Letter to the Editor - Meeting minutes not representative

For the Linn County Leader

Letter to the Editor,

My wife and I were quite surprised to read the June 22, 2021 Commissioners’ minutes published in the Linn County Leader stating that we agreed with Commissioner Muck’s claim that the commissioners had a discretionary power to exceed the conveyance/easement distance of our property (in our case, 15’ from the center of the road) and remove trees from our private property, if they so desired. Muck’s assertion was the commissioners have the right to trespass and destroy our private property. Under Muck’s imaginary discretionary powers, I suppose he could tell us to cut the trees in our yard and if we didn’t, he would. Our attorney assured us that under Missouri law our easement was 15’ from the center of the road and no more. The statute is quite clear on that point. We believe, by stating we were in agreement with a power that does not exist and should never exist, our real position, which we voiced forcefully and repeatedly, was misrepresented. I hoped this was a misprint: “agreed” should have read “disagreed.” Our recordings of the meetings with the commissioners provide ample evidence of our true beliefs. No one of even modest intelligence could misconstrue our position as poorly as the commissioners’ claim in the June 22 minutes, so a misprint was the only logical, legally defensible explanation. Or, did they twist the truth to further their agenda?

I called the clerk and told her I strongly disagreed with the printed minutes and requested they be revised to reflect the truth and the next minutes should include a clarification of our true beliefs (well documented in two recorded meetings). I left Muck a voice mail telling him the same. At the July 20 commissioner’s meeting (more on that one later), I asked Muck if they had amended the minutes. He replied, “What minutes?” (Playing stupid, I guess, is one way to handle, or in this case not handle, a situation.) So, I told him the June 22 minutes had blatantly misrepresented our views and I, again, requested they be amended to reflect the truth. In a typical petty bureaucratic fashion, he dismissed my request and said he thought the minutes needed no revision.

Let me be clear, our views on government overreach do not align with neither the Linn County commissioners’ nor North Salem Township Board Trustee Pfeiff’s or board member Byers’ (or Clerk Bailey’s, who has no power, but is believed by many “in the know” to be the root of the problem in our neighborhood.) They do not have the right to make up their own laws. They do not have the right to trespass and destroy our property (trees) to make it more convenient for their combines to travel the back roads with their grain heads on. They do not have the right to misrepresent our views. They do not have the right to slander us by publishing their false interpretation of our beliefs to support their unlawful agenda and then refusing to correct this misrepresentation to reflect our actual position: that we absolutely reject their asinine assumption that they have the right to exceed the legal right-of-way (trespass) and desecrate our wildlife habitat.

When the offending officials come up for re-election, if they are still in office, I think none of us should forgive or forget the commissioners’ or (in North Salem Township) two of the board members’ haughty attitudes toward the law and the landowners of North Salem Township. (Do we work for them or do they work for us?) I believe these elections should be a referendum on land rights and unlawful overreach. The current “regime” uses any means, legal or not, to advance their agenda. They have legal remedies to build an infrastructure to accommodate their needs (not most landowner’s needs), but that is expensive and would probably be about as popular as their uninformed, ill-advised, illegal “brush war.” So instead of following the legal, albeit expensive and historically unpopular, path, they have attempted to illegally shift that burden to the landowners. If they are not stopped, what’s next? In the next elections, let’s “just say no” to all of them.


Dave Cook

North Salem Township landowner