Property Rights Foundation of America®
Founded 1994

Preserving Our Property Rights Against 'Conservationists'

By Eric Francis Coppolino
Investigative Reporter

Seventeenth Annual National Conference on
Private Property Rights
October 26, 2013
The Century House, Latham, N.Y.

Hi. Thank you. Carol, thanks for having me back. I was the keynote in 1998 talking about a similar case as this one. It's an extension. This is the fourth time that Karen Pardini and Mike Fink have been sued by land conservancies in nineteen years. That is a lot of defending litigation and they've spent more defending litigation than they've spent on the entire ranch. We'll come to that in a moment. I'll tell you a little bit about this picture which may be selfexplanitory.

I'm a journalist and my first environmental story was on Love Canal. I'm from this other branch of environmentalism which is keeping pollutors honest, if you can do that, and my first article — I was just thinking about this a moment ago — was on Love Canal. And when I was nineteen years old I was a student at SUNY Buffalo and Love Canal was a neighborhood in Nigara Falls where the Hooker Chemical Company sold to the school district attractive land for a dollar that had been a waste dump. Contained at the bottom of the dump was the Manhattan Project and then a lot of less bad things like dioxin and toluene, benzene, and PCB's that were all piled on top of that.

By the Seventies people were getting cancer and kids getting very sick and dogs dying and birth defects and it really took a lot to convince these people that there was a problem. They were so attached to their homes. You know, you get a home, it's your home and you don't want to just evacuate and know you're not coming back, basically, then there was an evacuation and these were completely legitimate evacuations. It remains a very serious situation. The site has not been remediated.

But this was an environmental case but it was also a property rights case. I've never quite thought of it that way because we have a right to have our land be clean as well as the right to be on it. And the environmental movement, less than fifty years old really, Silent Spring... Right? Silent Spring's fiftieth anniversary was in 2012. Right? That really begins the environmental movement. One book by one lady dying of breast cancer — I think it was her fifth book — persuaded John F. Kennedy, whose fiftieth anniversary of his death is coming up in a couple of weeks, to push this issue through and get DDT out of the marketplace and out of kid's wallpaper and out of being sprayed on the beach and on swimming pools. And the environmental movement is in a nascent phase. It is young. Fifty years is not very long. It's much, much newer than the concept of sovereign property rights.

This is the difference between us and our friends across the pond. In England they're subjects, we're sovereigns. Can't take away who we are, our birthright. We own a piece of the action as American citizens. A lot of problems with that right now but I believe that at its heart that concept still exists. And while the environmental movement is in its nascent phase it needs to be brought into check because the story I'm going to tell you is not the story of Monsanto encroaching on people's rights or General Electric or Westinghouse or the EPA, which is kind of like an extension of these people, but it's the story of environmental groups, in the name doing good, crushing a lot of people using numerous tactics. I'm going to go through some of the tactics and the play book and I'm going to do an article about this. I've started to accumulate the tactics and the play book. There's probably about ten or fifteen, major tactics that can be identified.

The story begins on this land, this one, not that one. The little tower in the distance is Smiley Tower and I finished my second major phase of research in August on this lawsuit about how Mohonk Preserve sued Karen Pardini and Mike Fink to take their land away. And then one day, well, when all the dust had cleared and articles were published, I took a walk up there one afternoon onto the very land I had been researching for years and writing about. And I like to visit the other side of the land by the stream so I thought I would come up and see this land I had been obsessing over for years. I went up there and went to a clearing and looked down and well what do you see? You see the Mohonk Mountain House. That tower is Skytop, sometimes called Smiley Tower. And the land that this photo is taken from is in the viewshed of this posh hotel. And borrowing from Sting, "In the empire of the senses you're the queen of all you survey." He didn't quite mean it that way but they think they're the queen of all they survey. If you can see something from Smiley Tower, they own it in their own demented concept of reality. And it would be funny if it were just kind of a book or a cartoon or something. But it's not. It's how they actually orient on reality.

