No, he's not blind, and no, he doesn't
have wooden hands. In fact, that would make his life as a painting and drawing
artist pretty hard to maintain, Raymond Meenan says.
And no, he has never flashed anybody or thrown dog feces at houses or cars during his somewhat-famous midnight jogs around Whitehall Borough, Meenan says.
The 74-year-old Pennsylvania resident and U.S. Army veteran—"I'm a 'tweener, right between the Korean War
and the Vietnam War"—has pretty much heard them all, he says,
regarding the rumors, urban legends and many informal
accusations sent his way.
Now, "The Midnight Jogger" has an accusation of his own—one that he's posted in large letters in the front yard of his property in Whitehall's 300 block of Streets Run Road:
"Nazi Whitehall Boro Council, Police & District Magistrate Robbed Me Of $20,000.00"
Meenan says that no one reached into his pockets and removed the money, but the longtime Whitehall resident (and 1957 Brentwood High School graduate) says that fines and legal expenses that he has incurred over decades of run-ins with local youth, council members and police have led to him spending such an amount.
The timing of the construction of his sign—it went up last week—is strange, however, as Meenan—who sometimes goes by the name of Lisa Quinton, according to Pennsylvania Common Pleas Courts docket sheets—hasn't had any Whitehall police charges since district Magistrate David J. Barton found him guilty in October 2009 of harassment, also according to docket sheets.
But recent encounters with the Whitehall Council have opened some old sores between Meenan and borough administration, which Meenan admits are at least part of his motivation to attempt to embarrass local leaders through his yard sign and a T-shirt that he often wears bearing a similar message, complete with a Nazi swastika.
Meenan even wore that T-shirt to a recent Whitehall Community Day festivities event.
According to Whitehall police Chief Donald R. Dolfi, Meenan has been disruptive at recent borough council meetings—often not citing his name and address before speaking during public-comments times and often speaking over other residents trying to voice their concerns to the council.
The recent actions of Meenan, who was charged by Whitehall police in November 2002 with disrupting a meeting, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, have caused council members and police to consider adding additional safety measures at public meetings.
The chief of police, or the deputy chief of police, already attend the meetings, but Dolfi cited a recent fatal shooting at a municipal meeting in Monroe County, Pa., as another reason to be on even higher alert.
Meenan's recent complaints at public meetings focus mostly on what he believes to be the Whitehall Council's ineffectiveness in protecting drivers and pedestrians at the Streets Run-Brownsville Road intersection on the border of Baldwin Borough.
According to Meenan, drivers are unsure of which lane is theirs at the confusing intersection, leading to traffic often going the wrong way and increasing the chances of an accident.
But Dolfi points out that, other than forwarding Meenan's concerns on to Allegheny County officials, who oversee that county road, there is not much that Whitehall officials can do about the intersection.
"We've told him that," Dolfi said, "and the mayor (James F. Nowalk) has told him that his concerns are being shared. But that's not good enough for him."
During an interview on Thursday, Meenan couldn't give an exact answer as to what he hopes to accomplish with his sign and T-shirt.
"I'm just sick of it," he says, pointing out the many legal fees that he's paid to fight Whitehall police charges, such as the aforementioned 2002 ones in which he eventually was found not guilty of two of them—resisting arrest and disrupting a meeting—more than two years later (in December 2004).
As for why he disrupts meetings these days, Meenan says that he has trouble hearing due to an Army training accident and that he often does not know that he's speaking over people.
But Dolfi, who has been with the Whitehall police since the 1970s, said that the hearing troubles are inconsistent and that Meenan often hears what he wants to hear.
Both the chief and Meenan say that local youth, from as far back as the late 1960s and early 1970s, have occasionally been less than kind to Meenan during his late-night jogs. Meenan takes things a bit further, though, saying that he carries rocks or bricks with him while he jogs so that, when anyone throws things at him, he can defend himself. He even accuses police officers of throwing things at him. Carrying the material also helps him with "heavy hands" for training, he says.
"I don't get as many kids these days, though," Meenan says regarding passers-by who might harass him. "The gas prices are too high."
As for why he jogs at midnight, Meenan offers a simple answer: "That's when I've had the time."