December 17, 1997

The Sweeney saga

        It looks like this weekend could be a critical time for the Sweeney family.

        If the mediator, Judge Mazzone, carries out his stated intention, he could lift his stay of eviction, and the U. S. Marshals could descend on the Meyer Lane home in force.

        If Rhetta Sweeney stands by her vow not to leave, there could be a serious confrontation with many possible consequences.

        Based on the information provided by the Sweeneys and backed up by voluminous documentation, it seems inconceivable that their conflict with The System has reach this stage.

        Of course, the mediator and the Sweeneys' adversaries are not providing any information, so we don't have a real basis for personal judgment on the merits of the case.

        We have no way of knowing what offers and counter-offers have been proposed.

        Legal issues aside, there certainly seems to be cause for holding off the drastic step of physical seizure of their home until the many conflicts are resolved.

        When a federal bank takeover costs the country and the taxpayers nearly a billion dollars and legal fees alone exceed the amount of the contested loan, it seems irrational to pursue the mortgager so relentlessly.

        The Sweeneys have gain the moral and sometimes material support of a wide array of people, from Peter Britton to Alphonse D'Amato. Bishop Mark Dyer has provided the prestige of his position and his personal compassion, while Sen. Bruce Tarr has, as usual, stepped up and stood up for his constituents.

        People from all over the country and around the world have come in with support and encouragement for the David going up against the federal Goliath.

        The affair could have deteriorated to an anti-government confrontation supported by armed militia who would undoubtedly have been eager to join in such an enterprise. No such radical action has been tolerated.

        The Sweeneys have stayed within the law and civilized discourse, and they have played the public opinion card effectively so far. They have gone public, using every legitimate means of communication to tell their side of the story.

        We hope their conduct will be rewarded by similar restraint by our government.

        Let us all keep a watchful eye on the developments that may take a nasty turn this weekend.