And about Mohonk Mountain House, closely affiliated with Mohonk Preserve, my theory is that the Mountain House had got the preserve to basically do its bidding. Then at a certain point they get involved with a guy named Robert Anderberg who is on the Mohonk Preserve board. He joins Open Space Institute when it's in a kind of a nascent phase and becomes general counsel. So that creates a kind of a — it's not even really a merger — it's really one and the same, they really operate as one and the same thing between Mohonk and the Open Space Institute. And then there's all these little satellite land conservancies around that can bring legal actions and mess with people and kind of keep them all busy preserving land left and right. And if you break down all the corporate interweavings it's kind of complicated but at the end of the day really it's Mohonk and OSI and the Land Trust Alliance that I believe were calling the shots. And Darth Vader, Robert K. Anderberg, is, I think, the mastermind of all this. You see it in the memos that come up. And in the two actions where Pardini and Fink were sued. He was directly involved in the initial acquisition, the memos point straight to him. He's an attorney. He knows the law and he knows better than to do the kind of stuff you're about to hear about.

Just as background, Pardini and Fink own about three hundred acres in the Clove Valley. They're surrounded by Mohonk Preserve. They maybe have a little neighbor, you know, this part of their property got sold way back before they owned it. But for the most part — there's a word for it when you're an island in the middle of another property — so they're an island in the middle of Mohonk Preserve. Mohonk has attempted to litigate almost every boundary the two of them share and it hasn't really done very well. Now, the land we're talking about is extraordinary. I've seen a good bit of the Mohonk Preserve and I have no question as to why they want this land besides all the motives I'll get into in a minute. Motives going back a long way, really ugly, kind of racist stuff going on involving the previous owner. But it's absolutely astounding land with numerous cliffs that have not been touched by climbers ever. There's lichen and moss because there haven't been tons of hikers. The land just basically sits there and breathes and grows and does stuff. There's pitch pine forests, some of them a thousand years old or older and Mike Fink happens to be a selective timber harvester and the Mohonk Preserve likes to make it sound like he's just going to chop down all those trees one day, but that's not true.

Let's start with this first exhibit. This is Clove Valley Road. It runs along the valley this way. There's a stream back there that follows the road, approximately. This is a map from about 1799 where there is a land grant which involved a lot of local politics back then and rich people dealing with each other. And the land all used to be shared in this area but then someone — Mike Fink knows the story — decided it had to be chopped up into nineteen parcels and that happens between around right after the American Revolution and 1799. I believe that's a 1799 map and Pardini and Fink own out to the stream and on the other side and then Mohonk is going up the hill that way on that side and then there's the road. Their home is here and then there's lots one, two, three, four and then a little chunk of lot five in the corner which has been stolen that needs to be negated because the maps have been filed chopping off their ownership of lot 5 and they're very sneaky people. When I get into their tactics you'll see how. But the land in question in the suit that I've been working on for about three years was finally won on the trial court level and the paperwork looks good like it should pass muster on appeal. We all have of our trust in the Third Department that it's the best one in the state and they were granted title and adverse possession.

But here's the basic story. These lots are divided up in the late seventeen hundreds and not long after that in the early to mid-eighteen hundreds, this ridge line here becomes the natural property boundary between this part of the lots and this part of the lots. Right. So, man cuts the land this way and God cuts the land this way and both sets of boundaries seem to do their part in the story. And in the mid-eighteen hundreds a farm's boundary line was drawn on along this ridge. And the farm is called the Curran Farm and there have never, never since then, since around 1840, never have these been owned by the same owner. They've been separate because the Curran Farm was all this down here. Then various owners over the years owned all of this and then in the mid-twentieth Century, from around the 1930's or forties these parcels all start to be bound up into one ranch. This road is Clove Valley Road so it's a valley and it goes down for a while then back up and then this goes back up and then back down. So this is really hillside here, hillside there and a stream and that all became this thing called Smitty's Dude Ranch.

Wilbur Smith is a black man who died recently. He was one of two black men in Ulster County who had any significant land holdings. The other was Peg Leg Bates who appeared on "The Ed Sullivan Show" about fifty times. So that's who you had to be to own a sizable piece of land in Ulster County or you had to be Smitty who bought his land and a dude ranch kind of grew on the land. He wasn't really planning to have it be a hippie hangout but by the 1960's it was the home to many, many people who would travel up every weekend and considered it their wilderness Mecca. This is also what Mohonk tries to be. But this is something that grew up in a very natural, organic way.

