Saturday, December 31, 2005

Uneven parallel

I finally wanted you gentle readers to see what all this porch fuss is about.

The pictures in the Thousand Words post pretty much says it all. Nonetheless if you didn’t catch the what’s wrong in the first picture let me lay it out for you.

All of the current porches are of the same style, construction and height. You’ll notice that the porch in the foreground is not parallel with the porch in the background. Because if the porches were parallel, you wouldn’t see the second porch---everything would line up evenly. Your eyes would travel straight across.

Obviously that is not the case.

The second picture let’s you know why the porch in the foreground it tilting. One of the support beams that are anchored to the building is not properly fixed to the vertical support that comes out of the ground. If the vertical support beam from the ground and the horizontal support beam coming out of the building fit properly it would form a nice tight “T”.

Obviously that is not the case.

The Porch People are working on scheduling a crew to start the actual work some time in January and February. They were caught a little flat footed when the building permit came in so early.

So God love you if you thought for even a second that I was taking poetic license in telling the porch tale of woe. Yes, folks they really are that bad.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Flashing Clock

**Cell phone ringing***


"Hello Woody, are you at home today?"

"No, I actually have to work. What's up?"

"ComEd is in the alley setting up a work area and I thought you might want to know about it."

I almost fainted in my cube.

After many months of chasing ComEd to come and put a protective housing around our taped and seemingly spliced together wires, the rubber finally met the road yesterday when the task was actually completed.

Naturally another neighbor called because the power was shut off for about a half an hour but the inconvenience was kept to a minimum.

This neighbor also commented about ComEd informing us about any work and the ensuing power outages, but I kindly reminded her that it was a minor miracle that the work was getting done at all after five years. Additionally she wants a major utility that has no way of internally tracking work requests to have the ability to inform the consumer about work that will affect their homes or businesses?

Yeah, right.

Nonetheless big props to ComEd for finally making the magic happen. I'm sure the call my alderman's staff made to one of their ComEd contacts didn't slow the process down either.

At least now we know that if our power goes out it won't be because of some bootleg ass taped up wires.

Friday, December 23, 2005


I’ve been perusing the Walgreens weekly sales paper looking for deals.

I planted basil seeds and tulip bulbs that I’ll force up sometime in the late winter when the Chicago weather makes me wish I lived somewhere else.

I’ve caught up reading all of my favorite blogs.

I’ve finished cleaning up from my Christmas party---finally washing and packing away the chaffing dishes as well as getting every last spot out of my white cotton embroidered Pottery Barn reindeer tablecloth.

Hint: Purex liquid detergent applied directly to the stains (satay sauce, meatball drippings, cocktail sauce) along with the regular amount in the wash water. Let the machine agitate for a few minutes and if possible stop the washer and let the object(s) soak for a good four hours. When you turn the machine back on and let it finish its cycle that bad boy will not have a stain on it---guaranteed.

I’ve vacuumed and swept.

I’m starting to plan my garden for the 2006 planting season. I know it’s early but I really do like to garden. Plus when you have no car you have to plan and execute things with military like precision.

I’ve spent time with my cat. I believe he wonders where I go everyday to keep him in kibble and squeaky toys.

I made a huge crock-pot of beef barley soup that I’m going to divide into smaller containers and put up in the freezer.

I’m figuring out bills and expenses for the next few weeks as payday coincides with New Years. And let’s face it, who wants to enter in a new year with no cash?

By the way, paying bills sucks.

I’m also trying to figure out what to wear to the Eve of the Eve. Classic Black or an icy light blue? Strapless or sequins? Decisions, decisions…

I mailed off the condo association’s refuse rebate form to our Alderman.

I’ve decided that I’m going to bake a white chocolate pound cake for a New Year’s Day brunch that I’ve been invited to.

I suppose this is what life is really like when condo and developer issues don’t dominate your every waking moment.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Giving Thanks

When I look back on this past year it’s difficult to believe that as an association we’ve been able to achieve so much in so short a time.

If you’ve been reading this blog you already know the stories. In a nutshell, we’ve turned this ship around and charted a course for (hopefully) smoother waters.

Our achievements are also a testament to the collective power of the group.

Seeing that this is the end of the year and the usual amount of pat on the back retrospectives abound, I only feel it fitting to give some shout outs to all of my neighbors who either served on the association board or who volunteered for maintenance duty.

I also want to give props to my neighbors who sat in monthly meeting after monthly meeting and took an active interest in the management of their home.

Much love to everyone who graciously donated extra time and/or supplies to the multitude of important but minor projects.

We really are rock stars.

Who in Pete’s name would of thought that we would made it (part way) through the fire?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

(Almost) Free Money

If you live in a condo development that has to pay for its own scavenger service (trash), the City of Chicago Department of Finance offers a program that will reimburse your association for a majority of your bill.

This period of reimbursement can either be for six months or a year and you have up to a year to apply for the previous period. All of the information can be found by clicking this link.

It's a great program but I've found few associations in my neck of the woods who know about its existence. Apparently someone must know as our applications for 2003 and 2004 were initially submitted in January of 2005 and we're just now getting the check for 2003. Go figure.

