share the life of seven french local elected
|Republic-5, Chapter 7
The investigation has begun in recent weeks. The council meets, on December the 6th, 1996 to address several points of varying importance. Today, the public is in number as they had never been, there are even people who are still standing but nobody dares to draw against the sink or stove.
These objects inspire too much respect to the supporters of the majority that tonight show more excitement. Although concerned, Mathurin and Anquetot are here!
-- Well, all councillors are present, I declare the meeting open.
Clementine Fachaud asks for the floor:
-- But yes, Clementine.
-- And that’s it… As we voted, I have brought food to cook for the poor, this time it's celery. I will bring it to a family in need after the meeting.
Clementine stands up, approaches the sink, near the door, takes out from her supermarket bag the casserole, that she washed at home although she could have done it here, and she fills with water. She then places the casserole on the round, it ignites.
Jean-Sébastien Billard jumps and shouts:
-- But Not! Until when will you come out with so much rubbish? Madam Fachaud, have you thought only five minutes to all those people who died by your fault and that of your friends there have been three years last September the sixteenth? Among all these deaths, there were six advisers, including your brother, Mr. Pifon! So I think in their mind, while you deliver your usual farce, I will read a text. That’s excerpt from "the Book of Esther," especially the "decree of rehabilitation of the Jews".
Clementine Fachaud waits three minutes as water boiled. Jean-Sébastien starts to read:
-- "Thus, repeatedly, is happened to constituted authorities, for having given to friends the charge to run the state and undergone their influence, bringing with them the weight of innocent blood at the cost of irreparable misfortunes, lying sophistries of a perverse nature have led astray the righteousness of intentions of the power "
"It is only open our eyes: without going back to old stories, we have just noted, look only in your footsteps, as impiétés perpetrated by this plague of rulers unworthy." Jean-Sebastian, calmed down a bit, sits.
Boiling reached, Clementine plunges into water the celery she had the delicacy to peel and cut into small pieces in her home before the meeting. The work completed under the eyes of a public already noisy but always amazed by so much goodness, she regains her place.
-- That's it, Lucien, I thank you, it's up to you.
Lucien Pifon declares the meeting open, he notes that the quorum is reached and asks for a volunteer to serve as secretariat of the meeting. This will be Séverine Boutant.
-- Séverine Thank you, thank you.
The question on the choice of a criminal lawyer goes last, it is normal since it was added at the last moment. There have been three hours of talks when Pifon finally declares:
-- Now, we must know if we'll take a lawyer, still for the multipurpose room.
And then, to the surprise of the opposition, which is the majority on this question, Pifon jumps up from his chair, waving a bundle of leaves on which he was sitting until now, in order to make a strong effect, and starts in a true advocacy.
The public begins screaming and Pifon, still standing, beats time with the leaves that he hands, to encourage them to speak even more vigorously. Its responsibility would rather be to reduce them to silence ... And the first magistrate of Basseville-on-Earth explains what the first procedure, which is not complete, has already cost much and he denounces the impact that criminal proceedings could have on employment in the enterprises of the persons involved but also on the business tax. This while continuing to encourage the small crowd to yell! Once his talents as tribune demonstrated, Pifon decides to pass to vote, while continuing to implement the strategy which he decided.
-- Gentlemen Anquetot and Mathurin, you do not vote!
-- Yeah! Yeah! ?
-- Good! Then the other councillors vote, resumed Pifon.
-- Lucien, please, we vote by secret ballot! Clementine strongly requests.
-- Ah! I forgot. That's ok.
With these words and without further formality, Lucien takes his beret when Christophe protests:
-- Sorry, but for a secret ballot, at least one third of the councillors present must request it!
-- It comes out of thin air? Clementine replies.
-- It is in the code of local authorities, which should be on the table at each meeting and, as usual, is not!
-- Well! Go fetch it if you want it to be on the table!
-- Go yourself, I stand by what I say: if there is not one-third of the members present to ask the secret ballot, we vote by public ballot!
-- Hey! Lucien, we vote by secret ballot!
Lucien has kept his beret in his hand. He puts it on the table, this time, and begins to distribute small papers in a certainly sufficient quantity have been put on the table. The issue on the agenda is: "Choosing a criminal lawyer," Christophe expected that the vote directly be on the choice of a criminal lawyer! But no! Pifon requires four or five preliminary questions:
-- Did the city suffer an injury?
