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SPECIAL UPDATE: OTGN Catches Up With Randy Zeilinger (The Criminal Chicken Farmer) – Episode 166

Randy Zeilinger (Criminal Chicken Farmer)This week is a very special half hour show where hosts Bill Heid and Brian Brawdy get the latest scoop on the “Criminal Chicken Farmer” Randy Zeilinger in Garden City, Michigan. Boy does this episode have Bill “hot under the collar” as Randy tells us the selective justice that Garden City is sending his way.

The Garden City Ordinance Officer is bringing forth all kinds of things that Randy “needs” to fix or work on, including paint chipping on his garage, the length of his lawn, and his butterfly garden in the front yard. It seems to us that the ordinance officer just has it out for Randy. In fact, giving Randy one ticket for keeping chickens was not bad enough; they issued him a second ticket while he was trying to find good homes for his chickens.

Off The Grid Radio
Released: July 18, 2013

Brian:               Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Off the Grid News, the radio version of  I’m Brian Brawdy here as always with Mr. Bill Heid.  Bill, how are you sir?

Bill:                  Brian, I’m hot under the collar and I think you know why.

Brian:               I – because it’s 92 degrees outside with 100% humidity.

Bill:                  That’s part of the reason.  Part of the reason is what we’re going to be talking about today.

Brian:               Absolutely.  We have a kind of, I would say a returning guest, because we got so much feedback from the last time that this guest was on we thought we’d check back in and see how things are going.  So, ladies and gentlemen, a weeks, if not a couple months back, we had Mr. Randy Zeilinger on our show, and he was talking to us about having been charged as a criminal for having chickens in his yard, I’m sure you remember the story.  So Randy, welcome back. What’s new in your world?

Randy:             Well, I don’t know if it’s new or not, but it’s a continuum of the harassment from my city.  I guess that’s kind of new.

Brian:              All right, well let’s hear about it.

Randy:             Well, you know, the last time we spoke, I had been convicted, you know, under the criminal charge of keeping chickens, and received probation, suspending jail sentence, fines and all the other nonsense that, you know, was reported on then.  Well since then, the local ordinance officer has made it almost his mission to visit me on a quite regular basis, you know, and nit-pick every little thing.  What are the conditions of my probation is that I must follow and comply with all city ordinances.  So, I guess you know, I’m supposed to comply with the used car dealer ordinance, and the dwellers ordinance, I don’t know, you know, nobody can comply with all ordinances, it’s just kind of ludicrous.  But anyway, he’s been coming by to make sure that I’m being a good little citizen here in the city, and he looks at things he doesn’t like, flowers in the front yard, the height of the grass that’s mowed every other day.  They come in to nit-pick a bunch of stuff.

Brian:               Well give us the top three, Randy, what are the top three things that these crack-notch coordinance officers that you have in the little holler in your neck of the woods, the top-notch coordinance officers, give us the top three things that they’ve been checking you out for of late.

Randy:             Well one of the things was the chickens.  I was ordered to get rid of the chickens, and it’s not just the ‘poof’ they disappear.  I found responsible homes for them and that took several, several days if not a couple of weeks.  And they were aware of that.  so that was a complaint that he had, that I still had a few chickens left here, and they’re waiting to go to a new home.  I didn’t act soon enough.  The other thing he was complaining about was the peeling paint on the garage, said that, “I’ll get to that.  You can’t paint when it’s raining.  So be patient on that.  It’s being worked on.” And then he had complaints about my garden in the front.

Brian:               Anything about a barking dog ordinance?

Randy:             Yeah, there is.  But she’s still in the house; she’s not paying any attention.

Brian:               Not getting attention, well you know how they can be.

Randy:             Everyone has an opinion and they want it to be heard.

Brian:               All right, so number three on your list.

Randy:             So the other was the butterfly garden out front.  I’ve got native plants growing all around here, and I’ve got them planted both in the ground and in planters.  Some of my planters are straw bales.  And if you’re any kind of gardener in small areas, you know you utilize your area best you can.  So straw bales make wonderful planters.  That seemed to bother him.

Bill:                  So Randy, Bill here.  Who is it that’s actually coming out there and giving you a hard time about chipping paint and so forth?

