Q: I read a letter to the editor last Sunday regarding a petition to name the proposed St. Clair County site for the NGA “The Barack H. Obama National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Facility West.” I went to the website and was unable to find the petition. Could you find the name of the petition? I am hoping that signing it will help sway the powers-that-be to bring it to Illinois.
Kaye, of Collinsville
A: Looking for the best way to promote the relocation of NGA to the East Side, Mike Gibson, of Belleville, figured you couldn’t do better than starting a petition drive on the White House’s own website.
It’s called We the People, and it’s billed as “a new, easy way for Americans to make their voice heard in our government.” Anyone 13 and older can use it to create and sign petitions calling for the federal government to act on any issue (with limitations) facing the nation. If a petition receives at least 100,000 signatures, it will be reviewed by White House staff, who promise to send a written response.
Being a first-time user, Mike apparently was not fully aware of all the details needed to get his issue seen. Until a petition receives 150 signatures, it is not listed among the 65 or so active petitions that show up when you initially search the website for “Open Petitions.” So instead of going to https://petitions.whitehouse.gov (do NOT use www), you have to use the exact URL address of his petition — http://wh.gov/if3Mr
There you will find his petition titled as he described it.
“By signing this petition, we will suggest naming the site after our most famous former Senator and current President,” the petition states. “This action, if approved, would unite liberals and conservatives in the fight to bring these jobs to St. Clair County, which is the logical (i.e., not political) location for this facility.
“The St. Louis site will force homeowners from their property by eminent domain, a truly un-American process!” he concludes.
If you agree, you’re asked to type your first and last name, email address and Zip code.
I suppose the president’s men can separate the wheat from the chaff, but I initially wondered how seriously they might take these things. Just look at some of the earth-shattering issues currently fighting for attention there (and I’m not making these up):
Help get the SMU Mustangs into the NCAA Tournament. (5,220 signatures)
Support an X-rated version of “Deadpool” (a movie blocked by China). (668 signatures)
Change the U.S. national anthem to “The Imperial March” from “Star Wars” (217 signatures)
Host a “Stop White Genocide” Beer Summit at the White House to keep Donald Trump and the Southern Poverty Law Center on message. (172 signatures).
The NGA decision, of course, is a truly serious matter, but time is of the essence. For Gibson’s petition to be reviewed by the White House, it needs 99,999 more signatures by Feb. 27 or else it will be removed. Good luck, Mike.
Q: Recently, I caught the tail end of a news item on KSDK-TV in which they said one of their newspeople had taken a leave of absence. I missed the name. Who was it?
C.F., of Belleville
Q: What has happened to Kay Quinn on KSDK-TV, Channel 5? I have not seen her recently.
T.G., of Fairview Heights
A: I’ve combined these two questions into one, so you can probably guess the answer. The station tells me that Quinn, who joined KSDK in 1989, started an indefinite medical leave of absence about three weeks ago. They provided no additional details, and her Twitter, Facebook and station blogs offer no clue as to the reason.
Q: Back in the ’50s and early ’60s, if you took a date to St. Louis to see a movie (because they came out there two weeks-plus before Belleville) and you walked down the sidewalk between the Fox and the Missouri theaters, there was a guy set up with a camera who would take your picture as you walked along. As you passed, he gave you a card with his name, phone number and picture number on it. You could then call and buy a copy of the picture if you wanted to share. Could this even be done now? Would not someone sue for invasion of privacy or some other stupid reason?
Tom Galloway, of Belleville
A: You’ve heard of starving artists? Well, if you tried that today, I think you’d probably wind up as one famished photographer.
According to Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, I still have the right to take anyone’s picture on a public sidewalk. If you’re headed to the Fox or Powell Hall, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy, so you can ask that I not take a picture but I don’t have to agree to your request (unless I’m afraid of winding up with a black eye).
I would argue the point is now moot. Sixty years ago, nobody lugged around a camera and flash everywhere. Now almost anyone can snap a selfie — or ask someone to take a photo for you — anywhere anytime with a phone that fits in your pocket. In fact, I have a friend who takes pictures of himself in front of every Broadway show he attends around the country to post on Facebook. A photographer asking to take one for money would find himself as lonesome as that Maytag repairman.
What elaborate confection did St. Bride’s Church in London inspire?
Answer to Wednesday’s trivia: Incredible but true: The earliest known vending machine was built sometime in the first century A.D. by Hero of Alexandria, a well-known engineer who designed it to dispense holy water. When an ancient Greek coin was deposited, it fell upon a pan attached to a lever, according to the December 2006 issue of Smithsonian Magazine. The weight of the coin caused the pan to tilt and activate the lever, which opened a valve that allowed some of the water from the pan to flow out. Eventually, the coin fell off the pan, at which point a counterweight snapped the lever back up, turning off the flow of water until the next worshiper came along.