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By Frank Thomas Croisdale

Is there another month on the calendar quite like November? Jam-packed with Veterans Day celebrations, elections, Thanksgiving Day family reunions and Black Friday out-of-control shopping sprees, the 11th month is deserving of an 11th anniversary, and we've got just the thing to honor it properly.

As is tradition, we pause to mention those worthy of being honored as part of the 11th Annual Croisdale Turkey Carcass Awards.

As most of you know, the Turkey Carcass is awarded to those who have publicly embarrassed themselves with criminal or blatantly outlandish behavior. The winners will be presented with a nearly picked-clean Thanksgiving turkey -- much like the one currently taking up roost in your refrigerator.

First category: Hollywood celebrities (The Jacko Wacko Memorial Award)

Second runner-up: Crystal Harris

Beautiful blonde 20-something model falls in love with wrinkled 85-year-old mansion-dweller with a penchant for wearing silk pajamas in public, and wedding bells are soon cued up to ring. It sounds crazy, I know, but with a billion-dollar empire as an equalizer, just such a coupling did happen between the sexy Crystal Harris and Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner.

Only something funny happened on the way to the altar -- Ms. Harris realized that she was signing up to bang a guy who could have gone to school with her great-granddad for all eternity. So she did about the only decent thing she could under the circumstances -- she bailed, 24 hours before the wedding.

When asked why she declined to be the centerfold of the Playboy universe, the sultry temptress decided to kiss and tell, and said that sex with Hef lasted for "like, two seconds."

Seriously, Crystal, think of the alternative.

Runner-up: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Most people felt that Arnold hit the love jackpot when he met and married Maria Shriver and hitched his political star to the great Kennedy family tree. Little did any of us know that when the lovely Maria stepped out for a trip to the grocery store, Arnold was pumping his iron into the homestead's cleaning woman, Mildred Patricia "Patty" Baena.

To make matters worse for Maria, Patty has what one might delicately describe as a "cleaning woman's sense of style," meaning that Arnold didn't pick her out for her smoking good looks. Add the fact that messed-up-beyond-comprehension actress Brigitte Nielsen also claimed to have polished the Schwarzenegger family jewels while Arnold was married, and it was a no-brainer for Maria to head to divorce court and become the Terminator.

Hey, Arnold, put a governor on that thing, will ya?

The Carcass goes to ... Charlie Sheen

Talk about a fall from the mountain top. Charlie Sheen was the No. 1 draw on the No. 1 comedy on television. He was raking in money like the federal government on tax day. He had beautiful women in every port and his future seemed as bright as a supernova.

Then, quicker than you can say, "Adonis DNA," it all came unwound. There was the rampant drug use that left him looking like a guy who had smoked more meals than he'd eaten for a long, long time. There were the porn actresses he moved into his house and dubbed "The Goddesses." There was the sordid firing from "Two and a Half Men" and the avalanche of barbs flung his way by the late-night TV hosts.

When the dust had all settled, Ashton Kutcher had taken his show and The Goddesses went back to spreading to put a spread on the table. Charlie may have a second act in him if he can get his Tiger's blood clean, but until he does, one thing is certain -- he's definitely not "winning."

Second category: Sports figures

Second runner-up: Mario Balotelli, Manchester City Striker

Americans foolishly think that we have the craziest athletes on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. They'd know better if they studied the life of 21-year-old soccer star Mario Balotelli.

Consider this, Balotelli has added these glorious achievements to his resume over the past 12 months: He took out an opposing player with a karate kick, threw darts at a group of youth players, and set fire to his house when he and some friends decided to shoot fireworks into the night air from an open window.

Even as I write these words, a new report has just surfaced that police were called to Balotelli's home when neighbors mistook him for a burglar. Some players merely play the game affectionately known worldwide as football -- Mario really gets a kick out of it!

Runner-up: Manny Ramirez, Professional Baseball Player

Manny, Manny, Manny ... what went right for the big slugger in 2011? The short answer is this -- nothing!

The aging batsman signed a $2 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays and retired after just five games where he went a paltry 1 for 17 at the plate.

It was soon found out that Manny had tested positive for a banned substance, and due to his status as a repeat offender he would have to serve a 100-day MLB suspension. To compound matters, in September, Manny was arrested and charged with domestic battery after a disturbance with his wife.

It may or may not be true that one scout quipped, "That's not what I meant when I wondered if Manny could still hit."

The Carcass goes to ... Jerry Sandusky/Joe Paterno (tie), Penn State Football

Whoda thunk it? JoePa was as beloved a man as major college sports has ever known. The Sandusky child-sex scandal is so sick that snarky one-liners seem inappropriate, so I'll just wish him a speedy trial and a long sentence served where he is the one in the shower with is hands on the wall and a dominating presence ruining his future looming over him from behind.

Paterno is another matter. As far as we know now, he didn't actually have proof that Sandusky was abusing children, but he surely had deep suspicions. The fact that he turned a blind eye is akin to what the Catholic Church routinely did by sending pedophile priests to a new parish where they could terrorize a fresh set of trusting young souls.