Randy:             The garden city ordinance officer.

Bill:                  The ordinance officer, okay.

Randy:             The ordinance officer, yeah.

Bill:                  My guess is that you could bust someone for chipping paint, it’s like holding, offensive holding in football, every play there’s offence of holding.  So you could bust anybody for chipped paint.  So this is what I find fascinating about deals like this.  It’s not just you.  It’s happening all over the country.  Guys, you’re seeing selective enforcement, right?  That’s… so there’s a set of rules, but we can choose to enforce it or not.  And we’re not at the stage yet.

But in Africa, Robert Mugabe, right?  In Zimbabwe there’s laws against taking people property, but he would let bands of thugs go and squat and take someone’s property from them.  And then he would choose to not enforce the laws that he liked.  These were his little band of political lieutenants that he allowed to do this.  So he would just not enforce any laws that they broke.

And this is really tyranny, we’re seeing it everywhere.  And we’re seeing it small – it’s like we’re dying the death of a thousand cuts, right?  Because it’s the new norm is the new Nazi –norm.  It’s enforcement in an arbitrary sense.  It’s not enforcement of the law, but it’s, “Do I like Randy?  If so, then I drive right past his house.  If I don’t like him because he’s a guy that stirs things up a little bit, or he didn’t sell his chickens fast enough, then I’m going to use selective enforcement to pick on him.”

Now this is worse, I would say, you’re dealing with something worse than what the early patriots in this country, the fathers, the founding fathers – they had this monolithic thing that they could easily target, and say, “England, King George, bad.” Right, it was easily identifiable.  This is a psychological manifestation that goes back to sort of the very root of idea of snitching and using power in people.  That’s where… this is a democratized version of tyranny, because it’s dying the death of a thousand cuts, and its happening all over the country.  Randy, you’re just someone who’s, who got a little bit of notoriety because your story caught on.  But how many guys are out there?  How many gals are out there?  How many families are out there trying to raise chickens or having chipping paint?  Would they end up getting harassed and somebody else doesn’t get harassed?  I’m just saying it’s everywhere.

Randy:             Oh yeah, it’s rampant and it’s, you know, completely arbitrary.  You know, here in Garden City, the local government was embarrassed, so what are they doing?  They’re retaliating with all of those tools they have available to retaliate with.  It’s happened to other people in Michigan, the Shady Grove Farm in the EUP, they won their legal battle and this township was forced to pay them, and they faced embarrassment.  They’re harassing that poor family.  You know, it’s an ongoing thing.

Bill:                  So on the macro level guys, Brian you probably could confirm.  On the macro level… I’m not trying to escalate your case with chickens to this level, but I’m saying, from the standpoint of how we think about law and equal justice… I mean, the department of justice going after Zimmerman after the case.  No matter what you think about that trial, the law’s the law, it was done.  But to try to keep figuring out how can we go after somebody?  How can we harass the people that we don’t like?  I’m not even sure the British did that against the founding fathers in every instantiation, in every case.  I think you probably had guys that played straighter ball in many cases.  I guess what I’m saying guys, I’m not advocating violence, but we started a war for probably less than this kind of thing.  And it’s everywhere.

Randy:             I don’t disagree with that at all, I think our rights are being eroded, you know, daily and everyone seems to be of the opinion, “Well you can’t fight city hall.  You can’t fight your government.” I mean, what happened to the patriotic spirit of standing up in what you believe in?  Standing up for your actual rights?  And too many of our elected officials say, “Well, things have changed, there’s no longer the rights of the citizens, but we sure do like the rights of the big business operations, don’t we?  We would favor them over the little guy.”

Brian:               You know, Bill says let’s take it to the macro level, so I’ll take the opposite approach, let’s bring it to the micro level.  You know, Bill, the other day I was in a discussion with someone that lives in a housing complex out where I’m from, and they’re not allowed to have an American – a whatever flag, I guess you could put up a Chicago Blackhawks flag if you wanted to, but they’re not allowed to put the flag holder, the flag pole holders that would allow the flag to come out from, say, one of the pillars on your porch because the local housing authorities, I don’t know understand it’s called – the co-op, the housing board or the community board or whatever – decided that they didn’t want that.  So, I hear a lot of people going, “Oh you know our rights are being eroded away.  Look at what the federal government is doing, look at the state government.”

