Monday, July 30, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
My decision to come forward in the public eye, voicing my concern to some of my fellow citizens and my disdain to others, didn't come easily. Upon hearing about the Nexus relocation, I realized immediately that my life in Onamia was destroyed forever. (D' D' D'... D'at's all, Folks...) You know how I knew this? Because it wasn't "strangers" doing this to me. It was people I'd known, some for a long, long time. Folks I'd gotten along with just fine, thankee sai. Nope. I knew right away how seriously this would alter (damage) my life. Because I KNEW: The calvary isn't coming. Nope. Dudley Do-right is over at the Purple Doors having a friendly beer with Snidely Whiplash. My old "friends" and acquaintances had knowingly, willingly, purposefully tied me to the railroad tracks and expected me to just lay there quietly waiting for the train to come. Well, they can tie me, but they cannot gag me.
"Its for the good of the community," D'Angelo said, callously watching me struggle in my ropes.
"Wait!" I begged, "Isn't that Communism? Huh? In Democracy, we're all about INDIVIDUAL rights! We protect the individual. It is about the Rule of Law! Justice for ALL! All, INCLUDING ME!"
No. I was badly mistaken about the justice thing. Liberty and Justice for all has become nothing more than a lost, idealistic fantasy from my childhood. It has apparently become - obsolete. If your plan doesn't fit into the existing law, well, just change the law to suit your needs.
"I just want to be left alone," I told them. "Its not like I asked for this. I haven't done anything to you. I was just minding my own business," which, I admit, cuts me from the herd. Who minds their own business these days?
"YOU CAN'T LIVE WITH YOUR HEAD UNDER A ROCK!" Councilman Bob Mickus shouted at me.
Sure I can! Why not? If I choose to live with my head under a rock, is it not my right to do so? I prefer living with my head under a rock. I'm a hermit, for the gods' sake. I'd never, ever have anticipated that a sex offender facility would take over my neighborhood. Not in a million years! Nobody told me that the Mille Lacs Messenger was mandatory reading.
Bill Hill wondered why I was upset about the Mille Lacs Academy. "It's closer to me than it is to you," he said. Yeah, but Bill, you're the one responsible for the location. You chose it. You're o.k. with it. Fine. I had absolutely no say in the matter. I did not choose it. I am NOT fine with it.
Larry Milton looked me in the eye and said, "It's not personal. This is Business." Well, Larry, my life IS very personal to me, as I am sure that YOUR life is very personal to YOU. When it comes right down to it, LIFE is all we have. And as I lay on the tracks waiting for the train, I feel sorry for you. That you have put your business before my life, ANYBODY'S life makes me lose any respect I might have had for you. There are other locations for the Nexus institution which wouldn't disturb people. Of course, one can't have a liquor license within 1000 feet of a correctional facility, but is that really worth messing up our lives for? A liquor license?
Just the other day, Councilman Jerome Kryzer told me, "If you don't like it here, why don't you leave!"
"What do you mean," I asked. "Move away?" He nodded.
"But Jerry, I've been here thirty years," I said.
"Well I've been here eighteen!" he snapped.
I paused to consider this.
"Then you move away," I said calmly.
And then there is Councilman Mark Loch, with whom I've never shared a word, harsh or otherwise. We have never met. Yet, I'm sure he includes me when he refers to "the Bradbury Idiots." Well, Mark. I'd be careful what you say, unless YOU received a 4.0 GPA in PhD school. Be a little cautious when ridiculing our "intellegence" [sic. See comments.] There are some very bright people in our township. Besides, you're getting a tad personal.
If I sound a bit miffed, it's because I am. (Believe it or not, I've been holding back!) Here's something personal for you: Just over ten years ago, I did the Mayo Clinic gig. I was hospitalized. Doctors gave me only a couple of weeks to live. I got through that and they extended my death sentence to two years, maybe five years tops. I'm still here and still struggling with a painful disabling chronic illness that will, I imagine, kill me. Time is especially important to me, since I don't know how much more the Bank of Life will let me borrow. I want to keep living with my head under my rock, spend my time with my friends and loved ones, smell the roses; not studying about deviant sexual behavior in teenage male juvenile offenders and trying to save my neighborhood. I have had three months stolen from my life because of this Nexus problem that has been thrust upon me. Sorry. It makes me cranky.
