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Don't Play Chicken With This Judge

Michael Cicconetti, a municipal court judge in the little (population about 18,000) town of Painesville, OH, has built a national reputation for handing down unorthodox


Michael Cicconetti, a municipal court judge in the little (population about 18,000) town of Painesville, OH, has built a national reputation for handing down unorthodox sentences, and last week he added to his growing legend.
After three men pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges of soliciting sex from an undercover Painesville police officer earlier this summer, Cicconetti sentenced them to 30 days in jail - but said he would suspend the sentence if they'd agree to carry a sign and wear a chicken suit outside the courthouse for three hours.

The sign read "No Chicken Ranch in Painesville" - an allusion to the "World-Famous Chicken Ranch," a legal brothel in Nevada. "We're trying to send a strong message that we won't tolerate this activity in the city," Painesville probation supervisor David Washlock told the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.

Previous memorable examples of Cicconetti-style justice include sentencing a man who called a policeman a pig to stand next to a live pig in a pen and hold a sign that read "This Is Not a Police Officer" and sentencing a couple who stole a baby Jesus statue from a Nativity scene to dress as Mary and Joseph and walk around with a donkey.

The Senator From New York Gets Exposure

These are the dog days of summer in Washington, DC, and the capital's chattering class doesn't have much to chatter about - which probably explains why it was still talking last week about the disclosure that Hillary Clinton has breasts.

Washington Post Fashion Editor Robin Givhan was the first to break the shocking news.

"There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2," Givhan wrote on July 20. "It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton. She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable."

After devoting a considerable amount of scrunch-faced scrutiny to the rather blurry C-SPAN image that accompanied the Post story, Upfront was barely able to make out a slight, uh, indication of a separation in the senator's, uh, pectoral area. It was hardly a Pamela Anderson moment.

Post ombudsman Deborah Howell reported that the paper received "thousands of angry letters and calls" about the cleavage story, mostly from women who thought it was sexist and demeaning. "Writing about fashion can be lighthearted. Writing about body parts is grossly inappropriate, and that's what the column was," sniffed Ann Lewis, Sen. Clinton's top aide. "It had no place in The Washington Post."

"I admit to both wincing at and being fascinated by the column," Howell wrote. "I had a lot of questions that the column didn't answer: Did Clinton have a bad-blouse day, or did she want to wear something a bit provocative? Was this a wardrobe malfunction, and, if so, did it merit this much coverage? Shouldn't her reaction have been sought? Perhaps the column could have talked about cleavage on older women. If Clinton can show it on the Senate floor, is it okay in The Post's newsroom? Out at a restaurant?"

Personally, we think Mrs. Upfront had the most astute comment on Mrs. Clinton's décolletage: "They don't look that good. She should put them away."

Maybe He Should Have Just Hummed

Does George W. Bush embarrass you with his malapropisms, his mangling of the English language, his ignorance of geography and his diplomatic gaffes? Cheer up - if you were a Belgian you might feel even worse.

Yves Leterme, head of Belgian's Flemish Democratic Party and generally considered likely to be the country's next prime minister, was asked by a reporter during ceremonies at Belgium's National Day last week to sing the Belgian national anthem, "La Brabançonne."

Leterme promptly burst out with "Allons enfants de la patrie" - the opening phrase of "La Marseillaise," the French national anthem.

It got worse. Asked by the reporter if he really thought those were the right words, Leterme breezily replied: "Oh, I don't know."

And then it got worse. Shortly afterward, the International Herald Tribune reported, Leterme "was filmed making a telephone call on his cell phone during a religious service, and, in a final gaffe, he proclaimed in an interview at the independence festivities that his countrymen were ... celebrating 'the proclamation of the Constitution.'" (Actually, the Belgian National Day commemorates the accession of King Leopold I to the throne in 1831.)

According to the Trib, Leterme's faux pas "caused a furor" in Belgium, but at least one journalist was taking it in stride. "Maybe it is positive that nationalism doesn't exist in Belgium," said Bernard Bulcke, European correspondent for the leading Flemish newspaper. "So we can't sing the national anthem. Who cares?"

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