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  Spring Fling II: Mayors' Ball
 
Time: An imaginary midnight right now.

Place: The Wastewater Lagoon, a cocktail lounge in Hotel HUDbuk, in the downtown heart of BIDCity, USA. Outside the Wastewater's floor to ceiling windows, the revitalized streets are empty, except for the occasional group of roving chug-a-lugs. Inside the lounge all is hub bub: the annual meeting of the Confab of U.S. Mayors is being held at the hotel and after a long day of con-fabbing, participants have adjourned to the bar. Round after round of free drinks are hoisted and talk turns whazzup.

"Damn" says one high powered leader of a post industrial wasteland "if April wasn't the cruelest month."

"How so, Joe?" responds a fellow urban visionary as he pushes back his slipping rug and lifts his glass. The bar stool groans beneath him as the full weight of countless courtesy meals bears down.

Joe answers, saying well, for one thing, in late April Mayor Marty Barnes of Paterson, New Jersey took a hit of 37 months on some crummy corruption charges. The judge threw the sentencing book at ol' Marty. Claiming he wasn't remorseful enough for raking in the graft. Hell, what's Marty got to be sorry about? So Paterson is among the poorest, most crime ridden towns in Jersey-- poor folk like to see their leaders living large. Big deal about the waterfall and pool in his backyard. If some sewer contractor wants to put 'em in for free so be it. Ditto with the custom suits. As for those hookers Marty partied with while on city vendor funded trips to Brazil, hasn't Judge Goody Good ever heard the term "working girls?" Marty was just providing jobs jobs jobs.

"While getting a few himself" cracks a wit from Wisconsin.

After the haw haws die down, a side of beef with gimlet eyes asks where the hell is Sara Bost, Mayor of Irvington, New Jersey. "I was hoping she'd pat me down" sez he, twirling his swizzle stick twixt thumb and forefinger. Comes the answer that news on Boss Bost is bad too. On April 23rd, she admitted she attempted to "corruptly persuade" a federal witness; an employee turned rat by the feds. Back when Ratboy and Sara hashed things over in her car, the mayoress (who claims she only slipped sideways once) searched him for a wire like a pro. "She'll probably just get probation" says Guy of Guyana, doing the positive spin thing. Guy's not a mayor, but a mascot. Of the real estate variety.

"Yeah" says Side of Beef "but it still means another ex mayor."

A pall falls over the room. The spirits of the departed seem to hover. "I miss Cianci" says a noted New Urbanist from North California. Adding: "I still say the kinds of charges that nailed him are just part of being a mayor."

"Expletive A!" agrees a Connecticut contractor from Mayor Ganim's court: "Bridgeport, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island - those cities were in the toilet before Joe Ganim and Buddy Cianci came along. They made 'em golden! And what did they get for it? Expletive extortion charges! Expletive jail time!"

"Remember when Ganim and Bridgeport got the Livable City thing?" says a hatchet faced blonde in a pants suit, mayor of a small city south of Krakatoa, Illinois. "I nearly busted a gut! The only time I laughed harder was when I heard about Mayor Phil Giordano of Waterbury, Connecticut bucking for an appointment with the U.S. Department of Education. Say what you will about the kiddie raper- he sure had moxie!"

"And a great hairpiece" opines the pol with the slipping rug and groaning stool "I wish I knew where he bought it."

"Bought it?" Hatchet Face double takes. "What burg are you from, man? Wake up and fondle the graft. Once you're a mayor you never buy anything. Other people buy YOU."

Laughter all around and the mood lightens. Side of Beef has a story to share. About how the new mayor of Providence says you actually gotta do something for urban neighborhoods-- like take care of basic services, not just wave your arms around and be a cheerleader.

Hatchet Face winks a thickly mascared eye "Isn't the new mayor's father an attorney whose prime clients are connected? In the classic sense? Anyway, who doesn't say that kind of stuff in the first term..I know I did."

"Yeah" says Joe "And I ran against the machine. Lemme see, that was 18, no 20 years ago."

By now they're rolling. Groaning Stool wants to prove he's no babe in the crooked woods, so he cracks wise about mining HUD's bottomless pit and staging phony public input sessions for development projects. A Midwestern mayor on loan from his home in Boca Raton, riffs on kickbacks from rubber stamp consultants and mega property flips that turn crony owned slum nabes golden. Straw buyers and deadmen make the best constituents, sez he. But what really gets the room roaring is when a mayor from upstate New York does a concerned citizen imitation, wearing a mock serious face while whining: Can't you at least sweep the streets? And how about drug crime? "When they come out with that one I always say government can't do everything. We need your help. We need your eyes and ears. So keep phoning in those drug tips--"

"Forever!" Side of Beef steals the punchline amidst guffaws.

The drug tip talk sends some revelers on a trip to the john, where the scene almost turns ugly as custom suits jockey for stalls. But then someone shouts "Hey, look at this". There, on one stall wall, carved in knotty pine sheet rock in great staggering letters, are the words-- Mayor Miltan Milan of Camden, New Jersey was hear[sic]. The Connecticut Contractor inhales sharply. "Expletive!" his tone is awed "Expletive Milan!" Groaning Stool looks puzzled. Seeing it, Side of Beef tells the tale of how the mighty Milan turned Camden's City Hall into Drug Central. "He was cutting deals from behind his desk". Even Hatchet Face waxes reverential. Saying that what Milan did to his office, topped what Phil Giordano did to his carpet, or what Mayor Jerry McCann did to his drawers when Jersey City voters heaved him out back in 92.

"Hey guys I got an idea!" After missing a beat on Milan, Groaning Stool is even more anxious to prove himself. "Let's get this stall declared historic!"

Jeers greet him. "What's in it for me?" comes the chorus. This ain't my city says Hatchet Face. Expletive expletive expletive says the contractor from Conn. But Side of Beef looks thoughtful. "Wait a minute--Stool's gotta a point. How 'bout this. What if we say Milan hit a stall in all our cities.."

"A tourist trail of historic stalls!" another mayor grasps the vision. "Could mean major federal dollars!" sings out someone else. Hatchet Face, whose unemployed cousin carves all kinds of things on restroom walls, begins to see the possibilities. She slaps Groaning Stool on the back and offers him a hit from her custom crack pipe, a gift from a campaign contributor in the rehab game. The group troops back to the bar in high good humor.

"Look at it this way" shouts Side of Beef, his eyes dancing like drops of grease on a griddle, "If any more of us go down we'll just change our name to the Confab of U.S. EX Mayors!"

"Expletive A!" says the Connecticut contractor "Doing expletive business under another expletive name can be expletive helpful. Take it from me."

"We always do" says Hatchet Face.

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff

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Copyright (c) 2003 by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff. This material may be freely distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License. This license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on this Content, that the resultant work will be made available under the Open Publication License as well.


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