Even though it's a great program and I'm sure all interested parties read the instructions via the link in a through manner, here are a few things to remember:

1. You have to file a copy of you scavenger service agreement AND a detailed total of your trash bill for the period you're applying.

2. When your association is applying for the first time the application must have the previous year's trash bill (i.e. If you’re apply for 2005, you must also submit the 2004 bill) and a copy of a recycling certificate (check the instructions on the Finance Department’s website)

3. A governing board resolution must accompany the application authorizing the association’s application for the program. For example purposes a sample is included on the refuse rebate link.

4. When you get all of this together, it must be submitted to your alderman's office who in turn submits it to the city council. If I'm correct, they it needs to be approved for payment by the City's Finance Department; once that happens the checks are cut in the order of approval.

In short, don't hold your breath waiting for the cash to roll in. But make no mistake---unless the city scraps the program---the cash will eventually get to the association.

It's more annoyance than work but in the end a couple of hundred (or thousand) bucks may mean the difference between raising assessments or not raising assessments.

Just trying to share the knowledge---now go get your Benjamins!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Our condo association has received the building permit for the porches. I literally had to be picked up off the floor when I found out the news. The permit was issued yesterday. It took approximately 33 days from our application date.

If you remember correctly I thought the permit process would take at least three months.

This has to be a record for the City of Chicago's Department of Construction and Permits.

Additionally, the field service manager from Commonwealth Edison (the electric company) placed an order to get the metal housings for our tape wrapped electrical wires.

I'm not used to this much co-operation. Perhaps it's the association's early Christmas present.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Won't You Be My Neighbor

There she stands in all of her majestic red brick glory. A beautiful girl, no?

While you’ve read of the trials and tribulations of our association you also know, kind souls, that a great deal of work has been done to put us on the straight and narrow. As an association we’re about halfway through our journey. A large portion of our fate rests in the hands of the future owners of the foreclosed upon units.

We need good, honest to God resident owners. No investors or speculators, just people who understand the definition of community.

As we all know, good neighbors are the lifeblood of any population. While it’s my biased impression that I live around some dedicated and wonderful people, the future owners of the foreclosed upon units will hopefully integrate into our buzzing little hive.

Nonetheless, I need some help on this one.

I need you kids to spread the word about the units that are on the market. Refer people to this blog and most importantly to the links at the end of this post.

I have well documented the problems that the association is facing and has faced in terms of the porches and the electrical. Nonetheless we will have brand new porches before the summer of 2006 and we’re continuing the process on how to best approach our electrical situation. Both are significant undertakings so I’m sure all of you understand that it will take some time before each are resolved.

But to borrow a phrase from a famous print ad: “We’ve come a long way baby.”

My previous post was about the positive press the ‘hood got from the Chicago Tribune Real Estate Section. In another five years, people will be slapping themselves that they didn’t buy in sooner.

The units are prices at $176,900 for a two bedroom, one bath and $174,900 for the three bedroom one bath.

I haven’t seen the condition of the two bedroom unit but I can honestly say that the three bedroom property needs painting (three kids are rough on walls) and the carpets in the bedroom are trashed (I like hardwood floors throughout anyway). Someone will have to put some TLC into that unit but I think the effort will bring out a diamond in the rough.

Don’t forget---these foreclosed upon units were CHAC rentals you know.

More importantly the price on the three bedroom dropped from $198,000 to its current price. Methinks that means that the mortgage company wants to get out of the real estate business and back into the mortgage business.

A good price got better and I’ll garner that even a novice negotiator would be able to get them down several thousands of dollars more based on the condition of the unit. Due diligence from the realtor would be able to uncover the price reduction and a good home inspector would be able to provide evidence on the condition of the porches and the electrical.

All in all a pretty strong position to start a potential negotiation.

Tough times don’t last---tough people and buildings do. This old girl has been around since 1909. Barring anything major, she’ll hopefully be around for quite a while to come.

Any building that can go through a neighborhood’s sharp decline, years of neglect and an urban rebirth deserves more quality people that will take care of her.

Boy oh boy if those walls could talk.

So tell your friends, co-workers and don't forget about the paper boy. Hell, if you want to be my neighbor take a look see for yourself.

Bonus good neighbor points will be given if you like to garden.

1501, #1
6511, #3

The Word Is Out

The Chicago Tribune did a nice little story on the 'hood in yesterday's Real Estate section.

Surprise, surprise---the south side is nice and affordable. Read what Ms. Almada wrote about Woodlawn and other south side neighborhoods here.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Gall, Yet Again

Our association had a visitor recently---our old maintenance man Mike.

He had been sent by our developer to collect what he claimed to be his snow blower. Unfortunately Mike couldn't gain access to the basement where the lawn equipment is stored, as we had changed all of the basement locks this summer.

Now whether our developer had sent Mike or he simply said that he was sent in order to throw off anyone who questioned him, I can't say. Mike doesn’t seem like a dishonest person and had plenty of time and opportunity to take whatever he wanted out of the basement prior to the locks being changed later in the summer.

That snow blower has been sitting in the basement for several years. With the recent spate of snow that Chicago's been having I can see why it's absence would be missed. Nonetheless why would anyone mix their personal or business belongings with those of a condo association that they developed?

