Unusual News Shorts

Dracula lives, and he hates property taxes.Count Dracula is a very interesting and lively individual. He deals in antiques, runs a thriving beer garden and restaurant, and wants to declare his 38 acres in a forest region south of Berlin independent from Germany.

The Count, whose full name is Ottomar Rodolphe Vlad Dracula Prince Kretzulesco, is a native of Berlin but was adopted by the Romanian royal family. The Count is frustrated with the bureaucracy and high property taxes.

His solution: form the “Kingdom of Dracula” with the 1,200 surrounding residents of Schenkendorf. He will need strong support from local leaders if he is to be successful.

Dracula, who is the heir of the 15th century Transylvanian prince that inspired author Bram Stoker’s 19th century “Dracula,” said that he is looking to create “a place where people can enjoy life, where they can laugh and wander through town with smiles rather than frowns on their faces. No more hassles, no more bureaucracy, no more frustration.”

Dracula stressed that he is quite serious about the matter, despite the state of Brandenburg refusing to acknowledge the declaration of independence as anything more than a humorous matter.

Dracula has posted “official-looking” signs that read “Kingdom of Dracula” around the premises in an attempt offset the state’s attitude towards the matter. He has also begun to make passports for the country.

Things on Dracula’s “to do” list involve getting the country its own stamps and license plates. He has also hired a consulting firm to set up a web site (www.prince-dracula.com). He has, however, stopped short of designing a currency to rival the Euro for “legal reasons.”

Brandenburg Interior Minister Joerg Schoenbohm is trying to convince Dracula that seceding is not a viable alternative to paying taxes. Schoenbohm has already taken measures to reduce property taxes by merging seven small villages, including Schenkendorf.

“Perhaps Count Dracula can be persuaded by the argument that declaring a kingdom is unconstitutional,” said Schoenbohm. He added, “And if that doesn’t work, we always have garlic.”

Dracula was not amused by the comment and retorted, “Political leaders shouldn’t make dumb comments like that.”

Ironically, Dracula’s proposal has some strong support from the citizens of Schenkendorf. The town’s duty mayor Lutz Krause said, “Certainly [the support for Dracula’s Kingdom] was at first a gimmick to get some attention for our complaints about the forced incorporation of the villages. But in the meantime it has developed far beyond that. There are indeed legal hurdles, but we are evaluating how far we can go.”

Despite Dracula’s serious handling of this situation, he is not without a sense of humor. In the past, he has hosted such philanthropic events as the German Red Cross “blood drive”. He rose out of a coffin for the occasion.

A sad reminder that midterms are not that bad.

In the small town of Malacky, a Slovak man tried to take his own life with a self-made guillotine after falling behind on his taxes, according to police reports last Tuesday.

The attempted suicide took place in front of the local tax office. A fifty-six-year-old man approached the building and pulled out the makeshift device. He stuck his head in and released the blade, but his head was not fully severed.

According to local police chief Milan Kuzma, the man did not immediately die, but injured himself badly enough that he later passed away.

He left a message saying that he could no longer pay his taxes, which totaled about $542.