Government in Action 

Small-Town Mayors: For three weeks in September, budget-conscious Mayor Sallie Peake of Wellford, S.C., barred the police from chasing perpetrators of crimes in progress, even if officers drove at the speed limit. Officers were instructed, instead, to arrest suspects later in their homes. (The mayor, under siege, rescinded the policy on Sept. 24.)

Mayor Stu Rasmussen, 61, of Silverton, Ore., elected last year even though he dresses openly as a woman, drew criticism from officials of a community group in July when he addressed students while wearing a miniskirt and a swimsuit top. Critics suggested he should dress at least in "professional" women's clothes when speaking to youth groups.

New York City, which is sued more than 1,000 times a year, has a policy of settling some lawsuits quickly to avoid the risk of expensive judgments. The New York Daily News reported in October that more than 20 lawsuits, going back several years, were filed by members of the East 21st Street Crew (a well-known Brooklyn gang notorious for selling crack cocaine), and that the city has settled every time, paying out more than $500,000. The "civil rights" lawsuits were over possibly illegal searches and for criminal charges that the city later dismissed.

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