Part 21: Fit The Eighteenth : Army Dreamers
Fit The Eighteenth : Army Dreamers
The first few years of the 'thirties were amongst the most hectic for me as mayor, as the city underwent more growing pains, stumbling gawkily through its adolescence.
We saw yet another hospital laid down in Bunkleyville...
And a new marina laid out on the lake, for the amusement of the well-heeled...
And before you knew it, we'd run into another power crisis.
This time we had the cash for something marginally less polluting, even I thought another coal plant was pushing it.
So the first oil plant was placed out at what had become to be known sarcastically as Greenfield, being the supposed farmlands that never were.
At least the neighbouring mayors had stopped littering us with offers to take their trash, and my waiting room was populated by my own citizens again.
For starters, provoked by the increase in car traffic, Marsha came in to present a new petition.
Hmm. This is actually a reasonable idea. We've got a good transit system to compensate, it'd put a clamp on traffic, and the extra revenue would come in handy.
For once you see things our way.
I'd better run this past Moe, though.
Oh here we go again.
So, parking fines, Moe. Great idea, huh? No reason not to bring them in, like Marsha said.
Wal, what are you possibly thinking of?
Uh, well, it wouldn't have anything to do with your habit of double parking outside the hall, would it.
No, not at all. I'm just saying that having an army of grey ghosts ticketing the cars cannot be a great thing for the shopping precinct, you know.
I see. Well, sorry, Marsha, but I'm going to have to defer to the expert opinion.
Hmmf. Do you ever think for yourself?
Not if I find someone wants to do my thinking for me.
Marsha left in a huff, as she always seemed to do. The next appointment was with a crowd I'd never come across before, the "Have A Nice Day" Club, whose representative was Hannah Filaczis. Beryl beeped her in.
Oh, it's so good to meet the mayor at last! I'd like you to know that everyone at H.A.N.D. thinks you're doing a great job with the place.
*sotto voce* Oh great more sycophants.
Uhh, I said, "great bicycle pants" - I mean, I didn't say anything.
Ah. Now, having said all that, at our last meeting, between discussing whether we could get Bing Crosby here for a concert and eating our scrummy scummy cakes and scones, Brian our piano player had this bright idea for improving safety, and we thought it was such a brilliant idea that we proposed that we take it right to City Hall! hee-hee
Uh, OK, what is it.
I was unaware we had a problem.
Oh, but we do! Only last week some oaf was driving a lorry down my street and he ran down and killed eight kids who were playing football in the street, right in front of my eyes! I was so shocked I couldn't finish my cucumber sandwiches.
Why the fuck were they playing soccer in the street? We've got two perfectly good pitches they can do that on.
That's not the point! Having people killed in my street is highly unpleasant and I think crossing guards would do a great deal in curbing all that unpleasantness.
What the hell do crossing guards have to do with kids playing in the street? OK, fucked if I know. Moe, since you're here, give me a clue.
OK, whatever. Let's do it.
And a nice day to you too, Hannah.
Oh, I do have to ask, do you have to curse so much?
A sound question, Hannah. Given the bullshit I have to deal with, I either ease the stress by dropping blue like a sailor, or I strangle the fucking life out of whoever's closest. And as homicide is a felony whereas blasphemy isn't even a misdemeanour any more, I tend to opt for the latter.
Hannah seemed satisfied by that answer, and left.
I did take a double take when I saw how much crossing guards cost, and thought that I perhaps should've approved parking fines after all. Still, public safety and all that. Gotta think of the children, little bastards.
The city's industries had begun busting to move their product out into the wider world, and the existing seaport wasn't cutting it. It was time to open up the first land connection with the rest of the nation.
But before I could sort that out, Orville came in with another of his cargo cult offers.
A military base. Is there a catch?
I see. Well, I'm gonna run this past Connie.
Right. OK, whatever, we'll take it. I don't want that wanker from Achewood going on about how they've got a fort and we don't.
Now where am I going to put that thing?
Fortunately, the base was free as far as we were concerned. But it was huge, and we'd have to place it away from the housing areas.
Suddenly there didn't seem like that much room left in Funkytown.
Eventually though I picked out a spot in Greenfield, next to the two incinerators. I'm not sure the jarheads would appreciate that, but they'd have to put up with it, right?
It was not the most salubrious of compounds, but, on the other hand, no invaders were going to fuck with Funkytown now.
In want of a better name, between me and the base commander, we decided to call it Fort March.
I attended the inaugural colour parade with the other town dignitaries and heavyweights, and after the ceremony, Malcolm sidled up to me at the afternoon tea with a proposal.
Oh yes, what kind of contractor? Would they make anything cool?
Mort was nearby hoeing into the jelly slice, so I called him over.
Malcolm here's offering the city a military contractor.
Oh yes. This sounds dubious.
Well, I don't see it's such a bad thing.
What? How much?
Now, the cost...
Typically, around §25,000.
Twenty-five THOUSAND? For a hammer factory?
They're very sophisticated hammers.
How can a hammer be sophisticated? You just hit things with it, we've been hitting things with clubs and bones since we were apes.
Yes, but these hammers are gas-powered.
Gas-powered? Well this changes everything. I wouldn't mind a gas-powered hammer.
I'm sure we can get you one as soon as the prototypes become stable.
We couldn't afford to place one down straight away, besides which, we had more pressing matters.