I wasn't too surprised that the calvary didn't come to rescue me. Saddened, yes. Surprised, no. But it has been depressing to see the angry Nexus employees show up with torches and pitchforks, dousing my ropes with gasoline and lighting a match. I'm not trying to hurt anyone. That goes against my nature. I am trying to save my life and get off the tracks before the train comes.
And when it comes, it will mow us ALL down - for when you don't step forward to rescue an individual, you are all voluntarily tying yourselves to the tracks too.
Monday, July 23, 2007
It's like when my Dad died unexpectedly. I heard a lot of "I know how you feel..." from people who were being kind. I accepted their sympathy with grace, (hopefully), knowing that they still had both of their parents - even grandparents, and had not yet suffered such a huge loss in their lives... yet. (Everyone joins the club eventually.) These "I know how you feel(s)" were always followed with "BUTS". I know how you feel, but... life goes on; but...the pain lessens with time; but... he had a good life; etc., etc. They meant well, and I appreciated these people who were trying to make me feel better about a terrible loss which, to be candid, I probably will never recover from.
But also at the time of my father's death, I received a card from the parent of one of my students. It said simply, "I'm sorry. I know how you feel. I lost my dad two months ago." And I burst into tears as I read this. Now THIS person knew how I felt. We were kindred spirits, both with unwanted memberships in the Dead Dads Club.
That was sixteen years ago. Since that time, many of my good-hearted, well-meaning friends have unfortunately joined the Club and yes, now they really KNOW how I felt. They know it well.
When Nexus and the Onamia city government first planned to deposit their sex offenders in our backyards, (thus ruining our neighborhood) we heard many "I know how you feel(s)," "BUTS" included. I know how you feel but... life goes on; but... in three years you'll wonder what it was you were worried about; but... those boys are well-behaved in church; but... we're saving jobs; I know how you feel, but it's for the good of the community.
You know how I feel? No. You don't.
One of the worst "I know(s)" came from Avis Grosslein, Steve Bye's sister who lives in Falmouth, Massachusetts and, along with her husband Marvin, owns the 38 acre building site where Nexus proposes to erect the $10,000,000 sex offender facility. I called her in a wasted attempt to explain how the decision to sell the property was devastating the neighborhood. I told her how we were all being affected - all of our lives being ruined in various ways. I explained how the city was breaking its own ordinances, etc. etc. Now you might call me naive (or a Bradbury Idiot), but part of me really believed that if she only knew the extent of the damage she was causing to me, my family, and my neighbors, that she would be shocked, even horrified, and of course, call off the deal with Nexus and "save" our neighborhood.
Instead, she responded, "I know how you feel, but that's Progress."
She went on to share a personal story of her own about how she was quite upset about a new neighbor building their new home on the property adjoining her back yard. She told me she could see it from her kitchen window. And oh how sad... there used to be the most lovely Ladyslippers on that property. "So I know exactly how you feel," she said.
"No. You don't. You and your brother are dumping 94 SEX OFFENDERS in our backyard. Apples and oranges," I said. (To me, that's like comparing the death of the bug that hit your windshield to the death of my father.)
Anyway, Avis snapped at me, "My brother is a SAINT! And whatever he decides, we stand behind him... He might not have gone to college, but he knows what he's doing." Avis then told me that she was very busy organizing "an event" and that she had calls to make and that she was "through talking". And of course, CLICK - she hung up on me. Not much tea and sympathy in her, I guess.
When I shared the story about my failed Grosslein conversation with members of the neighborhood (I call them the "Ka-tet"), they were not only sympathetic, I could see EMPATHY in their eyes. Chip said, "Unless someone has experienced what we've been through these past few months, there's no way they can understand how we feel."
And there it was. A new Club. The Done Deal, There's Nothing You Can Do About It, Here's Your Sex Offenders Club. Over here in Bradbury Township, we now hold an unwanted group membership to a club none of us would dream of joining if not forced to do so. However, there is a positive side: We all know that we all know how we all truly feel... and with no BUTS attached.