Seven ballots for, six against. And the fuss continues, and always under the cries and invectives of the public; Pifon answers with smiles! And always the same result:
-- Seven ballots for, six against!
-- Should the city take a lawyer?
The beret makes a new turn, then small papers are counted.
-- Six for, six against.
Pifon turns to Anquetot:
-- The proposal is rejected, the latter rejoices!
-- It stinks your trick, Clementine.
Edwin Blanc does not bear the smell of celery in the process of cooking. He did not say anything for leeks but that’s enough!
The matters are handled without any participation of the opposition because even if, now, the public is silent, the team of Dutoit, who himself is absent but gave power to Christophe, is in a bad shape. The focus is now on the rubbish collection or the sale of grass of the cemetery and terrain around the multipurpose hall! Finally, Pifon, victorious, launches its traditional:
"The meeting is over"
Anquetot east admiration;
-- I say! Marcel, since you have people call you Lucien, your brain works much faster!
Clementine rushes to add
-- And I'll drain at the door before people leave.
Then, the small casserole of celery for the poor by hand, she waits until the last to be released in the corridor outside and then to close the light and the door locked.
Outraged as they have never been, members of the opposition, without Dutoit, grouped outside the town hall: no “See you next time”! This time, it is Marion who invites the group. She lives far enough from the town hall, they go by car ... or motorcycle, for Jean-Sébastien. Those who have come with others will find a car for the way back. The husband of Marion awaits them: at the first insight, he understands immediately. He invites them to enter, the weather is almost cold tonight! He thinks that the habit of Jean-Sébastien really is in the colour of the day: black!
The evening begins quietly and it will remain silent for a long time. Christophe summarizes:
-- It smells like the prefecture! Neither Pifon nor Anquetot or even Clementine or Mathurin could have mounted this coup: they have certainly never opened a documentation on the functioning of the municipal council! This idea to segue an item into the other, to organize the demonstration of yowls with the public, it was necessarily Aposs or rather the secretary-general. Nobody else than him answers when we write to the prefecture. And we know what we heard: 'No', and then again: "No" when asked a duplicate of the contract Boutel forwarded him in ninety-two!
-- But no! Everything is my fault! You stood firm despite the conditions under which we voted. I was ko and I wanted all this stops.
In saying this, Philippe Lepape seems to be exhausted, much more than the others, and they are concerned about him:
-- No, I go from bad to worse.
They all startle:
-- You know, when you went to the prefecture to handle the file of the public contract, I could not go with you ...
-- Yes, it's true, you had the funeral of an uncle, quite far from here.
-- Hey! Well, his wife, Martine, who is the sister of Luc, my father, wants to break the will of her mother, my grandmother Louise Lepape, to be awarded our house. My father was furious and I am demolished since I heard this and my wife too because the house is in our name now! My aunt Martine would like us to move out with our children!
-- She is crazy, I've never heard such a thing!
-- Neither me!
-- Neither me!
-- Does she have arguments to claim so huge a thing?
-- Apparently she has none but my parents understand each day more what she has in mind! She presented my aunt Elise to my uncle Raymond.
Without asking any question, my parents thought she had tried to do their happiness. Now, they consider things differently: Raymond who should take over the farm, and Martine already wanted it for her, so she made all she found so that Raymond married Elise, who was only child and heir to a farm as important as that of Basseville. So, it was clear his brother should leave Basseville if he married her!
-- But it is Machiavellian!
-- It is monstrous!
-- And that's not all! Philippe resumes.
When my parents started going out together, she tried to do the same operation by insisting that my grandparents call home one of her friends who was a researcher in nuclear energy in Paris. They invited her but neither my father nor the girl, Irene, fell for it. It was too rough!
-- If we had known your concerns, we would have told you not to attend the meeting or make a proxy!
-- Yes, you seem to have overestimated your strength. Basseville’s skulduggeries did not deserve this!
Marion once again offers coffee, cakes. The post-meeting meeting is now over but Philippe’s concerns feed another conversation.
