John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, Los Angeles-area officials believe that "money makes the monkey dance," and a Georgia mayor struggles to get somebody to pay for his lawsuit.
Welcome back to Officials Gone Wild, our regular series devoted to the crimes, blunders and everyday embarrassments perpetrated by our esteemed municipal leaders (last Monday's edition here):
A REGRETTABLE INSULT, IN GEORGIA
The mayor of Peachtree, near Atlanta, is demanding that taxpayers cover the costs of a lawsuit triggered by his own self-destructive e-mail. Don Haddix got in hot water last year after writing that his predecessor, Mayor Harold Logsdon, “drank a lot and came to meetings part drunk.” That electronic IED quickly entered the public record, spurring Logsdon to sue Haddix for libel in a case that cost Peachtree about $10,000. But the mayor has refused to pay up, saying he sent the missive in an official capacity and thus he should be shielded by insurance. In an effort to reclaim the money, councilmembers recently slashed Haddix's monthly salary from $750 to $75; in response, the mayor has threatened to resign or sue the city.
REEFER SHENANIGANS, IN CALIFORNIA
Three top members of Cudahy City's government just took a tumble after the FBI indicted them on bribery charges. Investigators allege the men took $17,000 in cash in exchange for allowing a medical-marijuana clinic to open in the city, located just southeast of Los Angeles. Facing the unpleasant music are Mayor David Silva, Councilmember Osvaldo Conde and code-enforcement chief Angel Perales, who was secretly recorded telling an FBI informant that "money makes the monkey dance" and "these guys [Conde and Silva] are not your typical... council people. [T]hey’ve dealt with, uh, you know, people that throw money down." The informant also caught Perales ruminating on his dream to open a massage parlor run by a "Korean madam."
A MORGUE MESS, IN ILLINOIS
The CEO of the morgue in Cook County, home of Chicago, is resigning amid an anatomical scandal most foul. Kimberly Jackson will depart her post next month after her staff went public about aging facilities and "sacrilegious" sanitary conditions. Stacks of corpses littered a body cooler – a glut partly caused by the state cutting off funding to bury the poor – and juices oozed out to pool on the floor. Also, untrained forklift drivers crashed into piles of bodies, there were slimy autopsy tools lying everywhere and the air was filled with an "unrelenting stench," according to the Chicago Sun-Times, which called the morgue a "potential breeding ground for a communicable disease nightmare."
Top image: Adriaan Brouwer's "Brawling Peasants," circa 1622, via Wikimedia Commons/public domain.