I’ve begin to believe we’ve raised an entire generation of people that, because their lives are out of control, they want to control everyone else’s life.  You mean to tell me in this housing complex where you live, if you wanted to put a flag out on your porch, you can be cited for a violation, because your flag was on your front porch.  Why?  Because your neighbors think it takes away from the front face plate of how their house looks?

So I don’t think you have to point the finger very far when you sign these pacts, you going to these housing complexes, you can’t have… You know, Bill, I couldn’t put a basketball hoop up.  You remember when we were growing up, the ones you could put up on your garage?  No more.  Can’t even have those anymore.  And that’s because we surrender our rights, to kind of, you know, it’s your castle – well it’s your castle as long as your local housing board agrees with it.  So I’m starting to get to the point, Randy, where I no longer look at the government as the bad guy, I look at the people.  You’re nutty enough to sign a petition, or sign a document saying, “Yeah, its ok for my housing co-op to dictate how tall my grass is going to be, where my flag can fly or can’t fly, whether you can do this or can do that,” I don’t know Bill.  It seems to me that more and more people are all over surrendering their ability to state their freedom the way they see fit.  They surrender it just for the common good.

Bill:                  It wasn’t so long ago that the president, William Howard Taft, had a cow at the White House.  Now he didn’t have a cow in the Bart Simpson sense.  He actually had a milk cow at the White House.  So I don’t think Taft could live in Garden City, could he, Randy?

Randy:             Oh no, no, nope.  And even our current president couldn’t live here because they have bees and chickens and a garden and everything, they wouldn’t be allowed to live here either.

Brian:               It’s fascinating to me that this is Garden City.  You know what I mean?  And now you’re in trouble because you have bales of hay that you’re using in your butterfly garden.

Randy:             Yeah, and the funny thing about those hay bales, the ordinance officers says you can’t have bales of straw in the city.  I said every one of these hay bales came from discarded Halloween decorations.  You can put up dead pots of corn, throw some hay bales in your front yard from September to November and that’s considered decoration.  But if you plant flowers in it, then somehow that, that violates the city ordinances.

Brian:               Well Bill, there was that story last week when the guy in DC had planted all the flowers in the run up to the subway.  Did you see that story?  Somebody that really, didn’t even give his name or anything spent thousands of dollars to get these individual perennial plants planted in this big, massive cement front piece that the escalator to the subway would ride up.  It was like a lattice, it looked like the top of an apple pie with only way of the strips going.  So theirs was like a square foot of dirt every foot.  He fills them full of flowers, the city ordered that because he didn’t get a permit, because of this and that and everything else, the city overnight went in and ripped out all of these plants that had been done.

Bill:                  Ripped them out overnight, that’s the part I like.  That’s like they had the bees when they went through his house on Sunday.  What government agency would go to your house on Sunday?

Brian:               The government agencies that waits to let you know what’s going on and they release it Friday night at midnight because they know that the press is more asleep Friday night than when they are most times during the week.  Same types of people who do a document dump when they know no one else cares, because they’re all out at happy hour Friday afternoon and doesn’t care what the national government does.  Same mindset.

Randy:             Oh yeah, yeah.  It’s planned.  It’s definitely some of kind of ulterior motive by these local officials that think that they’re the be all end all, almost a monarchy type mindset.  I’m the king of this township, and you’re all my subjects.

Bill:                 Randy, we’ve been talking a little bit about founders, and you just hit on a really important point because when the country was established, one of the main premises was that absolute power corrupts absolutely.  And these folks saw the depravity, at least the potential depravity of the human heart.  And so they made every kind of attempt to create a form of government that kept people from that.  In other words, these guys, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Washington – their basic thing is, it’s not that I don’t trust my fellow man, it’s that I don’t trust even myself when I have a little power.  Therefore I’m going to create a situation, that even if I have power, it’s sort of harnessed and tempered.

