Column: Colorful City Council manages to take $106 from old woman

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 16, 2006

Love Cruikshank, Love Notes

Race for the foxholes, friends, the Albert Lea City Council has just launched another attack. This time I’m the one getting ripped off, to the tune of $106.67.

It all started last summer when Jack Adams, his daughter, Leah, and grandchildren: Calvin, Samuel, Carley and John came over and cleared my third street sidewalk. I had been afraid complaints might be made by the three or four people who walk on the sidewalk once a year, about leaves and such hanging over the sidewalk.

It was beautifully done and I was more than grateful. As cold weather approached, though, I again felt worried about my yard and sidewalk, although the sidewalk seemed entirely clear. Around my house foundation, though, a perfect forest of Elm seedlings was growing up and I was afraid the growth would weaken the foundation.

It was a great relief when my favorite lawn and tree service showed up in late October or early November and cleared everything away, including twigs growing through the fence. I faced winter with the utmost serenity.

Ah, but I reckoned without our colorful city council. Early last month, February, I got a bill for $106.67. Why? Because some bushes, trees or something or other hung over the third street sidewalk.

I was told that a letter had been sent to me on Nov. 21 telling me to trim the bushes. In a pig’s eye! The first time the matter was brought to my attention was when the bill was sent to me last month.

Apparently some man representing the city came twice to my house to tell me all about it. Whether he came before the work was done or after, who knows?

I, always, enjoy having people visit me. I even have a Cead mile failte (a hundred thousand welcomes) sign at my doorway, but I’m not always able to hear a knock at my door or even make it to the door in time to greet a potential guest. Still if anyone has something to say to me there’s an invention made some years ago called a telephone. My number is in the book and even if I’m not at home there’s a little gadget that provides for your leaving a number so I can call you back.

I’m sure you would have thought of this yourself had it been a question of my ripping you off instead of your ripping me off.

There’s very little protection against the vagaries of the City Council. It has some kind of a long-nosed, two-legged bloodhound that flits thither and yon sniffing out this and that to complain about to the City Council.

In my gambling hometown the creature would be called a kibitzer and sent to a warmer climate with a modest medal properly presented to the travel agent. I’m glad that that won’t happen here. I think the creature should be memoralized with a statue. Just think a statue of Albert Lea’s own Barney Fife!

Then, too, I’m not a young woman and some day those brave souls in the City Council can tell their children and grandchildren, &8220;Well, no. I didn’t do a heck of a lot in the big war, but I managed to steal $106 from an old woman, a bit long in the tooth, and on a fixed income. Be proud.&8221;

One of the last clever things the City Council did was to shut off a whole block down here on Washington Avenue. Inconvenienced the whole neighborhood and a bunch of people not in the neighborhood. But shucks, who can hold that against them? They’re so cute.

Sort of like Little Willie. You remember? &8220;Little Willie killed his sister/ She was dead before they missed her/ Little Willie’s full of tricks/ Ain’t he cute? He’s only six.&8221;

(Albert Lea resident Love Cruikshank’s column publishes Thursdays.)