November 28, 2012 - I've said it to more folks than I care to remember. "It" is this: At this point in my life, I am less about the story and more about doing what is right and helping folks out.
A goodly while back a family in Orion Township contacted me in need of help. They signed up with a local real estate agent to have their property sold in what could have been a commercial endeavor where their property would have been combined with others. Sometime after they signed the contract things went, as some would say, south.
They hired an attorney and went to the state with their complaint. As time went on, they learned the real estate agent received letters of support from some local, county and state government types. Then they called me.
It has been months since I went out to the family's home. I was there for over an hour. I interviewed them; I took notes, made copies of their complaints and the afore mentioned letters of support the agent received.
I was shocked, amazed and saddened by their story. I hate it when stuff like this happens.
I have since emailed and talked via phone to the real estate agent and the government types. My emails to the government types went something like this:
" . . . it has come to my attention that you recently wrote letters of support to the state regarding real estate dealings between a local Orion Township couple and a local agent.
"I am writing about this . . .What would you like to say to the family — local, taxpaying residents who spent thousands of dollars of their own money to defend themselves?"
I think I may have thrown in something snotty like, "this family feels the deck was stacked against them when they see their elected politicians writing in support of the person they complained about."
The politicos got back to me, pronto-like.
And, all said about the same thing . . . they didn't know of the exact nature of the family's complaint. That their letters were based solely on their years of knowing and dealings with the agent and that in no way would they condone anything unethical.
And, I have to take them at their word.
I have talked to the real estate agent.
I have looked at the state ruling on the complaint — and there were some t's not dotted nor were some i's crossed by the agent. The agent was not asked to reimburse legal fees. The agent's license was not revoked. The agent was not put on probation. The state has said there was no foul play. A $1,000 fine was paid to the state (because The State is always paid).
I would have loved to come out guns smoking, alliterations ablaze. I would have loved to write a scathing masterpiece about the good ol' boy network versus the common folk.
There's something about the sound of The Muckinator I like. Rush, the Muckraker sounds good, too. (Does anybody even know what a muckraker is anymore?)
But, I can't.
And, I feel bad I can't.
I wanted to help that family. Their contract with the agent has now expired, and I don't think they will re-list nor will they recommend said agent to any of their family or friends.
Can I say everything is honky-dory in Mudville and how it all worked out? Nope, can't say that either. Why? Because I just don't know.
I believe everybody I talked to. Can everybody be wrong or everybody be right?
This does the family no good, not one damned bit of good. It didn't help pay their attorney fees, nor did it build confidence in a system that pits haves against have-nots. I provided nothing for them.
Maybe somebody else down the road, however can learn a little.
People: When you enter into a contract — before you sign the dotted line — make sure your very own personal attorney gives it the okay.
This may only give you peace of mind, avoid broken trusts, but it may keep you safe, too.
I don't know.
Maybe the elected officials could contact the family, give them some reason to believe they weren't taken advantage of; maybe assure them the system isn't against them.
I don't know . . . it's just a thought.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org