Sunday, October 25, 2009


Blackjack, a massive longhorn steer and one of our town's most famous residents.

A gross, wicked fellow wants to be a city councilman here in my town and I feel helpless to stop him!
by Charlie Leck

I was at the city hall here in my town on Thursday night. A number of people gathered there to chat about our town’s election that is coming up in less than two weeks (Nov 3rd). There I met a gentleman about whom I have heard a great deal but had never before had the opportunity to greet. He lives over on the east side of town, close to some pretty dense population – dense for our town, at least. Yet, even though surrounded by residential sprawl, he stubbornly continues to raise cattle of a prize winning variety.

A former neighbor of his has been much on my mind lately and I wanted to talk about the guy. On a night like this, when we were supposed to be discussing an up-coming election, this fellow wanted to know why in heaven’s name I wanted to talk about this dastardly, former neighbor now moved to a distant part of town.

“Well,” said I, “it’s because he just may get elected.”

“What,” the cattleman stammered in shocked surprise, “he’s not runnin’ for council, is he?”

“Yes, sir! He’s one of the candidates for office that we’re working so hard against.”

I’ll tell you, I may as well have taken a 16 pound bowling ball and slammed it into his gut. Both his mouth and eyes were popped wide open. He stammered a bit and then raised a massive, working man’s hand and covered his lower face with it.

“Well, I’ll be! You aren’t kiddin’, are you?” He was mumbling now and his voice was muffled behind his hand.

I shook my head, stood my ground and remained silent, watching the shock continue to rock him. He took his hand away from his face and put it up against the wall to steady himself.

“It’s hard to believe a… a… a fellow like that could become a councilman. I never figured he’d have such nerve. Why, he didn’t just abuse the ordinances of our community; he mocked them and never considered that they were meant for him.”

You see, this guy who was talking to me had lost a sizeable number of cattle – calves and steers – in that time when our current candidate had lived across the road from him.

He began the story quietly, about how the poisoned ground water made its way through the culvert that crossed under the road and seeped up on to his property; and how it moved on over to the Painter’s Creek waterway and moved on south through plenty of other lush farmland.

The guy across the street, the current candidate for office, was in the lawn service business back in those days. He worked with unfriendly, dangerous chemicals. The containers, in which these liquid chemicals were sold, called for proper recycling and disposal. You just didn’t send them off to the land-fill.

The cattleman shook his head at this point in the story and his eyes clouded over.

“Why, he was just buryin’ that stuff right there in his back yard, up against a wetland area, lettin’ it leach right into the ground water where it would naturally flow wherever the water took it – toward my place and on to that wetlands area southwest of me and eventually into Painter’s Creek.”

He gathered himself for the next chapter. He was biting on the inside of his lip now. His complexion had reddened somewhat. He cleared his throat and went on.

“I found a dead calf one day and a steer on another day. No explanation. Then one day a neighbor called. He’d seen one of my cows and her calf looking sickly. We drew blood. Sent it to the University. It was poison. No question in my mind where it was comin’ from. All the neighbors knew what he was doin’ – how he was diggin’ the place up back there and dumpin’ that stuff in there and coverin’ it up.”

I couldn’t say anything. I could only listen in a sad silence. I was trembling and trying to control my own anger. I wanted to tell everyone in the room to quiet down and listen to this story – this incredible, sad, awful story of misbehavior and malfeasance.

“On down the road, another farmer along Painter’s Creek was losing some cattle, too. Seemed mysterious. One day the critter was just fine. Next day it was dead. He had the University look at them. They couldn’t tell nothin’ though.”

The city brought charges against the guy. He had to clean up the mess. The lawyers involved reached a settlement out of court. They sealed it up so the public can’t look.

The guy closed down his lawn service and moved on to another part of the town. This time he was going to do some horse business. Of course, he didn’t tell the city that. He just said he was going to build a barn for his family’s own recreation. He built it larger than he said. The permits weren’t properly applied for. It was clearly going to be a commercial barn. It was built closer to the wetlands than the ordinances allowed. He also put it closer to his neighbor than any kind man would. When the neighbor protested, the bastard of a fellow thought it would be cute to put a livestock trailer load of hogs right over on the edge of the property line with his neighbor. He’d feed them in the trailer and let them unload their pig-shit right there so that they’d build up a mighty stink. That’d teach the neighbor to complain so much.

The city told the guy to stop his project – that the permits weren’t properly drawn and that he was invading the wetlands. There was a suit and a counter-suit. It cost the city a lot of money. Of course, the libertarians in the town were stirred into a rage.

“A man ought to be able to do what he wants with his own property,” they contend. “ Don’t need no communists telling him where he has to build and how big he can build.”

The cases were settled out of court. The settlements, as part of the agreement, were sealed and we can’t see what the sides agreed to.

Now the guy’s boarding stable is operational. It’s not very attractive. In fact, it’s down-right messy, but, you know, it’s a guy’s own property and he ought to be able to do what he wants with it. Too bad he’s got a neighbor who has to look at it. The guy’s pretty proud of himself. It cost him a few bucks, but he got away with it.

So, he’s running for city office. He wants to be a town councilman and make laws, and approve permits, and decide how the town spends its money. He’s running on the libertarian theme – you know, it’s my land, my life and I’ll do what I want with both. Neighbors and town be damned.

You know, there’s a mighty stink that comes all the way across town, when I think that this guy just might get elected, and the thought that anyone can be so inconsiderate and abusive to other people and to the land just makes me terribly ill.

I went home from the meeting at City Hall and had a drink. Then I kicked some furniture and swore out loud. The dog looked at me and cranked his head to the side at an uncomfortable angle. I took a step toward him and he scampered off with his tail between his legs.

How can such a bastard want to assume so important an office? How can so many people consider voting for him? This is my town. I love it here. Oh, my god!


  1. This is reminiscent of a recent (although still unresolved) bad-neighbor story here in Georgia:
    Surely, if municipal protections are too weak, Minnesota has an environmental protection agency similar to our EPD that could take a hand in defending the public interest. Or maybe the U.S. EPA would be able to help.

  2. Yes, Charles, you are correct; though it is not as easily done as it seems. It is better, always, to deal with such problems right at their root, right at home!

  3. That guy also appealed to the city council to a vote to move a house from Wayzata onto his property because there "wasn't time" to go through the normal process. It was for a "small, ranch-style" house. Have you seen it? Also applied for conditional use permit to use the old house as a bunkhouse. Later asked to amend the CUP to "guest house". Guest house is for personal use only, not employee housing. Wanna bet?