When someone announces that they're going to stick their sex offenders in the large institutional complex they intend to build in a pastoral hayfield just down your street, thus disrupting the peace and quiet of your rural, agricultural, middle-of-nowhere, down-in-the-boondocks, don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it neighborhood, it can make a person a little cranky. When they tell you there's nothing you can do to stop it, it gets your dander up. And when you discover that the local government is not only allowing this to happen but has been bending over backwards to make this happen, catering to the corporation while disgarding the lives of it's long-term citizens, it arrouses feelings you didn't know you were capable of. Feelings of rage, indignation, frustration, and desperation on such a grand scale, it is overwhelming.
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!