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Don't Rush Me


Sometimes it pays to listen


When government push too hard



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November 03, 2010 - I know there is an old saying, cliche or adage that goes something like this: Don't crap in your own backyard.

I reckon it makes sense. If you're gonna raise a stink about something, it is far more pleasant to do it farther from where you live, than closer. Where you live should be a sanctuary from all the troubles you have stirred up. So, with all that pointing to what I should do, I will endeavor to do the opposite.

Call me Mr. Contrary. I am gonna' fuss and make things uncomfortable for some folks close to home. Goodrich Village Council and Administration get out your highlighters and take notes, you're getting called out.

Currently there is an investigation going on as to whether or not Goodrich administration/ordinance enforcer forged documents in an ordinance enforcement case with Atlas Township resident and Goodrich Village businessman Al Ryden. An investigation into whether or not another village businessman signed a receipt for a certified letter from the village. The letter was "proof" Ryden was notified his M-15 commercial property was in violation of village ordinances (weeds too tall, vehicles and trailers parked illegally).

Thing is, the person who was said to have signed says he didn't. Furthermore, I have seen the John Hancock in question and compared it to the person's real signature. To my, admittedly untrained eye, they don't match.

Which begs the question, are village representatives fabricating documents to back up their ascertations? And, if they are fabricating here, are they doing it elsewhere?

So, let's back up to the beginning of this mess that didn't have to be.

Al let his property fall into the opposite of being in compliance with village ordinances. He was given notice of this, by phone, early this past August. Soon there after he started hounding the village for written procedures code enforcement officers are to follow. No satisfaction. He continued and was soon shoved aside to the village attorney. The attorney also has a hard time listening to Al's complaints and request for procedures and instead, sends out a copy of the ordinance (no procedures).

About this time, I got a call from Al asking for help. I got Citizen editor David Fleet involved and on September 8 he wrote the story, Owner questions village procedures.

By October, Al is still getting stonewalled. The village attorney has told village council not to act on the situation. Council president won't let Al on the agenda to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. In a few words, they blew him off.

Here's another thing, which I think has gotten lost in all this: Al said his property was in violation (that was never his grievance). He took care of that, his problem was the manner in which he was contacted. That is why he requested the procedures which weren't produced. Why? Why also was it when at least one other person walked into the village offices and made the request, it was produced toot-sweet?

How much time, money and energy has been wasted on this case, when all the local government folk had to do in the first place is listen and give the man what he wanted? All they would have had to have done is let him sit down, hear him out and produce a two-page document, titled Village of Goodrich, Procedure for Ordinance Enforcement.

Instead, in my opinion, egos and pride versus common sense ruled the day. Instead of acting like public servants, Al's phone calls were unanswered. His e-mails ignored. All conversation stopped and was forwarded to the village attorney to handle. Question, Dear Reader: As an American, when somebody pushes you, do you . . .

A. Bow, as the slave you are, to the power pushing; or

B. Push back, because you have the right to be heard?

* * *

In my position with this newspaper, I am in the position of fielding complaints. Complaints about unjust government, loud neighbors and about this newspaper. I was taught long ago, when somebody cares enough to call you, you should listen. If they complain, even if you think you are in the right, listen. Give them their due; show respect hear them out. Acknowledge their existence and their beef.

Sometimes it is easier than others, but more times than not, if you do this, you earn an ally -- at the very least you don't make an enemy.

Sometimes it just makes sense to listen to people. Hear their complaints, maybe learn something. I believe had this been done in Goodrich, the village would be a sweller place today and I wouldn't have had to crap so close to home.

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: don@dontrushmedon.com
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