Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Help save my grandparents farm, if you can

If you've followed Stealing Commas for a while you know that my sister can be a real manipulative jerk and has been known to make my life Hell.  She hasn't done that in a good long while.  Even before she stopped entirely, she got much less bad about it (if I remember correctly) even before Jensen was born, so we're talking two years of not pulling me into her world of constant stress and destroying my sanity.

Well, sanity in a broad sense.  Soundness of mind.  Depression is extremely varried and broad statements about it are almost always wrong, so with that caveat in mind, understand that for me even treated depression can turn to full blown depression (think a major depressive episode with dysthymia backing it up) with sufficiently horrible outside input.

She used to drag me into that all the fucking time.  She hasn't lately.  I'm grateful for that.

Now she needs help, she's being an asshole about it, but she needs help.

My aunt has served her an eviction notice even though she only owns half the property and it's not legal for her to do ANYTHING without the consent of my mother, the one who owns the other half.  She's using a forged copy of the rental agreement.  That's fraud which the popcorn movie from the year I was born (Real Genius) assures me is a felony.

But, my aunt is rich where my sister's response to, "Do you have a lawyer?" is, "I don't know."

Will she elaborate?  Of course fucking not.  She won't speak straight and she won't talk about the immediate problem and she's a complete fucking asshole even when asking for help.

She won't talk about what she needs to be able to win the case.  She won't give details about what she needs to do to be sure she'll have a lawyer.  She won't describe any hurdles to proving my aunt forged the rental agreement she's suing under.  She won't give a straight answer of any kind to any question about the coming court battle that will, apparently, start in 18 days.

And all of this information and refusal to provide information was near-shouted at me while she gave me a ride to the wrong bus station because she wouldn't answer her phone when she said she would and didn't even make contact until after she was supposed to have picked me up and been on the way there, by that point there wasn't enough time to get to my bus.

So, wrong bus station.  Fun.

She's obsessed with the long term goal of drumming up public support in hopes that that will eventually allow her to raise enough money to buy the farm, and somehow this is supposed to fix the short term problem that my aunt, a rich person with no scruples who probably has a very good lawyer is trying to evict her.

My aunt is not stupid.  She wouldn't forge papers if she didn't have good reason to think the forgery could pass whatever the standards of the court that will be involved are.  She wouldn't try to evict without bringing my mother into it unless she had a good reason to think she could legally get away with it (probably something in the forged documents allows for the interpretation that either landlord can unilaterally evict.)

It seems to me like what my sister needs to be doing right now is finding out exactly what it will take to prove that my aunt's version of the rental agreement is illegitimate while trying to also figure out how my aunt plans to get around the "both parties have to agree to any action" part of the way the property is divided.

Instead she wants to drum up public support, and is looking to me to help do it.

There are reasons to praise what she's done.  When my aunt had installed her daughter with no notice, no rental agreement, no payments, and so forth the farm decayed AND, under her daughter's oversight, became the heroin dealing capital of the town.

Then, after my aunt threw her daughter out on the street (in winter, in Maine) it became a place of rotted out floors and cat urine.

Now it's a farm with freerange birds, a couple cows, sheep, and various crops.  She runs a food stand where people pay what they can afford (even if it's nothing) is planning on restoring the greenhouse and is starting the process of making an on-site open air farm history museum that shows off various farming implements from various time periods (generally the last 60 years or so, though.  The tractor age will be most represented.)

It's a massive renewal project that's ongoing and cool.

But damned if I know what you can do about it.  My sister would like it if you'd call up local news outlets (because local news papers and stations care so much about random calls from out of state) and tell them how great it is that someone took this ruined place or ill repute and restored it.  I'm guessing that mentioning how aweful it is that someone from Texas (the technical phrase is "from away") is trying to shut down this home grown agrarian project on false pretenses would help.

Except for the fact that, you know, you're not from Maine.

That said, if you do have the time and effort for a long distance phone call and would like to tell a random person in some newsroom how they should be covering the story of the person who transformed a former drug dealing hotspot into an organic farming operation, by all means do so.

I want to save the farm, I grew up there as much as at my own home.  Truly I do.  And without my sister there holding it down my aunt will probably be able to pressure my mother into selling it and making it into a housing development.  Something beautiful will be lost from the world if it dies.

But I'm totally unconvinced my sister's strategies are going to work.

For more information on the farm, it has a facebook page:

The name, by the way, is based on the way spelling out our grandparent's last name sounds "S Y S K A".  Syska.

To see how long long long fucking long of a long term goal buying the farm is, this is a go-fund-me for just that project:

Fifty dollars raised by five people in one month.  The $10,000 goal probably isn't even a respectable down payment because the unfortunate truth is that the value of a farm as a farm cannot compete with the value of a farm as a housing development.  Especially given that Cape Elizabeth is a peninsula meaning it's negligible driving time to ocean in three different directions.

The Cape Courier is the very local newspaper.  http://www.capecourier.com/
The Portland Press Herald is the area newspaper www.pressherald.com/

The news stations are:

And you can probably find more stuff if you google for news in Portland Maine.  (Cape is in the greater Portand area, you see.)

Signal boost or whatever if you can, but I am lacking in hope because she won't focus on right here right now.

Right now the problem isn't public support.  Right now the problem isn't making an offer to buy the farm.  Right now the problem is a landlord with forged documents using said documents to try to overstep her legal bounds which means that I'd be a hell of lot more confident if instead of trying to get public support she were trying to find out EXACTLY what is needed to prove, in court, that your copy of a contract is the real one.

Because it's damned sure that my aunt already did and she thinks her forgery can pass muster, and that, not the nebulous idea of public support, is what's going to decide whether she's at the farm in three weeks.  If she is, then she can work on trying to raise enough money to make an offer on the farm.  If she isn't then none of it matters.

But, but...

Signal boost or whatever if you can.

Think of the bovines: Firefly and Nancy Reagan.  Think of the geese, Gos and Ling, think of the ram (Mufasa) and all of the other animals (various sheep and goats and any smaller birds the foxes haven't eaten) whose names I don't know.

Think of Jensen.  My 2 1/3 year old nephew.

As horrible as my sister can be, what my aunt is doing is bullshit (and illegal) and anything that can be done to help would be good.

I'm sick of all this shit, though.

1 comment:

  1. ...I don't know what I can do, but I can post a tweet. So I posted a tweet.

    I sort of hope it doesn't go viral, but if someone with an interest in economic justice and connections in the Portland area noticed, then maybe something good would happen. And that would be nice.