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Sorting out complex issues is something I like to do in these columns, but the space in a typical opinion column doesn’t always permit that. Today, we return to a couple of subjects of past columns – apples and activism.
State Land Commissioner Ray Powell doesn’t think he got his turn at bat in my discussion of the Dixon Apple Orchard and its unhappy tenants, the Mullane family. If you’ve been reading, you know that the Mullanes and Powell are at odds over the lessees’ desire to sell their lease to San Felipe Pueblo for $2.8 million, which would stake them to a new start in Wisconsin. Wildfire and floods sapped Jim and Becky Mullane’s desire to stay; Powell is obliged to protect the land and get taxpayers the best deal.
It’s been a very public fight.
“We’ve done everything we can think of to keep the Mullanes on the land,” Powell says. “We got people out there and spent money trying to prevent flooding. We tried to be as humane as possible.”
Powell denies wanting to make political hay and insists the problem began in 2005 with his predecessor’s land deal, which gave the state ownership of improvements except for trees. It’s the only arrangement like it on state lands.
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