Thursday, August 14, 2008

Save Peter Rabbit the Horse

A small town in Nebraska has no room for a harmless, frail, geriatric four-legged equine citizen who was born on a farm on the outskirts of Hickman, back before the town grabbed those outskirts and tried to stuff them into its big, fat dress. They want Peter Rabbit's owners to get rid of the 32-year-old horse who was born here in 1976, long before Hickman annexed his home place in 2006 (the city council had passed a law in 1988 prohibiting livestock in the "city" limits). The horse's owner said no one said anything to him then about getting rid of his beloved Peter Rabbit. Now, the cold-hearted mayor and councilmen have slapped the owner with an equine eviction notice. If the horse is not gone by Sept. 15, the owner will be fined $100 for each day he doesn't comply.

Now, I've been around the Madame long enough to learn about how the world works, that is, how the world of towns who get too big for their britches works. The Triangle metro area of NC is swallowing sleepy suburbs and burping out restrictive ordinances like nobody's business. She knows people who bought land far away from city limits of towns like Apex—so they could see the stars at night, plant turnips in their front yards if they liked and paint their houses whatever color that suited them that week. And then there are the people who already lived in the country, who'd been doing those things since they were born. True, some of these folks like the idea of "city water" and services. But a lot of them don't realize what kinds of sacrifices they'll have to make (hint: animal sacrifices).

I think that Hickman's powers-that-be are bad sports, and I wanted to say as much. I sought out the town's Web site so that I could place a phone call or write a little note telling them they might want to re-think how their decision looks to the rest of the civilized world. In the absence of any helpful contact info, I attempted to use the "Contact us" link to send an e-mail. To my not-surprise, that function has been "temporarily disabled."

So my staff here at Henry's Travel's (yes, I have an intern now) placed a call this afternoon to Peter Rabbit's owner, and the woman who answered said politely but firmly that they were handling the situation on their own and had already received a few too many phone calls and didn't require any more personal attention from well-wishers. If, like me, you want to help, please be kind and don't tire his family with your inquiries.

Instead, I suggest:
  • That you place a call to the town administrative offices (whose number we found buried deep within Hickman's Web page) at 402-792-2212 and just let them know that this action offends your sensibilities and ask if this is really the way Hickman wishes to be known: as America's mean old Mr. McGregor. The lady who answered the phone there is very polite, so I strongly suggest if you take the time to dial, that you be polite as well. Remember the adage: It's easier to catch flies with honey than with lemon.
  • Better yet would be to call the mayor and city councilmen and ask them how old they were when they realized they'd grow up to be soul-crushers.
  • The news article lists the offending governing officials as:
  • Mayor Jim Hrouda
  • Council member Robert Harms (yes, that's his real name)
  • Apparently, five of the six council members (whose names I gleaned from minutes posted online) voted to evict. I'm not sure who the brave dissenter was, but here are the names of the other council members:
  • Dave Dykmann
  • Steve Noren
  • Mike Cejka
  • Kim Hoesing
  • Doug Hanson
  • Neither the mayor nor council members keep office hours at city hall, but you may find their numbers via Switchboard online. I'm hoping that making you go through this extra step on your own will give some of my more zealous readers a chance to cool off and prepare a level-headed comment to persuade Hickman officials to "play nicer."

It seems to me, as it would to most logical cats and people, that Peter Rabbit should be "grandfathered" in and allowed to spend his final days in the little pasture he has known all his life. And to those whiners who complain—you know, those city-dwellers who probably bought a place in Hickman because of its country charm*—should be shamed with a statement like: Not to worry. The sweet, old horse you so despise will be DEAD SOON ENOUGH.

UPDATE: The town of Hickman has just placed a piece on its Web site entitled Peter Rabbit: "The Rest of the Story." One imagines that town officials did this to assuage potential protesters. But rather than serving as an adequate defense of their actions, to me it reads like a self-indictment. Hickman officials still look like horse's asses (no offense, Peter).

*I have no idea whether it has this—it could be just as podunk as the hamlets of Canton, US, that Stephen Colbert has been trashing nightly.

1 comment:

jacquib said...

umm pardon me but i happen to be someone that lives in hickman and believe me i HATE the way the city council has treated Peter Rabbit. so dont you DARE say anyting about the people that live here because i guarantee you that 90% of the people that live here didn't want Peter Rabbit to go either. so don't put ANY of the blame on the people that live there. blame those 5 that voted to make Peter Rabbit move. it's not fair at all and nobody likes it but rules must be obeyed. i just wish the city would have left him alone...but hickman isn't bad because of the people that voted