City Seizes Decaying Bank-Owned House, Gets It Fixed Up

City Seizes Decaying Bank-Owned House, Gets It Fixed Up

The city of Haverhill, Massachusetts has had it with abandoned, vacant buildings, especially those that are now bank-owned due to foreclosure. One three-unit apartment building had vagrants occupying the space, using the floors as a bathroom and turning the building into a biohazard. Having such a “disgusting” building on a main road made no one in the city happy, and the city found a private company to act as a receiver and renovate the building. [More]

T-Mobile Agrees To Show Throttled Users Their Actual Speeds

T-Mobile Agrees To Show Throttled Users Their Actual Speeds

For the last few months, the Federal Communication Commission has been investigating the data-throttling practices of the country’s major mobile carriers. While AT&T doesn’t see the problem, T-Mobile has come to an agreement with the federal regulator, promising to tell customers when they’ve been throttled, and to lead them to an accurate speed test where they can find out what their current speed is. [More]

City Calls Cabinet Full Of Books To Borrow A “Structure,” Makes Family Remove It

City Calls Cabinet Full Of Books To Borrow A “Structure,” Makes Family Remove It

A “Little Free Library” is a small container, often a cabinet, filled with books that passers-by can take, read, and return as they please. They can also donate their own books. There are thousands of these mini-libraries all over the world, but the city of Leawood, Kansas won’t stand for it, and has asked the family to take theirs down. [More]

(Seattle PD)

Maybe it was all of the publicity. Figuring that people ignore flyers and throw them away, but that visitors to Hempfest might pay attention to containers of snack foods, the Seattle Police Department had the idea to distribute mini bags of Doritos with a stickers outlining the basics of current marijuana laws in Washington state. It was a great PR move, and successful: they ran out in ten minutes. [Twitter]

City Claims 80-Year-Old Couple Used 440,000 Gallons Of Water In A Month

City Claims 80-Year-Old Couple Used 440,000 Gallons Of Water In A Month

An 80-year-old California man concedes that it’s entirely possible that he has used 440,000 gallons of water in one month, and that he and his wife really do owe the city $11,000. It’s possible if the city has been pumping dehydrated water into his house. [More]

(Qole Pejorian)

Stinky Drywall Legislation Passes Congress––After Construction Industry Watered It Down

The Drywall Safety Act of 2012 passed Congress on New Year’s Day 2013 and is currently waiting for President Obama’s signature. The purpose of the bill is to keep stinky and hazardous drywall out of American homes. Simple enough. Thanks to the miracle of democracy, the bill has been watered down and gives less power to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and more to the building industry to draw up its own voluntary standards.  [More]

Police Bust Tweens For Operating Unlicensed Lemonade Stand

Police Bust Tweens For Operating Unlicensed Lemonade Stand

It’s the middle of summer, and we all know what that means: adorable kids learning the basics of capitalism by running lemonade stands. Among those basics: you need to lay down a few hundred bucks at City Hall before you even think about buying lemons and paper cups. Three Georgia girls thought they would earn money for a trip to the water park by selling lemonade in their neighborhood. They were successful…until the police chief happened to drive by, and shut them down for selling lemonade without business and food vendors’ licenses totaling $180. [More]

New Jersey Wants To Balance Budget With Your Gift Cards

New Jersey Wants To Balance Budget With Your Gift Cards

What would be even worse than losing the entire stored value of your gift cards after a few years? Having the state seize it as unclaimed property and use your money to pay its bills. [More]

You Can Get Unemployment Payments On A Debit Card That No One Accepts

You Can Get Unemployment Payments On A Debit Card That No One Accepts

Many states no longer issue unemployment checks. You can receive your payments through direct deposit, or using a Visa or Mastercard-branded debit card. That’s the state of affairs in Pennsylvania, where reader Sam lives. He tells Consumerist that this method would be less of a racket for banks and more useful for people on unemployment if there were any places other than fee-happy ATMs that actually accepted the darn things. [More]

Congressional Audit Shows That EnergyStar Label May Be Meaningless

Congressional Audit Shows That EnergyStar Label May Be Meaningless

Does an EnergyStar label change your perception of a product? Maybe it shouldn’t. Last year, an audit showed that Energy Star gave its rating to products that misrepresented their energy usage. This time, auditors posed as companies and submitted completely absurd appliances for EnergyStar ratings, like a gasoline-powered alarm clock the size of a portable generator, and a space heater with a feather duster on top claiming to be an “air purifier.” Is the study meaningless because no actual products were sold, or a warning that the program is sloppy and susceptible to fraud? [More]