-- Do not care, Philippe. Your aunt seems to have a famous personality problem! The marriage she has arranged for your uncle Raymond has worked well, although she did not mind about this. She was lucky and no doubt also that Raymond was not inappropriate with your aunt Elise. But already, it did not work when she wanted to act the same way with your father! And then, a will is not breakable like that, after several decades!
-- Maybe, but there is another aspect which we can’t help thinking of. This is not Luc, my father, who should have inherited Basseville. For years, my uncle Raymond was running the farm, Henri, my grandfather Lepape, could almost no longer work because of his heart problems. It was agreed that Raymond would take thereafter. The reality is that he left the farm because of the lust of my aunt Martine: by not settling Basseville, Raymond completed the first stage of his sister!
So now, my father and mother are moved to think that they are de facto the beneficiaries of the manipulation, that Raymond and his family should live in the firm today. And I think too that I should not live here!
-- But you're responsible for anything! She never told anyone what she set up!
-- No, but when my grandmother, Louise, saw the turn that events were taking, as she already did not love my uncle Raymond, she took the opportunity to disinherit him. She said that Raymond did not need anything in Basseville since he had the farm of Elise. I think my father and my mother were shocked but the decision of my grandmother was taken!
-- This case is difficult indeed. But we all are responsible for what we do, not for what others do. It would certainly be good for your uncle Raymond that you talk about what you have understood, because the worst thing is the unsaid!
-- Thank you, but it is not easy. It was understood that even if she shows-off in boasting of having worked with a Chemistry Nobel Prize, my aunt Martine is psychotic : for her people are mere tamagotchis. But it made us sick anyway, to see that there is as much greed and cynicism in our family and that in more than fifty years, she did not change her goal!
The discussion continues, Philippe clearly needs to be supported and everyone regrets not having been warned to avoid him the test of tonight at the meeting!
Today, December the 10th, 1996, just four days have passed since the last meeting of the council. Christophe send to the prefecture, in registered letter of course, the demand for cancellation of the secret ballot which led to the refusal to take a lawyer for criminal proceedings.
His main argument is that the secret ballot was required by one person instead of four as it should have been since there was eleven councillors present! Christophe also denounces the conditions in which the improbable meeting took place: the public screaming, Pifon who never did anything to restore calm but on the contrary everything to aggravate the situation.
Christophe attaches all the elements: deliberation, photocopy of the minutes of the meeting ... The secretary-general of the prefecture, after refusing to forward a duplicate of the hall public contract, makes all that he can to ensure that Basseville will not be defended in a criminal action: he answers that he is not sufficiently informed to make a decision on a possible invalidation of the ballot. The intuition of Christophe on obstruction of the prefecture to a criminal action of Basseville will be confirmed some months later when, on the day when the criminal judgement discharges Boutel’s gang, the administrative court, being given the same documents, will cancel the illegal ballot that deprived Basseville of a lawyer: elements from the council actually show that the secret ballot had not been requested by at least one third of the councillors present.
Criminal proceedings are continuing. It is still at the stage of preliminary inquiry when a new falls on Basseville-on-Earth: we do not know who said this but the fact is presented as certain. Yesterday, three in February 1997, Boutel was seen entering the police station, near the courthouse. People have even seen his car:
-- He did not drive, he had a driver: he appeared ill, collapsed on his seat ...
-- Oh! The phoney!
-- He did not stay for a long time, apparently, he came here for one clear thing. And we saw the small white car of the police who investigated in Basseville.
-- Ah! Ah!
-- And that's all?
-- No, Boutel left after the short while all this lasted, again with his driver, and he seemed to be at the bitter end. But in the evening of the same day, he mowed his lawn whistling.
-- Ah, good! Didn’t he take one or two guys of his Parawi association for this job?
-- In any case, not yesterday!
Only ten days after the police had their brief interview with Boutel, tonight Christophe goes at Philippe’s to tell him the new he has learned in the day. He will type a word to the others about this:
-- It's incredible, the investigation is complete. We had the impression that it had just started and Pifon has already received the formal notice of end of investigation this afternoon. The police have done their investigation without the record of the public contract! It also means they obtained nothing from the tax collector, because only the documents sent him by the mayor show the real nature of the contracts (tender or transact contracts). But it must satisfy everyone because no examining magistrate will check the police’s work! Apparently, the judicial police has not been luckier than us with the prefect and his henchman.
