GAINESVILLE-The tiny village of Hampton, Florida, population 477, has won the coveted “Most Corrupt City in the United States” award from the National Association of Corrupt and Unscrupulous Politicians for the third year running. The award represents a milestone for the town as well as Florida, widely considered the most corrupt and unethical state in the Union. It marks the first time a town has seized the prize for three years in a row. But that’s not all. The town raked in almost every abomination award available for 2013.
This fall, The International Consortium of Unprincipled Purchasing Agents voted Hampton “Best Place To Do Business,” the Bribable Bureaucrat’s Union voted to hold their 2014 convention in Hampton, the National Bad Lieutenant’s League named Hampton “Best Vacation and Resort Destination for 2013,” and Hampton made the top three on the list of “Best Places To Retire” by the Nationwide Guild of Venal and Dishonest Judges.
The acting mayor of this miniature apocalypse of civics, Myrtice McCullough, attributed the win to a complete lack of organization, an apathetic indifference on the part of the general public, and the deep and burning desire to use government positions for personal gain.”These are the attributes that have made Florida the great state it is today, and we are no different here in Hampton,” she said. “Most of the other towns in the race are also located in Florida, and we had some stiff competition, but our staff showed that in the long run no one could match our zealous devotion to dereliction of duty.” Former mayor Barry Moore could not be reached for his comments on the award because he is currently in captivity awaiting trial for trafficking oxycodone.
Unfortunately for the officials in Hampton, the Florida legislature does not share Mayor McCullough’s enthusiasm for the current state of affairs. State senator Rob Bradley (R) told reporters, “Hampton is like something out of a Southern Gothic novel.” Hampton lies within his district and he is part of the team of lawmakers trying to decide just what the hell to do with the place.
According to an audit done by the State Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, officials in Hampton are guilty of over two dozen violations of local, state, and federal laws. For years the city has been operated like a traveling t-shirt vendor outside a Grateful Dead show, except that in general Deadheads keep better records. What few records the lawmakers could find were written in the margins of phone books found behind the city hall in one of the area’s fetid swamps.
Some of the highlights of the audit were included in a press release handed to journalists after a meeting of the committee in mid February. It seems that the city of Hampton accidentally overpaid one individual (Billy Ray McButte) by more than $9,000 for one week’s work on the septic system. No explanation was ever given for the overpayment, but Mr. McButte and former mayor Barry Moore were seen not long afterwards leaving a south Florida pain clinic carrying two bulging duffel bags.
The city also spent more than $27,000 in one fiscal year without specifying any public purpose whatsoever for the expenditures. Half of the town’s water supply is missing, which is problematic because it has to be trucked in at great expense because of the toxic nature of the springs around Hampton. It seems that the entire area is teeming with all sorts of malevolent bacteria waiting to invade the digestive tracts of unwary residents and visitors. No records of where the potable water went can be located. The town also never kept any records at all for its vehicles, including five police cruisers and three Cadillac Escalades driven by the mayor, the chief of police, and the janitor, a dim-witted descendent of the town’s founder, Phineas Gage.
The tiny hamlet, located only 20 miles north of Gainesville, home of the once-mighty Florida Gators (Steve Spurrier is long gone), has a long and colorful history. Its beautiful live oak trees and crystal clear spring fed lakes have made it an attractive stopover for weary travelers for centuries.
In fact, Hernando de Soto used Hampton as a rest and relaxation area for his Spanish conquistadors during their murderous rampage through the southeast in 1539 and early 1540. Hernando and his crew were touring the area in search of gold and the fabled “Fountain of Youth” when one of his scouts suggested that the men could use a break from the non-stop raping and pillaging of defenseless Indian villages in the area. The area appeared so tranquil that de Soto agreed to the request. Friendly natives from a nearby village tried to enlighten de Soto and his men of the toxic nature of the water around Hampton by using hand gestures illustrating the effects of projectile diarrhea caused by bacteria in the water. However, the hapless de Soto misinterpreted the gestures as an invitation to engage in sexual antics forbidden by the Catholic Church. He therefore ordered that the entire tribe be liquidated in honor of Pope Egregious the Sixth. Historians examining de Soto’s papers attribute the cryptic “LGBT” written on one of de Soto’s maps, with an arrow pointing to Hampton, to be proof that this event really took place. After severe bouts of dysentery and losing a few men to hypovolemic shock, de Soto moved on, never to return.
Hernando de Soto’s story has been repeated hundreds of times (sans the unfortunate friendly tribe of course) over the centuries as different groups of people tried to make the gorgeous surroundings home. However, the persistent presence of Vibrio cholerae in the water has foiled almost every attempt.
Phineas Gage officially founded the town just before the Civil War and tried to make the hamlet a tourist destination by constructing an antebellum version of Disney World. However, the inability to secure pure drinking water, the turmoil caused by cavalry raids, and the unavailability of cheap labor after the Union victory foiled his plans. The resort and water park went under in 1866.
