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Thread: Your experiences with bribes (AIB Town planners are depressed)

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Big Owl's avatar
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    Your experiences with bribes (AIB Town planners are depressed)

    The qoute from from "Grass Roots" by G Atherden got me thinking about weather i knowing have been bribed or attemped bribbery.

    The closest i have ever been to being bribed was when i worked in a rural community and was looking into a high grass violation. When i confronted the lady of the house about the high grass she reached over to the cabinet and grabed a squash and said here maybe this will make things right. i refused the squash and insisted that she mow the grass.

    Now on offering bribes, i accidently tried to bribe a police officer once. I was 20ish and driving a little fast. He stopped me and asked for my licience and registration and evidently a $20 dollar bill stuck to the back side of my liciences. So he took the licience and registration, as well as the $20 that was sandwich between back to the car and imediately came back accussing me of trying to bribe an officer of the courts which was a class F felony in the Great State of North Carolina. After getting me out of the car he called his supervisor and after he heard the story i was free to go. In all the confusion i didn't get a ticket so i guess if i was subconsiously trying to bribe him it worked but not the way i guess bribes are supposed to work.

    So Cyburbia, do you have any bribery stories?

    You can change the names to protect the guilty or refer to yourself as a friend, friend of a friend, a former co-worker, etc... If that makes you feel better.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    A cell company trying to get out of being forced to co-locate tried to send me this huge flower basket to work-DOH it got sent right back.

    One guy offered sex-landed him in court
    A cell company (think insect name) tried to get me to approve their plans without looking at them with a promise of free phone and some goofy hat.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Nope.....

    Never had to deal with that garbage.......
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  4. #4
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    I've never been bribed, but I'm always pitched to "come by some time, and we'll set you up real nice." this is almost always in response to approving or indicating the plans will be approved for a local guys car dealership, restaurant, retail, etc.

    That perk has failed to fulfill it's promise.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  5. #5
    The personnel policy states that we cannot accept anything of value greater than $25. Our internal plan commission policy is nada, zip, nothing, uh-huh, no way, ain't gonna happen.

    I have never been offered a bribe but I do get the "stop by and we'll fix you up" phrase from time to time. I tend to use that as reason to stay as far away as possible.

    Some people think if you patronize one local business over another, you are "on the take". Anybody have any experiences with this sort of thing?
    Je suis Charlie

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Tom R's avatar
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    dodged bullit

    When I worked for a water planning agency in another state we met with a developer who had a project that extended into one of our well head protection areas. We made him do a hydro-geologic study to determine how much the proposal would restrict natural recharge and how he was going to make up the deficit. He didn't like it but complied. It hit the papers later that the entire development proposal was an FBI sting. (The people we met with didn't even know it.) The FBI got a state official for soliciting a kickback for an easement. A lot of people in the county were subpoened to testify but no one ever contacted us. Boy were we glad that we gave the developer our usual hard time.

    I've never been offered a bribe but one developer had his attorney investigate our budget and legal authority, a less than subtle threat.
    WALSTIB

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Big Owl
    ... she reached over to the cabinet and grabed a squash and said here maybe this will make things right. i refused the squash and insisted that she mow the grass.
    I used to administer a "free paint" program and one time I had an old gentlemen offer me 5 lbs of butter for 2 extra cans of paint. I politely refused and moved on. What's with bribing with food? Do I really look like I need it?

    Since then I have had a few people offer me a beer here and there. If they have current issues with the City or will likely have issues in the foreseeable future, I refuse the brew and regardless I always get even by buying them one. I'm sure this is a technical "NO, NO". I have heard of much more aggregious bribes offered and in some cases accepted, including:

    The offer of an addition to the public official's house;
    New rock on the public official's gravel driveway;
    Trips; and
    New tires for an official's personal vehicle.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

  8. #8
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    In a previous position I had a developer for a big box retailer offer a new and expensive apparatus for the local fire department if the Town would take over ownership and maintenance of a private utility fixture that only served their project.

    Last time I read anything about it the retailer still owned and maintained that fixture, and that fire department still needs new equipment.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Big Red's avatar
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    What's with bribing with food?




