N.Y. town would let seniors

work off their property taxes

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Audrey Davison lives alone, gets a $620 Social Security check each month and worries about the sharply rising taxes on her four-bedroom house. Davison, 76, raised her family there and after 43 years, she really doesn't want to leave Greenburgh.

Greenburgh doesn't want her to leave, either. The town is pushing a program that would let seniors work part-time, for $7 an hour, to help pay off some of their property taxes.

"People shouldn't have to sell their house, move away to a place with less taxes, leave behind their family and friends," said Town Supervisor Paul Feiner.

He envisions retired doctors mentoring schoolchildren, retired accountants helping with the town's finances, retired lawyers offering their services for a discount. But there are plenty of less-skilled jobs.

"It's not like we're going to see grandma running the snowplow," he said. "There are lots of things people can do for the town and it wouldn't cost us that much to pay them."

Financial markets struggling,

but art sells at sky-high prices

NEW YORK - Art is hot.

Despite turmoil in the financial markets, there are no signs that the art market is softening.

The fall auction season in New York saw robust prices across most categories, with postwar and contemporary works in particular going through the roof.

The reason? The weak dollar, expanding world wealth and new buyers from countries not previously associated with the art collecting community, experts say. Over the last five years, wealthy buyers from Russia, China, India and the Middle East have helped fuel the art market.

An Andy Warhol painting sold for more than $71 million in a May auction that brought in a total of nearly $385 million. A Matisse fetched more than $33.6 million in a November sale that also took in nearly $400 million. A limestone lion sculpture that measures 3 1/4 inches hauled in $57 million earlier this month.

The art market hasn't been immune to turbulence. Sotheby's suffered a lackluster modern and impressionist sale in November in which Van Gogh's "The Fields," estimated at $28 million to $35 million, failed to sell and many other works sold below estimates.

Slogan of graduating cops is

traumatic for academy brass

BOISE, Idaho - A police academy leader has disavowed the slogan of the most recent graduating class urging one another to "go out and cause" post-traumatic stress disorder.

Each class at the Idaho Police Officer Standards and Training Academy is allowed to choose a slogan that is printed on its graduation programs, and the class of 43 graduates came up with "Don't suffer from PTSD, go out and cause it."

According to the Veterans Association, tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers suffer from PTSD, which causes nightmares, flashbacks and physical symptoms that make sufferers feel as if they are reliving trauma, even many years later. Crime, accidents and other trauma can cause it in civilians.

Academy director Jeff Black said the class president was ex-military, and that the slogan "slipped in."

Post-mortem greeting cards

show a grave sense of humor

ASHLAND, Ore. - Even in death, Chet Fitch is a card.

Fitch, known for his sense of humor, died in October at age 88 but gave his friends and family a start recently: Christmas cards, 34 of them, began arriving - written in his hand with a return address of "Heaven."

The mailing was a joke Fitch worked on for two decades with his barber, Patty Dean, 57. She told the Ashland Daily Tidings that he kept updating the mailing list and giving her extra money when postal rates went up. This fall, she said, Fitch looked up to her from the chair.

"You must be getting tired of waiting to mail those cards," he told her. "I think you'll probably be able to mail them this year."

He died a week later.

Tiger escapes from S.F. Zoo, killing 1 and injuring 2

SAN FRANCISCO - A tiger escaped from its cage at the San Francisco Zoo yesterday, killing one visitor and injuring two others, police said.

The tiger was shot to death when it started moving toward a group of approaching police officers, said police spokesman Sgt. Steve Mannina. Several officers shot it with handguns, he said.

The attack happened outside a cafe at the east end of the zoo shortly after the 5 p.m. closing time.

- Daily News wire services