Friday, April 1, 2011

The Rise and Fall of Lego City -- A Tale of Empire Building and the Modern Caesar

SPECIAL FEATURE -- Since its founding in 1978, Lego City has suffered through a history of controversial expansion, interminable redevelopment, and what most residents consider “pure chaos.” Accusations of illicit gerrymandering -- executed through back door political favors and flat out bribery -- have plagued the region since the first bricks were laid. The rogue’s gallery of disgraced politicians and their abettors include four city planners, a multitude of government contractors, two banks, and various assembly people.

The Rise
It all began innocently enough with the idea to create an idyllic, perfectly planned community known as Lego Town. The genius of the city came from its civil engineering, inspired by the innovations of Danish architects. Using a proprietary building system of “Automatic Binding Bricks,” construction crews could erect a monumental edifice from the ground up in mere days, sometimes even hours. To prove the point, they assembled perfect replicas of the Chrysler Building and Trafalgar Square within 32 hours. The unique design of the bricks, as well as the method of their manufacturing, revolutionized the construction industry.

Two years later, however, Lego Town’s unmitigated expansion into neighboring counties began, with city officials somehow bypassing all existing government regulations for land rights acquisition. Unchecked, eminent domain was abused for a period of over 10 years. Residents who purchased homes discovered soon after that the city could seize their property without notice, consent, or the requisite monetary compensation accorded them under the law. Days later, their homes would be demolished, with new structures replacing them before week’s end.

One resident recalls his personal nightmare: “The week after they tore down my house, a restaurant went up. A 50s themed diner. Right next to three other 50s style diners. It made no sense at all. Then the next week, a jail. Then a mission. Sometimes, I would walk by and have no idea what the hell it was supposed to be -- just some mishmash of multi-colored bricks with no windows or doors. It was like they hired Salvador Dali to do Frank Lloyd Wright’s job. Or a kid with ADD.”

This cycle of conquest, destruction, and redevelopment became a monthly occurrence in the city, which seemed to lack any logical decision making.

After 1992, the area blossomed into Lego World City with the annexation of a five-mile stretch of municipal shoreline for the creation of Paradisa, a hedonistic beachfront playground built on the backs of middle-class taxpayers. The problem with Paradisa was that Lego World City officials had used public funds to create a private, gated community for only the wealthiest residents to enjoy. The result was what cultural anthropologists still cite as one of the only documented cases of diaspora in the nation’s history: 99 percent of Lego World City’s citizens simply packed up and moved away.

It was then that state legislators stepped in and drew a line in the sand. Today, having divested itself of several unincorporated towns, as well as Paradisa, the area is simply called Lego City. A few of its original residents even returned. But critics and past officials say the city’s problems are far from over.

The Fall
“Because of the city’s constitution,” explained former Mayor Milo Sedifack, “the place is ungovernable. Individual citizens have no direct voting rights or access to their representatives. Government contractors and corporations, though, are legally empowered to author bills for consideration. It’s still a mess.”

Yet other analysts say current Mayor Ollie Vogelwieck has done an exemplary job of working toward real reform.

“Progress is always slow,” the dean of Lego City University’s Political Science department said. “He’s managed to bring business back, extend civil liberties to the disadvantaged, regulate industry, and develop a more transparent system of taxes. For instance, the whole eminent domain problem has gone away. Residents and small business owners have their property rights back.”

But the revelation of Vogelwieck’s affair with the daughter of Bertrand Gepurt, Lego Space Exploration’s CEO, brought the city’s corrupt past back into the limelight.

Photos released by Vogelwieck’s wife, a double-amputee and cancer survivor, not only damaged the mayor’s public image but sparked a series of investigations into his business dealings, given the relationship between his mistress and Lego Space.

“The airports are a disaster,” said City Comptroller Rusty Hod. “This Thanksgiving we had a major security breach, but there are no available funds to bolster security. Last month, three of our planes crashed when whole sections of their fuselages broke apart during take off. Just like that. But Mayor Vogelwieck’s more interested in fighting space aliens than serving the real needs of his constituency. He’s gone batshit crazy!”

Considering the $5.1 billion Vogelwieck has funneled into a Lego Space program to fight what Gepurt insists are hostile Insectoids -- insect-humanoid hybrids bent on invading the planet for its “energy orbs” -- concerns for the mayor’s sanity seem justified.

“He’s allocated billions of dollars to build Space Speeders, freeze rays, and something called a Galactic Enforcer,” Hod told council members at a hearing to consider impeachment proceedings against Vogelwieck.

“What the hell is all that shit for? Nothing. There are no bug people on the way to earth. There is no race of giant alien children rebuilding the city after dark, as Gepurt claims. Meanwhile, our city is falling apart. The general fund is depleted, the city’s bankrupt, and unemployment rates are going to skyrocket. You know that expression ‘built like a brick shit house?’ That’s precisely what we got here today. One colossal shit house made out of plastic bricks, trying to pass itself off as a city. But I guess it doesn’t matter to Vogelwieck as long as he’s got Gepurt’s daughter straddling him every night. I’ll say this, she’s not the only one Vogelwieck is bending over these days, if you know what I mean. And if you pay taxes in Lego City, I’m sure you do.”

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