This map sings out a little more accurately but we only have all the stuff on the stream side that is not talked about. Now this flips over the orientation. On this map now north is up like it's supposed to be. So, here's that ridge line that was at the bottom of the map initially and the ridge line divides in half this part of lot 1, here, right? And this lower part of Lot 1 is about twenty-six acres and this is about seventy-five acres. The Curran Farm is all of this — it even says it somewhere — this whole gigantic thing here is the Curran Farm. And once the Curran Farm is divided off, that's it. Other people own the land on either side of the ridge. It's really the basis of the whole case. It's how they won basically by explaining the chain of title of the Curran Farm. Now, all of these lands are described by adjoiner's descriptions. There's no metes and bounds up here. It's really wild land and there are cliffs and you really have to have good hiking boots and some lungs to walk around up there.

So time goes on and the Curran Farm starts to get cut up at a certain point in the late 1800's. And a chunk of the Curran Farm is cut off. That's this. And this is called the King's Lane Lot because of this thing called the King's Lane here, this little old path leads into it. And it's one of those things that you can't really say it's as old as the hills because the hills were there first. But except for the hills, it's as old as the hills. The King's Lane leads into the King's Lane Lot. And time goes on and this guy Nils J. Johanson buys the King's Lane Lot among other land holdings on that side, the north side of the ridge. And Smitty, Wilbur Smith, owns this fairly sizable chunk of maybe two hundred acres on this side of the ridge. Johanson apparently had some bigotry issues and didn't like the fact that he had a black neighbor who had three hundred really nice acres. There's no way to describe how it's beautiful land but there's a soul to it and it's very close to Native American medicine grounds and it just feels like that. There's all these very humble looking, thousand-year-old pitch pines. You would never, ever imagine you're looking at a thousand year old tree. It just looks like a little pine tree. But its been very quietly growing there since, you know, back in the day when knights were bold.
And he commissions a survey. And he hires this guy Messenger to do a survey and Messenger chops off Lot 1 and a whole chunk of Lot 4 in the survey. So he basically surveys his neighbor's land — very nice of him — and he chops off half of it. Smitty can't associate a map with the ground. He knows where his land is because he patrols it on horseback with a revolver or a rifle stuck in the saddle. I think people knew not to mess with him in 3D but in the virtual reality world of the Messenger survey there's a hundred and fifty acres, well about half of the two hundred is taken off, about a hundred acres is lopped off the sides of this. And the Messenger survey crew becomes important because there's this guy named Lars Hagen on the crew who's involved in an attempt to steal another piece of this land.

But let's just stick to the story of Lot 1 for now because it tells you mostly everything you need to know. So Johanson owns this land and his daughter inherits it. His daughter, Gloria Finger, inherits this little bitty piece among a few other bits. Then in the early 1990's Anderberg writes a memo and the memo says there's someone up on the ridge, a Gloria Finger, quote "a Gloria Finger," as if no one has ever heard of her kind. He made it sound like, you know, I just met this lady walking down the road and she wants to sell a parcel of her land to Mohonk. And they complete the transaction but what she sells them is this. So what they did was they pretended that the King's Lane Lot was all of Lot 1 of the Nineteen Partners Tract, not just the little bit that they had, the little rocky bit up here. I haven't walked on this. I've been to the edge, I've been to this property line but I haven't gone hiking here. I'm sure if I were a climber it would be a lot more fun. So she sells them these seventy-five acres. They made a mistake and didn't steal all the land they were supposed to steal. So there's a triangle there that's got to be litigated but she sells them land she doesn't own, basically, which is one of the things that Anderberg is famous for. So, Theme One in the play book is "buy the land from someone who doesn't own it and then sue the people who do own it."