Hampton never really coalesced into a viable town until someone came up with the brilliant idea of turning the town into a speed trap for unwary motorists in the 1970’s. The town passed a series of ordinances that made it a confusing labyrinth of different speed limits that changed every two hundred yards or so. The town also has a bewildering array of one-way streets leading to dead ends with no means of exit, and flashing lights at each intersection that turn from yellow to red to green to a faded chartreuse in rapid succession over and over again.
The huge profits made from tickets written to weary parents and stoned students blowing through town on the way to “The Swamp” allowed Hampton to grow and prosper. Water was trucked in from nearby towns and a Waffle Shoppe opened to cater to the growing force of patrolmen charged with writing tickets to dazed and confused motorists. Eventually the town swelled to over 500 residents. Only recently has the population dropped back to 477 due to an outbreak of bacterial meningitis after a church picnic at Noxious Springs Recreational Area just outside of town. Apparently the pastor leading the event was not warned of the deadly nature of the springs and held new converts under water so long they were contaminated as they gasped for air.
We at the Cretonia Times-Picayune found the story of Hampton so fascinating that we felt compelled to send our ace reporter, Bruce “The Coyote” Becker down to get more information about the town and give us a feel for what the future holds for the tiny burg. Unfortunately, the only literate citizens of the town are the mayor and the police officers tasked with writing tickets, and all of them have been advised by their lawyers to keep silent. However, Bruce being the tenacious journalist that he is managed to get an interview with the local Seminole Nation representative and casino manager, Big Chief Running Sore. A partial transcript of his interview follows.
Editors note: Bruce reported that Chief Running Sore pressured him into smoking a “Peace Pipe” before the interview so the two could relax and attain a higher level of understanding. The pipe apparently contained a mixture of tobacco and Lebanese blonde hashish leftover from a visit to the Milky Way Hash Bar in Amsterdam during the 1970’s.
Bruce: “First, I’d like to thank you Chief Running Sore, for sitting down and talking with us.”
Chief Running Sore: “You welcome Hebrewsabe. But how Big Chief know he can trust Bruce? Coyote is known as great trickster and prankster among Native American peoples.”
Bruce: “Oh, you can trust me Chief. I’m on a first name basis with almost every retired Mountain Brook police officer you could think of. They’ll vouch for me.”
Chief Running Sore: “OK, Hebrewsabe, you seem to be a good dude. I’ll tell you all about Hampton.”
Bruce: “What’s the town like Chief?”
Chief Running Sore: “Hampton heap bad medicine. Cops always giving Big Chief colossal tickets for galloping through town late at night in iron horse on way home from drinking firewater with young squaws at casino. Make life miserable for Big Chief.”
Bruce: “Do you think it’s the political leadership of the town that’s to blame?”
Chief Running Sore: “White man come to north Florida and make life a living hell for honest Injuns. White man kill all gators that used to roam the plains free and wild and give sustenance to the Red Man. Only jobs left for Red Man are dealing cards to drunk retirees from New Jersey and organizing ridiculous fake rain dance for scantily clad redneck girls on spring break.”
Bruce: “What do you think the future holds for Hampton?”
Chief Running Sore: “Well Hebrewsabe, tribal elders think that area around Hampton would make excellent site of proposed new greyhound racing facility. Heap big bucks in dog racing, according to great white father Rick Scott.”
Editor’s note: At this point Chief Running Sore ordered a young brave to reload the pipe and another round of coughing and hacking ensued.
Bruce: “Well Big Chief, for some reason I can’t think of any more questions, but I’d like to thank you for your hospitality. I need to go back to the Howard Johnson’s and come down off this buzz. By the way, that is a fabulous version of ‘Fire On The Mountain.’ What show is that from?”
Chief Running Sore: “No problem Mr. Becker, if I can be of any further assistance please get in touch with my executive secretary and she can set up an appointment. If you check with Roger over there he has some complimentary casino chips for you and a pass for the VIP Room.”
Bruce: “What the fuck? For the last hour you’ve been speaking like Tonto and now all of a sudden you sound like Donald Trump. What’s up with that?”
Chief Running Sore: “The accent is just a facade I put up in order to give the idiot vacationers what they’re expecting. My real name is Harvey Small Berries and I have a master’s degree in hotel and casino management from the University of Phoenix. Sorry, but the ‘Chief Running Sore’ bit is damn good for business. If you need to see me again before you head back north just let me know.”
As Bruce exited the Big Chief’s office Mr. Small Berries chuckled and said, “So long, Hebrewsabe.”
Thus the future of Hampton is shrouded in mystery. Florida state legislators at various times have called Hampton “The Speed Trap of Doom,” “The Detroit of the South,” and “The Hemorrhoid on Florida’s Anus.” A move is currently underway in the Florida state senate to simply erase the town and make it an unincorporated area within Bradford County. The city hall and other public buildings would be converted into a museum depicting everything that could possibly go wrong with western civilization. The move most likely will not meet with any opposition from the town’s citizens or officials since almost all of them are under investigation by state and federal authorities.
Many congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. agree with the move and think that what’s good for Hampton would be good for the entire State of Florida. After all, as state senator Rob Bradley said, “Most people don’t understand why it exists in the first place.”