Probe: Feb. 25, 2002

February 25, 2002

QUESTION: When my mom and my sister went to a casino to gamble, my sister won some money. She saved it to gamble later. When the slot machine refused to take the $100, my mom took it to the cashier's window to change it.

The cashier told her the bill was counterfeit. She got the bill at the casino. My mom said she was so humiliated that she will never go there again.

Obviously, businesses have a way of checking bills to make sure they are not counterfeit. I told my mom that if she wins again to make sure the bills are checked. I am not sure the casino will do that.

Is there any advice you can give to the average consumer to avoid being stuck with a bogus bill? — Victim's Mom, Calexico


Most merchants can't tell a fake bill from a good one. Those pencils that leave a mark that's supposed to change colors on a fake bill don't work. Even banks end up with a bogus currency now and then.

It does not seem unreasonable to us that a machine, even a slot machine, could be designed to reject funny money.

You can do what merchants do: refuse to take $100 bills. You see signs up all over the place saying bills bigger than $20 won't be accepted.

Counterfeiters favor big bills because they don't have to unload so many of them to collect a wad of real money.

That doesn't mean you won't end up with a phony $20 now and then, but at least your loss will be smaller.

QUESTION: Ed Woeten knows the difference between autism, Down's syndrome and all the other defects of mentally challenged children. He also knows the crime of drug abuse and what it does to the unborn child.

However, the furor that has arisen over his letter from all the parents of the special education parent should be a wake-up call to the parents of average children.

The laws that were passed in the 1980s for the benefit of special education children have dramatically altered public education. The average child is the one paying the price. Pay attention parents, or your child will be left out in the cold! — Alert, Brawley

We can't argue with your notion that parents should get organized and pay attention to their schools. As Mark Twain noted of the weather, everybody talks about education but nobody does much about it.

Why are we going so far afield in this discussion? The Imperial teacher said he substituted in a special education class, not a class for "average" children. It costs more to educate handicapped children. Health care costs more for sick children. But some costs we just have to bear.

Why is everybody jumping on Woeten? We don't even know what special education class he was referring to. Maybe it was full of drug babies and it ripped his heart out.

Why, in defending Woeten, are his advocates jumping on special education children? He didn't say too much money was being spent on them. He said some suffered from the ravages of drugs consumed by their irresponsible drug using mothers.

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