Today’s post comes from Crystalbay
I’ve been MIA for a few weeks because I’m thoroughly embroiled in a fight with city hall. In this city, people aren’t allowed to have a boat at their dock unless they themselves own it. This means that my own kids couldn’t even dock here. I have no boat, and have rented it out every summer for much needed income. A local marina owner found out and filed a complaint against me. I was notified that I had to remove the friend’s boat in one week or face trial. I didn’t comply, then received a summons for a court hearing. Bottom line: I’m facing up to a $1000 fine or 90 days in jail for having one boat at my otherwise empty dock. This money is 1/4 of my annual income, so I decided to fight back.
In a group email to the mayor and city council, I begged for help in resolving this. I explained my situation. I also wrote that, short of help from them, I might have to go public. Not one responded. I’m sure that they thought I was just blowing smoke.
I made one phone call to the StarTribune. They came out the very next day to interview me. A week later, the story was featured on the front page of the Minnesota Section.
What’s happened since this is nothing short of phenomenal. 360 comments followed the article, 95% positive. Someone posted the story on a Lake Minnetonka Fan Club FB page. 250 more comments followed, 98% from people outraged by Orono’s actions. A high end attorney offered pro bono representation. Two more local newspapers wanted in on the action and two more articles brought even more support. I’ve been told that the story spread across the state and that even our governor is following it. I’ve had offers to pay any legal costs or fines. Hundreds have expressed interest in attending my public hearing on Oct. 25th. All three reporters from the three articles published want to be present for possible follow-up articles.
What began as just me and the city locking horns over my dock has taken on a life of its own, with hundreds of people angry about everything from how our tax dollars are being spent to government overreach to how seniors are treated. It seems that disdain for city councils around the lake in general was tapped into by one old lady’s predicament. It’s reminding me of the movie Network when Peter Finch got people to open up their windows and yell, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore!!!!!”
In short, my situation going public has touched a palpable and collective nerve in the community across the lake. Even if, as many are predicting, my case gets dismissed, something has clearly been awakened. All I wanted was and is to be able to have one boat at my dock.
What was your David vs Goliath moment? Have you ever had to fight City Hall?