by Girl Behind the Lens – Daiyu Tang
Receiving a Tip
The Hathian Observer in early November started to hear word that the Mayor, Bobby Boxer was perhaps in over his head regarding the City construction budget. Now, grumblings about the Mayor aren’t that uncommon, so we waited until we had a little more information before we went in on this story. But now in late November we’re ready to continue with it.
As most Citizens will know (and indeed see) our streets are not exactly brimming with civic construction. Instead, private businesses and residences seem to be forever getting improved or springing up all over the place using in many cases a large quantity of machinery and supplies. For example, you may be familiar with a new Event Space opening recently, competing with Club Aurora in Black Bottom. Then there’s Cupids who opened their doors (and dungeon) recently and there’s a large-scale apartment building being constructed over in #D8. None of these individual businesses are considered (or alleged) to have done anything wrong at this time, but it is never-the-less the fact that private individuals and businesses are completing far more than the Mayor and the Civic Services. In fact, one of the few things you may remember recently was the repair of the HCS building itself after the explosion and fire many months ago.
If all this city can do is get back to a low starting point, then when we started receiving tips and after our scoop where we found Grigoriy Nitkin, a middle ranked HPD officer had built an entire basement complex on an officer’s salary we felt it was time to speak to those in-charge of the construction in the city. But before we were able to do this, they themselves reached out to us and we dispatched GBTL – Daiyu Tang to go see what was what in the world of concrete and cranes.
It should be noted that some of the buildings photographed above had some big supporters, keen to make it clear, which the Observer is happy to note, that there are no specific concerns with any of them. Rather this article focuses on how private financing is not delivering the civic requirements of Hathian. The Observer would like to note that the apartment building may deliver affordable accommodation in the future and we look forward to discussing with Sean when he has finished the final touches, which clearly include the exterior render!
Interviewing the Construction union
Readers, GBTL here. I guess the editor thought I’d be a good bet to go and wrinkle out anything interesting, something about my obsession with basements or whatever! Anyway, I was contacted by Silenar from the Union who wanted to go through some of his concerns. After I arrived, his colleague Lina also joined me, although it was fair to say that Silenar did most of the talking and was comfortable having this attributed to him in the paper. I always appreciate when someone is willing to go on record, it makes things less prone to interpretation. Anyway, on with the interview, during which a colleague of Silenar joined, Lina, another worker awaiting their pay check due to whatever is going on here:
So how urban building works is pretty simple. Three entities, being the mayor’s desk, the federal bank and the contractors. So, the mayor’s desk builds up a project and makes an evaluation of the funding necessary based on the city taxes incomes and need. That desk sends it to the Federal bank, the Federal bank studies the project and allows the funding by reversing the money to the mayor’s desk. Then, that desk searches for contractors, and pays them to build the said projectSil; Hathian Union
Daiyu: “Thank you for the background… Ok, so in effect the town is responsible for identifying the needs, the needs then drive costs that need to be met which are disbursed by this Bank and completed by the contractors, all via the mayor’s desk co-ordination. So, lots of chances to misappropriate funds… I guess the projects could be owned by cronies of the mayor or the contractors could over-state the costs, or request kickbacks or some of the money could get stuck at the Mayor’s desk… there could be bid rigging or worse….”
Sil: “So, it’s as you said, there are many ways to slip money out of it. But to prevent it there’s a mechanism. Once a project starts, the contractor doesn’t get the full money right away, it get split into monthly payments. Therefore, if something goes wrong, let’s say if the contractor is an asshole and grabs the money and runs, it avoids the city being into debt and having nothing in return. But here is the issue in our case. The monthly money has been credited to the mayor’s desk. But they stopped paying the contractor which I’m working for. It has put all construction on a halt. I’m supposed someone is transmitting false reports concerning the construction progress, otherwise the federal bank would have sniffed something and stopped remitting the funds to the City. But I have tried to write to them, and I only get silence as an answer. Something is wrong.”
Daiyu: “Stages of payments, so the work is done and the money comes out… But I guess a dodgy inspector could sign off that it was done, even if done poorly? So in this case, money is coming into the city, but isn’t coming to you. This means the Mayor, or his desk is sitting on a slush fund… So, you’ve tried to make some initial noise, but there’s radio silence despite there being potentially money out there that you and your workers need…. This definitely sounds interesting and a problem.”
Sil: “Well, to be honest I doubt the mayor may be directly involved, maybe just kickbacks. Well, I could be wrong, but if he wanted to make big money, he could use way simpler ways. What we are talking about is more corporates shady moves. Maybe you can start checking at the public permits? I mean, to build all this new stuff you need to fund the materials. And that’s expensive. So as always… follow the money? What do you think?
Daiyu: “Ok, so having a look round at new buildings that kind of thing? You think the money might have been used elsewhere? So, if I summarise where this is… we’ve got jobs that you’re commissioned to do which are currently on hold because progress reports aren’t getting through to the right people, or if they are, those people aren’t acting. Because of this, jobs are stopped that you’re working on but money might be being used elsewhere, by others for building in Hathian… are there any particular builds you might be worried about? I saw a new events centre open recently…“
Sil: “Well, you have to consider that we are talking about millions here. It’s not the change at Clam’s shop after buying some soda. So indeed, a way to not be caught would be to still buy the materials, therefor getting a bill for it to justify the progress of construction but using or reselling them. Maybe using them for another construction, or a few smaller ones, could do the trick. It would be like, washing dirty money sorts of.”
Well, you have to consider that we are talking about millions hereSil; Hathian Union
So reader, I’d held the chat and now it was time to maybe set a few pulses soaring, I’d wanted to get an interview with our Mayor, Bobby Boxer, but sadly he didn’t have time for me. A shame considering all the effort I’d gone with carrying his statements about the ‘defund’ process… Never-the-less, his office did e-mail this statement.
