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Chicago bans drivers from cell phones

Chicago Chicago officials voted Wednesday to ban drivers from using hand-held cell phones starting this summer and set fines of $50 and up for violators.

The City Council approved the ordinance without debating it, angering some aldermen who worried about suburban residents and visitors being targeted as they cross the city line from jurisdictions that don’t have bans.

But Mayor Richard Daley said the measure was about safety and called it “just plain common sense.”

The move follows similar bans enacted by cities and states around the country, including New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

The Chicago measure requires drivers to use hands-free devices unless they are making 911 emergency calls or are talking while the vehicle is parked. The penalties would be $50, or $200 if the driver was involved in an accident.

Alderman Edward Burke said he is still pushing for an additional “distracted driving” measure to forbid drivers from applying makeup, shaving, or consuming food and beverages while on the road.

Suspicious package detonated near courthouse

Chicago Authorities blew up a suspicious package outside the downtown federal courthouse Wednesday that turned out to contain a small refrigerator.

The 3-foot-high cardboard box was discovered by a granite bench outside the John C. Kluczynski federal building and near a U.S. post office, police Sgt. David Villalobos said. Officers considered the package suspicious in part because it had not address on it.

Authorities temporarily blocked off streets leading to the federal building while a small charge was set off next to the box.

Law targets loose dogs after woman killed

Spotsylvania, Va. Pet owners who allow their dogs to roam could now face a stiff fine and jail time, following an 82-year-old woman’s mauling death by unleashed pit bulls.

The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to raise misdemeanor penalties to the maximum allowed by state law and to create a “public nuisance” category that applies to dogs.

Dorothy Sullivan was killed March 8 after being attacked by three pit bulls in her front yard. Her dog was also killed.

Authorities say Sullivan’s neighbor, Deanna H. Large, owned the dogs. Large has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and to three misdemeanor counts of letting a dangerous dog run at large.

Authorities shot and killed two of the pit bulls and euthanized the third.

Under the new ordinances, owners of dogs that habitually run free could be fined up to $2,500 and be sentenced to up to a year in jail. Dogs that habitually trespass, chase cars or run at large can be euthanized on a judge’s order.

Boy punished, fined for wearing dress to prom

Lake Geneva, Wis. A high school senior who thought it would be funny to wear a dress to his prom was ticketed $249 for disorderly conduct, suspended for three days and banned from his last track meet.

School district administrator Jim Gottinger said the discipline was for more than just the dress, noting Kerry Lofy, 18, was dancing in a sexually provocative manner at the prom, according to a police report.

Lofy doubts that was the real reason he was disciplined Monday.

“The whole night was that kind of dancing. They can’t single me out and say, ‘Oh it was you, it was only you,’ ” he said. “I think it’s over the dress.”

Lofy said Lake Geneva Badger High had no problem letting him go to Saturday’s prom with another male, but that school officials drew the line at his dress.

“I thought it would be more appropriate for there to be one person dressed like a girl and a person dressed like a guy, than for there to be two guys to go,” said Lofy, a member of the school’s track, ski, powerlifting and soccer teams.

Also, he thought people would find it funny to see a 6-foot, 185-pound male in a black, stretchy, spaghetti-strap dress.

When Lofy showed up in the dress, a blond wig, open-toed platform sandals, blue earrings and a necklace, teachers turned him away. He said he showed up later with a tan-and-black plaid leisure suit over the dress, went inside and whipped off the suit during a dance-off. A security guard escorted him out, he said.

Lofy said when he went to school Monday, the school liaison police officer issued the disorderly conduct ticket.

“They thought I was mocking the school,” he said.