So they do this transaction. They bought the land and then they filed the deed and they filed the map and it's all sitting there for ten years before anybody says anything. This is another little trick of Anderberg. Do it, and then wait a long time, and then hope nobody notices when you trot it out ten years later. So they trotted it out a while later and they get a subdivision. They go to the planning board and they get a subdivision on land that's always been owned by — since before the Civil War — by different parties. So you can't subdivide land that's already divided. And so that makes it look good though, it gives planning board seal of approval whenever they refer to their ownership of the land and how proud they are of their — what do they call it? — their "legitimate chain of title" or something like that. They have their way of doing their baloney public relations spin.

They always talk about the planning board subdivision they got as if that makes it even more real but, you know, it hasn't, back since the days of the Curran Farm, the two different owners. So they get this subdivision and they bring the lawsuit against Pardini and Fink. And who pays for it but their title insurance company because they secured title insurance from First American Financial. And this is a fairly rare case for a title insurance company to prosecute a case. And the thing they were prosecuting was Mike Fink tearing down all of their signs that didn't belong there, which is what you do. If I came to your house and I hung up a "No Trespassing" sign in your bathroom you'd probably tear it down, especially if it said I owned it. I tell this story and I can't even believe what I'm saying. It's just so outrageous.

You can't make this stuff up. but someone did in their demented way. I'm going to meet Bob Anderberg some day and see what the guy is like. We'll leave this Astrology out of it. I don't know his birthday but if anyone has it I've got a bounty out on his birthday. He'll get a lifetime free subscription to my work if you come up with it. Who cares what time he's born, I just want the day.

So they bring their fourth lawsuit. They've lost two. One was settled — shouldn't have been settled — but it was not worth fighting at that point and there were some issues fighting it. That's not a win, that's a walk. And now for the fourth time they're litigating Karen and Michael. They're suing them for land that they bought from someone else who didn't own it — from Johanson's daughter. And I mean it's amazing that it goes back to that grudge between Johanson and Smitty. He just didn't like the fact that Wilber Smith owned this land and Karen was friends with Smitty. It's how she ends up getting the land when Smitty was under legal pressure in the 80's. Well, I'll tell the story. He was sitting at his kitchen table and after years and years and years of this he decides the solution is to kill them, which, you know, "Thou shalt not kill," the Lord said. He was sitting at his kitchen table when the Lord spoke to Smitty and said, "Thou shalt not kill. Leave this place." This is a true story. So Smitty calls up Karen Pardini, his old friend, because we all worship the ground Karen Pardini walks on. And he calls her up and Mike Fink answers the phone — and Karen's away — and he says "I want to sell you Smitty's ranch," and Mike collects the money and hocks his sister's thing and scrapes the money together and picks Karen up at the airport and hands her the deeds. So, where am I going with this? All right, let's go back to this one, back to Lot 1.

They have adjoiners descriptions for this. Right. Twenty-three-ish acres, right. And they're claiming to own this. Now everyone understands adjoiner descriptions. Right? It's your neighbor. Who's your neighbors and what's the history of the neighbor's land? It's an important concept in real estate since most transactions are not done by adjoiners descriptions anymore. Most of them by metes and bounds, lot and plot number it's very organized. But back in the day you'd say, "Well, Joe Blow is my neighbor to the left and Jane Doe is my neighbor to the right and I am in between," and you can't really rearrange that. And all of these lands like this, this chunk of Lot 2 here has a deed history. This piece of Lot 1 calls for the deed history here to be its deed history. So it's basically calling for Pardini and Fink and all of their predecessors to the south. So, the land they've tried to steal calls for the people who own it in their adjoiner description. It makes absolutely no sense. And then this land has history and this land has a history.

Just to give one example I gave in my article because it's easiest to understand, the King's Lane Lot calls for John I. Davis to the northeast. It's an old chunk of the Curran Farm. Right. So, in order to claim that this was also part of the King's Lane Lot the "expert" witnesses had to kind of move the John I. Davis parcel here. Oops. Right. Now, one of the ways they could do that was there was some ambiguity in the deed record about where the John I.Davis parcel was. Mike Fink and Chris McGregor, the title searcher who really should be here today, you would all love him, finally they figured out where the John I. Davis parcel was.