We FEEL the feelings. We wear the shoes.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I've been in that state of overwhelminization for approximately three months now. Deterring Nexus has become my quest. Jim D'Angelo has become my "Gannon". Fighting City Hall has become my new full-time occupation. The mayor and the city council have become my personal "Bush Administration". Throughout this time of the Bradbury War, I have recognized new personality traits in myself that I was previously unaware I posessed. But then, I've never been a mother bear defending her cubs before. At least, not on such a level as this. After all, the hunters have invaded my den. The barbarians are attacking my village. I must save Zelda!
But yesterday, I gained a new perspective. I took a little break from all that anger and frustration to look at the Mille Lacs Academy a bit more objectively. Amazingly, I discovered that I owe Nexus a debt of gratitude. They have indeed performed a wonderful service to the town of Onamia, and to all of us in the area. Especially me.
No, I'm not talking jobs. Hardly anyone who works at the Academy actually lives in Onamia. Those who do are like "Mary"... "Mary" used to pump my gas. Now she works as a counsellor at Nexus, a low-paying job which requires absolutely no special training. She seems to like the job. Maybe it's because she's a little less greasy now (a little less...) "Mary" has been one of our most out-spoken opponents, going so far as to have every one of her relatives sign the mayor's bogus petition to build the facility in Steve Bye's field so she can keep her "prestigious" job (and the rest of you be damned!) But if the sex offenders leave town, "Mary" doesn't have anything to worry about. With her education and experience, she could probably get a job at Bill Hill's Supervalu, bagging groceries or perhaps she could apply to stock shelves at Agnew's hardware store. The people with the degrees who have the "good" jobs don't live here. No. They're too smart for that. They commute from afar. Maybe if "Mary" moved away, she could get a better job... One of the main issues about why the town needs to keep Nexus is because they provide jobs. Nothing but propaganda. (It's the same crap they spew at Nexus' other Minnesota institution - the Gerard Academy down in Austin.) Apparently the formula works for them. Wouldn't it make more sense to endorse a business whose employees want to live in the town they work? What about "Mary"? Sources have reported that after getting into a rasslin' match with one of the poor, troubled boys, in which "Mary" suffered minor injuries, she also received a suspension -for smacking the little pud-puller. Tough gig. Still, I guess it beats pumping gas. You go Girl! With your "credibility", we want you on their side!
Nexus brags about being a "good neighbor", claiming to have contributed economically to the community. As a Naysayer, I say "NAY!" Well, that's not fair... they have.... just not proportionately. Nexus reports that they spend over $200,000 in the area every year. Of course, most of the money these communters spend here goes for gas and groceries (i.e. into Bill Hill's pocket) as well as supporting Ed Hupler's drug store with 600 prescriptions per year. It doesn't appear that there is an even distribution of economic benefit. So I can't buy that argument as a reason to want them here.
I suppose one could say that having them here brings money into the Onamia school district - about $10,000 per student per year. With 94 sex offenders, that's nearly a million right there! However, Nexus intends to build it's own school and "privatize", which takes the steam out of the "benefit to the school" argument. Besides, several school employees will be out of their jobs with privatization. So much for their "We Provide Jobs" argument...
Nor will Nexus serve our community by paying Property Taxes (if they can help it.) Even though it is our tax money which subsidizes their very existance, they are fighting hard to get property tax exemption. Yep. Nexus is a "Double Dipper". With the proposed $10,000,000 sex offender facility, Nexus should have to pay around $447,000 in property taxes per year! Now that's a chunk of change! Onamia itself would receive over $120,000 with the rest going to the county and state. Not only could Onamians be able to afford that swimming pool they have always wanted, but every citizen's individual taxes would go down!!! In fact, EVERYBODY in the county would enjoy lower taxes! Of course, they are too worried about us being "so mean to those poor troubled boys" that they don't see what a number Nexus is pulling on them... Dumb, isn't it? If Nexus paid their taxes, they would be contributing to the community. But they don't want to do that!
So for three wasted months of my life, I had not found one single reason to want to keep the Mille Lacs Academy in our community. Yesterday I had an epiphany. Eureka! I've found it! Having the sex offenders here keeps the town from growing! They have been located in Onamia at the Crosier Monastery for about 17 years. During that time, the dwindling town has been struggling to survive. Part of it might simply be attributed to poor management, lack of leadership, no vision for the town. But consider this: WHO WOULD WANT TO MOVE INTO A PLACE WITH 94 SEX OFFENDERS LIVING THERE??? Maybe the reason Onamia hasn't developed the way the Bill Hills and Larry Miltons had hoped is BECAUSE of Nexus!
