5 Local Officials Who Went Mad With Power
We don't know if you've noticed, but lately it seems like some of our world leaders are just a smidge ... utterly incompetent and unhinged. But as anyone who has ever had to deal with a local public official can tell you, most civil servants don't need anywhere near absolute power to be corrupted absolutely. For example ...
A Turkish Mayor Was Sued For Erecting A Giant Robot Statue
If you asked a seven-year-old what they'd do if they were in charge of your town, you'd probably get some delightfully unrealistic answers like "Replace all the drinking water with chocolate milk" or "Quarantine all girls" or "Invest more in the education budget so my teachers don't have to work three jobs." But in some parts of the world, that exact kind of thinking will get you elected. Like in Turkey, where the capital city's leader promised to put up statues of things you'd find doodled in the margins of a grade-schooler's homework.
In 2015, Ankara Mayor Melih Gokcek was riding high. His shady "prestige project," a weird theme park called Ankapark, was about to open despite protests by the Turkish Chamber of Architects and Engineers. To celebrate this, he did something that is both provably awesome and objectively irresponsible: He erected a 20-foot statue of what appears to be a Transformer.
"City construction funds, misappropriate and ROLL OUT!"
The statue (which the mayor openly called a Transformer, but isn't, for copyright purposes) was so dumb that most people figured it had to be an April Fool's joke. But then the statue outlasted its welcome and citizens started to complain, to which Mayor Gokcek replied that they had to "respect the robot." Going all John Connor, the Chamber of Architects and Engineers did the exact opposite and sued the mayor on account of having "wasted taxpayer money."
Meanwhile, the prestigious Ankapark's opening was pushed back into the next year to wait for all the bad PR to blow over. Faced with such savage, unreasonable adversity, the mayor announced on social media that he would remove the robot ... and replace it with a giant T-Rex instead.
A Judge Got Into An Absurdly Childish Insult Contest With A Defendant
"I'll bet everybody enjoys sucking your cock," wasn't a compliment that accused murderer Denver Fenton Allen expected to receive during his court hearing, but that's only part of the brutal roast that erupted between him and Floyd County Judge Bryant Durham. Allen kicked things off by refusing to acknowledge the trial because he claimed his public lawyer was withholding information until the convict gave him oral sex. While that sounds like pretty standard crazy talk from a killer, it seemingly struck a nerve with Judge Durham, who proceeded to trade insults with Allen as if they were in a playground fight.
The exchange was so absurdly profane that Justin Roiland, creator and main voice actor of Rick And Morty, figured it deserved his patented touch, and he performed the entire transcript like it was a deleted scene from the cartoon.
Despite using slurs and blatantly admitting he was going to torch Allen's ass during the trial, Judge Durham wasn't disbarred for his supremely un-judge-like behavior. He only got a slap on the wrist. Meanwhile, Allen confessed to the murder, but changed his defense to an insanity plea. That does seem more in character ...
A Mayor Stole Christmas Presents From Poor Children
Everyone in Greenbrier, Tennessee loved Mayor Billy Watson. He was on the town's volunteer fire brigade, a notable philanthropist, and the founder of the local chapter of Toys for Tots. That might explain why everyone was a bit surprised in November 2013, when federal agents stormed city hall and dragged Mayor Watson away. They were shocked again when they found out the charges: stealing Christmas. Or more accurately, stealing over $60,000 from the Toys for Tots fund.
Watson eventually confessed to the crime, and admitted that he "allowed his personal finances to intertwine with charity funds" -- you know, the same way burglars "intertwine" the back of their beat-up Ford Econoline with your TV. But in a somewhat baffling display of Christmas spirit, the town stood behind their Grinch of a mayor, who got off with no jail time. He was simply allowed to step down and return the remaining stolen money, hopefully by dressing up in a red velvet suit and hurling it out of a giant sack.
A Police Chief Masturbated In Front Of Tourists ... Multiple Times
Billy Driggers, Chief of the Level Plains PD in Alabama, was on vacation in Florida when he figured he might as well wander into a resort and log some jack time while taking pictures of girls using the outdoor showers. According to reports, Drigger never exposed himself, but instead discreetly masturbated within the privacy of his very sheer summer shorts -- you know, like a gentleman. He also jerked it in front of women and children in an elevator "at least three times," because variety is the spice of life.
At least citizens can rest assured that Driggers won't be wearing a badge anytime in the near future, as he's currently suffering the harshest punishment an American peace officer who has committed several crimes can face: paid administrative leave and the looming possibility of a $500 fine.
The Mayor Who Took Bribes ... And Punched Cops ... And Sold Counterfeit Nikes
Made part-time mayor of his quaint Catskills town in 2008, Gordon Jenkins wasn't about to let a little thing like "being a civic leader" get in the way of his passion of being an insane hustler. In 2010, Jenkins was caught trying to sell counterfeit Nike sneakers out of the back of his store, G-Men Beauty Supply. In 2012, he straight up punched a police officer. To be fair, he didn't mean to punch the cop; he was actually aiming for one of his constituents. In 2013, he openly appointed his own girlfriend -- the same one he pulled the sneaker scam with -- as a salaried village trustee.
After facing criticism and calls for resignation, Jenkins decided he needed to assert his power as a mayor, which he did by driving drunk to the site of serious car accident and being so disruptive that police had to arrest him and handcuff him to a chair in the station overnight (they wouldn't lead him into a cell because he kept trying to break things).
Finally, in 2014, Jenkins was busted for receiving bribes, and "endangering the public health." He also punched another cop, because it had become habit by that point. In the end, New York's Supreme Court removed Jenkins from office on account of his "unscrupulous behavior" ... after seven staggeringly long years of service.
E. Reid Ross has a couple books, Nature is the Worst: 500 reasons you'll never want to go outside again and Canadabis: The Canadian Weed Reader, both available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
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