Well, Chris and Mike were both chess players. And Chris grew up playing chess. His father taught him. He played against his brother who was pretty smart. And Mike Fink can beat any computer at chess. He's kind of got that kind of mind that can sort of narrow itself into a lot more powerful laser beam in this thing. And Chris is obsessive and he went through the alphabetic garbage pails in the deed office. There's like these alphabetic trash bins where everything with a "C" is thrown into one bin and if you're patient enough and observant enough and someone's paying you to sit there or maybe you're not and you just feel like it, you can piece together interesting bits. That's one of the ways they found John I. Davis parcel.

In the litigation, Mohonk's attorney, being paid for by the title insurance company, is trying to establish that this is the John I. Davis parcel. The problem is that they have to dismiss the entire deed history of this part of Lot 2. and then they have to. None of the adjoiners descriptions work. And they took this to court and they managed to litigate it and drag it out for nine years. Nine years of this. The trial transcript was around fifteen hundred pages and I think maybe nine or ten full solid days of litigation. Years and years of discovery. And the case hinged on this lot line, line A7 here which is sort of this whole boundary but it's the chunk of A7 going across Lot 1. And, initially Mohonk's lawyers couldn't decide since obviously it can't be there because that would divide up the Curran Farm from the bottom of Lot 1. One of their experts said that the line went like this. Another one of their experts said the line went like that. So they only had two "experts" neither of whom could agree on where the boundary line went except for one thing — it didn't go where it was supposed to go. That's the one thing they had in common which is understandable enough. But just to have that disagreement between your experts kind of messes up your case. All right. So, this boundary line is so well established obviously by the Curran Farm going back to before the Civil War. And so they're testilying and they're making up all these stories and it goes on and on.

Mike Fink and Chris McGregor and their attorney Sharon Graff who's kind of a young buck, very energetic, the kind of stop at nothing, tenacious, young — I guess she's in her thirties — lawyer, who graduated SUNY Buffalo, between them they were able to piece together, almost hour by hour chronology of the transfer of deeds going back to around 1840. Every tax sale. Every redemption. There is redemption and a tax sale. All this stuff and little bits carved off. They were able to make this impeccable, basically irrefutable, chronology as part one of their case. They establish the chain of title that is really fun to read. It's posted on my web site and if you have a couple of hours and you want to read through it for legal paperwork, it's really interesting and those are the good lawyers who can write the fantastic legal paperwork that makes the judge want to read it and keep going. It's really interesting and it kind of reads like a mystery.

The second thing is that this whole thing here, this whole chunk and plenty on the other side of the road was Smitty's Dude Ranch going back to the late 1950's. So, there was a clear case of adverse possession. They held and used, the land for many years. They called countless witnesses who were there who did everything there and walked around naked and hunted and played, "Capture the Flag" and did all this stuff and then when Mike Fink took over the property in the 80's they began a process. I hang on my office wall a detailed map of Lot 1. Now, they purchased from Gloria Finger — for only $89,000 mind you — seventy-five acres in the Clove Valley and they got it for about $1,000 an acre. That should tell you something. Since then the offers have come in in the millions on that property.

Norman Van Valkenburgh, Mohonk's surveyor, never actually surveyed the land. And he admits as much to me. Mike had me sitting in his truck for an hour the other day playing back for me my interview with Norman Van Valkenburgh from 1997. It was really like time travel. He wants me to hear this one little piece but he can't remember where it is on the CD and there are no tracks on the CD. So I've got to sit in Mike's truck for about an hour and fifteen minutes and it's getting more interesting as it's going on. It's like, "Wow, I was really young when this was happening." And, "Wow, this guy is so full of baloney," and, "Wow, you really said that, they're really saying that." And, "We don't really care who owned Lot 2." He says, "We're only interested in Lot 1. We don't really acre." Finally we get to the big climax of the thing and he's says, "Yeah, I surveyed Lot 1," but he didn't really survey it, "without ever redoing the deed research on Lot 2." Well, why not? Because you don't want to know. But he knew. He knew. Van Valkenburgh actually knows a lot more about this than I do. He just can't do anything but lie. So it turns out that he admits to me, with the tape going, that he never bothered doing the title research on Lot 2. Why bother? All right, Then there's a long series of statements that they never knew they owned it. This is really the ultimate Van Valkenburgh isn't it? They didn't know they owned it. Has anyone heard that phrase come up before or is this home-spun Clove Valley Norman Van Valkenburgh excuse to steal your land? He didn't know he owned it. But he got a mortgage on it. He sold part of it. How did he not know he owned it if he got a mortgage. And so he says, "Oh, I didn't know."

