"I may not be able to do anything about the scoundrels in Washington  who are ruining the
country for their own personal greed; but I damn sure can do something about a  couple of
tin horn rental landlords here in my own home town who are degrading my neighborhood for
their own personal greed."

That's what I thought in 2004 as I began my journey through the Local Municipal Code System
here in Columbia, Tennessee.

My widowed mother lived alone for years next to a deteriorating rental property in Riverside.

Over a period of years a series of three(3) separate rental landlords had turned the nice
residential property next door into a trashy, deteriorated disgrace to the neighborhood.

And each rental landlord in turn further "busted up" the single-family house into more and
more "dwelling units" until now there were six(6) separate groups of rental tenants living at
this property zoned as a single-family (R-10) dwelling.

Tenants had a rapid turnover. Many of them were loud, vulgar, violent and dangerous.

My widowed mother would not allow me to intervene on her behalf.

Then she had a stroke and I acquired Power of Attorney to handle the ancestral estate which
had been in my family for more than 100 years.

I had thought:

  • If I simply explain to this landlord that his renters are scary and dangerous and trashy, he
    will respond immediately, as any good citizen would,  to remedy the unpleasant situation.
When this approach didn't work I thought:

  • If I talk to Columbia Local Officials they'll know how to handle stuff like this.

When this approach didn't work I thought:

  • If I write a letter to my City Council, Mayor, the Vice-Mayor, City Manager and City
    Attorney they'll get right on this and fix it.

When THIS didn't work I thought:

  • I'll alert my fellow Citizens of Columbia to the dangers of allowing the encroachment of
    URBAN BLIGHT here in their own community -(MUSIC CUE: It Can't Happen Here-Zappa)-

When THIS DIDN'T WORK I decided to at least try to produce something of value from the
deplorable experience.

I am now an Independent Documentary Filmmaker.

The documentary film production,
A Study in Local Civics
  The Little Town Who Sold its Soul

is intended to illustrate the procedures I have had to undergo to get to the point I am today...
which is nowhere further
(insert: UPDATE)  than when I started nine(9)years ago trying to achieve a
minimum of civil compliance from the above-mentioned tin horn rental landlords.

I will demonstrate how here in Columbia, Tennessee, the Rules are actually set up to
encourage the venal interests of Speculative Real-estate Entrepreneurs(slum-landlords) at the
expense of the good Citizens who are having their blood sucked out of them
(insert AUDIO: sucking
even as they are told their interests are being defended.
          The Movie

(Pan local distressed areas in Columbia Tennessee-
Locations within five(5) city blocks of the County Courthouse)


O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!
"Quality of Life" clips produced by City of Columbia as
seen on website
These words written by the American poet, Langston Hughes,
eighty  years ago bring fresh meaning to the...etc...

(Thus begins the introduction to this documentary film)
...more to come...

(In stark contrast to these scenes of actual City Squalor)
Your privacy and identity will be protected at your request.
We, The Governed, are producing a documentary film in which abuses to the
community by local, malign, residential rental businesses will be studied.

More importantly, the film will demonstrate how these abuses are enabled and
supported by our own local Municipal Government's acquiescence to these abuses.

Please tell us your story whether you want to be in the film or not.

Your story will be important in holding our local Government Officials accountable
for their entrenched Public Policy of "turning the blind eye" to the systematic
degradation of the community by malign rental housing businesses catering to a
low-income demographic.

Tell us your story whether you want to be in the movie or not.

Contact us at
We're applying for a film grant from
Annenberg Institute for Civics-
A documentary film:

Describing the adventures
of one citizen investigating
cultural hegemony in a
closed economic system
in Small Town, Tennessee.

Is there a point of
self-degradation beyond
which a small town in the
South can never recover?
(add link to
Annenberg Institute for Civics)
Contact us at: