BATTLE LINES ON THE ENVIRONMENT
President Reagan waited until after the off-year election to veto legislation that would have strengthened the Clean Water Act. The bill had passed the Senate 96-0 and the House 408-0, and had been endorsed by the Environmental Protection Agency administrator. But last Thursday, the President said no, the measure was too expensive.
Specifically Reagan objected to an $18 billion allocation for sewage-treatment facilities, triple the amount he wanted to spend. The bill earmarked $9.6 billion for treatment-facility grants through 1994 and would have established a revolving fund to aid sewage projects after that. The President wanted federal grants ended in three years. Down the tube with the sewage funds went other provisions of the bill: funding to combat runoff pollution from farms, streets and mines; tighter restrictons on industrial toxics that are transported through sewer lines; increased penalties for polluters. "Unfortunately this bill so far exceeds acceptable levels of intended budgetary commitments that I must withhold my approval," said Reagan.
The environment has long been a bipartisan issue, and the Congressional votes on the Clean Water Act extension were in keeping with this tradition. In vetoing the bill, Reagan, who has dragged his feet on acid rain for six years and has underfunded the EPA, seemed all too willing to draw battle lines. Democratic Senator Daniel Moynihan of New York, who, with the Democrats now taking control of the Senate, will head the Senate Environment Subcommittee on Water Resources, said after the veto, "The President could have avoided a confrontation with the new Congress. Now he has one." Republican Senator Robert Stafford of Vermont, the current chairman of the environment committee, said, "The President was obviously acting on very bad advice. If he was dissatisfied with the cost, then he should wait to see what the Democratic Congress comes up with next year."
The Clean Water Act extension will surely be reintroduced early in the 100th Congress, and with Democrats likely to be less reluctant than Republicans to override Reagan vetoes, the bill may yet be enacted. But it's unfortunate that partisan politics has been introduced into the environmental debate.
DON'T TRY ANY TRICK PLAYS
The sports teams at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City have a suitable nickname—the Bloodhounds.
Larry Ruhf, a 39-year-old psychologist from Belchertown. Mass., recently set a world record by throwing a boomerang that remained aloft for 2 minutes, 31.02 seconds. Ruhf, the 1985 national boomerang champion, did this in a sanctioned tournament in Catskill, N.Y. As for the old official record—1:02.0—"I destroyed it," says Ruhf. "It was almost a miracle. It was almost a perfect boomerang happening. It was magical. It was almost perfect in terms of wind conditions. My brother said it was preordained."
While it's a neat enough trick to keep a boomerang in the air for two-plus minutes, it's an even neater trick to then catch that boomerang, which one must also do to set the maximum time aloft record. When Ruhf gave his boomerang the historic heave, he immediately took off after it. He ran across a field, scooted across an intersection, sprinted between the trestles of a railroad track and finally arrived in a side street nearly a quarter mile from where he had started. "It hovered in front of my eyes for five seconds," he says, "then dropped into my hand like a feather." Almost a miracle? He's being conservative.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Football coach Harley McCullough of Blanchester (Ohio) High has come up with an innovative weapon by resorting to an archaic one. He is reviving the dropkick field goal.
A few weeks ago McCullough noticed senior Rick Rice drop-kicking for excellent distance while "just fooling around" in practice. This technique, which involves dropping the ball and kicking it through the uprights after it has touched the ground, has been pretty much relegated to the fooling-around category since footballs were streamlined in the 1930s. The narrower balls were easier to throw but didn't bounce cleanly. The last pro to drop-kick an extra point was the Chicago Bears' Scooter McLean, who convinced George Halas to let him try one in the 1941 championship-game rout of the New York Giants. In the '40s, collegians Stan Krivik of Notre Dame and Rooster Andrews of Texas were still drop-kicking, but they were relics.
Now comes Rick Rice. McCullough realized that a long dropkick is as good as a punt—if it rolls into the end zone it's brought out to the 20-yard line—and so he allowed Rice to attempt four drop-kicks, including a 55-yarder, in a game against Hamilton Ross High. The long one failed, as did two others that were then brought out to the 20. But a 30-yard attempt went through for a field goal, and Blanchester won 9-6. "It would have been nice," said McCullough, "if we had found out he had this talent earlier."