And so now what we’ve got since we’ve got bureaucracy running amuck, is that we have power, just blatant power, and it doesn’t have any ethical sort of… what’s the right word?  Some sort of ethics governing the power.  So it’s just brute, arbitrary, Nazi-power.  We talked about free-reign, we called the last show free-range Nazis that you were on.  I mean, that’s what it is.  That’s arbitrary power.  Oh I don’t like your paint chipping today – that’s what the Nazis used to do, the same thing.

Brian:               But it’s also a sense of vindictiveness, you know, Randy’s in the situation he’s in now because the city attorney wasn’t able to exact, or whoever it was that brought up the charges, wasn’t able to exact enough of a sense of punishment for having chickens.  So it’s very petty it would seem to me.

Randy:             Oh I agree, I think it’s all been a very petty episode.  They keep wanting to say, “Look, we have control here.  We’re the power and you have to do what we want you to.  And hey, guess what, you’re not doing it so we’re going to make your life miserable.” And they’ve even gone as far as to say, “Hey look, do what we tell you or we’re going to go tell your mom.” I mean it’s broken down to the elementary school play yard threats.  That’s a serious thing from the ordinance officers.

Brian:               The ordinance officers said that they were going to tell who?

Randy:             They were going to tell my mom.  You know, I’m 54 years old.  My mom’s 81.  My house when it was bought it was a family home; my father’s name, my mother’s name and my name are all on the title, the deed.  Well, the ordinance officer in looking that up says, “Well, guess what, I’m going to tell your parents about this, you’re not following the rules.”  Well, I said, “Good luck telling my dad because he passed away several years ago.”  He said, “Well I’ll just have to go talk to your mom about this.” “So you’re going to go talk to my mom, that, you know, I’m being inpatriot?  Ok, go ahead.  What kind of petty, pissant official area you?”

Brian:               Yeah well, I’m with you, my friend. That type of threat, that type of, “Hey, you do it our way, or else,” its everywhere.  But it’s not just – you look at government officials, then you look at other people – I’ve just been amazed of late of the hatred that people have of each other.  That the absolute sense of ‘it’s my way or the highway.’ I had someone the other day flipped me off at the traffic intersection.

What has happened to the human mind to such a degree that everything is offensive, everything means that it’s time to, you know, to go to battle?  I’m just amazed.  And then, if you don’t do what they say, they’re going to go and tell your mom?  Well my mom recently passed away, so good luck with that.  But to me, it seems to be more and more future generations are going to be populated by folks that have such a thin skin Bill, that no matter what you do, they’re going to find a reason to go to battle with you.

Bill:                  And you know one of the reasons, guys, that I think we’re dealing with this again, kind of a little bit of the macro level, back to that is, the problem is we no longer, as a country, as a people, we no longer have a set of core principles or foundations that unite us.  We are united by a multiplicity of things, primarily money if I was going to pick something out.  I’d say we are a financial people, we are economic people.  But that’s not how it used to be.  It used to be something different.  Community meant something different.  We were unified by Christian principles years ago.  And I think as you see that slip, when you take away God’s providence from things, what you get is man’s attempted predestination of things.  So when man becomes the predestinator, when you take it out of God’s hands, we say God governs all things, or he sovereigns all things, to take God away – somebody’s going to predestine, or become sovereign over all things, and guess who it is?  It’s mankind, it’s people.  So when you get petty bureaucrats, what do they want to do, Randy?  They want to become sovereign, they want to predestine – people don’t like predestination even when God does it.  But you see mankind doing it, trying to predestinate their willpower over their fellow man.

Brian:               That’s a great point.  We see it everywhere now.  We see it everywhere.  People watching soccer games, people at elementary baseball games.  Their five year old didn’t get the call, right?  Apparently you can miss a strike and a T-ball set up.  I don’t know how that happens, but they don’t get the call right?  And the benches clear because the dads really aren’t a whole lot of anything, and now they’re going to go to go guns because their five year wasn’t called out to play, because the ball didn’t leave the tee, whatever it is.  You see it all over the place

Bill:                  But, guys, what tempers one?  In other words, if you… back to the premise about what governs us and tempers us – if you’re your own God, and there is no God, if you’re your own God, why shouldn’t you escalate anything you want to, right?  I mean, you’re the one that makes the rules.