I am one of those "Bradbury Idiots", a country bumpkin who enjoys nature, wildlife, country living and my own private space. If I wanted to live in a herd, I'd move back to Minneapolis. I've said this before: Onamia doesn't need MORE people - just BETTER people... And it finally occurred to me that the Mille Lacs Academy has served my purposes well. They keep people away! They stunt city growth! And that suits me just fine. Under the guise of serving the town, maybe they employ a few local yokels like Mary, but many people - in search of decent jobs, safe environments, and a more open-minded, better-educated society - leave the community. This means LESS PEOPLE for me! I love it! Nobody wants to live here because of the number of sex offenders here! Would YOU move here to raise YOUR family? Don't! Stay back! We are armed with 94 sex offenders here! Don't mess with Onamia!
So, I'd like to thank the Academy. I will continue to protest building the new facility on the 38 acre Bye property, (a ludicrous location for many reasons), but I do hope Nexus stays in our community. They're even more effective at keeping people out than, say, 94 Rottweilers!
Saturday, July 7, 2007
When I voiced neighborhood concerns about the dangerous nature of many of these convicted sex offenders, many who have proven to be violent, D'Angeo interupted me with, "Don't try playing the safety/risk management card! It won't work!" So, of course, come the next city council meeting, that is exactly what I did. And you know what? I think he was right. The townfolk don't seem to understand about the safety issue. They believe what they read in the paper - and the Mille Lacs Messenger, according to editor Kevin Anderson, does not print anything at all about escapes, runaways, assaults, or other crimes at the Academy. He told me that if they did, there wouldn't be room in the paper to print them all... So the Onamians think there are no safety issues. What's even worse, is that when anyone dares talk about what these young men are capable of doing, the Onamians jump to the "poor troubled boy's" defense. How can you be so mean to those boys?! "They rake leaves for the seniors," says Steve Bye.
And that is exactly my concern, folks. The seniors. I'm not personally afraid of physical harm. I'm not afraid of one of the inmates escaping, coming over here to rape or fondle someone (although I do have some pretty darn cute goats I worry about...) My concern is that when one of them gets loose, their primary goal is to get the heck out of Dodge. And I don't know how desperate they are, but I know that while trying to gain a set of car keys, if one of them shoved my 83 year old mother, who lives alone down one of their most convenient escape routes, well, her bones would shatter. She's so fragile, she'd easily break a hip if they even breathed on her.
On Sunday, May 13, a fifteen year old sex offender went missing. The sheriff's deputy was canvassing our neighborhood for him. We only knew about it because the deputy stopped and told the neighbors to "be on the lookout". The Mille Lacs Messenger never reported it, so the Onamians never read about it, so therefore they don't know that it happened. And of course, would they believe us? You're so mean to those boys!
While going door-to-door with our Petition, we heard many stories about escapes from the Mille Lacs Academy. We also heard of employees who have been injured by inmates. We heard stories of three grown men struggling to restrain one violent, out-of-control teenager. One of the neighbors had his van stolen by a runaway, yet Officer Bob, the town cop didn't mention it in his "safety report". Another neighbor barely stopped two escaped inmates from stealing their truck in the middle of the night, but of course, that story wasn't in the Mille Lacs Messenger either.
Yet, I'm not afraid for myself. I'm a Ted Bundy survivor, after all. But I'm really upset with Jim D'Angelo for the way he treated my mother at the city council meeting. Obviously, he is quite insensitive to her concerns. You'd think that those "poor troubled boys" were the only people who mattered.
Imagine things from her perspective. 83 years old. Happily living out the rest of her days. No worries. Now, like the rest of us, it's about all she can think about. She doesn't sleep. Her life has been greatly disrupted and the damn thing hasn't even been built yet. Her happiness is a thing of the past.
It's the not knowing if someone is looking in your window. What would I do if one of them comes here to steal my car? Is tonight the night? My mom is cool. But in the back of her mind, there's now the constant possible threat. This sex offender facility will rob her of any peace of mind. Sure, an escapee could stop by at any time now. They are only a mile away now. But the thing is: my mom didn't KNOW they were there! I saw no reason to worry her. She thought that the Mille Lacs Academy, as it's name misled her to believe, was a private military school for normal boys.
