Oak Creek — A local businessman has stepped up to pay the legal fees of Earl Giefer, the 94-year-old farmer who was in the center of an eminent domain controversy earlier this summer.
After following Giefer's case in the newspaper, Scott Mayer reached out to the family - which is acquainted with his own family - to pick up $5,000 in legal fees.
Mayer said he, like Giefer, has had difficulty dealing with municipal government and was taught by his father to give back and help people.
"I've been jagged around in the past on real estate stuff like this," said Mayer, who lives on 80 acres in Franklin and over the years has tried to get the city to approve certain measures on his property, only to see the process drag on and on.
"I've done well in my life, so I thought it was an opportunity" to help the Giefer family, he said. "It was a real simple situation for me."
Mayer, 35, owns the Brookfield staffing agency QPS Employment Group and is also the owner of Spin Milwaukee, a table-tennis and social club in the Third Ward set to open this weekend.
Father's ongoing influence
Mayer's father, who passed away about 10 years ago, used to sell lawn and garden equipment and was friends with Giefer. He used to talk about Giefer as a stubborn, yet kind, farmer, Mayer said.
So Mayer applied his father's message about helping others.
"His mission in life was to help people, and I thought this was something my dad would have liked me to do," he said.
When Mayer proposed to pay off Giefer's legal debt, Giefer refused to accept payment until meeting him, Mayer said.
Earl and his daughter Susie, who also works the land, spent about a half hour with Mayer, talking about the problems they faced earlier this summer and reminiscing about the old days.
Mayer promised to come back and meet with him again.
"He was a wonderful guy," he said.
Giefer could not be reached for comment before the NOW's press deadline.
Cause of the legal battle
The legal fees are tied to the fight Geifer waged to keep his land.
Giefer's 25-acre property at 10523 S. Howell Ave. was targeted by the city as property that could be used for business development. After Giefer refused to sell, Oak Creek officials began eminent domain proceedings before a public backlash helped quash those plans.
In July, aldermen voted not to pay Giefer's legal bill, saying they no legal responsibility to do so.
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