ONE BARRIER STANDS, ANOTHER FALLS
The Secret Service disclosed last week that one of its agents had been kept from doing her duty at the Burning Tree Country Club because of a long-standing ban on women. Last April the unidentified agent and several male colleagues arrived at Burning Tree, an exclusive club in Bethesda, Md. The Secret Service team wanted to check security prior to the arrival of Australian Prime Minister Robert Hawke, who was to play golf with U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, a Burning Tree member. According to the Secret Service, the gatekeeper, as he does with all approaching women, refused to allow the agent to enter. Protests were made to club officials but to no avail. Burning Tree's sacrosanct maleness was thus preserved, a maleness, by the way, that has recently cost the club a $186,000 land-preservation tax break that the state will restore only if the club admits women.
Meanwhile the New Orleans Athletic-Club, a 110-year-old institution, voted 109-33 last week to finally admit blacks. In 1976 Thomas Perkins, a black member of the Harvard Club of Boston, attempted to enter the NOAC under a reciprocal agreement. Perkins was denied access. He sued in federal court and won $1,000 in damages. The NOAC then canceled its agreements with other clubs that had black members. Those old ties can be reestablished now that the NOAC has finally opened its doors to blacks.
Do you miss the World Series? If Charles Einstein, the editor of the Fireside books of baseball, had his way, the Series might still be in full swing—way, way out West. Einstein's theory is that the Series should take place annually in Hawaii. The weather would be perfect—not just warmer than in Boston and New York in October, but perfect. Most important, television revenue, which dominates baseball's thinking in these matters, wouldn't be affected. A starting time of, say, 2 p.m. in Hawaii—which would give purists their day games—would make for a prime-time 8 p.m. TV start on the East Coast and a 5 p.m. start on the West.
What about the argument that playing in a neutral site would be unfair to loyal local fans who support the team all season? Most loyal fans watch on TV anyway, says Einstein. Besides, the seven-game playoffs now seem to satisfy much of that local postseason hunger.
One other advantage: Many people feel it's unfair and illogical to start the World Series so soon after finishing the league championship. Wouldn't it be better to give both teams a week off to regroup and get their pitching lined up again—to be at a peak when the Series begins? But the way it now stands, you can't push the schedule any further into autumn; there were snow flurries in Boston and New York last week. All the while the teams prepared in Hawaii, attention and suspense would be building. Then, once the Series was under way, there would be no need for travel days and the games could be played one after another, the better to test the teams' depth and balance.
Baseball in Hawaii. According to Einstein, it's as logical as E=MC2.
HANG 10, OR HANG IT ON THE WALL
As the folks at the Michael Kohn Gallery in L.A. explain it, the art exhibit that opened last Saturday "takes the idea of the object—in this case the seductive shape of the surfboard—and attempts to trap the image beneath the fiberglass and resin surface. The pristine quality of the finish thereby heightens the effect of the color and design underneath, and the shape itself becomes a hyper-realization of the art object. [The artists] have developed a visual language based on abstract/geometric design, as well as upon an intensity of color and form."
Yeah, and the boards look cool, too.
The show includes one work by each of six artists who claim an affinity for the "objectness" of a piece of sculpture. The objects in question are real surfboards constructed by Dean Edwards, an L.A. craftsman who has been shaping boards for 20 years. Edwards is one of the six who fashioned the boards into sculptures, the others being Peter Halley, Peter Schuyff, Ashley Bickerton, Kenny Scharf and James Welling. The pieces range from Bickerton's chrome-and-wood creation ("A very serious parody of a surfboard," says Kohn) to Scharf's fiberglass-coated paintings ("Very Californian—He did them on rice paper treated with a special, secret formula") to Welling's black-and-white statement ("It looks like a dalmatian"). The sculptures are for sale—$50,000 for the set and you can throw these bitchin' boards atop your woodie and drive them home. But buyer beware: While four are usable in the surf, two are not seaworthy.
THEY SAID IT
•LaVell Edwards, BYU football coach and one of 14 children: "They can't fire me because my family buys too many tickets."
•Butch Goring, after being sacked last week as coach of the Boston Bruins: "I've never had free time in November before, never in my life.... Maybe I'll play some hockey."