people had criminal records wiped away by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

neckMeanwhile, in the general population: Former Mississippi congressman Chip Pickering has been accused of pulling a youth-league soccer coach wearing a neck brace out of his car and scuffling with him during a quarrel over a game in which Pickering’s son played for the other team. “It scared the crap out of the kids in my car.” said the coach, Christopher Hester, a Madison, Mississippi nurse.  Pickering has filed counter-charges, saying Hester “verbally abused and physically intimidated my son, visibly upsetting my son to the point of uncontrollable crying.”

Separation of town and mayor: The town of Arlington, Tennessee, issued a statement distancing itself from Mayor Russell Wiseman’s criticism of President Barack Obama.  In a Facebook diatribe, the mayor accused Obama not only of being a Muslim but of deliberately timing his Afghanistan message so as to pre-empt “The Charlie Brown Christmas Special” on TV.  A statement posted on the town Web site by Arlington superintendent Ed Haley and other city officials declared,  “The views of Russell Wiseman, Mayor of the Town of Arlington, expressed on his Facebook account do not reflect an official position of the Town of Arlington.”  Wiseman apologized for his “attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor amongst friends.”

clockDew Droplets: The landmark Klein and Sons clock is returning to downtown Montgomery, Alabama, 23 years after it was moved to the suburbs … Graceland is holding an online contest to pick the best cake design submitted by four master cake makers for Elvis’ 75th birthdayA Rogersville, Tennessee, man told police his neighbor’s cows have done at least $100 worth of damage to his house, ripping off a screen window, cracking the glass and pulling down a gutter … A Charlotte, North Carolina, couple have been arrested on chargest of selling moonshine out of their child day-care business … The police chief of Tuscumbia, Alabama, has been charged with DUI … A 3.2 magnitude earthquake shook Milledgeville , Georgia, on Sunday night.

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor

Ron Taylor was born and raised in Georgia and worked more than 40 years at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a reporter and editor and as an online producer for ajc.com and AccessAtlanta. He served for a time as the newspaper's regional editor, overseeing coverage of the South. He is co-author, with Dr. Leonard Ray Teel, of Into the Newsroom:  An Introduction to Journalism and has conducted workshops in the Middle East on feature writing.