And that Jim D'Angelo would do this to my mom makes me more than a little mad. This is a man who gets paid more than $267,015 per year to muscle his way into a neighborhood which has cried "FOUL!" and he doesn't care who he hurts.
[Companies like Nexus - i.e. private commercial sex offender facilities, prisons, correctional facilities, drug treatment, and halfway houses, etc. - are almost always unwelcome in communities, especially when built near home-based daycare, elderly widows, and other vulnerable citizens. Research has indicated there is a pattern of such unwanted "toxic" institutions choosing locations where resistance to their strong-arm tactics would be weak. The Bradbury neighborhood, for example, is limited in population and lacks the financial resources to fight back against the wealthy, powerful corporation that targeted them.]
There are many people in our neighborhood, each having their own objections to Nexus' building here. Safety is an issue. Some have children or grandchildren. There are three day-care centers nearby. There are elderly single women like my mom. But safety isn't the only issue. There are people who worry about the severe drop in their property values. There are those who are happy with the way things have been and don't want change. Some of us disapprove of the local government and the way things were mishandled. We all have reasons to be angry.
Oh, the safety/risk management card is still in this game. It just ain't layin' face up on the table where everyone can see it... For now, D'Angelo keeps it hidden up his sleeve.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
I can understand that, can't you? Who would want a sex offender facility in their neighborhood?
Well, apparently many of the Onamians do. Of course, those who have - so generously - offered to have the facility in their backyards don't actually have backyards to put it in. It's easy to say, "Why, I'd be glad to take the little pud-pullers," if there is absolutely no risk that anyone would take you up on it. Think about it... These do-gooders who are supporting the Mille Lacs Academy revel in their self-image of being town heroes (saving all those jobs), compassionate (those "poor troubled boys"), and self-righteous (how dare those Bradbury Idiots be so mean to our "poor troubled boys", calling them SEX OFFENDERS!). The Onamians are taking a stand against those of us opposed to having the sex offender facility in our neighborhood.
I have to confess that part of me admires their ferocity in standing up for what they believe in. The trouble is, do they really know what they are standing up for? Do they really believe? Or have they just been bamboozled into chasing the bandwagon, trying hard to hop on? Aren't they merely acting as pawns for the bandwagon's drivers? The drivers have a large stake in this matter. Money. Lots of it. But of those Onamians who are so angry at the MLA Opposers, few are even involved with the institution itself. Most aren't affected personally; they don't have anything to lose - like their property values, the safety and privacy of their neighborhood, their sense of freedom and autonomy. What they don't realize is that supporting the city's scheme for Mille Lacs Academy is personally detrimental to them. Maybe the light bulb will eventually flip on at tax time, when they certainly will feel the effects. You mean we have to pay for them?
The MLA propaganda has been working it's magic on the Onamia folks. Certainly, that's not difficult to understand when you consider that so many of them voted for George W. Bush not once, but TWICE! Yikes! These well-meaning, malleable patriots, like so many throughout the country, stand hat in hand, patiently in line to get their daily dose of Kool-aid from Fox News. They're outraged by gay marriage, abortion, and Bill Clinton's blow job. They are offended that I would use the term "blow job". (I must be a terrible person...) And whatever you do, don't say the word "fuck". That really gets them mad. Yet, they will defend the juvenile sex offenders, those "poor, troubled boys", (but they shovel snow for the seniors!) apparently unconcerned (or unaware) that those boys aren't baking cookies because they want to. We are not the ones who have labeled them "sex offenders". These young men have been adjudicated through the court system and sentenced to the Mille Lacs Academy for crimes which have caused harm to others. (Hey man, it beats the alternative - prison.) Dare I say it? Some of the leaf-rakers are institutionalized for fucking toddlers. ("They're very well-behaved in church," says Steve Bye.)
Now, I admit it. I think that fucking toddlers is wrong. I'm not ashamed to say so.
If you follow these Onamian's way of thinking, gay marriage is an issue worthy of rewriting our Constitution for, but the homosexual raping of children is O.K. Defend the "poor troubled boy" who participated in the kidnap and repeated rape of a twelve year old girl, yet coldly ignore his victim whose life he has ruined. Force us to welcome him and the other 93 others like him into our neighborhood and if we say "no thank you", we'll be shunned by the community. Do you see why I'm having difficulty here? There is an epidemic of STUPID in this town!