-- Yes, but finally the police and prosecutors had a big advantage over us, they could have got a search warrant if they wanted! If we could have searched the prefecture ... But why did they not do so, exactly?
-- Go figure ! The prefecture has perhaps traded the covering up of our case against information in another, more dear to the police’s heart.
What a coincidence! hardly had they begun the investigation in October, they burst into Dutoit’s, who does not brag about this but who has been under the scan of those same investigators for the past several years. I quite expect that, in the coming days, we learn that they have placed him under investigation for abuse of company assets, as they had both said they wanted when they came tasting the human environment of the hall case, last July.
-- So we know when the judgement is?
-- On June the 3rd.
-- Do you believe that the expertise is completed by then?
-- This is surprising, very surprising: it does look so! I believe that from the point of view of the expert, things are addled: Grease made a correct diagnosis at the first meeting. He was self-confident, it seemed it was children's art and, in essence, he did not change his mind. Only here: when you see all the shenanigans that there was criminal, we can assert that everything has not been spotless for expertise on defects too. This old man, they surely approached him after the first meeting, appealed to his feelings and flattered his ego. There surely was no consideration on money or something else with him, finally, I imagine it like that. In my opinion, but without any proof, of course, I think they have completely overridden him for the second meeting.
-- Yes! They have overridden him: it looked squarely mike the jump of a carp, this override!
-- It was so huge that even Pifon understood immediately! Indeed, if Grease had changed his opinion for technical reasons, why did he insist to say it in this second meeting and write in the note that followed that there was nothing to reproach neither to Aerotoit nor to the architect and without saying anything on any of the other companies?
-- Yes, and why did he say that the town had suffered no injury. He was just saying that there was no crime, he was not paid for this!
-- Oh! If the approach has been made well, perhaps did he not glimpse that saying there was no damage to Basseville-on-Earth, through the fault of Anquetot and Boutel could have consequences through the criminal action, but I think it's a little difficult to swallow! This old man is surely out of step! In any case, now, Grease is unable to conclude: he does not want to contradict himself by saying that there is no way to repair the hall but he would no more adopt a solution that would be very detrimental to Basseville, ie corrugated iron plates (with the warping that would not be possible) or bitumen, the solution he would have liked but which is far too heavy! He tried three times to find a way to cover the hall with bitumen, and he had to give up every time! It is unsure that at the rate things are going, he will not have submitted his report to the administrative court before the hearing criminal, in less than four months!
-- It remains unclear what he will conclude, for more than fourteen months he has been going round in circles! And the city will not be represented at the correctional court on June the third! Basseville will not have a lawyer! It will not sue Boutel’s gang for damages! We risk losing millions Francs!
-- Exactly, nonetheless we can still claim damages and I ask Pifon put it on the agenda in May.
Very shortly after the end of the investigation, Basseville-on-Earth learns the indictment of Dutoit for abuse of company assets ...
Republic-5, Chapter 8
A little more than two months before the criminal court hearing, the council is required to vote the budget for 1997: we are in March, time seems to resume its natural course. We may have lost time, there is only one week left to be within the legal time limits. Over the past year, the town operated on a budget that in reality its council had rejected. For the team Potteur, it is out of question to participate in this meeting. Since Pifon concealed the substantial changes he had made to the 1996 budget compared to what he had said, meaning he had deleted the funding for criminal proceedings, he will do without them this time to have the budget voted. But beware, the quorum is eight: there are fifteen advisers, the absolute majority is eight. They should all be here if they do not want to have to come back!
Is this the result of chance? Dutoit is in the cafe opposite to the town hall short before the meeting begins. It is clear Clementine arrives, with her supermarket bag by hand and Pifon immediately on her heels, and then Archibald Mathurin with Julien Lardoise, and then, though ten minutes later, the small group of usual inseparable: Charline Brack ( twenty-nine years), Séverine Boutant (thirty-eight) and Edwin Blanc (twenty-four). Finally, the tax collector is leaving its big sedan, takes the path of city hall, his attaché case by hand and climbs the stairs and then, after turning left up there, disappears. Nothing moves. Anquetot is far away. He certainly made a proxy to Clementine but this is not enough. For a quorum, you must be here. And then, even without being inside the hall, Dutoit knows they are only seven!
