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A little holiday humor from the laughing lawyers in the Palm Beach County Attorney's Office:

Issuing a summons "In the Matter of One (1) Rollicking Good Time," party invitations in finest legalese commanded guests last week to enjoy a "tableful** of food and drink, engage in spritely [sic] conversation with friends and neighbors, or simply stare off into space like an overfed, or simply stupid, cat."

The double asterisk was explained in fine print at the bottom:
"There is no sneeze guard attached to said table and guests will NOT be compelled to wash their hands while we watch. Therefore there will be some risk of transmitting certain germs which can lead to catching cold, the flu, and other similar ailments. By attending the County Attorney Open House, guests freely assume all risks associated with said function....

"Neither the County Attorney's Office, its officers, agents, and employees, their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, shall be responsible for anything!"

Including presumably authorship of the humorous invitation.

For connoisseurs of governmental gridlock and bureaucratic bob-and-weave, there was a fine performance last week as Fort Lauderdale and Broward County feuded over the handling of 911 calls.

When Fort Lauderdale commissioners met to voice their displeasure at county management, Commissioner Carlton B. Moore angrily noted that no county official was present. "When they wanted us to join their system, their lobbyists were all over us, waiting for us at the elevators," he complained. "Now they apparently do not want the system to work."

City Manager George L. Hanbury then admitted he hadn't invited the county. That halted debate while an emergency appeal went forth. About 30 minutes later, County Administrator Phil Allen walked in. Commissioners demanded 911 accountability.

"Someone's got to be the fall person," Moore declared, but he quickly learned how difficult that can be.

Among various examples of 911 noncooperation, Fort Lauderdale and the county were each supposed to appoint three members to a joint advisory committee on Emergency Medical Services. That was almost a year ago -- and the committee still hasn't met.

When city commissioners demanded to know who was supposed to call a meeting, Hanbury and Allen -- for once in perfect harmony -- responded, "It's a joint responsibility."

Retorted Commissioner Tim Smith, "That means no one has it."
Later, as city and county decided to spend a month seeing if they can work out their 911 differences, Capt. Paul Lauria of the Broward Sheriff's Office reminded them that lives are at stake in this city-county turf battle.

"A lot of the politics that takes place here shapes what we're able to do," Lauria said. "If it's a personality issue, then damn personalities."

And make that a joint responsibility.

Undercurrents wants to know about any and all political deals, media screwups, and particularly dumb memos from bureaucrats. Let us know. Call 954-233-1572, fax 954-233-1571, or e-mail [email protected].

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