Brian:               There you go.

Bill:                  And it’s just Hatfield’s vs. McCoy’s – whoever’s got power at the moment, whoever doesn’t like each other, and it sounds like something… What it sounds like is hell too, right?

Brian:               Oh absolutely.

Bill:                  Where it’s the jack boot in the face for eternity right, it sounds the definition of hell, where there’s no… you can’t appeal to somebody.  If Randy here says, “Hey I’m trying to appeal to justice.” and the guy’s going to say, ‘What justice man?  Look at me, Randy.  Look at me in the face.  I’m justice.  What I say is justice.” Well, that’s a tough thing for anybody.

Randy:             Well, here’s another thing to look at, too.  What happened to us that we stopped being neighborly?  When did we stop helping each other?  When I was a kid growing up, all the neighbors knew each other.  You spent evenings playing games or cards or stuff, everyone knew each other.  Nowadays you live in the same neighborhood you’re lucky if you know the guy’s first name, and you certainly aren’t going to mow his grass if he goes on vacation.  You’re not offering to bring over a loaf of bread because new people moved in.  That doesn’t happen anymore.  When did that sense of isolation start to become so prevalent?

Bill:                  Well I think it started with TV.  It started when we all started to turn from community, we started to turn inward.  Marshall McLuhan wrote about that.  And of course Neil Postman, you know Amusing Ourselves to Death.  What happens when you – it’s sort of self-cocooning Randy.  In other words, this isn’t something in an Orwellian sense, that someone put a gun to our heads and said, “I’m going to make you be this way.” It’s more like Aldous Huxley’s world in ‘Brave New World’ where it’s a people… his big thing in that book is it’s his people that no longer care.

So, from Orwell’s standpoint 1984, he had people top-down, gun to your head, cameras everything… Well I guess we’ve got cameras everywhere don’t we?  But, you also have a complacent… on the Aldous Huxley’s side you have a very complacent society and people that just no longer cared.  You don’t have to ban books right?  Because you don’t have anybody that wants to read them.

Randy:             That’s very true.

Bill:                  And I think… Go ahead, Randy.

Randy:             And look at the other thing, we’ve been brainwashed by this main media where, you know, people can sell you the name of the latest celebretard’s baby, but they don’t know nothing about the two 15 year old kids that saved the little five year girl from being kidnapped.

Bill:                  Certainly.

Randy:             The story in Pennsylvania just happened a couple of days ago.  Maybe a little blurb, if you’re on a social network, you know you’ve got that.  But splashed in the newspaper, you know some movie stars, whatever he’s up to.  And more people know about that.

Brian:               Oh no doubt; but, Randy, here’s a bit of the discussion that Bill and I get into with our guests a lot of times.  And this is where it comes back to me – everyone wants to blame the government.  Everyone blames the government, I blame the individual.  Everyone wants to blame the media.  I don’t blame the media anymore.  I blame the individual.  You have – what was the term you used?  Celebretard is having a baby.  The only reason the media’s covering it is because you care about it.  And it may not be you Randy, but a preponderance of people that tune in.  So in people make government, and they make media out to be these big monsters.  And I’ve been guilty of it too, when I say the ‘bureaucratic behemoth of the legislative leviathan’.  But we’re the ones that give them that power.

Randy:             Oh you’re absolutely right.  I agree with you.  I do see you’re point.

Bill:                  And, Randy, here’s another side from let’s pretend it’s the internet.  Society… We’re advertisers.  I’ve got a company so I have to survive.  And what the world unfortunately revolves around is clicks.  In other words, if the story about the celebretards’ baby’s name or whatever it is, gets more clicks than something else, then it rises to the top of the pile.  So it is very democratic in that sense of what Brian’s saying, and what I’m saying.  It’s the scariest thing in the world because it’s not them, it’s us.  We’re self-clicking… we write Neil Postman’s book, and we’re sort of self-clicking ourselves to death.  And then wondering why the news stories are what they are.  It’s because we’re clicking and we’re watching and advertisers pay for something exciting, sensational.  They don’t pay for… It doesn’t pay to have the kind of news that makes us all smile.  It’s just something sensation that has to be there or no-one’s going to watch.  And remember, one website’s competing against another for stories.  One TV channel’s competing against another.  So they’re always trying to out sensationalize the other channel.  And what it is, it’s sort of a very free market destructo-ray.  It’s bound to go down at some point.