Yes! It begins to emerge! All of them, one after another, until Clementine, who still waits until the last is out! The collector regains its sedan in looking at his feet: he probably already walked like that in arriving but may be Dutoit was be less sensitive, that's all!
On 24 March, after the meeting had had to be postponed because of quorum not reached, all councillors have found a new convening in their letter box : the object is still the budget vote and it will be on the 29th this time. The agenda is unchanged. In Dutoit’s team, nobody wants to participate. Anquetot can come or not: even though only two were present in the team of Pifon, it would be enough to vote the budget. And the budget passes. The collector did not come for nothing this time!
Completely unable to get out of the situation in which he started himself by saying that, basically, small infiltration problems of the multipurpose hall did not hide anything serious, Grease is in a tight spot and tries desperately to forward his responsibility to the companies involved. Then, and Christophe wonders if it understands what he reads, Grease convenes a meeting with them for April 15, 1997: this will be the twelfth! In the note he wrote, he asked companies to tell him what is the cause of the disorder afflicting the hall.
-- But Who is the expert!
Moreover, Grease made it clear that only companies could be present that day:
-- If a representative of the city council comes, I cancel all!
What has been said in this occult meeting? That everyone worked well? We do not know.
If Christophe Potteur boycotted meetings of budget this year, it made sense: it was a sign of his disapproval of the ruse that Pifon and the collector used last year to pass their budget. Today, he insists well with Pifon: the latter must put on the agenda the that the municipality sues Boutel and co for damages.
-- We failed to vote for the complaint, ok! You have succeeded, with your band and your buddies in the prefecture, to prevent us from taking a lawyer: ok! But despite all this, now, we can sue for damages!
Pifon is in agreement: on May the 9th, 1997, he promises to convene a meeting of the council for the twenty fifth. And he does. There will be no other subject, except miscellaneous : there is nothing urgent immediately in Basseville-on-Earth.
On the fifth of May, the thirteen not concerned councillors meet at the appointed time:
-- Well, all councillors are present, I declare the meeting open.
Clementine Fachaud asks for the floor:
-- Yes, Clementine, go ahead.
-- And that's it... As has been voted, I have brought food to cook for the poor. This time, as it should not be long, it's pasta. I will bring it to a family in need after the meeting.
Clementine stands up, approaches the sink, near the door, has out of her supermarket bag the municipal casserole she washed at home as she could have done it here, she fills with it water and throws salt. She then places the casserole on the gas, and ignites. She waits three minutes, that water boils and then she plunges pasta. This work completed without any public, she regains her place.
-- That's it, Lucien, I thank you, it's up to you.
Pifon finds that there is a quorum:
-- Who wants to be secretary of the meeting? You, Edwin? Thank you, thank you very much!
-- Today, we are meeting at the request of Christophe to vote on claiming damages in the criminal case you know. As you know, the police have completed their investigation on February the 12th and the case will go to trial on June the 3rd. Who wants to claims for damages?
Seven hands rise.
-- Not you, Christophe, you've filed the complaint and the complainant can not participate in the vote!
-- How's that? Applicant! This is not your level of language! Of where did you pull this out, of your beret? Oh, and then don’t tell me! I know that I did not complain: I knew it was better to avoid this, I went back to the prosecutor office on April the second, and then I saw the prosecutor and he maintained that I had not filed a complaint. He did not want me to give me back the file so that I could write the letter otherwise. He said that there were serious suspicions against several persons in this matter and he also maintained that I did not incur anything, that I was considered as a witness! I repeat that the prosecutor personally told me that I had not filed a complaint: I am well authorized to report what has been said!
-- You can not participate in the debate, it is like that.
Jean-Sébastien denies violently, too:
-- Christophe has not filed a complaint!
And him also was surprised by the sudden legal culture of Pifon but the ballot ignores protests!
-- Six votes, six voices against and my voice counts double since I’m the mayor!
Christophe disputes the result.
-- The meeting is over, "says Pifon before getting up and leaving.
Clementine rushes to add:
-- And I'll drain at the door before people leave.
Then, the small casserole of pasta for the poor by hand, she waits until the last has left the corridor outside and then she closes the light and the door locked.
While, since yesterday, everything seems to be played, a new summons arrives for a new meeting and the agenda shows: "filing of a civil suit." The date of this meeting: the twenty-first.