Special Report # 15: Stephen P. Bye, correspondent for the Mirror Rearview. |
An on-going series from Stephen P. Bye, a Correspondent for the Mirror Rearview, a fictional newspaper in Laicos County, an imaginary USA municipality. Please refer to the previous 14 reports for further background.
(April 3, 2020) I’m back on the beat as an unpaid reporter for The Mirror Rearview after a twelve-month absence, while serving my sentence in prison. Thankfully, my attorney, Sue Yourbutt, took my case to the State Supreme Court, who ruled I was inappropriately arrested for expressing free speech in previous posts. I’m amazed how quickly the legal system works.
As you know by now, the Laicos County Executive, Alice N. Wonderland, shut down all nonessential businesses in early March as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. This includes The Mirror Rearview, which is no longer being printed, solely relying upon electronic publication. With the economic collapse in Laicos County, advertising revenue has disappeared, and the IRS has ruled The Mirror Rearview a non-profit entity. Tax-deductible donations are being accepted on a Go-Fund-Me page at “End.The.Insanity.com”.
The three County golf courses are closed for golf, although the properties are still open to the public to enjoy the outdoors, although limit eighteen people on each course at any one time. Eighteen County sheriff deputies are assigned to each golf course to ensure that each person maintains a one-hole social distance. Waiting lines to enter the courses extend for a half mile or more, since they are mandated to stand at least twenty feet apart.
Marijuana growing is still permitted on the perimeter of the golf courses, according to Wonderland. All cannabis shops have been closed except those operated by Pot Luck Inc., the company controlled by Ms. Wonderland. While in prison, I learned competing pot shops were closed for violating County ordinances, leaving Pot Luck, Inc. as the only operation where cannabis products can be purchased.
Ms. Wonderland has issued a mandate for all essential businesses to prohibit firing or furloughing any employees. In a short press release she stated, “Companies are created for the employees…firing them due to a crisis, which came out of nowhere, is unfair.” The County Executive also mandated a six-month rent holiday for all apartment tenants and a moratorium on mortgage payments for all borrowers who have a home loan, as well as suspending property tax payments. However, all businesses must continue to pay real estate taxes and license fees, and the County Commissioners have increased late penalties by ten percent.
In addition, Alice N. Wonderland ordered each family to separate its members so no more than one person is in a room at one time. Many families have resorted to banishing a loved one to a closet or in a basement crawl space. The police have reported hundreds of arrests, observing families playing cards or board games, violating the Executive’s order of playing solitary games only. The city jail is overwhelmed with violators, cramming up to one hundred people in a single cell.
I phoned Dr. I. M. Gloomy at Laicos County Hospital, where he and retired military doctor, Major Fear, are heading a medical consulting team reporting to Alice N. Wonderland. Fortunately, Dr. Gloomy reported no deaths were diagnosed from CV-19 within the past month, although four patients died from heart attacks, five from various forms of cancer, two from auto accidents, four from gunshots, and ten from drug overdoses. Dr. Gloomy is now concerned about a dramatic increase in suicides emanating from the quarantine order, although credits Ms. Wonderland for the lack of deaths from the virus with her quick actions. Ms. Wonderland has also mandated all residents wear masks, which are in abundant supply. However, ten banks were robbed this week alone and bank personnel are frustrated they cannot distinguish a robber from a customer. This has also created a problem for the police force, leading to thousands of “stop and frisks” with no arrests.
Ms. Wonderland reported that no County government employees have been laid off or terminated. In fact, one hundred employees have been added to administer County’s allocation of the US Government’s $2.2 trillion rescue plan. Three hundred current employees have been deputized to supplement the police force to enforce the various official mandates and orders. Two officers have been assigned to every store selling toilet paper, as dozens of fights have broken out over the lack of supply.
Ms. Wonderland is reportedly considering an order limiting a person to use only one single sheet of toilet paper for each bathroom trip, although she is unsure how to enforce the mandate. However, she appointed Lester “Duff” Hacker, former county golf course executive, to a new position called Toilet Paper Czar. In his first official act, Hacker reportedly moved ten thousand rolls of toilet paper from the golf course restrooms and stored in an impenetrable vault in the Laicos County Municipal Building, protected by armed guards around the clock. Last year, Hacker ordered the luxury bathroom tissue supply, consisting of four plies of finely pulped paper, enhanced with lotion and wax, for the County golf course restrooms.
The Laicos County Commissioners are considering an order for all vacant houses and closed hotels be confiscated by the County and reserved for the homeless, whose ranks have quickly grown with the business shutdown. Public hearings will be conducted next week.
Given the mandate to shut non-essential businesses, two County Commissioners are leading a campaign to rescind a law taxing owners of retail properties for vacant storefronts. Ms. Wonderland formulated the law six months ago, based upon the theory that vacancies depressed citizens who passed by the empty stores. Ms. Wonderland attacked landlords as being greedy by charging rents out of reach for typical small tenant businesses. Since the law was passed, building owners have been taxed ten dollars per linear foot of vacant window space per month.
Looking Forward Through the Rear View Mirror
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