The Mayor Responds
The mayor categorically rejects any accusations of misuse of public funds. Any accusations of inappropriate use of Federal Funds should be put in writing by the so-called ‘Union’ to HPD for investigation.Office of the Mayor
This was not the end of the story though; did you know about the Union and the services they do offer?
Well reader, I thought that maybe we’d get some more here, or maybe this would be the end of it (but see our reader plea below) but then I was contacted again… Seems that Sil might not have had all the goods on this story.
So, the owner of the Union, Marcel Agoro got in contact with me, seems that perhaps a few tweets that I’d put out on the Observer account had piqued his interest prior to publication. Conscious that our research hadn’t indicated any issues with the Union itself, we were keen to hear what else he could add to the story. So again, I went to the Union, got myself a free black coffee and also some education, it’s pretty fascinating, both the construction piece but also how the Union works. So read on…
Firstly, I ran Marcel through where I had got to with Sil. He seemed a little surprised, to say the least, that Sil had these strong views:
Marcel: “So you’re set on investigating a lead on money? Look, whatever the city does with the funds it’s meant to put into the city itself isn’t something we’d know about, I’m afraid. But it’s not a secret that Hathian’s choice of government is corrupt and selfish, to say the least. I mean, considering how susceptible it is to natural disasters of all sorts, it’s no wonder that construction companies and contractors can’t build it up enough to make a genuine difference. But it’s been like that for decades, as I told Silenar. I’m not native to Hathian, but Hathian natives can attest to the fact that regardless of how much is invested into the city, it’s only in the private sector. The public don’t give a shit less about their environment since the majority of them don’t do anything about it themselves.”
Daiyu: “Ok, but I thought that Sil wasn’t getting the money he thought he wanted, that in effect this lack of civic funds was impacting the Union?”
Marcel: “I explained to Silenar that since he’s an independent contractor as a Handyman, the lack of money he receives is entirely up to his workload and it’s between him and his clients. He’s a part of the Union and we maintain a roster of our clients here, but this office serves as a hub for those who need to receive help with their wages or any legal issues they face against the city or their clients. Even then, we don’t pay anyone out of pocket unless they directly work for the Labor Union. A lot of contractors operate out of here. Their wallets fill up depending on how hard their willing to work. Hathian doesn’t have shit, and it never will. So often times they have to find work out of the city, which is normal.”
Daiyu: “Well, what I’d like to investigate is what Federal money, or State money is meant to come to Hathian and then, I’d like to see how it is spent and to what end. For example, the HCS was blown up this year, yet… eventually… money was found to repair it. Was it found quick enough, probably not, but it existed. I would be surprised if there weren’t additional funds around the place that may or may not be being spent on their intended purpose; at least intended by those outside the City Limits… I sometimes see Public Servants with rather… interesting private constructions that their salaries may not be able to afford. I appreciate your point about Sil’s role and the Union in general and I’m not looking to say there is a problem here, but it was a helpful tip that Silenar gave me, are you sure there’s no merit in following it up? That hotel for example, security, neon, lights, who can afford it? Things don’t add up… And when things don’t add up, sometimes the sums don’t add up either yes?”
Marcel: “I see… Well then, I’m not here to stop you. I simply wanted to let you know that the way you were writing about it all led to some concerns between myself and my employees. There was a significant lack of cohesion by tying the mention of the Labor Union to words such as ‘corruption’ and the like. I can’t remember off of the top of my head what else was on the headline. People find their money through fickle ways around here. You and I both know that. I reckon that deciding whether there’s merit in anything you decide to do is entirely up to you. Who am I to tell you? But I will warn you that attempting to go against the Mayor and his cabinet, assuming that’s how far you wanna go, will require some real poise and caution. They don’t take kindly to slander or anything of the sort, so be careful that you don’t find a lawsuit in your hands, or worse yet; your body in a dumpster. People with money, be it blood money, invested money, assets, or whatever; they’ll do whatever they want and grind us under their boots in the meantime. To them, the only sums that matter are the ones that add a couple more zeros to their bank accounts.”
I thought at this point it would be good to hear about the Union and what type of people it supports and what it needs. This is what I learned from Marcel:
- Purpose of the Union is to advocate for workers who suffer from poor labour environments
- Try and get fair wages for our members and ensure businesses accommodate their legal and rightful needs, such as a safe working environment
- Support new union members in Hathian businesses, e.g. getting collective agreements in place and protecting workers rights
- The Union is always looking, under Marcel, to expand services and help more. They are also looking for members, so Marcel asked me to plug this to you, our readers. Are you struggling in work, got a boss who leaves you in fear of your safety? Reach out to him!
People in Hathian are resilient as fuck, I’ll give them that. They do what they gotta do to survive and I don’t blame them. The Union is here to help, so they should know they can come to us with problems.Marcel – Head of the Hathian Labour Union
We want to hear from you
So, after a little bit about construction and more about the wider Union from our Reporter Daiyu Tang, the Hathian Observer would appreciate if any Readers who might have been sold misappropriated supplies or who might have been approached about illicit construction work to contact us. While we cannot definitively prove anything, yet, citizens should be aware that somewhere out there is your public spending… A new hospital building; new recreational facilities; a public park… All things that Hathian could use, rather than yet more vanity uber-mansions restricted to the ‘elite’. As usual, send all tips that might help support our investigation to our journalist, Daiyu Tang. We hope to bring you an update in a few weeks and by then hope to have ‘followed the money’ as Sil suggested.