Property Rights Foundation of America®

May 23, 2003
The Press
Ellenville, New York

To the Editor:

Whereas water/sewer bills were automatically "rolled over" into the village tax roll without interest penalties added, for many years, suddenly the new administration stopped this and threatens to turn off the water unless bill is paid within 60 days of its due date, screechingly, over the phone, haranguing persistently in a caterwaul of verbal abuse that indubitably would be viewed by anyone witnessing as intentional harassment and intimidation. At least this is how I was treated. And despite the fact that the bill itself, in print, still says it shall be rolled over into village tax if not paid (!) Something's awry.

As I could not pay what I owed I called back and arrived upon an agreement of installments and dates to pay. Later I was asked to come in to the village office as an act of submission, I suppose, to verify the phoned agreement. Not only did the verbal abuse continue as I was sitting at an administiator's desk, he went back on his word and shriekingly piled on different assortments of charges, seemingly arbitrarily, without proffering any documented backup. [Later I called our new mayor who interceded and called me back verifying reversion to what the original agreement/dates were]. The verbal assault at his desk in village's office was so stultifyingly stupefying my mouth went so dry from shock and I couldn't talk. Two different police officers, noticing my trauma, apparently, brought me cups of water. The degree of disparagement and character assassination I experienced was so intense I retain mental reveries of the hurt from experiencing injury from mental pain going on now for over two weeks hence.

After I made two of the three installment payments, on time, I received a letter from this selfsame person on very expensive stationery listing another set of different amount charges than what the original agreement stipulated — a third attempt at going back on our original agreement. I queried via mail but receiving no response by the due date so I made the payment anyway.

But the real point of this letter is this: while sitting at the village administrator's desk he came around the desk and stood menacingly (body-language-wise) over me less than two feet away. Having the vantage to peer down into my shirt pocket he saw a lit LED (light emitting diode).

All hell broke loose, his shouting "He's recording!"; "He's got a wire!" I felt everyone within hearing of his shrieks react. The police came by. Everyone stopped still as if in a freeze frame, stupefied. I too felt stupefied for two reasons: 1. why'd he assume it was an audio recorder? and 2. why'd he react so violently?

All I could react with was to calmly say, I don't mind if I am ever being recorded because, having a solid enough integrity, I would be and say the same whether or not I was being recorded.

This changed the atmosphere, my being told over and over again "I won't prosecute." "I won't press charges."

The revelation of this having happened — an administrator's violent indignation discovering what he thought was his being recorded — leads ineluctably to the conclusion that he would have dialogued differently had he been aware of it being recorded, and concomitantly the existence of a guilty conscience (his firm conviction it was "a wire" even
though he had no evidence it.was).

Duplicity is a common enough human foible that we expect often to be put in positions of having to decide whether or not another person is exhibiting it; but it is not expected to come from a high salaried civil servant that we expect to exhibit a higher degree of integrity and public trust. Our system's survival depends upon such, especially in light of recent Enron scandal and resulting economic downturns, "For evil to triumph, 'tis enough for the good to be silent." — Edmund Burke.

Paul T.Johnson
Ellenville and NYC

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