I'm curious to know if our developer will try to approach one of us about this little quandary instead of sending people to trespass on our property.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fan Mail

I'm not in the habit of posting letters that I receive, but this week has been a tad bit unusual in that respect. This little ditty came in yesterday:

Wow, what a fantastic job you are doing. I came across your blog while looking for some info; I was hoping to buy a new condo in the city. I read through the whole archive and I'm amazed at all the things I never even thought about asking or finding out. If it's any consolation from your horrible developer problems, you've helped at least one person to think critically and maybe look a little deeper into any condo development they may be interested in purchasing into. I wish you the best of luck with that developer and your association issues.

While I don't need a pat on the back to do what I'm doing, it's nice to get the love.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Hearing

The wheels of justice grind slowly.

Today was the informal fact finding hearing between me, my developer and the City of Chicago’s Department of Consumer Services. All of the above parties plus my developer’s lawyer and an aide from my alderman’s office were in attendance.

The hearing lasted a little over an hour and I kept my talking points were the following subjects:

The poor condition and replacement of the porches.
The poor condition of the electrical system.
The fact that we as a condo association got stuck with a fine that was the result of our developer’s mismanagement.

I was direct, had supporting documentation and kept on message. The facts spoke for themselves. So much so that if I continued on, I would have been repeating myself which would have made me look disorganized.

My developer responded by confirming what he did and did not do with respect to the rehabilitation of the buildings. During his explanation, the hearing officer interrupted to establish several facts:

My developer did not and does not have developer’s license.
Very little, if any, demolition was done on the building.
My developer did not replace or pull any of the existing electrical wiring.
My developer did not replace any of the existing plumbing.
What my developer called a property report was actually a small portion of what constitutes a true property report.
A property report of any kind was never filed with the city.

My basic argument was the filing of the property report was key to triggering inspections. Many of the latent problems that we as an association are encountering today could have been corrected.

My developer countered with a whole bunch of talk about who was called at the city to come out and inspect the property for a certificate of occupancy and that it had been completed.

Unfortunately for him, he didn’t come with any documentation that could prove his claims. Perhaps he’ll unearth his paperwork and present it to the hearing officer at a later date.

She did seem miffed that documentation she had requested a few weeks ago from my developer had not been produced in enough time for the hearing. He offered the excuse that one of his business partners took care of those issues and that the paperwork was never given to him.

He also mentioned the same tired excuses that he did in the letter that he sent to the Attorney General’s Office----the building was the worst building on the block; he kept the prices low so that the units could be affordable; in some cases he spent his own money to address punch list items; he offered to buy our places back from us but none of us accepted; the reason why none of use accepted is that our property value is estimated to be somewhere in the low $200’s and the fact that we got stuck with a fine that was originally his was due to a dishonest employee.

Nothing was ever his fault. There was an excuse for every issue.

Once he was finished, I countered that due to the four foreclosures in our building that the true value of our homes has yet to be firmly and consistently established, Furthermore I had neighbors attempt to sell their two bedroom at the $160 price point and had no luck as the electrical system was a major deterrent to potential home buyers.

Additionally, I told the hearing officer how we’ve turned our fortunes around as an association by establishing standard bookkeeping practices as well as saving money by doing our own maintenance.

My developer jumped in by stating that because he wanted to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest that he largely told the board that we could do whatever we wanted to do in our governing. That he would stay out of the way.

The hearing office seems puzzled by this and asked him why he remained condo board president for two years if he was to “stay out of the way?”

He replied, “Because the original officers were re-elected.”

Who can argue with that logic?

Our hearing officer is a seemingly nice lady---but a seemingly nice lady with a massive poker face. There was really no reading her. I have no idea how she will “take this under advisement.”

I’m concerned that the building’s issues will be given the brush off once again---only time will tell.

My fingers are crossed.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

I Was Right The First Time

The word has come down from on high---the State of Illinois is closing my complaint against my developer. To quote directly from the letter dated November 22nd, "We are doing so because we have exhaused all efforts available to us on your behalf."

In other words, as I previously stated, there are no protections against disreputable condo developers in the State of Illinois.

Witchy Poo For Mayor

Coming back from my much needed R-n-R I have many tales to tell of Gotham.

I met and reconnected with friends I hadn't seen in quite a while.
I sat at the bar at the Waldorf-Astoria while NASCAR was setting up for its convention and end of the year banquet. That was too surreal.
I saw the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center.
I made an interesting brand new friend while taking a sip at the Peninsula Bar.
The Mandarin Oriental is the bomb.
I saw a relatively new friend who feels like an old friend. We had a lovely day together.

Yet reality reared its ugly head when I got back home.

I've never made a secret about my blog to my neighbors. I've told or mentioned it to most, if not all of the people I talk to on a regular basis. They know it's my voice and my voice alone. What I write isn't endorsed or sanctioned by our board. No big whoop---In fact, I've gotten alot of positive reaction about my writing from my neighbors.

Obviously that had to come to an end.

