Thursday, October 5, 2006

An Odd Number

Posted on Thu, Oct 5, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton this week announced that — somehow — the city had acquired a budget surplus of $31 million.

Something about that particular figure seemed familiar to us, and sure enough, it seems to come up a lot in the news these days.

• Last week, a Cook County (Illinois) grand jury awarded a large settlement to the family of a man who died after a drugstore gave him the wrong prescription. The amount: $31 million.

• Last week, a Chinese food company named the Tiens Group pledged 260 yuan to needy families and organizations in China. 260 yuan equals, yep, $31 million.

• Last week, a Spanish company, Barcelo Hotels and Resorts, recently purchased the luxury hotel in Puerto Vallarta that was used to film the classic Night of the Iquana. Purchase price: exactly $31 million.

• Last week, the U.S. government announced it was giving some rather generous grants to schools in 19 states. The total amount of the grants: $31 million.

• Last week, the Alkek Foundation — which sounds like a branch of the Dharma Initiative from LOST — donated money to Baylor University to fund biomedical research. Albert and Margaret Alkek’s gift: $31 million.

And on and on.

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