Disney not constrained by Constitution

THIS JUST IN...

November 08, 1996|By DAN RODRICKS

The tactics of amusement park security forces -- addressed in this space recently with stories about two Maryland women falsely accused of writing bad checks at Paramount's Kings Dominion -- should spook anyone who thinks the Constitution was, and still is, a good idea. Many of these big parks, owned by media conglomerates, operate by their own set of rules and police standards, and that's causing grief (and litigation) in several corners of the nation.

The latest of several reports on the subject comes from California, where the Orange County Register found more than 30 people who claimed recent abuse at the hands of Disneyland security. Seven people have filed lawsuits in the past two months alleging that they were wrongfully arrested and imprisoned by Mickey's troopers.

"Yet no official group scrutinizes the behavior of Disney security -- a force nearly as large as the 382-officer Anaheim Police Department, the county's second-largest law enforcement agency," the newspaper's Anne C. Mulkern reported. "Disneyland does not have to release any information about arrests. And unlike police, private security forces do not need a reason to search you, do not have to read you your Miranda rights and do not have to follow laws governing police conduct during an interrogation."

In one instance, Magic Kingdom fuzz detained a teen-age girl because she forgot to check in her uniform -- they thought she was stealing it -- after leaving her job at a Carnation ice cream shop inside the park. Security officers questioned the girl for two hours and refused to let her call her mom, a retired Fullerton, Calif., police officer. "There is no Constitution at Disneyland," a Disney security supervisor was quoted as saying. "We have our own laws."

Great. Maybe Disney could set up its own courts, too. Or build a penal colony, a sort of Devil's Island theme park, and run monorail tours through it, with someone prominent -- say, Antonin Scalia -- as guide.

Sweetie Bird alert

A lost parakeet? Pardon my lack of experience in this arena, but the hunt for Sweetie Bird is a first for me. I mean, you could run a computer reference check -- Rodricks, Parakeets, Lost -- and I doubt you'll find any reportage. But, hey, there's a first time for everything.

We spotted a sign for a lost 'keet on a utility pole in Glen Burnie. So we called the number and got Mike and Theresa Morgan. Their Sweetie Bird flew the coop last month, and since Oct. 24 they've been hoping for the phone call that brings him home. (No plans to put Sweetie's mug on milk cartons, though.)

Seems the talkative Sweetie, who referred to the Morgans as "Daddy" and "Mommy," flew out of the house when Theresa opened the front door to get her mail. "We never clipped Sweetie Bird's wings like some people do," Mike says. "We had three cages in the house and just let him fly around. He would sit on your hand or shoulder. He loves people. So we think he probably went to somebody. At least, we hope so. You get attached, just like with any other pet."

Surprisingly, when the Morgans posted their "lost parakeet" fliers, they received two calls for "found parakeets," both in Anne Arundel County and both captured after Oct. 24. Alas, neither was Sweetie.

For the record, the Morgans' bird is yellow and white, about 6 inches long, and was last seen with a dab of chocolate pudding on his face from a recent dive into dessert. "What can I tell ya?" Mike says. "He was spoiled rotten." If you see the bird, give me a call (332-6166) and I'll get you in touch with the Morgans.

Liverless on Belair Road

A missing parakeet is a first for This Just In, but we've dished out the liver and onions before. Last winter, I told you about the yummy All-You-Can-Eat Calf's Liver Night at KC's Cafe in Sykesville. I even followed up with an evaluation by self-styled liver connoisseur Sidney Krome, who dined at KC's and described the L&O as "absolutely magnificent, tender, juicy and succulent."

Some people, it turns out, are passionate about liver and onions.

Now comes ol' pal Turkey Joe Trabert with an L&O story from Belair Road. Joe spotted an advertised special -- liver and onions, mashed potato, one vegetable for $4.95 -- at Letts' Tavern and headed there on Election Day with his wife. "Sherry and I love liver and onions but hate the smell of it cooking in the house," says Joe. "It reminds me of a next-door neighbor in Arbutus whose house smelled of liver as she had seven kids and liver was cheap and they had it once a week."

So Joe and Sherry arrived at Letts' just after 6.

"The room was filled with people, and they all wanted liver and onions," Joe says. "The waitress came out and stated they just ran out of liver and were substituting hamburger steak for the same price."

The reaction ranged from outrage to mild disappointment to big laughter.

"More and more people came in with liver and onions on their minds," Joe says, "and the swift denial dealt by that unhappy waitress led the liver-and-onionless people to band together against the management. Even the offer of an L&O special tomorrow night didn't appease them."

A guy named Harvey announced that he was completely unhappy over the absence of liver and would "go all the way over to Harford Road and have a steak at that cop-run bar." But most of Letts' regulars stayed for the hamburger. The Traberts decided that the evening's experience had socially redeeming value.

"There was something nice about it," Joe says. "The brief period when complete strangers banded together to criticize and mock the management was a throwback to the good old days."

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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