So Norman admits this but he's never really done a survey at this point. He's just borrowed the work of other surveyors who he's admitted were terrible. Mainly the Messenger survey and they filed their map. Now on this map hanging in my office, above where I do my podcasting — I'm sure if you can't tell, I love to podcast — is a trail map with all of these labyrinthine trails very well developed in Lot 1 and when they did this "survey" of Lot 1 and submitted this to the title insurance carrier none of the uses were established that have to be. You have to establish the uses: Buildings, roads, trails, driveways, rights-of-way, it's all got to be in, you know, it's just basically a square and somehow or another they get title insurance on this thing from First American Title and they sort of let it go by.

Now, Mike, as an exhibit, submits this map to the court and says that he took out maybe fifty trees along the seventy-five acres on various paths. He's a selective harvester so he knows how to do it. It helps the stronger trees and so forth. He has maintained these trails for twenty years. Some of these trails going back, as I say, to before the American Revolution. This establishes that the whole transaction is fraudulent and that he has title.

After nine years the judge granted title and adverse possession. I'm not sure how much of this I can tell. Let's say that at the end of all this litigation, about seven and a half years in, they've got to file conculsions of fact and findings of law. The judge grants both sides the right to submit a summary of their case as they see it, which means you quote all the testimony and you put in all the exhibits and you basically tell your story. You sum up the whole trial for the judge. So the lawyer gives Mike one quote but he's never lost a game of chess to a computer so he's going to make it better and better and better and better. And if you know Mike he just kind of keeps making it better and eighty-six pages of this establishing title and the whole story of the Curran Farm and all the transactions.

Then the other side submits theirs. It's painful to read it because it's painful if you have that sort of intellect to imagine taking this parcel of land and all its adjoiners and moving it here and then playing this ginormous endless game of charades trying to make all those adjoiners fit. This used to be owned by William Chase. I call him William Chase-him-off-his-land. "We don't know what he owned, maybe he owned something," and that's what they finally said. It's kind of like a remainder in division. You sort of forget about it. They have all these loose ends that they don't know what to do with and they're saying, "Well, Your Honor, just forget about that. Disregard the testimony of these people who have actually been there." And the judge ends up taking Fink's conclusions of facts and findings of law and he read the whole thing. I've seen the copy that he read. He puts all these commas in. He changes a word here. The lawyer used the word that was a little too inflamatory so he tones it down by two degrees, changes the word and initials it. He has to initial everything like the President. Every change he makes and he takes out one footnote and makes a bunch of proofreading corrections and stamps it and makes it the decision and order.

Now, that's really fortunate. I was not taking anything for granted. Now Cahill has a reputation as a good judge and he was Bradley's law clerk and wrote a lot of Bradley's decisions. Bradley was the judge on the original, the first of the four cases, who was so infurated by Mohonk Preserve's conduct that he said to their lawyers, "You're not coming back into my chambers unless you have a mask and a gun." He recused himself from the mask and the gun comment, so Cahill ends up as the judge taking the case. So he has a clue what's going on and the cat's meow of the whole thing is that this is all part of the Smitty's Ranch property. All these lots: 1, 2, 3, 4, and then this chunk of 5 here.

Mohonk Preserve, or its various affliates, have sued for every square inch of everything on that side of the road except for the house that Smitty lived in, which happened to be on that side of the road. So it has been litigated and litigated, over and over again, with all these title searches and judicial decisions by the same court. Not some court in Canada. The same court in the same town where the same guy was clerking for the judge who did the first case. And though there's not a precedent rule there's a persuasive authority rule and they can enter in all the findings of the previous cases that the same court had established, basically, since the only thing that hadn't been litigated was Lot 1. But Lots 2, 3, 4 and 4 had all been litigated.