While addressing the Onamia City Council at the just-a-formality-of-some-pesky-law annexation public hearing, knowing that the annexation would pass regardless of our legitimate concerns and complaints, I had signed my written statement with my name, naming myself the Secretary of an imaginary new organization:
(I don't mind stirring the pot). Actually, I thought it was quite clever and was proud of myself for my restraint. I had considered quoting Vice President Cheney with his highly popular, "Go fuck yourself!", shouting it to the back of the small meeting room, leaving no Onamian unoffended. They are pro-sex offenders but anti-naughty-word offenders. Talk about priorities! Anyway, all I did was give the council back their own euphanism in straight-talk. Like calling a "sanitary engineer" a garbageman... The city council has been telling us "fuck you" every time they say "It's a Done Deal. There's nothing you can do about it," at each because-we-have-to meaningless public hearing, and in each false statement recorded in their newspaper. Of course, the Mille Lacs Messenger reported my acronym in such a way as to manipulate public outrage towards me, and unfortunately towards the innocent OACRG, [Onamia Area Citizens for Responsible Growth], who were not to blame. I was solely the one to blame. :)
The Onamians are wholesome, religious, good Republicans who like to blame - including the local girl who had consensual unprotected sex with the Mille Lacs Academy sex offender who neglected to mention he was HIV positive. He's a "poor troubled boy". She's a slut who got what she deserved. That's the attitude I'm seeing. And to tell you the truth (I always do), I can't believe my own eyes. Can so many people be so stupid? It's hard to forgive the Onamians who base what they believe on what they read in the Mille Lacs Messenger, when so much of what Vivian Clark writes and Kevin Anderson prints is propaganda or just plain incorrect. Sure, many Onamians don't have computers or the Internet (which should explain a lot), but when you're going to champion a cause, especially one which affects the lives of other people, you have a responsibility to research, know the facts, understand the situation. Otherwise you're just regurgitating someone else's agenda. That's not standing up for what you believe.... that's promoting propaganda.
Councilman Bob Mickus says that the "Bradbury Idiots" live with our heads under rocks. I say that the "Onamia Assholes" live with their heads up their butts. Sounds junior highschool, I know. But when in Rome....
How can we cure this epidemic of STUPID in our community? Educating the sick people with Truth is a logical prescription. The problem I see is that they don't want to take the cure. They embrace their sickness. They're proud people. It's so much more exciting to be emotional, to be accusatory, judgemental, to be angry... and to direct hot hate to those of us who hold the Truth in our out-stretched hands, offering Awareness. A good fight gets the blood boiling. And if you can be the puncher instead of the punchee, can gain lots of attention for yourself and get praised to boot, throwing away your rights and freedoms can feel rewarding. Because, that's the bottom line of what the Onamians are doing - handing over their own rights; throwing away their freedom. What is happening to our neighborhood could just as well happen in theirs. And it could just as well happen in your neighborhood too. Allowing the government to do this. Condoning this. It can't get much more stupid than that.
Monday, July 2, 2007
We live in a rural area just west of Onamia. Our small group of outraged neighbors quickly banded together, determined to fight City Hall. We organized and formed the Onamia Area Citizens for Responsible Growth. We hired a lawyer. And for the past two months, that is exactly what we have been attempting to do - fight to save our neighborhood. It hasn't been easy. We're learning a lot. And there have certainly been a lot of surprises along the way. My life has changed drastically. I'm not social. I'm not civic-minded. Let's face it, I enjoy being a hermit, minding my own business. I miss my quiet life. I spend most of my time these days researching, preparing for city council meetings, planning strategies, attending neighborhood meetings, school board meetings, talking on the phone, starting an online newspaper, and now, although it still hasn't sunk in, I'm finally blogging.
There's a lot to tell you about. The purpose of this blog is to inform area residents of what we know that they aren't hearing, to give them our side of the story, and to engage people in an open forum. Please post your comments. Ask questions. Give suggestions. We'll see where this goes. To learn more about what's happening in our neck of the woods, visit our new online newspaper, The Mille Lacs News. http://www.millelacsnews.com
My name is Hannabelle. Welcome to my blog.