Randy:             Yeah, you make very, very good points.  Certainly gives me some more food to think about.

Brian:               Well what are you going to do now, Randy? Were you forced to remove the hay bales? How is that looking? Kind of catch us up on what you’re doing now in the latest saga.

Randy:             Sure, the garden gets a regular maintenance; it gets some trimming and some pruning and things like that.  The plants are still growing out front.  The hail bales are still there, the plant coverage is very nice.  The hail bales themselves are barely visible anymore, looks more like a raised bed.  But the ticket’s already been issued for that.  The probation violation letter has gone out for my probation officer.  So I have a meeting again next week with probation, and a hearing on July 31st to address the charge of probation violation.  So it’s entirely feasible that the judge can say, “You violated the terms of your probation, off to jail you go.”

Brian:               And how are you with that?

Randy:             Well, you know, I certainly don’t want to go to jail.  But you know, if it’s… I never intended to start out to be a martyr, but if that’s what it takes for some awareness, well that’s what it takes.  You have to stand up for your rights.  I mean, when George Washington and Thomas Jefferson stood up for their rights, they were facing the death penalty for treason.  But me, am I really going to go to jail?  I don’t know; it depends on how pissy the judge is going to be, what the agenda is of the people who are advocating for that kind of thing.

Brian:               Well we most certainly don’t want to see you get in any….  Though we appreciate that you’re – you know, the concept of standing up in what you believe in.  I can tell you after talking to you for a while, that you’ll take a level-head and make a decision at the time for what is absolutely right for you.  But as far as it is here, it’s kind of hard to believe that they’ll continue to come after you and do these things.  I’d have to tell you, I wouldn’t have known that having a bale of hay in your front yard was an offence.  It’s not a crime; it’s not punishable between 15 days to one year of jail.  So it doesn’t rise to a level of a crime, but it’s an infraction or an offence.  I wouldn’t have known that, if I were on probation and someone said, “Hey, we’re going to violate your probation over Halloween decorations,” I’d have had no clue.

Randy:             Well you can write a ticket out against just about any ordinance violation.  And what I found out in the third chicken trial of Mike’s… The city has a way of taking all ordinances and consider them criminal in nature.  And it’s selected then, if they want to pursue the criminal aspect of it or just write as a civil infraction ticket.

Bill:                  That is really notorious, that is unbelievably notorious.  Where in world does it say that if a guy doesn’t cut his lawn to the length that you want him to, that that’s a criminal offence, automatically?

Randy:             It’s arbitrary and it’s capricious.  If you question it, then you can be fined for contempt because you’ll be questioning the judge’s actions.  It’s my understanding, and I’m not a lawyer, but I understand that in order for any event to be criminal in nature there has to be harm inflicted on another party.  So my question is who is harmed by me having a hay bale garden.

Brian:               Well, we’ll be interested to see.  We’ll be interested to see that, Randy, how that’s all, how that all play out for you.  So Bill, I’m going to wish Randy the very best in his latest run in with the good folks of Garden City – again, that still gets me – of Garden City. Bill, any last second thoughts?

Bill:                  No, just keep us updated, Randy.  We’d love to kind of follow your story because I do think it’s a case in microcosm of what’s happening across the world.  And I think it’s kind of like having a little canary on your shoulder.  At some point, if Randy goes down, if the canary dies, it’s just a sign that boy, you’re in trouble.  This isn’t the trajectory that you want your country to go.  So, Randy, best wishes to you and know that our prayers are with you in your battle.  And if there’s anything else that we can do, please let us know.

Randy:             Well thank you, Bill.  Thank you, Brian.  As always, pleasure talking to you.  It’s always nice to have a well thought out –

Brian:               Sir, I may have another.  “They took the whole bar.” All right, Randy. Thank you very much.  Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to say goodbye on behalf of everyone here at Off the Grid News, the parent company of, and of course Solutions from Science, thank you so very much for your time.

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