It’s fascinating to observe the extremes to which some cities go to solve problems.

It seems like, the smaller the town, the zanier the solution.

A case in point was the situation in Corwith (population 309) last week where Dale Peterson opened a juice bar featuring dancing girls who, let’s just say, were not modeling the latest fashions.

Mayor Jay Gourley was not happy about the town’s newest business. Prior to its opening, Gourley discovered Peterson hadn’t signed on for his utilities yet. So Gourley had them shut off on the day the club was supposed to open. Peterson still opened but in candlelight.

The utilities situation was remedied and the club opened apparently without incident Thursday.

Gourley said two things have to be constant: “He has to comply with the law — and we have to comply with the law.”

Sometimes, laws are created to fit specific situations.

A few years ago, the town of Florence, Minn., population 36, wanted to keep riff-raff businesses out of town. So it passed an ordinance allowing only residential zoning.

This same Peterson who is now in Corwith had a strip club in Florence. To get around the law, he moved into his club and called it his residence.

The city said he couldn’t do that and closed him down. Courts sided with the city and Peterson has now appealed to a higher court.

In Swaledale in 2004, then-Mayor Sue Lyles wanted to meet with the City Council to discuss a controversial issue.

They met at City Hall. When the town librarian showed up to attend the meeting, she found that the door was locked.

Lyles said later it wasn’t a council meeting — it was an informal get-together with the City Council.

That made it, in effect, a public meeting from which the public was locked out.

Last year in Gould, Ark., City Council members became concerned because the mayor had joined a local political organization that was at odds with the City Council.

So the council passed a law saying no one in town could join any organization without City Council approval.

That harnessed the mayor, but it did not sit well with the VFW, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Women’s Club and the Lions and Kiwanis of the community.

Two years ago in Mason City, three council members walked out of a meeting, eliminating a quorum, preventing a council vote on an issue in which they knew they were on the losing side.

Reach John Skipper at 421-0537 or

(2) comments

JB Johnson of Britt
JB Johnson of Britt

Who said being small was a factor. In Texas, IN and WI the DEMs fled the state to hold up votes. In Iowa the DEMs left the statehouse for a few hours one day

Todd Blodgett
Todd Blodgett

Anarchy isn't just coming: in some places, it's already here. But it'll be the first step toward substantive change. Once the dust settles, the republic wrought by our founders will return. After all, to make an omelette, you've gotta break some eggs. Arguing politics nowadays is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. What's on the way is baked in the cake, and it has been since FDR and LBJ shredded the Constitution. And with Obama jacking things up on steroids, he's sealed America's fate.

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