Ladies and gentlemen, boy and girls, someone in cyberspace has taken exception to what I write and took enough time to register with blogger in order to leave a comment. The writer called himself (or herself) AttorneyAtLaw. Their original comments in black text along with my responses in red are below:

This is in response to the Woodlawn 2faced Witch (excuse me, Wonder).
Yowsa, a new name.

It is funny how you act polite when speaking to one in person but then rip them on your website. We’ve spoken? Actually it’s not a website but a blog.

We call that 2faced.
Who’s we? Didn't abbreviations like 2faced go out with 2legit to quit?

You must not have a real job (Actually I have two. I write about one of them here) since you have so much free time on your hands to discuss other people's personal business on your wack website. Is that the best way to resolve your condo association issues?
A massive amount of teamwork by some dedicated owners has helped us resolve some of these issues. I write about it here.

Just because you don't understand people's issues does not give you the right to rip them on your website like your shit does not stink, like you are perfect, like you are god.
From what I understand there is only one God but he (or she) takes on many different names. As for understanding people’s issues, Attorney what specifically are you referring to? It seems like you haven't read all of the blog as I speak very matter of factly about my shit stinking right here.

The statements you make are opinions not facts
Which ones? Once again be specific. You don’t seem to make very convincing arguments for a lawyer.

Opinions come a dime a dozen, everyone has one. If you really want to help people with similar issues as yours you should try obtaining positive results then inform.
That’s exactly what I’m doing. I wouldn’t wish this drama on my worst enemy.

Anyone can sit back and complain about their problems. Smart, successful people resolve their problems by actions and not by bitching.
You must not have read the blog all of the way through. I write about positive changes here and here.

By the way, I strongly suggest you remove any personal information and any statements you have made that slander or defame a person's character from your website within 48 hours unless you want to suffer the legal ramnifications.
By the way you spelled ramifications incorrectly.

It is against the law to make an individual's personal information available to the public without their consent What information? I name very few people on my blog so if you have an issue you need to name the individual in question and then we can get down to brass tacks about what is and isn't public and private information. and it is also illegal to slander or defame a person's character.
Whom am I allegedly slandering and defaming?

If you are unaware of this then check the law. You have been notified.

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, I've been notified.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

R and R


I'm jetting off to NYC for some much needed rest and relaxation. As you've read, it's been one hell of a year and I've only written about my condo activities. I don't think anyone would believe the other goings on in this little melodrama called my life. Nonetheless, I'm going to see old friends, take tea in Harlem and outrageously flirt with men I do and don't know very well.

All and all par for the course.

Hating my developer will continue when I touch down at ORD on Saturday. In these few scant days, it will more about loving me than loathing anyone else.


Monday, November 28, 2005


Our association's third foreclosure sale finally went through a few hours ago.

As with the previous two, the company that held the mortgage purchased the unit. Naturally there was no surplus of funds to satisfy the lien that we put on Mr. Cousin's property. We're ass out of luck with respect to that but may have another avenue for recovery of those funds.

So if you've been keeping score at home, three down---one to go.

God give us strength.


Below is today's follow up to-do list concerning condominium business:

1. Confirm that the plats of survey for our construction permit application will be completed today with 2 copies mailed to our porch vendor and 6 copies mailed to my attention.

2. Continue to attempt to setup an appointment with ComEd about the deteriorating condition of the electrical wires coming into our buildings.

3. Check on the status of our third foreclosure to see if the sale actually went through.

Mind you, I generally do all of this during my lunch hour as I have to make these calls during business hours. Is it any question on why I'm going to run away for a few days later on this week?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

A Ray Of Sunshine

Our application for the porch construction permit seems to be gathering steam. The Porch People called to say that our application has progressed so quickly that they're almost afraid that something might be wrong.

Normally, construction permit applications don't make it through to the zoning department for another four weeks. Ours has already landed there and has been pushed through to the next department. If it sails through the rest of the process this seemlessly (knock on wood), we could actually have permits before Valentine's Day 2006.

Here's to hoping.


Mr. Butler, our non-resident owner from the gall post, sent me the following letter:

November 16, 2005


Attached is a coy of my failed CHAC inspection report. I have highlighted the failed items the Blackstone Condo Association is responsible for repairing due to the fact they are in the common areas of the building. I am hoping these items will be repaired by my next inspection date of December 5, 2005 so my rent payment will not be abated by CHAC. You can disregard the outdoor items needing painting because CHAC will grant me an extension until next spring due to the weather. The rest of the repairs on the list are minor and I’m hoping they can be fixed in a timely manner.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.


Akwetee Butler

Things you should know:

The inspection was performed on 10/15/05
I was informed about Mr. Butler’s failed inspection on Wednesday, November 16th
His letter was also dated 11/16/05.
It was mailed 11/21/05.
I received the letter on 11/22/05.

If you’ve been reading this blog you are well aware that the condo association is running on some very tight margins. Keeping the bills paid as well as trying to stay ahead of the rising costs of natural gas and electricity is a job in itself. Every penny is pinched and budgeted to the nth degree. We try to keep costs to a minimum and surprise repairs such as the one that Mr. Butler is springing on us will be dealt with, but unfortunately for him, not before December 5th.

He had this inspection for a whole month before he tried to make a concerted effort to reach someone with our association. He could have stopped by and left a note if he didn’t know our phone numbers---there is no way that we should be receiving notice of this last minute.

You just can’t waltz up to us, say something non-critical or non-life threatening needs to be fixed and give us little time to fully ascertain the full scope of the issue.

Not only did we need proof for our records that theses CHAC violations existed, we need to actually see where these violations are. The inspection report lists chipped paint in the hallway but where in the hallway? Once we finish that phase, then we need to hire someone to come in and make the repairs.

This can’t be done with a magic genie blink.

It especially can’t be done when the money we need to do so rests in the pocket of the person who wants the work completed. If I’m correct Mr. Butler is 3-4 months behind in his regular assessments and 5 months behind in his special assessment.

How are we supposed to purchase the materials and pay the work people---with our good looks?

As usual, I’ll inform my other board members, get a consensus and then respond to Mr. Butler.

I hope he’s not counting on that CHAC check for Christmas presents. He might want to come up with a plan B.

WTF, Explained

When the special assessment check bounced you could of knocked all of us over with a feather.

One of my first phone calls the next day was to the manager of Chicago Title branch in Hyde Park (a Chicago neighborhood) to find out exactly why they stopped payment. As luck would have it, the current owner and either our developer or the former owner (his girlfriend) signed a joint escrow agreement. That means in order for the special assessment money to be released, both parties must send their consent in writing.

While our current neighbor sent hers, our developer withdrew his.

I told you he’s a piece of work.

Just ‘cause he won a round doesn’t mean he’s won the fight.

Monday, November 21, 2005


...Oh yeah, I got re-elected back to the condo board for another term. Whoopee!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

When It Rains, It Pours

One of my neighbors called this morning with some interesting news.

The owner of our third foreclosure had a reason for not wanting the process to be finalized a few weeks ago---he has a renter in the unit.

For clarification's sake and also because it's a matter of public record, the name of our soon to be foreclosed upon owner is Maurice Cousin.

When my neighbor was out and about yesterday, she ran into Mr. Cousin's former realtor. He had the place on the market for several months in the hopes of trying to unload the property before it the final boom was lowered. In the course of the conversation the relator stated that Mr. Cousin had indeed rented out his unit to "a friend" on the downlow.

The foreclosure was supposedly delayed until November 28th. You can't keep staving off the inevitable with flimsy excuses and bullshit emergency motions.

I guess the downlow isn't so downlow anymore.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Enola Gay

The letter below is my response to my developer's letter to the Attorney General's office:

November 18, 2005

Ms. Dolores Rodman
Citizen’s Advocate
Consumer Protection Division
Office of the Attorney General
100 West Randolph Street
Chicago, IL 60601

RE: File No. XXXX

Ms. Rodman:

I appreciate the prompt response by your office and Mr. XXXX about my concerns.

While I find tenor of his response troubling, I would like to continue to offer solid documentable evidence that Mr. XXXX violated key procedural and safety regulations in the development of the XXXX Condominium Association.

Appendix I of our Declarations and Bylaws titled "Building Code Violations Citations (10 year period)” states that "all violations will be corrected." As evidenced by the open code violations from the city submitted with my initial complaint that is not the case. Closer inspections of those code violations cite multiple issues with the rear wooden porches.

From what I understand, rehabbed condominium conversions---and I use the term rehabbed conversion due to way the XXXX was marketed via the MLS listings---must adhere to many statutes with the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois. One of which is a certificate of occupancy issued by the city. It seems a huge coincidence that the XXXX was never issued one prior to the turnover of our association or in the subsequent two years that Mr. XXXX served as our board president.

While I cannot directly state why Mr. XXXX did not follow up and complete the certificate of occupancy process; it does seem odd that a combination of open violations, the non-filing of the property report with the city and the lack of a certificate of occupancy loom in the background.

While the delivery of the property report may be in contention, what can be proven is that it wasn't submitted to the city. A letter dated August 29th, 2005 from the city's Department of Consumer Services states that "our records indicate no property report on the address indicated above." Those addressed were 1501, 1503, 1507 and 1509 East XXXX Street and 6509 and 6511 South XXXX. If Mr. Knight has proof to the contrary, the City of Chicago and I would be extremely interested in viewing a copy.

The filing of a property report would have eventually triggered an inspection by the city. I surmise a city inspection would have in turn triggered a much closer look at the conversion of the buildings. Something that may have led to questions and more extensive and costly renovations for the project than Mr. XXXX and his partners may not have had budgeted for.

Mr. XXXX contends that I was given the Property Report dated February 2001. While I cannot prove when the documentation was given or received I can confidently state that had I seen the property report prior to closing, there is no way I would of ever purchased a unit in the XXXX.

Nonetheless, I can provide documents that support my contention of Mr. XXXX’s gross mismanagement at best or attempting to do an end run around the law at worst.

Per the electrical report from XXXX, which was included with my complaint, states within the third paragraph of his cover letter that “the grounding system for the entire condominium association, according to my equipment, is nonexistent.”

Mr. XXXX in his response confirms, “the electrical work consisted of replacing fixtures, outlets, switches, exterior lighting and wiring the HVAC in each unit.”

