John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The crimes, blunders and everyday embarrassments of our esteemed municipal leaders.
Welcome back to Officials Gone Wild, our new regular series devoted to the crimes, blunders and everyday embarrassments perpetrated by our esteemed municipal leaders (last Monday's edition here):
PUBLIC NUDITY, IN COLORADO
It can take a lot to dislodge a bureaucrat from his post. Getting caught naked in public usually does the trick, though. Last week, Theron LaFountain quit his job as general manager of the convention center in Grand Junction, near the border of Utah, after police found him walking around in the buff at a Greyhound bus station. (Which is pretty much business as usual at most Greyhound stations, right?) KREX News has the details:
Greyhound customers told police that Lafountain had passed out on a bench in the lobby and then headed to the restrooms, only to return back to the lobby without clothes on.
When police arrived, they found Lafountain sitting on the floor of the women's restroom, naked, with a pile of clothes next to him.
According to police documents, Lafountain was incoherent and smelled of alcohol. Lafountain was cited for indecent exposure and served with a summons, but he refused to sign it.
To compound this mystery, The Daily Sentinel reports that when police asked the GM why he was naked, he "claimed unknown people had stripped him of his clothes." A city spokeswoman said LaFountain resigned for "personal reasons," which is too bad, because a guy who knows how to megaparty like this really does seem qualified for an events-planning gig.
PET-HEALTH FORGERY, IN TEXAS
The puppy-breeding business of Carol Houlihan full-on hit a fire hydrant recently, when police learned that the former Reno City mayor and councilwoman had been forging certificates of health for her mail-order mutts. Normally, a veterinarian would sign such a certificate, but to “expedite the shipping process" Houlihan just scribbled in the name of a local vet without informing the good doctor of that fact.
Such shenanigans happen to violate Texas law, and Houlihan has stepped down from public office citing legal and family issues. With her resignation, the Fort Worth-area city loses perhaps its one source of Portuguese podengos, a hunting breed that looks like a squished-down wolf. The former lawmaker blames the whole mess on "a setup" involving rival dog breeders, and calls the legally required vet's certificate a "technicality" that "really doesn't mean anything."
WITNESS INTIMIDATION, IN MISSISSIPPI
One of the longest-serving mayors in this Southern state is now serving hard time after admitting that he coerced an inmate to lie about having sex with him. Grady Sims had served as mayor of Walnut Grove; he was also prison warden at a local penitentiary, and that's where the trouble began. According to the FBI, Sims picked up a booty call from the cellblock and proceeded to get it on at a motel. When investigators got wind of it, the mayor ordered her to tell them it was just platonic. At his sentencing hearing, where he received seven months in the clink for witness intimidation, Sims said that he had "been a Christian for many years and I fell away from God," but that later, "I came back to God."