JoePa deserved the unceremonious exit he was granted, and the students and faculty at Penn State deserve a whole lot better than what he afforded them when he should have stood tall for the smallest members of his community.

Third category: Criminals

Second runner-up: Whitley Allen Teslow, Cedar Falls, Iowa

We've all been there: It's after 4 a.m. and you've been out on the town pulling corks from bottles like they're going out of style when suddenly you realize, "For heaven's sake, I'm really hungry."

So you head over to the local Mickey D's, only to find that Ronald and the crew have closed up -- the nerve of that burger-peddling clown! Now, most of us would head on home to sleep it off, but not Mr. Teslow.

No, the Warburg College student smashed the drive-through window, climbed into the closed McDonald's and cooked himself some hamburgers and fries in his own drunken version of a Happy Meal.

Teslow, dubbed the "Hamburglar" by police, turned himself in after security footage of his meaty caper was released to the public. So far there is no confirmation that the retired Officer Big Mac made the arrest.

Runner-up: Elizabeth Kidd. San Jose, Calif.

It's been widely reported that Americans don't know their neighbors the way they used to in days gone by. Elizabeth Kidd is sure proof of that sentiment.

Police accuse the 36-year-old of swiping a designer purse and pair of shoes off her neighbor's doorstep and promptly placing them for sale online.

The neighbor spotted her stolen purse listed for $1,400 and set up a meeting to "buy" it back. She then contacted the police. The fuzz nabbed Kidd, who tried to convince them that the items had been gifted to her, and the stolen items were returned to the grateful neighbor.

Hey, Elizabeth, stealing purses just ain't your bag.

The Carcass goes to ... Kevin Daly, Coram, N.Y.

What could be worse than getting charged with DWI?

No, wait, what could be worse than getting charged with DWI after crashing your car into a police cruiser?

Getting charged with DWI after crashing your car into a police cruiser while wearing an "I'm a drunk" tee-shirt, that's what!

Twenty-three-year-old Daly, not surprisingly unemployed, did just that early this month in the sleepy Suffolk County town of Coram at 1:45 a.m. The arresting officer noted that the full message on his shirt read, "I'm not an alcoholic -- I'm a drunk. Alcoholics go to meetings."

Hey, Kevin, you know who else has to attend scheduled meetings? Convicted felons!

Our final category: Local turkeys

Second runner-up: Chris Collins, Outgoing Erie County Executive

How do you lose an election when you did just about everything you promised to voters when you were elected to office in the last election? Collins held spending and taxes, grew the job base, and made Erie County stronger during his tenure as the man in charge.

So why did voters ashcan him in favor of the bland Mark Poloncarz? Because Collins came off as arrogant and brash, that's why, and in blue-collar Western New York that's an unpardonable sin.

So goodbye, Chris, maybe you can take that act to Albany, but you just couldn't buffalo the good people of Buffalo.

Runner-up: David Broderick, Former Niagara County Treasurer

This is how the Tonawanda News described Broderick's misdeeds back in July when he agreed to pay $17,000 in a plea deal he struck with the New York State Attorney General's Office that neither admits nor denies his guilt, but bars him from seeking any future government employment.

"Broderick, who served for 30 years as county treasurer, resigned in January 2010 amid questions about his dealings as public administrator of estates, including his decision to allow his wife, local realtor Joan Broderick, to participate in the marketing and sale of properties under his watch. The $17,000 contained in the so-called Notice of Discontinuance between Broderick and the attorney general's office includes $10,000 in commissions earned by his wife while she operated under 'exclusive right to sell contracts' with the treasurer's office between 2003 and 2009. It also includes $3,000 earned by his wife's real estate firm under similar property sales arrangements during the same time period. All funds will be remitted to the county."

Graft and nepotism are two sins that have kept our region down for decades. Broderick should be ashamed that he allowed his greed to tarnish his many years of service and his good name with the people of Niagara County.

The Carcass goes to ... John and Jane Taxpayer, City of Niagara Falls

Nobody gets shafted harder than the fewer and fewer people "honored" with the burden of sustaining the tax base in the Cataract City.

Think about it -- with an unemployment rate that dwarfs the national average, a poverty rate that is so high it's nearly unbelievable, and a property value rate that is as low as it is anywhere in America, why would anyone want to be among the few working stiffs here in Niagara Falls?

To make matters worse, your tax dollars get to fund an outdoor winter market that is a crapshoot at best, a concert series that is a slap in the face to local concert promoters, and a public works department that can't seem to get potholes filled with any sense of urgency.

Oh, and you also get to foot the bill for police and fire coverage of the Seneca casino, while the nation holds your slot machine windfall for years, while the city tries to figure out how to rob Peter to pay Paul.

Sometimes I think that the city crest should be a silhouette of a taxpayer bending over and holding his ankles.

Well, maybe this is the year it turns around and the good people here are treated like proud and patriotic eagles instead of turkeys. Let's hope, anyway.

Congratulations to all of this year's Turkey Carcass Award winners. As always, we raise a wishbone in your honor, and clutching the big piece, wish all of you a future lived in total obscurity. Amen.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com Nov. 29, 2011