Sabien Cunningham, Sr. is 52, Nick Michels is 52, Trenton VanHouten is 26, and AV guest, S'Ahmisa Warwick is 18.
With nothing to do at the mansion, S'Ahmisa was asked to accompany Mayor Cunningham on a dinner meeting with some members of his Hood Administration. Usually, an intern wouldn't be requested to attend an after-hours meeting like this one, but since S'Ahmisa was staying with the Cunninghams...Sabien felt it was appropriate for her to see how business is conducted outside of the office, in a more intimate setting.
"We're not gonna be long, just a quick dinner to see what they want to talk to me about." Sabien said to S'Ahmisa while heading outside to the car.
Whatever the meeting was about, S'Ahmisa secretly hoped it wouldn't upset Mayor Cunningham. She had never seen his more vulnerable side until last night. She heard him in his office, late, crying and sniffling; blowing his nose into a tissue....and she immediately wondered if everything was alright with him.
Walking to the car, he seemed tired and agitated.
As they pulled up to the Skyline Lounge, S'Ahmisa was impressed with the odd shape of the fancy restaurant.
"Wasn't this where Rashid's prom was supposed to be held?" She asked.
"Yes, it sure was..." Sabien responded sadly. He had forgotten about that. "Maybe next year, the kids can use it." He said optimistically.
Thoughts about his older sons being away from home, kept him in a solemn mood lately.
S'Ahmisa had excused herself to the bathroom, as Sabien found a table for the four of them to dine.
"Hey there, old man." Nick Michels chuckled as he greeted his longtime friend.
"Like you can talk. Heyyy, have a seat, Nick. How are ya?" Sabien smiled. He was always glad to see Nick smiling; it shows that he isn't taking his 2nd chance at life for granted.
"We're waiting for my intern to get back from the ladies room, and for Trenton to get here." Sabien passed a menu for Nick to glimpse through.
"Hi, sorry I'm late...True decided she didn't want her uncles putting her down for the night, and she wouldn't let Daddy get out of the house." Trenton laughed nervously. It was his first sit-down with the Mayor, and he was sorry to be late for an important meeting, such as this one.
"Since it's on the Mayor, I'll have the Cedar Planked Salmon with Zucchini and Asian Rice." Nick told the waiter. Grateful that he wouldn't have to come out of his empty pockets to pay for dinner.
As they waited for their dinner, Sabien brought up some interesting questions about S'Ahmisa's platform on custom imports.
"So you think it's better in the long run to limit the amount of custom imports?" Sabien asked.
"Of course, I do. Studies have shown that it even cuts down on traffic into the hoods, making ports and highways faster and safer to enter into." S'Ahmisa explained.
"Looks like you've done your research, young lady. " Sabien said, impressed once again, with the bright young lady. "Your facts are true, but I'm not sure how many Simmingtonians would be willing to swap out their custom furniture for Maxis reupholstered ones."
"You got that right." Nick interjected. "I bet you're not making many friends with this thesis of yours."
"I'm making plenty of friends, thank you very much...lifelong friends, I'm sure, that will make great contacts for me in the future, when I run for Mayor." S'Ahmisa stated confidently, in defense.
"Do you know how hard it was to find a pink kitchen?! My wife was damn near - 'scuse my french, young lady - sleeping at the furniture store waiting on her custom-ordered bubblegum pink cabinets to come in!" Nick chuckled along with the others at the table.
"It's not hard if you make the change gradually. Many stores are available to customize Maxis furniture into anything you want...look at Mr. Dalton's store, SimCity Furniture. Those designers have the skills to do it, they just don't have a lot of those type of orders coming in. Jolie Dawson told me about it." S'Ahmisa clarified.
"I'll keep all this in mind. Although, I doubt I'll put any limits on it legally. Our import traffic is only, what...45 minutes nowadays? We've gotten so used to the delay, it's not a huge problem." Sabien insisted.
"Speaking of problems..." Trenton interrupted. "The reason I asked for this meeting was to discuss my new tax plans."
Sabien groaned loudly, although unintentially. He played it off as if some food went down the wrong way.
"We're going to find ourselves going down with a sinking ship, if we don't do something right now about our hood's income. Our expenses are thousands of simoleans more than our income, each rotation."
-- Nick interrupted.
"Since Trenton works under me, I've taken the liberty of going over the hood's 2008 Budget with him." He said nervously to Mayor Cunningham while slowly picking through his food in order to have something to do with his hands...other than fidget.
"That's quite alright, I don't have a problem with that." Sabien smiled. You both are part of the Business/Finance Department of the Administration; working together towards the common goal, right?" Sabien smiled awkwardly. He hated talking about the hood's lack of money. So much had gone into raising over 3 million simoleans in a Silent Auction fundraiser nearly 6 years ago, (before the new time relevance kicked in.)...where's all that money now? Sabien wondered.
"We've still got a substantial amount of overhead yet in the budget..." Trenton said looking at Nick. "Around 1.9 million. But, that's almost half of what we had 6 years ago. We're eating through that money quickly."
"My proposal is to raise taxes 5%, on the wealthier residents of Willow County. It's not going to do much, but anything is better nothing." Trenton took a deep breath and spewed this out so fast, no one heard anything but the words - raise taxes.
Sabien looked at the both of them. He never wanted to raise taxes on his watch. How could he even begin explaining this to his sitizens, the need to do that?! How do you justify it after raising over 3 million simoleans? Sims just aren't going to understand it.
"Not many Sims fall into that category, Sabien." Nick interrupted. Very thankful that he wasn't among that category.
"So, we have to do this? How much are we talking about again?" Sabien asked, still maintaining his awkward smile.
"Only 5%. It's been 10% straight across the board for many years now. I think you've done well to keep your word, even when we were threatened with bankruptcy, you maintained the taxes. Now we're gonna ask those Sims whose networth is over $150,000, to pay 15% in taxes." Trenton explained.
"Are you sure we're never-ever going to have to go over a 5% increase, ever again, on my watch?" Sabien asked earnestly. He got nods from both Nick and Trenton.
"Based on our 2006 Census, only about 4 households...but, as you know, that could change once the final budget is tallied in 2010." Nick said.
"Makes me wish I paid taxes." Sabien mumbled; hating to see his hood suffering in any way.
"That would be against the law, sir." Trenton said sympathetically.
"Alright, well then, this is what we'll do. I hate to do this...let me just go on record saying that. You've got the necessary forms made out already? We've still got plenty of time before the April 2009 taxes are due." Sabien asked.
"The new tax forms have already been sent to us by someone in the Department of City Treasury, in the City of Laurel Crossing, where Dimitry Barnes is Mayor." Trenton responded.
"I know you're worried about your popularity polls, Sabien. But, we'll weather this storm, too..like we always do. It's best to go ahead and get the word out now, so that Sims can be prepared, right Trenton?" Nick asked.
statement over to The Simmington-Times tomorrow morning." Trenton smiled, relieved that this meeting was over, and that it went as well as it did.
"Don't mention that 3 million...if they're reminded, sitizens will fly off the handle." Sabien said nervously.
Turning to Nick, Sabien shook his hand...
"The Hood Administration will meet at City Hall next month in August. We'll touch base on everything then. Goodnight, Nick." Sabien said, as he and S'Ahmisa left to go home.
"Goodnight, man...take it easy." Nick smiled and patted Sabien on the shoulder.