(Photo by Jim Damaske / St. Petersburg Times)

Dew Drops: For the owners of Sunset Scooters in Clearwater, Florida, the demand came first: People convicted of driving under the influence who had lost their driver’s licenses streamed into the store looking for legal transportation. Then, Doug Vitello and Gary Parr found the supply: A Chinese-made electric scooter with a maximum speed of 20 mph and pedals, like a gas-powered moped, that was legal to drive without a license.  They advertised with a sign in the window:  “DUI SCOOTERS.”

Todd Rosenbaum, executive director of the Northwest Florida chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, told the St. Petersburg Times, “Certainly, if people need transportation, electric bikes are a good option. But calling them DUI scooters sends the wrong message to the community. It’s telling people the DUI is not a big deal. It is a big deal.”

Parr explained to the Times that it was simply a matter of demand and supply.  “We got tired of seeing the back of people’s heads as they walked out of the shop,” he told the Times.  Vitello and Parr said they were selling about 10 of the “DUI scooters” a month at $1,200 to $2,000 a pop.  The Times says that unlike faster, gas-powered scooters, the Chinese scooters fit a state and federal description of “low-speed electric bicycles” that do not require licenses to drive, but the report notes “drunken bicycling is also illegal.”

Not your average kitchen Sink: From Mount Airy, North Carolina, the birthplace of Alex Sink, Florida’s Democratic candidate for governor, the St. Petersburg Times reported on a novel piece of Sink’s heritage.  Her great-grandfather was Chang Bunker, brother of Eng Bunker.  Conjoined at the sternum with fused livers, Chang and Eng were the source of the term “Siamese twins.” They adopted American names but were born in Siam, now Thailand, and they toured the world for a time in a freak show.  (In Siam, coincidentally, they were known as “Chinese twins” because of their Chinese heritage.) They married two Mount Airy sisters and, together, had 21 children. They died, still joined, on the same day.  Sink recalled to the Times that when she was a child, store clerks would sometimes ask if she was one of the Bunkers “because I had slanty eyes.”  She said, “I would stick my chest out and say, ‘Yes, I am.’ I was taught to be very proud about my heritage and I am.”  A recent Mason-Dixon poll, by the way, showed Sink leading Republican Rick Scott by 7 percentage points overall, and by 16 points among independent swing voters.

Why dat ‘Who Dat’ in the news again: The Times-Picayune reports that San Antonio lawyers for Who Dat? Inc., a company that registered the chant used by New Orleans Saints fans, has sent letters warning New Orleans merchants who sell “Who Dat” merchandise to negotiate a deal or face legal action.  The National Football League itself tried the same threat last year and, in the face of public outrage, wound up backpedaling faster than Deion Sanders.

Dew Droplets: While Florida DUI convicts are riding electric scooters, folks in Memphis are complaining because that city and much of western Tennessee were left out of plans for the nation’s first public network of “repowering” stations for electric vehicles … In Georgia, McIntosh County Commissioner Mark Douglas blames cutesy street names for a rise in sign theft; among thief favorities: Green Acres, Boone’s Farm and Mary Jane Lane … New Orleans ranked sixth and was the only major Southern City in the Top 10 on a list of the nation’s worst roads compiled by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that researche highway and transportation issues … The city of Gainesville, Florida, said it will bill Pastor Terry Jones at least $200,000 for his little Qur’an-burning fiasco … University of Tennessee football fans are probably not surprised: The marmarated stink bug has invaded Knox County, Tennessee.

Check out our News and Opinion Feeds for a lot more Southern happenings.

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.

One Comment
  1. Perhaps I’m being callous, but those scooters strike me as self-executing instruments for perpetual drunks.

Comments are closed.