    Bribing? We used to call that bein' neighborly...
    I think a lot of times, especialy with the older generations, that their intention is not implicitly to bribe or gain favor. It's more about "the way things used to be" when people could help each other out. You help me, I help you... Unfortunately much of that spirit has been corrupted over the years to the point where you can't even trade eggs for paint, or butter...
    Maybe the most any of us can expect of ourselves isn't perfection but progress.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Big Owl's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    The personnel policy states that we cannot accept anything of value greater than $25. Our internal plan commission policy is nada, zip, nothing, uh-huh, no way, ain't gonna happen.
    That is the same with us. My personal policy has always been nada, zip, nothing, uh-huh. Just recently i was frequenting a new resturant in town and the owner want to give me reduced lunch. I handed him $7 bucks which covered the origional bill and a nice tip and told him to keep it and walked out. I don't ever want to be in a situation where it is preceived that I owe someone something.

  11. #11
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gedunker
    Some people think if you patronize one local business over another, you are "on the take". Anybody have any experiences with this sort of thing?
    I had quite the opposite thing happen. At my very first job, an auto dealer sent me a very nasty letter complaining about how I was unfairly singling him out for sign code violations. I replied with the bill of sale for a car I bought from the dealership a few months earlier; "If I'm supposedly trying to shut down your business, why did I bought a car from you? By the way, the next time you put an inflatable gorilla on your roof, or anything for that matter, you're going to court." AUTO DEALERS ARE THE WORST!

    For businesses that I regularly patronized, usually restaurants, I told them in advance that they should be expecting a sign code violation notice from me; it was nothing personal, but part of a neighborhood sweep. I then left a BIG tip, which I hoped send the message that offers of free meals aren't going to get them preferential treatment.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  12. #12
         
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    Like I said before, I often have lunch with developers, applicants, citizens and they offer to pay for lunch...sometimes I let them other times I dont. I do not see it as a "bribe" at all...most of the time during the lunch we talk about things unrelated to the project and I am always upfront about my recommendation. My recommendation will not changed based on a free lunch. I have a close friend that is a developer and we go out socially all the time and they often invite me to functions in the City to sit at thier table or come as thier guest. Even so, when they have a development come before my board I make the exact same recommendation for thier project, no matter what it may end up costing them, as I would anyone else. I just don't see lunch as a bribe. I am very close to many of the citizens I work for. I accomodate them the same as other citizens. I think it makes things run smoothly. I would rather talk with the citizens socially and have lunch with them than come off as cold government worker.

  13. #13
          Downtown's avatar
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    Well, at christmas time, we get all sorts of fruit/cookie/gift baskets. and enough wine comes in that each planner gets to take a bottle home. they're from engineering firms and developers. but that's about it. never been offered tit for tat.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Big Red's avatar
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    The only way I could get a free lunch is to pry it from my cold government workers dead hand...

    I agree about the lunch thing. I haven't ever expected any "payback" for the slices of pizza I've provided or the baked goods that I've delivered to the municipal offices. For all the hard work and hard heads they deal with I think they deserve some treats.



    "Hey Planner, you like those brownies eh?"

    "Oh yes, very much. Thanks for thinking of us."

    "Well if you ever want to see those double fudge with dried cherry squares again I'm gonna need a rezoning over here..."
    Maybe the most any of us can expect of ourselves isn't perfection but progress.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    We have a rule of thumb that if you carry it away in your stomach (and it's something one normally would put in one's stomach) you can accept it. We have a Hawaiian developer who occassionally sends the office packets of macadami nut coffee, or macadamia nuts. That stuff just goes out on the goodie table for anyone who wants to eat it or make some coffee Christmas candy often appears, too.

    As for actual bribe attempts, I had a group of developers who were looking at the prime undeveloped land in the city propose a not-quite-right subdivision, with the assurance that if approved I could have one of the prime lots, ha-ha. Even if they meant it as a joke it was inappropriate and I reported it to the city manager and police chief.

