The Demise of a Big Spender
Although the following “obituary” is satire, it was inspired by actual events.
After years of living high on the hog, gorging itself at all-you-can-eat buffets of leveraged tax revenues and leaving a trail of unpaid tabs in its wake, City Government collapsed and died suddenly today. It was believed to be 124 years old, but its age became a matter of immediate dispute because Government was widely known to be unreliable with numbers.
The local coroner’s office said Government likely died from self-inflicted blunt force trauma to the head. However, it added, the exact cause of death could not be determined until its celebrity coroner performed an autopsy, which would be scheduled for an upcoming episode of her reality TV show.
In the days leading up to its demise, Government was embroiled in a finger-wagging, sand-kicking and name-calling fight with public workers threatened with pay cuts. Each side accused the other of being overpaid amid the city’s worsening financial crisis, which Government brought on by not tightening its diamond-studded belt when times began to turn lean two years ago.
Details of Government’s last hours were murky, but video shot by police cameras mounted at downtown street corners caught the moments leading up to its collapse at the construction site of the new events center.
At 3:24 p.m., Government was seen leaving City Hall, six minutes earlier than usual. At 3:39, it reappeared in video recorded outside The Plaza, the financially distressed condo tower Government had showered with construction incentives, tax breaks and a $6 million handout to complete an urban movie theater that no major theater operator would run. Sitting at an outdoor table at an upscale bar, Government was seen smoking a fat cigar while downing three mojitos in 23 minutes. It bolted without paying and headed toward Church Street.
Minutes later Government was seen on security cameras, waving its arms hysterically outside Church Street Station, which is in foreclosure but not the same one from a couple of years back.
“It was cursing up a blue streak,” said a woman on her way to 55 West, the bankrupt Church Street condo tower Government encouraged as a grand addition to an already overbuilt downtown condo market. “It was saying something about how it wanted Lou Pearlman to give back the key to the city. Then it began screaming, ‘Cameron Kuhn is a [expletives deleted].’’’
Finally, at 4:17 p.m. Government reappeared in surveillance video of the arena construction site. Government appeared to be banging its head against a concrete pillar.
“It was sobbing uncontrollably,” said a man who had just come from Johnson’s Diner across the street. “It was hitting its head against that slab of concrete saying, ‘You’re bleeding me dry! Crotty’s going to cut off my tourist tax money and then what? How do I pay for the other venues when I can’t even afford you?’ ’’
City firefighters and paramedics arrived and found Government bleeding red ink but still alive. Once emergency workers realized they would be trying to save management, they summoned their union steward to provide representation. Before the union rep arrived, witnesses said Government took its final breath and uttered these last words: “I’m going to a better place, one where you can print money and give it to people who run bankrupt corporations. What a beautiful place. It’s called Big Government.”
Government was pronounced dead at 4:31 p.m. by a “city ambassador” on a Segway.
Government is survived by more than 3,000 city workers with generous benefits and pension funds, more than 200,000 residents who felt estranged from it and an unknown number of swans that lived on handouts at Lake Eola Park.