The rail line was extended past Firetop Mountain towards City Name.
For some reason we had to pay for City Name's part of the rail line, but it would be worth it.
And perhaps we'd finally get cracking on opening up Pompeii to new development.
It'd also open up a passenger route to the outside world, which would be nice because getting in and out of Funkytown by ferry was getting pretty tiresome for the residents.
The month after the opening of Fort March, I received a rude awakening from the crime statistics. SimNation's Finest were perhaps not that fine in certain areas.
Bunkleyville was extended further, because the demand for housing land was relentless as ever.
Prunella or Charmaine or whatever the hell she was called popped in, once again, to express the Chamber of Commerce's grievances about a tax rate that I thought was quite reasonable.
Normally I'd ignore such pleas but now even Mort thought the taxes were excessive I might have to review them.
We had a bigger problem. Crime was on the rise again, to levels unseen since the time when gambling was legal within the city.
Maria was positively freaking out about it. In a negative kind of way, of course.
And, whilst certain elements had clamoured to have a jail, now that even Maria herself said we needed one, I decided to accede.
A fifth police station was located bang in the middle of Greenfield, and a jail located right alongside. I hoped this would be ease the crime problem.
As such, the city's police coverage was the best it had ever been. Was I wrong to think Maria would be happy? Definitely.
So, how's Operation Jackboot going?
Wonderfully. Our first jail is already overcrowded with perpetrators, you'll need to build another.
Overcrowded already? We've only just built the damned thing.
Take a look at the figures yourself, Wal.
Well don't that beat all. You would think that having an influx of soldiers would improve crime.
Don't look at me, I thought the same thing.
Instead the soldiers seem to be causing most of the crime wave, and as such we've got more soldiers in prison than they've got in the base. Why are we dealing with the Army's problem, again? Damned AJs.
Malcolm popped in again, demanding more housing land. I told him I had a plan for that, which would blow everyone's mind. He just grunted and left. Didn't even care that I hadn't approved his hammer factory yet.
Meanwhile everyone was complaining about the high taxes, even though they'd been exactly the same since Funkytown's foundation.
The rail line was extended to Greenfield, which would assist both commuters and exporters.
Operation Jackboot was a relative success, reducing crime to a manageable level, though it was still twice what it had been before the damn military had moved in. The whole debacle was turning me into a pacifist.
The rail line to City Name was very heavily utilised, which was no bad thing, really. I should organise a road connection with them, as well as Achewood. For some mysterious reason we could do no such thing with RuPaul, which hampered some of my original plans, but I had adapted.
And wouldn't you know it, the fickle public had decided that 8% wasn't so bad after all. No low tax for them!
In fact, due to certain institutions that we were forced to plant down, profits were still in excess of 10k a year, but not quite the 15k we'd gathered in a year or so back.
I had commissioned a confidential report on the implications of reducing tax across the board. I failed to see the point of reducing the rate to 7%, given that growth was still healthy, with a boost in demand being one of the benefits (yes, there were some!) of having the army base in town.
If I wanted to cut 3,000 from the budget I could simply do that by terminating the contract to host the penitentiary, which I was seriously considering doing. Penisula would be prime real estate before too long and it made no sense to sacrifice that to a goddamn prison, especially now that I had enough "local" criminals of my own.
Of course, for all my whinging, in truth the budget was still well under control, it was just that with what I would call a "wrinkle", and with the phony taxpayer revolt, the bottom line had gone from corpulent to merely very healthy in 1932.
We still needed those healthy profits, to continue expanding the city and deal with the requests for a zoo, and the outstanding offers of the contractor and geyser. With the geyser, how the fuck could you just plonk down an ancient geographic feature, I wasn't sure, but as Karen pointed out, if we placed it next to Firetop Mountain it would take the pressure off, so there would be absolutely no chance of the dormant volcano suddenly blowing its top.
With that, I begin the "plan" I had in mind. The Old Town was going to get a shake up. It had been lightly settled since the very beginning, but I began a program to increase population density in the centre of town.
And within a few months the first high-rise apartment block was completed.
Not that flash to look at, but such buildings would be a great boon to the life of the city.
The various sectors of the education system had been under great strain for the past year, but I had done very little about it. The next college would not be built until the population hit six figures, no matter how much Randall or the various culture vultures complained.
And Randall had indeed been doing a lot of complaining of late.
Not that I blamed him, but I'd been as busy as a one-armed taxi driver with the crabs for the past couple of years, at least it all amounted to something.
Greenfield was still kind of skanky looking - well it was VERY skanky looking - but it had become a important repository for both the city's most wanted and the city's most unwanted.
The Old Town was enjoying a new lease of life as the city began to build up as well as out.
And speaking of building out, even Bunkleyville was starting to look quite built in. In fact it was probably starting to be like a good area to append a new commercial district.
At 85,000 residents, Funkytown was quite a formidable little burg.
And we had BOTH flavours of power now, coal and oil. Most people couldn't tell the difference though.
I was looking for new ways to curb pollution to counter the new ways of creating pollution, and Connie informed me of a crazy new idea in that direction. Ian and some of his cronies might be a bit pissed about what I had in mind, but it was getting to the point where something had to be done. I'd probably wait until 1933 before passing it, though.
But as of the middle of 1932, the city, though it'd taken a hit or two, was beginning to find its feet.