Precinct 333

Thursday, January 20, 2005

You Will Be Assimilated!

This one is particularly funny to me – I lived in the town for about a year before I got married.

IN MEDIEVAL TIMES, potentates had a rude method for annexing neighboring communities. The baron's soldiers would surround the town, cut off water and food, then catapult boulders and fireballs at the citizenry.

We live in a gentler society. In St. Louis, a garden spot of polite civilization, municipal annexations today resemble courtship. Suburban towns woo their would-be citizens with promises of water and sewer service, police protection and spiffy roads.

Alas, the leaders of little Millstadt are a throwback to the olden days.

The village wants to annex a 50-home subdivision outside its borders. So, the town lawyer sent prospective citizens a letter: Agree to annexation, it said, or Millstadt will "terminate access to its water system."

In other words, subdivision residents could surrender or face life without showers and flush toilets. More than half of them signed papers agreeing to be annexed.

But there's one thing the municipal barons of Millstadt may have overlooked: Millstadt's new residents will have a privilege that medieval residents never enjoyed. They can vote.

Given the annexation laws of Illinois, I’m not surprised that Millstadt managed to pull this trick off. The state has more or less set a policy that anything that is developed or about to be developed needs to be in some municipality. You might manage to avoid that fate for a while, but you will eventually be assimilated.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to be a part of the town, you really have no right to complain when the town decides to stop providing you services.


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