To the editor:
This letter is written regarding the ranching dispute with Monty Pilgrim as the defendant.
Having grown up with generations of ranching family and currently surrounded by ranching neighbors, I can appreciate the various aspects of this case.
For example, I know that sometimes tacit and imperfect arrangements come into existence over years, for dealing with ongoing issues.
Cows crawl under fences and wander and mingle back and forth both directions between properties.
It seems the arrangement in this situation was that it all balanced out and not to worry about it.
From the news stories, it appears that the first word Monty heard of a neighbor having an issue was from the sheriff.
His first words were something like, "Let's get this taken care of right now."
Everyone agrees (even Monty) that if he owes anyone anything, he needs to pay it.
But here is what I am left wondering: Is that satisfactory for the neighbors, or are they hoping for a windfall? Maybe with restitution and what not, a legitimate amount owed will magically grow by 10 times?
If they will be happy with what (if anything) they are owed, then why bring this mess to court?
Are they actually trying to claim they tried to get any legitimate debt from Monty and he refused?
There is no way that can be true.
I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand this, if this goes to court and if the plaintiffs win, and if there are punitive damages assessed, that punitive money goes to government coffers.
That's right, a neighbor gets hurt and the government gets fed from it.
I'm just wondering if everyone has thought this through.
Out in the rural community, it seems the farther apart your neighbor is, the closer they are.
My rural community is important to me and we watch out for each other.
We, in general, settle issues with good fences and honest talk.
I'm confident that for anything to make it to court, much effort would have first been attempted out of court.
I'm wondering what the end game is here?
The story in Friday's paper did not suggest what that would be. Is the hope that Monty will go to prison and his ranch will be seized and sold for legal fees, restitution, punitive damages, etc.?
Is this a good idea, giving the government training on how to take ranches?
There is a saying that goes, "Everything you take will be taken from you; everything that is yours will return to you."
It seems to me that the best way to solve this is to set down and agree on what, if anything, is owed, and have Monty pay that.
Be done with it, get on with your lives, and get on track with healing and strengthening your community rather than letting it be divided.
Lawyers and bureaucrats will survive without this case.
Be careful with what you take.
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