The title history was well known to the court. Now, the fact that it dragged on so long and that it took the judge eighteen months — once the conclusions of fact and finding of law were submitted — to write his three-page letter on top saying, "This is the more persuasive, the more coherent set of facts." Really an understatement because the other ones read like someone drunk out of his skull wrote them. I don't mean like Hemmingway, who could actually write drunk.

Here's what you need to know to not have this happen. Know your neighbors. There's a whole bunch of plays in the playbook and one of them is Anderburgh likes to pit the neighbors against each other. There's a whole story of why Gloria Finger came to sell her land for $86,000. Anderburgh had pitted her against another family and gave them a lawyer and she went $86,000 into debt to this law firm in Albany, Whiteman Osterman & Hanna and the $86,000 is to pay off her debt to the law firm.

Know your deed. A lot of people don't know their deed. I'm amazed. Once I came close to buying a house. I've rented my whole life. Once I came close to buying a house. So I'm looking at this property. Well, who do I hire? My friend Chris McGregor to do a title search way before there's even talk of a closing or a binder. I know a title search is to find out what's going on. So Chris finds out the garden is in the wrong side of the line and the paperwork wasn't filed right. An argument ensues and I know Chris is right. Know your deed. Know your lines. Get a title search and know the story. Know where you stand. There's some good title searchers out there. It has to make sense to you. One of the reasons you know it's a good title search is the story is going to be coherent.

Follow the planning board and the zoning board. Read your local paper. Know what they're doing. Know what they're up to. There was an incident way back ten years ago in this where there was this phony subdivision of Lot 1 which was divided since before the Civil War. Well, they sent out a letter saying that Gloria Finger was going to sell some of her land and when Mike Fink didn't show up at the planning board meeting they said, "Well, you didn't show up at the planning board meeting." And he said, "Well, I would have shown up if they said they were going to sell some of my land but why should I care if they're going to sell some of Gloria Finger's land?" This bit of advice might not have helped but it does help to know the planning board and know the zoning board. Heck, make friends with the reporter who's covering it. The twenty-two year old person who's sent to cover the planning board and the zoning board and know the story. I would say at this point don't buy land adjacent to a private conservancy. You're probably looking for trouble. They've become very, very agressive. They really need to be stopped and I'm hoping that one of the ways to stop them is to expose them.

And have a safe mortgage. You have to have a secure mortgage. I think private mortgages are risky because all the person who's out to get you has to do is offer money to the person who holds your mortgage and the almighty buck does hold sway for some people more than it does for others. You've got to be very secure in your mortgage and who holds it and pay your taxes. I have a feeling I'm going to hear more of these cases in the coming weeks when I get on my email address and start learning more of your cases. I am interested especially if there's land conservancies involved because I want to develop this and start getting into the big national magazines in New York. I know I can get in the National Review and I can get on Fox News. Where I really want to get them is the east coast liberal intelligencia. I want to hang them on their own cross as a certified, bonified, dioxin-fighting, GE-fighting guy who also wants to make sure that another form of corporate greed green-washed — nothing more or less than green-washed — corporate greed wrapped in 501(c)(3) baloney going after people who don't deserve it. Go after some developer who's going to put up twelve thousand townhouses and consume the entire aquifer. You know, there's a lot of bad people that they can go after. But they're really going after soft targets and they hope that they can sue you until you drop dead.

And then fortunately in the case here Karen's made of very tough stuff. Michael's made of very tough stuff. I don't think they understood the risks of suing somebody who can beat any computer at chess. I mean, once you challenge someone with a mind like that they just don't want to let go until they win the game. Mike doesn't think that's such a big factor. I've kind of convinced him that it is.

That's pretty much what I've got to say. Mohonk.org. I swat the Mohonk website that they left out in the rain. I got it for eight dollars a day. Mohonk.org, all my stories and a bunch of other press are collected at mohonk.org. I'm going to add the Brook Farm story I published yesterday and I'm easy to contact through my website. Be pushy if you're trying to reach me. Send a couple of emails if I don't reply right away. Somebody will reply. I'd love to hear what you've got going on.

Carol, thank you for having me here. It's awesome to be back and thank you all.

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