Moreover, my realtor XXXX, stated that she is willing to sign an affidavit that she saw portions of my unit torn down to the studs.

The bottom line is that since the rehabilitation construction in my unit exceeded a 40% threshold as set forth in the Chicago Electrical Code rules, Mr. XXXX or his vendors should have ensured that all BX conduits were removed and that the electrical system met or exceeded the current electrical code.

Every time I plug my iron in and the lights flicker, I’m reminded that those standards weren’t met.

As to Mr. XXXX’s assertions that the board “chose” to replace the existing wooden rear porches is nothing short of ludicrous. We didn’t choose to replace the porches at this point they are a health and safety issue---we have to replace the porches. Attached is a strongly worded letter from our Porch Vender the Porch People advising against the use of the porches for any reason and their general assessment of their poor condition.

This letter came about as they prepared for the temporary stabilization of our three rear porches and realized that their condition is so bad that they couldn’t even start the process. In fact to underscore the poor condition of our porches the Porch People’s Senior Filed Superintendent and the Master Carpenter could literally snap off planks of wood in their hands. Once the planks tore away from the porch, they literally crumbled to dust in their hands. Porches do not become that fragile and in that dangerous of a condition over the course of four years.

Our porches are imminently hazardous. Please do not believe that as a condo board we have taken this decision lightly.

To underscore that point, I’m sending along a copy of the roof and porches cost analysis report that the board prepared to lay out the multiple proposals we received regarding the possibility of replacement vs. repair. Of the proposals brought before the board you can see that The Porch People’s estimate (included previously) beat the other estimates not only in price but also in the scope of work. If the board had gone with another vendor, we would have been responsible for hiring an architect and structural engineer at a far greater cost than what The Porch People specified in their all-inclusive price.

Such a decision would have been poorly thought out and a waste of association money. Furthermore, if we had not done our due diligence with respect to an appropriate, licensed and cost effective porch vendor, I highly doubt that any financial institution would have given us a loan to start the work.

I would also like to correct a misstatement in my initial complaint. I stated that company Mr. XXXX owned a management company that managed a rental building at 79th & Colfax. I meant to state that the building was located at 75th & Colfax. That small misstatement notwithstanding, the paperwork still shows that Mr. XXXX not only mismanaged the building at 75th and Colfax but also blatantly ignored his fiduciary duties as our registered agent and condominium board president. While I’m sorry to hear that Mr. XXXX’s mother was ill, that is no defense against repeated attempts by the city to not only contact him as the head of III CD Management.

Forgetful employees or not, the buck stops with Mr. XXXX. It was his responsibility to make sure that he took care of hot water in 75th and Colfax building but to pay any appropriate fines. I find it the very height of arrogance to suggest that we as an association shell out money to pay for a lawyer to correct a problem that was his in the first place.

All of the paperwork from the city’s case was included in the first group of materials that I submitted with my complaint.

The question about what may or may not be legal electrical will be solved soon enough when Com Ed comes out to take a look at some components of the building’s electrical system. While I’m aware that our furnaces are gas operated, they are powered with electricity. If the power they draw upon is from an un-metered line I doubt that ComEd would have little problem tracing the account history of electrical service to the three buildings that comprise the XXXX Condominium Association.

The onus doesn’t lie with ComEd to make sure that they had the initial billing information correct but with Mr. XXXX and his partners. Moreover, Mr. XXXX was president of the association for two years. If he knew that the line was un-metered, why didn’t he make a concentrated effort to resolve this situation within that time frame?

As all of the evidence clearly illustrates, Mr. XXXX did not have the interests of the XXXX Condominium Association as a priority as a developer or board president. An evident conflict of interests seemingly prevented him from exercising sound judgment.

Even my past financial shortcomings aren’t enough to distract anyone from that glaring fact.

I brought up Mr. XXXX’s pending court cases, bankruptcies and the judgment against III CD Management not out of spite but rather to illustrate that prescribed laws and regulations have little effect on the way he conducts business. Lawsuits and fines seemingly mean nothing to a person that has put my neighbors and me in harm’s way financially and literally. The fact that Mr. XXXX truly believes that I have “used my position for self serving acts and personal gain” is grasping at straws.

If by self serving acts Mr. XXXX means the unit owners taking on both the indoor and outdoor maintenance to save money and if by personal gain he means having an accurate accounting of all monies received and spent—then each and every board member is guilty as charged.

I stand by my original conclusions and urge both the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago to not only tighten the loopholes that allow condominium purchasers to be easily taken advantage of but to also hold Mr. XXXX financially accountable for his shoddy development of the XXXX Condominium Association.



Cc: City of Chicago, Consumer Services Division
Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Barack Obama
Congressman Bobby Rush
State Representative Kwame Raoul
State Senator Barbara Flynn Currie
Alderman Leslie A. Hairston


I received a phone call from one of our board members with some interesting news. Chicago Title stopped payment on the check sent to pay the special assessment for our developer's girlfriend's unit.

Oh yeah, you heard me correctly---they stopped payment on a $4,600 check.

What the fuck? Will this saga never end?

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I was feverishly working at my desk yesterday afternoon when I received a phone call.

