From Dave Barry’s 1999 novel Big Trouble, here’s a description of a Miami construction company named Penultimate:
Penultimate was as good at municipal corruption as it was bad at actually building things. In political circles, it was well known that Penultimate could be absolutely relied upon to do the wrong thing. In South Florida, a reputation like that is priceless.
Granted, sometimes there were problems. There was the time Penultimate won a large contract to build a prisoner-detention facility in downtown Miami. … During a bad lightning storm shortly after the facility went into service, a number of key doors simply opened themselves, leaving it up to the prisoners to decide, on the honor system, whether they wished to remain in jail. … The highlight came when the capture of an escaped prisoner was shown live, nationally, on the NBC Nightly News. A reporter shouted to the prisoner, as he was being hustled into a police cruiser, “Who masterminded the escape?”
“Ain’t nobody masterminded shit,” the prisoner shouted back. “The mufuh doors opened.”
Even by Miami standards, this was considered a major screwup. Under intense pressure from the media, Penultimate explained, through its dense firewall of high-priced attorneys, that all the blame belonged to … subcontractors. The politicians, who did not want Penultimate to get into trouble, inasmuch as almost all of them had received money from the company, pounced on this explanation like wild dogs on a pork chop: Yes! That was it! Subcontractors were responsible!
Unfortunately for the cause of justice, most of the key subcontractors involved either fled the country or died, generally in boating accidents. Eventually, the investigation lost steam, and the issue degenerated into a vast steaming bog of lawsuits and counter-lawsuits that would not be settled within the current geological era. Everybody lost interest, and Penultimate went back to winning contracts.
One of these was for a six-story downtown parking garage that wound up costing, what with one thing and another, just under four times the original contract figure. Each price increase was approved with virtually no discussion by key political leaders, who were invited to make speeches at the garage dedication ceremony, which fortunately was held outside the structure, which is why only two people were injured when the entire central portion of the structure collapsed during the opening prayer.