    I also had an attorney for one of our more troublesome residents meet with me and in the course of the meeting push his case file across the table towards me with a $100 bill sticking out of it. Also reported to the CM and police chief.

  16. #16
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I've never been straight-uo bribed, but we frequently get gifts from citizens. This nice old Irish guy brought back gifts for everyone on the City staff when he got back from the motherland (I got a bottle of Irish Creme...delish!).

    I don't let applicants take me to lunch around here because the one thing I've learned from all of the busy-bodies in this city is that perception is reality.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I've never had anyone try to bribe me, but an insane applicant once accused me of taking bribes from other applicants, because I wasn't going to recommend approval of her site. The county commissioner we were meeting with ushered her out immediately and told her he wouldn't meet with anyone who spoke to staff like that.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    I think its important to separate bribes from business gifts. A lot of it is merely good natured taking care of your associates type stuff. My father gets offered Indy tickets, ski weekends, and that sort of thing all the time from firms he deals with.

    Dan: Ouch! "The lunch was great, but I'm gonna have to write you up for a sign violation. Here's a big tip, though. I love you! Hugs and kisses!" Does it go something like that? Do you ever find that you become UNwelcome after an event like that?

  19. #19
    Quote Originally posted by Dan
    <snip>For businesses that I regularly patronized, usually restaurants, I told them in advance that they should be expecting a sign code violation notice from me; it was nothing personal, but part of a neighborhood sweep. I then left a BIG tip, which I hoped send the message that offers of free meals aren't going to get them preferential treatment.
    You tell them this before your food is prepared?
    Je suis Charlie

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    I suddenly feel offended because I’ve never been offered nor accused of accepting a bribe.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  21. #21
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    I had a voluptuous older applicant ask me out for cocktails one time...

    (I would've said no even if I wasn't in love...)
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  22. #22
    Threatened-yes, sob stories-yes, political connections-yes, bribed-no. I must be doing something wrong.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    I got a call from my former chair of the planning commission (great guy). He told me a very nasty woman whom I had as a frequent applicant was telling everyone she met in the courthouse that I was on the take. She wanted to put in a crappy development and bitched all the time about her neighbors (Mexicans - the Horor!) and had spent several years trying to ram a bad development down the county's throat. I was polite, but I stopped her cold for three years. She remains bitter to this day if my intelligence is correct.

    I've had people push the limit. Realtors mostly. One realtor asked me to be a, "team player" and help her by passing the home's failing septic system. Bitch.
    Last edited by el Guapo; 14 Apr 2005 at 11:02 PM.

  24. #24
    Member Nor Cal Planner Girl's avatar
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    It seems I've been hit with just about everything- from bribes to sob stories to threats.
    Bribes have included:Food, Wine, $$$ & 'Stuff'/services
    Sob stories have included: I will lose everything if you make me remove my illegal second unit....
    and the threat was an opponent of a project that hissed at me after a Board of Supervisors hearing... threatening tone of voice and then later that evening- I saw him while I was entering my local video store (I was in there for about 15 mins.) and when I came out- he had moved his car to the front door of the store and watched me leave (saw which car I got into)- freaked me out- told my manager the next day that if there were any more encounters- I would place a restraining order on the weirdo-luckily- there were no more encounters.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    These posts are great - I am grateful to live in an relatively honest country where the dishonest get caught.

    I worked on a real estate development in Mexico City. There I witnessed rampant corruption first hand. Taking a cab to the development site and cab pulled over: cop bribed. Arrive to construction site to disucss budget: told office laptops "donated" to government electric monopoly officials to prevent power shut-off. The list goes on and on. Mexico's government workers are a total disgrace.

    In NJ at least, corrupt developers and bribe-accepting pols get caught and properly punished - with hard time. Right now many are living in their natural homes, prison cells. NJ's largest developer, Charles Kushner, just reported yesterday. Biggest Hoboken developer, Joseph Barry, has made prison his home for several months now. Hoboken mayor Anthony Russo, one of Barry's bribe guys, will be headed to prison shortly. And Bob Janiszweski, Hudson County's top politician and another Barry bribe guy, is living in a prison cell today.

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