Caller: “Ms. XXX?”
Me: “Yes.”
Caller: “This is Akeewte Butler.”

I almost dropped the friggin phone. One of our non-resident unit owners, who happens to be in foreclosure, was calling.

It turns out that there is trouble within his real estate empire. The CHAC people had found violations in the common areas of the building where Mr. Butler has a rental. They are threatening to withhold their portion of his rent subsidy until the issues are addressed.

He had the nerve to tell me about his dilemma and ask when these issues were going to be repaired.

The guy who has consistently paid his assessments late ever since he owned a unit in our association; the guy who I’ve never seen at an association meeting; the guy who makes money off of our home but never brings any resource/contact or sweat equity to the table; the guy who currently owes us both regular and special assessments and has a lien on his unit now wants to open the lines of communication. Now he wants something.

He’s got quite a set, no?

I fought down the urge to give it to him with both barrels---after all I was at work---and kept my composure.

I explained to Mr. Butler that he needed to send a copy of the notice he received from CHAC to my home so we had a record of their issues.

I then explained to him that he owed us back regular and special assessments and that a lien had been placed on his property. That our condo association is quiet serious about the timely collection of assessments as that money goes to pay our bills and upkeep. When someone opts to pay once every three months, everyone in the association suffers as a result. I asked him for both a good phone number to get a hold of him and an e-mail address and then told him that I would go ahead and pass this information along to our treasurer so she could contact him.

I further stated that while his and CHAC’s concerns will be noted and acted upon, the association currently has several projects in play and quite frankly his issues may or may not place high on the list of priorities. While one of the concerns, the condition of the back porches is the #1 priority on our list; the others will more than likely have to wait.

At least they’re not on the depth chart to the best of my knowledge.

I think the best part of the conversation happened when I asked Mr. Butler about the foreclosure proceedings on the unit. He matter of factly stated that he “was letting the bank have the property back.”

My jaw was on the ground. I had never head the term “I’m letting the bank have the properties back” when dealing with a foreclosure.

Are you kidding me?

He gave me some sob story about being swindled when he bought the units and that he barely broke even with the mortgage when his rental income was factored in the equation.

Now that may or may not be true. I will say it does have the “air of truth” which is essential to any good lie but that doesn’t explain why he’s in foreclosure on four other properties. Nor does it explain why they all went into foreclosure almost at the same time. Even though those questions were burning on my lips, I held my questions and let him ramble on in his feeble attempt to garner sympathy.

I also neglected to tell him I knew about his pending bankruptcy. I thought it best to let that sleeping dog lie.

To add insult to injury, Mr. Butler’s largest concern wasn’t that he was late with his assessments (I try to pay when I can) but that he didn’t want to lay out all of his back assessment money only to not have the repairs occur in a timely manner.

Excuse me?

He owes us that assessment money and is required to pay it according the Illinois Condominium Property Act. He doesn’t have an option whether he pays it or not.

What can you say to (or about) a person like that?

Monday, November 14, 2005

I Mean, Really

If my good name and character are going to be assailed, I'd at least appreciate a higher level of writing.

You know what would make it even better---If my developer's response letter were drafted by one of his employees’ or one of his lawyers. I would strongly suggest that he either get his money back or hire a cadre of HR people---'cause he's hiring individuals who can't write.

Geeze Louise.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

On The Up and Up

You're probably saying to yourself, "Woody what's this hoo ha over your finances that Mr. Developer is throwing down?"

Not too worry, you may have forgotten that I blogged about it here. Then of course you may be new to ihatemydeveloper so you may not have read back that far.

Trust me, when I formulate my response all if not most questions raised by my developer's innuendo will be addressed with fact not bitchiness. There are two sides to every story. Mr. Developer had an opportunity to refute my accusations with solid facts and to the best of my knowledge didn't do so.

I now will have the distinct pleasure of giving him a verbal beat down---professionally of course. The thought is just kinda exciting.

Normally I'd just cuss a motherfucker out but now on the cusp of my forties I've long realized that there is a better way.

Is this maturity?

Shot Over The Bow

So my developer has responded back to my fraud charges with a letter to the Attorney General. I'm reproducing it verbatim:

November 6, 2005

Office of the Attorney General
State of Illinois
Consumer Protection Division
50 West Washington Street
Chicago, IL 60602

File No: 2005-CONSC-00135772


When my partners and myself purchased the XXXX, it was the worst building on the block. It is now one of the best, if not the best. Our idea was to create homes in our community for people in he community, and we kept our prices low. This was our first condo conversion, so it may not have been perfect, but an effort was made to satisfy everyone. I have made myself available to every owner to address their concerns, taking care of some repairs years after their purchase, using personal funds as recent as 2 months ago replacing a condenser for 1503, 1st floor.

It seems odd that Ms. XXXX did not receive her Bylaws and Declarations since our broker, Metro Pro, gave a set to each purchaser upon signing their contract. In addition, Ms. XXXX was represented by attorney XXXX from July 30 2001 until her closing November 15 2001 and it was part of his responsibility to ensure that she obtained all documents for her purchase. Coincidentally Mr. XXXX is now the board's attorney. We also had available at the turnover, Bylaws and Declarations, but Ms. XXXX did not attend, I surmise because she was behind in her assessments and was in danger of being evicted by the board, and she had given the board numerous bad checks.

