381 CHRONICLESnThey must issue thick annual reportsnitemizing every grant. Nonetheless,neven these are not exempt fromnfakery. In the NYSCA Annual Reportnof 1976-77, the lump sum allocatednfor the literature program as a wholen(p. 36) was considerably more than thentotal of the individual grants (on pagesn37 & 38), which meant that $110,500nwas, as they say, “unaccounted for.”nWhen I asked about this discrepancynin NYSCA’s own Annual Report, I gotna series of baloney letters that indicatednonly that people of putative responsibilitynwere allowing themselves to ben”faked out.” As far as I can tell, thisnpublic money has permanently disappeared,nand there is every reason tonbelieve that other NYSCA AnnualnReports are similarly full of gapingnloopholes.nRichard Kostelanetz is a New Yorknwriter who lectures widely on grantsnand granting. Address all questions tonDr. Grants.nLetter From thenHeartlandnby Jane GreernWho’s Wearing the White Hat?nIn the heartland’s fiercest modern-daynshoot-out—farmers versus lawyersnand bankers—it’s hard to tell the goodnguys from the bad.nCharles Niska, farmer and father ofneight, is serving two consecutive oneyearnsentences in the North DakotanState Penitentiary for illegal practice ofnlaw and jumping bail.nNiska got into trouble helping hisnneighbor Richard Schmidt try to outwitntwo local banks, which had startednforeclosure proceedings on Schmidt’sn3,500-acre farm and called in an$95,000 promissory note.nSchmidt, on Niska’s advice, tried tonfile “land patents” on his farm, whichnwould exempt it from forfeit for badndebts. No deal. So (also on Niska’snadvice) he wrote and mailed a letter ofncomplaint, or “constructive notice,”nto the county register of deeds whonhad refused to let him file. For this,nSchmidt was charged with a Class Cnfelony: “threatening a public servant.”nThe “constructive notice” had saidnmerely that the register of deeds, innrefusing to let Schmidt file, was remissnin her duty and liable for civil andncriminal actions.nConsidered by the law to be a victimnof Niska’s manipulations, Schmidtncopped a plea in return for talkingnabout Niska, the prize the attorneyngeneral’s office had wanted all along.nAfter Schmidt gave his evidence,nNiska was charged with practicing lawnwithout a license, given a deferrednsentence, put on probation, and orderednto undergo psychiatric testingn(his speech rambles, he gets excited anlot, he has funny ideas about thenincome tax, he likes to talk aboutnliberty and justice for all). Niska refusednto be tested; on religious groundsnhe views psychiatry and psychology asna “devilish perversion,” and as a citizennhe views the evaluation order asnpolitical harassment. When the countynstate’s attorney asked that his probationnbe revoked, Niska missed hisnhearing and was charged with jumpingnbail. Now he’s doing time.nNiska and Schmidt are joined bynthousands of others across the Midwestnin their efforts to foil the foreclosurenmechanism, but it seems clear thatneach of these men is in trouble withnthe law mainly because he’s a royalnpain in the neck. Certainly they posenno real threat to the system. Most havenattended clandestine meetings atnwhich out-of-state “experts” in “commonnlaw” give farmers a shred of hopenand teach them, they think, to forestallnforeclosure with loopholes and tricksn—such as writing “constructive notices”nor pleading that the lending agreementnhas been broken if their land isntaken by force. The farmers use thesenmaneuvers enthusiastically, likendrowning men handed ping-pongnballs. Can you blame a guy for trying?nYes, says the law establishment.nSuch “common-law” efforts are feckless,nundermine what real help couldnbe given to the farmers, and result in anlot of bureaucratic paper-shufihng thatnclogs the courts and costs taxpayersnmoney. Besides, they say, Niska andnthose like him really are misrepresentingnthemselves as lawyers. At least innNorth Dakota, the law is sufficientlynvague that it can, when necessary, beninterpreted as meaning that a nonlawyerngiving anyone any sort of advice innnnlegal matters can be prosecuted. (Ingrow faint thinking of the times I’vensaid, “You oughta sue!” to friendsnwho’ve been wronged at work or in anbusiness transaction.) Niska was a giganticnburr under the saddle of ThenLaw, and he was removed.nAs one who once paid my $10 andnfilled out a simple two-page applicationnfor nonprofit incorporation of anfour-person literary group (the applicationnwas provided by the secretary ofnstate’s office), only to be told by anlawyer that the form wasn’t valid ornnearly detailed enough and that I’dnhave to pay him or someone like himn$500 to do it right, I sympathize withnthese farmers who resent the power,narrogance, and condescension of thenlaw elite. On the other hand, if I evernreally need a good attorney, I want tonbe sure I get one, and not some nutnwho doesn’t know a writ from a hole innthe ground. But is it right for the lawnestablishment to set the limits of itsnown domain? If the actions threatenednin a “constructive notice”—lawsuits,nbeing reported to a higher authority,netc.—are legal and possible, how cannthe filer be charged for filing? And ifnthey aren’t possible, why worry aboutnit?nNiska’s story brings other questionsnto mind. When a letter of complaintnsuch as the one Richard Schmidt sentnto the register of deeds is consideredn”threatening” and outiawed, only outlawsnwill have the courage to communicatendispleasure to their electednofficials. What then happens tongovernment by representation?nAnd who among us hasn’t run intondead-earnest social workers and psychologistsnwho are convinced—nay,ntaught—that no one is mentallynhealthy, that mad instability rages innus all, and that it’s their job to find itnand fix it? Niska’s fear of shrinks makesnperfect sense to me.nRegarding the farmers’ plight,nthere’s a good case for saying to them,n”You borrowed too much too fast andngot in trouble. Now take your licks likenthe rest of us have to.” For their part,nthough, these farmers claim that theynwere enticed into the situation by thenbanks back in the 70’s when there wasnplenty of easy money. The more radicalnamong them claim it was a longstandingnplot by the banks to get theirnland, but all of them say, in their ownn