This was not an easy call.
Dealing with a older family member can be challenging, as anyone who has gone through it can tell you, it's sometimes frustrating. Sometimes heartbreaking. Often both at once. It's very hard to watch someone who once was the person you leaned on begin to regress and tumble into a demented state. Of course, this doesn't happen to everyone of advanced age. Some remain sharp and mentally aware their entire lifetime.
Mary Louise Flavel is very much like that estranged aunt who has always been a challenging person with which to deal, now made worse by advancing age and the baggage she has collected over the years. Her relationship to the town her family helped build is problematic. When it comes to Astoria she always had her "dukes"up. Her defensive position has grown stronger with the onset of age and the things that happen to people approaching their 90's.
We need not go into the detailed history of her relationship with the town, the people in in it and her years of protecting and defending her errant brother Harry, long dead. That's readily available information elsewhere.
I want to address here the recent decisions by the Astoria City Council in regard to the neglected properties Mary Loiuse owns in town.
When the council got word that Ms. Flavel's lawyers planned to have her declared unfit to manage her own affairs and would seek to have the court take charge through the appointment of a conservator, the council members were a bit torn on the subject of delaying a planned foreclosure sale of her buildings. On one hand, you have a person who has managed to avoid previous attempts to turn over those properties using various legal gambits taking advantage of the kindness of strangers who felt compelled to help her out by lending money she never paid back. If there was any means by which she could delay, she would make use of those means to keep those properties...and keep them the abandoned eyesores they have become. On the other hand, you have one of the most respected lawyers in the state taking an interest in the matter, not because he wants to see a continuation of Ms. Flavels past practice, but because it is clear to him that she isn't mentally capable of handling her affairs any longer and he feared she would lose everything as a result.
It took a leap of faith on the part of the council to make the decision to delay the foreclosure sale.
That faith was justified this week when a conservator was appointed by a Washingon County Court and that conservator set to work sorting out Ms. Flavel's finances.
We don't have a conclusion to this story just yet but it is clear that the Mayor and the City Council made another good decision based on what might be best for all the parties involved. It was a tough one.