The city of Hampton in Florida - population 477 - is fighting for its survival, after earning the title ‘most corrupt city in America’.
Florida state officials have given the tiny city 30 days to explain why it shouldn’t be stripped of its city-status, and why the city’s name shouldn’t be changed to delete a dark chapter in its history.
In the mid-1990s, a 1200 foot (366 metre) stretch of Highway 301 was ‘reclaimed’ by the city, with the sole purpose later revealed to be revenue-raising.
A US$250,000 (AU$273,733) haul in speeding fines was gathered in a single year, followed by increasingly absurd methods to gather further revenue.
The speed limit dropped from 65 to 55mph (88km/h) on the 366 metre section alone, and speed limit signs were changed, with the lower limits painted on by hand.
Signs were moved to confuse motorists and change the boundaries of the lower speed limit, and police officers were seen hiding among trees and sitting on lawn chairs for hours to catch drivers.
The revenue was used by corrupt council members, who ran up a US$132,000 (AU$144,531) tab at a local convenience store, and made US$10,000 (AU$10,949) in questionable credit card purchases.
A further US$8000 (AU$8759) was overpaid to a former city clerk, who had family connections to the council, and financial records were destroyed.
Following the revelations, residents attended a meeting at City Hall, and saw every one of their council members resign. The city’s mayor also resigned from behind prison bars, charged with illegally selling the oxycodone drug.
The criminal investigations continue.
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