The Florida state government is so embarrassed by the city of Hampton — and it takes a lot to embarrass those people in Tallahassee — it wants to wipe the small town off the map.
With the mayor – he’s still in mayor – in jail awaiting trial on a charge of drug dealing (he denies it but can’t make bail), cops sitting along the road in lawn chairs pointing radar guns at passing cars, and an estimated $1 million missing from the town’s coffers, Hampton is being called the “dirtiest little town in America,” reports CNN in a detailed look at the situation.
“It’s a mess,” Dan Krassner, co-founder of the watchdog group, Integrity Florida, told CNN. “Clearly, there has been misuse of public funds and lack of oversight. The cronyism and nepotism is out of control.”
Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators and the Bradford County Sheriff’s office finally stepped in on Friday, searching Hampton City Hall.
They had to remove the door of the police chief’s office to get in to documents they want to examine.
Florida officials had already conducted an audit and released the findings last month.
One discovery: $132,000 has been charged on a city credit card at the convenience store next to City Hall.
“What’s wrong with that picture? That’s a lot of cigarettes and beer and what-have-you. That’s corrupt as heck,” Jim Mitzel, who was mayor from 2000 to 2008, said.
Hampton gained national attention a few years ago when it became known as America’s speed trap. With one cop per 25 residents, the officers didn’t make the town safer. Instead they covered the roadway looking for drivers speeding through.
“It became ‘serve and collect’ instead of ‘serve and protect.’ Cash register justice,” Sheriff Gordon Smith told CNN. “Do y’all remember the old Dukes of Hazzard? Boss Hogg? They make Boss Hogg look like a Sunday school teacher.”
The state is now on the verge of dissolving Hampton as a city.
On resident is hoping against hope to save it and has launched a “Save Our Town Of Hampton, Florida” Facebook page.