At the town council meeting last night I gave them an 8x10 quality print of the link above and an envelope to each member with their names printed on it and a letter containing the following. I also emailed them a copy 15 minutes before the meeting started:
To the powers that be of Redford Township Michigan,
My name is Greg Smith, I live at ______________. Please bear with me as I know you are busy and will be as concise as possible.
I am being harassed by the ordinance people over a shed in my backyard. Before I go any further, let me say that I am fully prepared to go to jail before I will ever comply with the tyrannical and entirely unreasonable intrusion into private life and property being inflicted on my family.
Three years ago the personnel department of my company offered me an excellent much coveted position in Phoenix Arizona which would have brought me both job security and a corporate subsidized move out of the economic apocalypse that is present day Michigan. I turned them down telling them that I was born here and I did not want to be one of the many tens of thousands fleeing Michigan and that I would stick it out and try to do whatever small part I could to help her recover.
They laid me off 2 months later. Despite my very best efforts I have been unemployed ever since. Unemployment benefits are long gone and we are barely getting by with one bubbling nostril above water on whatever I can make with odd computer repair jobs. We have not had more than one hundred dollars in our bank account for any length of time in over two years. I drive a fourteen year old car, my wifeÃ¢??s is twenty five years old and we are reusing tin foil.
Despite all this, my wife Mary, who you know as the women who maintains several public sites around the township including the Gazebo on Beech Daly, has still managed to produce for us a beautiful yard that was included in this years Ã¢??Redford Garden WalkÃ¢?? production and for which we receive unending compliments. I wish I had a nickel for every person that has literally stopped their car and asked questions about it with some even asking for a tour of the back and if they could take pictures.
With all of this crushing pressure on my head, not to mention the deplorable state of hundreds of abandoned properties here, the townshipÃ¢??s view is that what they and I should really be worrying about is a beautiful shed I bought for Mary for motherÃ¢??s day five years ago that took me an entire weekend to assemble Ã¢?Â¦ on our cement drivewayÃ¢?Â¦ away from the house like they told us. (I am including pictures). The irony is she keeps the equipment for the work she does for the township in this shed.
I will not remove this shed. I will not disassemble and reassemble it in some other location determined by bureaucrats who do not live here and cannot even make up their mind what they think is wrong with it. That is impossible anyway as this model can only be assembled once. It snaps together and unsnapping the parts will render it unusable. I will also not pay any fines in any way associated with this shed.
This is the internet age where unlimited publicity can be had free of charge by anybody with even a modicum of intelligence and skill. I promise you I am lacking in neither. I have all the components in place with my family and others instructed in detail on how to proceed once I am arrestedÃ¢?Â¦ in a state and township that is hemorrhaging peopleÃ¢?Â¦ has a fifteen percent unemployment rate and foreclosures through the roof, for the heinous crime of erecting a shed according to all known rules at the time. My arrest alone, never mind keeping me in custody and the rest of the process, will cost you many times more than the fines which I absolutely guarantee you will never see while I am still breathing. Yes, we would lose our house and my health would suffer as I am a diabetic on a very strict regimen of exercise and maintenance, but if you have ever believed anything in your life, believe that I will endure these egregious injustices before I will allow my wife and daughter to witness my surrender to this heavy handed abuse of authority.
The public will watch it happen and I know for a fact that there are others who have been likewise abused who will come forward. Knowing that I am doing something that may help shine the light on how some in township leadership treat itÃ¢??s loyal citizens will allow me to sleep well even in a jail cell. ItÃ¢??s not the shed. ItÃ¢??s the principle. It must stop. Undoubtedly, standards and enforcement for residential upkeep are required. I will be the first to support such reasonable and civil measures, but clear harassment on a meticulously crafted and maintained property is entirely unacceptable and my foot is hereby down.
We will be going to the 14th district court on the 24th of this month, September, 2009, where I will be conveying these sentiments before Judge Wirth. I do apologize for my not communicating on this situation sooner, but it took me this long to make all the potential preparations.
If pursued to the point of either coerced payment or my arrest or both, a copy of this email, and recent photos along with other relevant documentation will be sent to dozens of local, regional and national news organizations as well as my own several means of publication. We are living in a contemporary environment where the struggling little guy unjustly stepped on by city hall draws immediate public sympathy. You will be treated to a masterful utilization of that fact in conjunction with all the applicable modern technology. Redford Township has strong armed me into a thoroughly authentic ready made chapter in that book.
There are not words to adequately express how deeply it grieves me to be forced to approach my local officials in this manner, especially now when it would be hoped that we could pull together and help each other through this very difficult time. I do not want to go to jail, but I would rather be visited there by a family that respects me and do my part to make Redford Township a more attractive place to live than simply surrender to legalized extortion, as others have in a cowardly effort to avoid further hassle.
You may view this as a somewhat overly loquacious bluff. I have been underestimated in the past and regretfully invite you to find out.
Gregory Smith - A Hurting Redford Township Citizen
There were about 100 citizens there including a group of high school kids on a civics project and the long standing senior staff writer of our local paper. I made my 3 minutes count expressing an impassioned condensed version of the above. There's more backstory and some immediate response that I don't have time to post at the moment.