Hannabelle arrived on the scene shortly after the stunning
announcement that Nexus was building their sex offender facility in my own
"backyard" and I heard repeatedly that "Its a Done Deal. There's nothing you
can do about it."
Nothing we can do about it? What about the laws which protect
us? What about our rights? Isn't this still America?
At first, I tried to reason with people like the mayor of
Onamia, some of the city councilmen, Commissioner Frank Courteau, Mille Lacs
Messenger editor and publisher Kevin Anderson, even Mille Lacs Health System
CEO ProNexus Dan Reiner, and some of the Nexusians themselves. I quickly
learned that nothing I could say or do would change their mindset. They were
aggressively determined to come to my house so I'd better set an extra plate at my table.
Make that 94 extra plates... I learned quickly that our rights as property
owners would not be respected, our voices would not be listened to.
When I organized the OACRG (Onamia Area Citizens for
Responsible Growth), I quickly learned (I'm a quick learner) that this would
be primarily my own battle. Not that the neighbors weren't opposed to Nexus.
They were as devastated as I was. But they lacked the intestinal fortitude
to put up much of a fight.
"What if we OFFEND people?" one woman asked me timidly.
"I can't afford to jeopardize my job."
"I don't know if we want to stick our necks out," said the
Bradbury town clerk. "What if there's a fire?"
Yes. The intimidation was that bad. The neighbors were easily
What were we to do? Was there no one with the guts to stand
up against the oppression we were facing? Was there no one to champion our
cause to keep our rights, save our neighborhood, the quality of our lives?
Was there no one in our township with the balls to stand tall
and shout to the masses "THIS IS WRONG!!!!"?
Unfortunately, there wasn't. Not even one. Me? Don't look at
me! I don't like this sort of confrontation either. I just wanted to mind my
own business and be left alone. I just wanted Nexus to go away. Of course,
When logic and reason failed to convince the greedy
oppressors that sex offenders just don't belong next to day cares and helpless little
old ladies, Hannabelle came to help us. She certainly didn't mind
offending people. Actually, she has a talent for it. She didn't mind stirring
the pot, throwing a few dead mice into the recipe to add a little spice.
Hannabelle saw her role in the fight against City Hall and
the war with Nexus as being like the tough Rottweiler snapping and growling
at the chain-link fence to keep out the bad guys. "Don't you DARE come in or
I'll BITE!" she snarled.
Of course, it didn't work. Nexus versus Hannabelle is
like "Godzilla Versus Bambi." But that didn't deter Hannabelle from shooting
her mouth off. "You don't LIKE me??? Great! But then why do you insist
on living next to me???"
I saw her in the role of "Bad Cop". You know, the one who
talks tough. The one you can't intimidate or bamboozle. The problem is, we
didn't have any "Good Cops" in our ranks. People in the neighborhood refused
to stand up for themselves, but they also feared repercussions they
might have been dealt for using "nice" methods - like TALKING to people and
winning a little public opinion to our side.
Oddly enough, the stronger the opposition became, the
stronger Hannabelle also became. And the weaker the neighbors became, the
more Hannabelle committed herself to helping them.
Oddly enough, in the end, the neighbors threw Hannabelle
under the bus. When first D'Angelo and Freeman sued, and then the Nexus
corporation, the OACRG crumbled, leaving Hannabelle alone to fight some more
- still by herself - this time in court.
I realize that many people hate Hannabelle. But I don't. I'm
actually quite proud of her. She comes across a little kooky at times, but
wasn't she just doing her job of playing KEEP AWAY? She might be a failed
champion, but she's a champion nevertheless. A Champion of civil rights. A
Champion of Freedom of Speech. A Champion of the People. She fought for
your rights as well as her own when no one else would.
In fact, I owe a lot to Hannabelle. She has indeed taught me
the importance of standing up for myself and my principles. She has given me
courage and self-respect. Yes, she's made mistakes. We all do.
(Especially the Onamia City Council...) Of
course, most people don't get sued for calling someone "Poopsie". But brave
Hannabelle has taught me that I am not powerless. I may lose a few
battles, but as long as I keep my integrity, in the end I'll win the war.
I hope that you will try to understand Hannabelle and forgive
her when she goes over the top. (She doesn't think she ever does, by the
way.) I hope also that you will find your own courage to stand up against
bullies and make this a better world - even if you have to offend a few
people in order to fight for Right while maintaining your own integrity.