If you’ve been watching the news at all in the last few weeks, you know that Mother Nature hates America right now. Tornadoes have ripped up a large portion of the Southeast, some of the Midwest, and even managed to hit Northern California. You can blame whatever you want for the natural disaster end of this story. Science has pretty much ruled out climate change, but Pat Robertson will no doubt be all over the news soon declaring that our tolerance of gay sex is at fault. What is not up for debate, however, is the cause of much of the disaster that happened after the storm was long gone. As with Hurricane Katrina, that cause is human dickbaggery. And the biggest perpetrator of this dickbaggery is the mayor of Cordova, Alabama, Jack Scott.
On April 27, the same system of storms that devastated Tuscaloosa also hit the small town of Cordova, causing massive damage to private property and public buildings alike and killing four people. As should happen in the wake of this kind of natural disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Administration was called in to help clean up and give aid to the stricken. Part of the offered aid was in the form of the now-infamous FEMA trailers, single-wide portable shelters designed to give people whose homes have been destroyed a place to live while they rebuild. Putting aside all of the voluminous controversy the trailers have generated since Katrina, this seems like a vital part of recovery – you can’t live in a pile of rubble for very long. So you’d think the city of Cordova would welcome these trailers with open arms, right?
To be fair, the citizens of Cordova are all for the FEMA trailers. After all, they just lost their homes and, basically, their entire lives to a class-three killstorm. But their mayor, the Honorable Jack Scott, says no. The reason? The city has an ordinance dating back to 1957 that bans single-sectional mobile homes, the precise type of trailer that FEMA has on offer. Cynics – and god knows I’m one – might argue that the ban was a bit of cutting-edge social engineering, an attempt to keep the “wrong element” out of Cordova. That wrong element, of course, being the kind of people who live in single-sectional mobile homes or, as most Americans know them, Alabamans. By Scott’s own admission, the law has never been enforced. So why start now? Because Scott – again by his own admission – sees this as an opportunity to do finally carry out the mission of the 1957 statute: make Cordova a bourgeois paradise by pushing out the poor. And I quote:
“We want other people, young people, professional people to come here,” said Cordova mayor Jack Scott. “We don’t want them in a trailer. We want them to build here.”
Awesome. So, Mr. Mayor, how about the people who already live in your town? You know, the people who fucking elected you? Do you have any advice for them?
Mayor Scott suggested residents consider buying modular homes, which are allowed in the city, and one resident said the best price she could find was $105,000, not within the means of many Cordova residents.
Oh, ok. I get it. So your advice is that your constituents, whose median income is $24,774, buy a hundred-thousand dollar modular to live in while their actual home is being repaired instead of staying in that free trailer that the government wants to give them so that they can, you know, use their money to put their goddamned lives back together. This is small-government Republicanism at its finest. So one would expect that a drive through Cordova would be entirely devoid of unsightly single-wide trailers, right?
Weeeeeeeell, not quite. See, there actually are a fair number of trailers in Cordova. The Cordova Police Department has relocated to one since their station was destroyed in the storm. The place that Cordovans go to pay their water bills – you know, on all that water they’re not using because their houses were destroyed and they’re not allowed to hook up a trailer – that’s in a single-sectional trailer. There are some businesses, including banks, enjoying their new temporary housing scattered around downtown. And best of all – and let me assure you that had I not been tempted to write this sack of shit up for anything stated above, I would have written this article for the following fact alone – City Hall is currently being run out of the banned single-wide trailers.
Let me repeat that, just in case you sneezed while you were reading it: Mayor Jack Scott, who is standing by the ban on single-wide trailers because they bring the wrong kind of people to town, now has his office in a single-wide trailer. I hate to say it, Mayor Scott, but maybe you were right.
Not surprisingly, the citizens of Cordova are in a bit of an uproar. They’re understandably angry at what looks like a total disregard for their health and safety coupled with a bit of cronyism and pandering to business. And you know what? I completely agree with them. They’ve set up a number of Facebook pages, my favorite of which has a lot of great, informative discussion as well as the best possible profile picture they could have found for the subject matter. They’ve also organized a campout to be held over the weekend for people to come protest the ban as well as volunteer to help Cordovans rebuild their town.
So congratulations, Mayor Jack Scott. Your selfless dedication to smiting the neediest of your constituents when they have lost everything, all in order to up the tax base of your town, has earned you a place in the dickbag hall of legends.