John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
A roundup of the latest crimes, blunders and everyday embarrassments perpetrated by our esteemed municipal leaders.
Welcome back to Officials Gone Wild, an occasional roundup of the crimes, blunders and everyday embarrassments perpetrated by our esteemed municipal leaders (last edition here):
TROUBLE AT THE DIRTY MARTINI, IN FLORIDA
A former mayor enjoyed a typical Florida night recently by punching a rival in the neck and tussling on the floor of a gin joint that serves a cocktail called The Charlie Sheen, according to police accounts. The kerfuffle began at a cigar bar when the girlfriend of Martin Millar, the 66-year-old ex-mayor of South Palm Beach, walked off with an anonymous man. Upset, the spurned pol tailed the couple to a lounge called The Dirty Martini, reports CBS12, where he allegedly surprised the Casanova by chopping him in the neck with a flashlight.
When police came, Millar was rolling on the floor and saying that he was the one attacked. He later read the Miranda Rights back to the arresting officer and threatened to "Signal 5" the other man, which is "murder" in cop-speak. The incident, which Millar denies was an attack, adds to the one-time mayor's colorful political record. In 2009, he got in hot water for using his position to intimidate the manager of a strip club, who had kicked him out for shining a flashlight on the dancers. (Millar never leaves home without his trusty flashlight.) Millar agreed to pay a $3,000 fine for ethical violations and retire as mayor. As he explained at the time, "Politics is not my forte."
KILOS OF COKE TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IN MICHIGAN
If you're busted with a load of cocaine that turns out to be fake, is it still a crime? It most definitely is, as former Pontiac City councilman Everett Seay recently found out. The feds have indicted Seay on drug and bribery charges after the career politician was allegedly caught transporting bogus yayo, reports the Detroit Free Press.
Seay stumbled into his current predicament after making contact in 2008 with a Chicago businessman who wanted to set up a money-laundering business in Pontiac. In return for his political help, investigators say, the then-councilman took in $25,000 in bribes from the man who, of course, was actually an FBI snitch. Perhaps because they really wanted to teach Pontiac a lesson, the government then got their informant to tell Seay he wanted to traffic some cocaine, too. That led to the councilman accepting $15,000 more to help move 16 kilos of "coke" at an airport, the FBI alleges.
Seay's lawyer claims that his client was set up, and that the bribes were in fact a contribution to his mayoral campaign.
MAYOR BACKS SNATCH-AND-GRAB TEAMS, IN SPAIN
The mayor of the Spanish hamlet of Marinaleda has become a national folk hero for his encouragement of looting. Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, who manages his town (and his facial hair) as a socialist experiment, orchestrated two different supermarket heists this summer. Although he did not actively participate, he stood in the parking lot giving support while labor activists piled shopping carts with food and left without paying. This Robin-Hoodesque thievery is a necessary response to Spain's economic crisis, he explained to Reuters:
"They say I'm dangerous. And the bankers who are let off for fraud? That's not dangerous? The banks which borrow from the ECB for 1 percent then resell that debt to Spaniards for 6 percent - they're not dangerous?"
Gordillo is free to engage is such illegal acts thanks to something called "parliamentary immunity." (Spain may want to look into the laws on that.) And the grocery heists were just the beginning of his campaign of civil unrest. According to press accounts, Gordillo plans to go around the country in the coming months telling civic leaders to not pay their debts, stop evicting non-paying homeowners and brush off government requests for budget cuts.
Top image courtesy of Scott Davidson on Flickr.