Raccoons? Foxes? Dogs? Cats? No, sorry. This time, it’s mostly the vacation-rental-obsessed, perpetually screaming and complaining disciples of ‘Parachute Pat’ Pizzella and worstmayorever John Strickland.
(At least Strickland has the sense to skip town after the mess he has helped orchestrate.)
In case you haven’t been following, Strickland and Pizzella have controlled a majority on the Village Council bent on demonizing and destroying the local vacation rental industry. We’re a tourist destination. There are clearly not enough hotel rooms to satisfy the demand of all the tourists seeking to visit our fair community. So, the home rental folks have been providing a much needed service for the local economy.
Instead of leading a thoughtful debate, Strickland and Pizzella sought out the assistance of a shadowy group of moneyed downtown interests, “The Friday Group”, to demonize the rental properties, their owners, and the tenants. People suddenly came out of the woodwork at council comment periods, and on the local paper’s op-ed page to blame the rental properties for everything from a spike in litter, crime, and disturbance-of-the-peace to damage to property values. Neither the police department nor any other impartial authority could produce evidence supporting the claims of the anti-rental clique.
Nevertheless, Strickland and Pizzella tied the council up for six months while trying to figure out a way to stomp the life out of this mostly law-abiding sector of the local economy. Real issues – like funding of the police department, the long-range plan, and traffic – were ignored while a “solution” was sought for this fabricated problem.
There was public hearing after public hearing. The same outrageous stories were regurgitated. (Rock and roll music! The smell of weed! Children in the pool!) You would have thought our pristine community had been transformed into a commune for the Manson family.
Strickland and Pizzella began to read the political tea leaves. They began to see how the attack on vacation rentals and the proposed ban ran into all kinds of property rights issue and would likely end in an unwinnable lawsuit for the Village of Pinehurst. So, the pair orchestrated a “compromise.” Rental properties currently in operation could stay as-is. New ones would have to jump through a whole bunch of new hoops.
The anti-rental mob was not pleased. They wanted blood, and were apparently not going to get it. They turned on Strickland – likely leading to his decision to retire from “public service.” The mob then began turning their fire on the rental property owners and their tenants.
Vigilantes reportedly began heckling tourists as they arrived at and left rental properties. The police department began receiving loony complaints. At least one caller complained about renters’ children playing in the pool next door to them. At least one complainer called the police about renters keeping internal lights on at their house after 8 PM.
The police should have been all over the harassers and their frivolous phone calls. Yet, the troublemakers were all disciples of our despicable mayor and his council allies. Who on the city police force wants to rock THAT boat? Who could expect ANY support from the mayor or council in situations like that?
Who has ever heard of a town – a renowned tourist destination – encouraging harassment of tourists? Well, now you have.
I wonder how much crazier the anti-rental mob will get when they learn the Pizzella-Strickland “compromise” is actually UNENFORCEABLE?
We have village elections coming up in November. The field of candidates looks like a grand opportunity for the anti-rental mob to tighten their grip on Pinehurst.
If you want a good look at how much worse things can get, check out council candidate Cara Mathis on Instagram:
* Note the “Mathis for Pinehurst” tag on the top left of the image.
So, WHAT is the problem with (a) cars in a driveway or (b) a shirtless man rummaging in his car in his driveway? Shirtless men in public are not violating any laws at all. Anyone who has ever visited – say – Lake Pinehurst, or any of the scores of swimming pools around town can attest to that. I’ve seen people working in their yards shirtless, and even jogging down the street shirtless. Apparently, they all made it through the day without a single police encounter. You’re pretty sheltered – or perhaps pathetic – if you think a shirtless male in public is a violation of the law. (It may violate a dress code in a private facility, or may just be unattractive. But not illegal.)
Actually, if you’re staking out someone’s driveway or other property with a camera, you’re walking a fine line in regard to stalking or harassment. You’ve entered creepy and obnoxious territory. (And you definitely don’t need additional political power. )
If you dare to question Mrs. Mathis’s tactics or rhetoric, you apparently get stuff like THIS in response:
In conclusion, I think it’s pretty clear that Pizzella and Strickland have created some really nasty monsters here. Strickland is gone, and likely headed back to Chatauqua and Bill & Hillary, so he doesn’t care. If Pizzella truly cares about being a leader and making a positive contribution to our village, he needs to educate his flock about civility and decent behavior.
The rudeness to tourists is likely to harm the flow of visitors we so desperately depend on. The frivolous calls to the police are wasting officers’ time and likely jeopardizing people in more serious situations.