|The most famous Sierra Madrean of all|
Citizen of the Year Nominations Due – We cast our ballot for Neil the Pig (Sierra Madre Weekly link) - Not all animals are created equal…or are they?
How often do you read that a person you may have never met, let alone seen in town become ‘citizen of the year?' Well, not to put a ‘hitch in their giddy-up,’ the fine folks at the Chamber of Commerce and other select committee members who decide such an honor on whom to bestow, often choose from community input. That being, your nominations.
While we agree that most of these individuals selected as COTY have served the community well in years past, this year we need some humor injected into a what can really only be classified as a truly difficult year.
This year we humbly nominate Neil the Pig for both Citizen of the Year and July 4 Grand Marshal.
It’s not so much as what Neil has done but what he represents to so many in Sierra Madre – a bright future without an absurd bureaucracy dictating his domicile and other aspects of his life.
For those of you who didn’t manage to read about Neil, we’ll re-cap the juicy details for you:
Neil has lived in Sierra Madre for 17 years without a single citation, complaint or traffic infraction. In fact Neil doesn’t even drive. No, Neil is an upstanding citizen Sierra Madre of the porcine family. He has a residence on Montecito thanks to the kindness of his family.
Some likened it to Charlotte’s Web but a Sierra Madre porcine’s predicament went far and away beyond anything E.B.White could have written or imagined.
The whole episode actually started out as a simple request from resident Dr. Katherine Emerson about a rather noisy rooster in a neighbor’s yard that had been disturbing the peace for some time and waking people up at all hours apparently.
According to Emerson, she had contacted the city several times and got no results two months ago when she complained about the rooster’s existence…which was in violation of city ordinance.
Within 2 hours of that phone conversation, the Pasadena Humane Society was as Emerson’s door complete with a citation to have her pet pot-belly pig Neil, removed from the city of Sierra Madre limits due to a “code violation.” Emerson told Beacon Media, ” that would have killed Neil…a modern day Charlotte’s Web indeed…”
Emerson said this wasn’t a mere coincidence. “The city had never before contacted me about Neil…or any code violation,” she said. Emerson also stated she feels city manager Elaine Aguilar is “not doing her job …” and believes the decision to target Neil was politically motivated due to upcoming elections. “Even the Mayor (Nancy Walsh) was not on Neil’s side,” Emerson said.
Ludicrous yes, but nonetheless the letter of the law…well, almost.
News spread fast…very fast indeed thanks to a handful of Neil’s real friends and his “Facebook friends” who immediately launched a campaign that attracted the attention not only of local media but national news organizations and Facebook friends worldwide.
This wasn’t just any old swine story … this was about justice for a long-time resident of the tiny foothill city.
After considerable review of the code and fearing a public relations nightmare just in time for Halloween, Sierra Madre officials granted Neil a reprieve and allowed his to remain within city limits as he’s a pot-belly pig and not a “hog” as the ordinance dictates.
Sierra Madre Chief of Police Larry Giannone gave Emerson the good news personally, and also attended a special celebration in Memorial Park with 30 others who had supported Neil’s cause.
Neil has been living in a front yard behind a white picket fence greeting kids for 17 years. He was adopted by Diane Emerson in 1996 from Pet’s Delight pet store in Monrovia. Her daughter Dr. Katherine Emerson inherited Neil after Diane passed away about six years ago.
Neil was apparently in violation of Municipal Code 08.030, entitled simply “Hogs”. The code prohibits hogs from residing within the city limits. However Neil is actually a pot belly pig, not listed in the code, anywhere. Dr. Emerson said she was warned if Neil is not removed from the city limits they will proceed with legal action to have him destroyed.
A social media campaign began to save Neil on both Facebook and Twitter traveled like an epidemic of swine flu. Neil’s supporters garnered a huge following which led to the delightfully happy ending and Sierra Madre Police Chief Larry Giannone said that they will NOT pursue any action against Neil. He is free to stay in his home with the Chief’s full support. Pride , Integrity and Guts.
Emerson said she was glad it’s all over for now but hasn’t ruled out a career in politics for Neil. Emerson added that whatever Neil and she could do to support the local police and fire departments in Sierra Madre, they will.
George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 made a huge resurgence this year with the classic books rising to the top ten best sellers list – decades after they were written.
The reason: Simple, and deeply complex at the same time. But I’d like to think Neil had his nose in this. Fear of Big Brother interfering with our lives ( NSA – Nudge Nudge, wink wink); lack of transparency in government; the list goes on. Thanks Neil. Perhaps, just perhaps, pigs will fly in 2014.
(Mod: Nominations for COTY are due to the Chamber of Commerce by January 6. Time is short, so do not delay. To place Neil's name into nomination for this quintessentially Sierra Madre honor, click here for everything needed to do the right thing.)