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Friday, August 25, 2023

F³ Useful Bureaucracy 27

             Low on sleep that night, I dragged myself to the City Planner’s office in the morning. I waved to Patty as I came in.

            “Another case, Mr. Allen?”

            “Yeah, you know how it is.”

            “Nope, I just work for the city, but know the drill. Listen, they upped the price for copies, again, especially if you want the city’s seal,” She pointed to a sign giving the prices.

            I nodded. It seemed the city was always trying to make a buck.

            “Any idea when they’re going to get all of these online?” I asked.

            She shrugged. “Not exactly a budget priority.”

            “Yeah, guess so. Anyway, thanks, Patty.

            I sat at one of the computers and began searching. While the full plans weren’t online, except for the most recent ones which were all filed online, they had a database that made it possible to search through to find the records. Most libraries tended to have a better interface, but with the instructional handout taped to the desk, I could muddle through.

In the movies, blueprints or some contractor’s order would show a hidden tunnel. I knew that wouldn’t be the case; the Club would bring people in to dig it in secret and keep it off the books. Likely, some of those were dug during Prohibition. The tunnels wouldn’t be in the plans, but they couldn’t hide something big and out in the open like loading docks.

It was slow going, though. I had to look up properties by their addresses, which, helpfully, I could get through online maps. Unfortunately, the satellite pictures on the online maps couldn’t show the loading docks. Like most old, urban buildings, they built them up a few stories, covering the docks up. I probably could have figured it out by driving around, but didn’t want to risk my car being seen in the area, too much.

So I took the slow way, looking up addresses and plans. On the way, I made notes of the current owners of the properties. I suspected most of the owners were shell companies, but it might be useful information later on. It would be nice if they were sloppy enough to have the same company as owner of the Club and associated buildings, but I wasn’t that lucky.

From there, I went back to Patty and asked her to pull the plans for me. I didn’t bother to ask for copies. I just used my phone to take a picture. I wouldn’t need them as evidence in court or anything, just as a reference on where to park for the stakeout.

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