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Friday, September 02, 2005

Organized Crime in Pleasantville

Many don't recognize it, but it is a fact that there is a strong presence of organized crime here in our normally pleasant community of 8500 people. I am somewhat hesitant to even blog about this because of the power they hold over the town, but I feel I must let the world know.

Every year at this time, the organization begins shaking down more than the 50,000 visitors for $7, but if you're willing to pay them $15 they won't bother you for the rest of the week.
Then they go to business owners and charge them "rent" to allow the business to have a space to operate, but they don't stop there. They actually take 50% of the profits that the business makes. What really upsets me is that while a good portion of these businesses are for profit, many, especially those providing food and refreshment items, are operated by nonprofit charities trying to earn some extra money to support themselves throughout the rest of the year. Local food banks, community assistance programs, and churches are who I am talking about. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. The people who come to volunteer their time for the various charities have to pay a member of the organization for the privilege of safe travel to the location where they are going to donate their time.

Pretty amazing that this sort of thing happens in our tiny, otherwise simple town. The thing is, it happens every Labor Day weekend and people come from all over to support the organization. The organization otherwise known as Midwest Old Threshers is some kind of retired farmer convention that brings people from far away. Today I spoke to people from Ohio, South Carolina and we were supposed to meet someone from Louisiana tomorrow, but obviously with all that's gone on there, they decided to stay home.

The shakedown is for admission to the event, which you are not exempt from paying even if you volunteer your time. Then your church / charity does pay rent and share profits with Old Threshers.

Maybe I just don't get old men in bib overalls walking... no hobbling around to look at steam powered tractors older than they are, but I truly dislike it. But that didn't keep us from renting out our basement at $45 per night for a couple to come sleep in after spending 12 hours a day looking at tractors. Hey - just because I don't like it doesn't mean I'm stupid.

Have a happy Labor Day weekend and don't tell anyone you heard this from me. I wouldn't doubt it if their power goes so far as to get me fired for my comments.