The XXXX Condominium consists of one (1) building not 3, and it has 6 different addresses for 3 entrances, therefore the permit would only have one address for the entire building.

Ms. XXXX memory did not serve her correctly. There were no walls torn out to the studs. Any new drywall was placed over the existing walls, as the Property Report stated. The property was to be remodeled with plumbing fixtures, and electrical fixtures replaced. The rear porch was repaired with new lumber where needed for support, and new decking and stairs installed and then painted for a uniform appearance, and this was explained to all potential purchasers.

I agree that after 4 years the porch has deteriorated and needs repair. Replacement is an option that the board has chosen. The price of $81,000 is extremely high, and after discussing this price with the current board president, XXXX, he agrees, but says he was out voted by others on the board that contains members that have consistently attempted to use their positions for self serving acts and personal gain, Ms. XXXX included.

The electrical consisted of replacing fixtures, outlets, switches, exterior lighting and wiring the HVAC in each unit.

Each furnace is gas operated, not electric as Ms. XXXX states and does not operate through an illegal ComEd hook-up. Ms. XXXX should be aware of this via her Peoples Energy bill.

There was a separate feed for the air conditioners installed, and we contacted ComEd on multiple occasions to install a meter and the City and ComEd have inspected and read the meters many times in 4 years and have not noted any dangerous or hazardous conditions.

At one time I owned a property on 75th and Colfax, not 79th and Colfax, and my office may have received notice of a fine, but I was not aware. From 2000 to early 2002 I attended my mother who was ill with cancer and passed and basically my staff ran the properties, which caused many problems. I have no idea why the XXXX Condo Association is involved, and I agree that their name should be removed, but the association attorney must motion that since I do not represent the association.

As far as my past financial problems are concerned, they have nothing to do with the issues, but further illustrate the personal nature of these accusations, which is surprising, because it is obvious Ms. XXXX had financial difficulties of her own at one time.

In closing I can only say all work was done with the required permits, and the nature of the work to be done was specified in the property report. I will also note that months ago an offer was made to Ms. XXXX to re-purchase her unit at the purchase price plus interest on her equity, but she did not respond, probably because the unit she purchased for $125,000 is now valued at $200,000.

If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me.



cc: Illinois Attorney General's Office--Fraud Division
Assistant Commissioner Barbara Gressel
Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Barack Obama
State Representative Kwame Raoul
State Senator Barbara Flynn Currie
Alderman Leslie A. Hairston

Are you kidding me? This is almost too easy. My response will be forthcoming.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Hearing Notice

A letter arrived yesterday from the City of Chicago Department of Consumer Services. The complaint against my developer is receiving an informal fact finding hearing on December 7th.

This ought to be interesting. I'll keep you all updated.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

Funny how the mortgage fraud cheats in the wonderful Chicago Tribune series by David Jackson share some of the same financial and property purchasing habits that three of our non resident owners also happen to have.

I also find it odd that all three of our non-resdient owners also happen to be in foreclosure on multiple properties.

Memory fuzzy? Need a refresher? See what I wrote about them in September by clicking here.

Woody Goes to Washington or How I Stopped Worrying and Made It a Federal Case

I went ahead and addressed my developer issues to both of my United States senators:

Senators Durbin & Obama:

As highlighted by the Chicago Tribune’s series of articles this week, mortgage fraud has become a blight on communities on the south and west sides of the city. While this threat is a blight upon emerging or rebuilding neighborhoods, I believe that there is another insidious plague that also threatens the stability of homeownership.

Shoddy or unethical real estate developers can also cause just as much damage to a community as an individual engaged in mortgage fraud. Questionable development of a property may later wind up costing its owners a significant amount of money as latent defects or other oversights are found. Additionally, when the twin specters of mortgage fraud and irresponsible real estate development are combined, it makes a difficult hole for most homeowners to attempt to climb out of.

The paperwork accompanying this letter will point of a few things, the first is that I believe (but cannot yet prove) that our condominium association is a victim of mortgage fraud. It seems highly suspicious that three individuals who are all in foreclosure combined to secure over 24 different mortgages on multiple properties. The on-line records from the Cook County Clerk’s office clearly show that XXXX, XXXX and XXXX are in the late stages of foreclosure due to the non-payment of their multiple mortgages. While these individuals very well have run across a spate of bad luck, it seems to be highly coincidental that the bad luck did not also extended to the mortgage on their principal residences.

Secondly it is clear that our condominium developer, XXXX, neither adhered to laws concerning the electrical wiring of our homes as well as his fiduciary duty to the other owners by allowing a debt that he incurred to eventually be shifted to the association.

You will read in an electrical report that we had done earlier this year that any and all standards for electrical wiring were either not followed so done so badly that the work now results in a fire hazard. The outstanding City of Chicago code violations regarding the porch were never repaired and as a result, the association had to levy a special assessment to pay for new back porches.

In fact the porches have been described by our porch vendor, The Porch People, as “imminently hazardous.”

As an association, there is no way that we should be dealing with these types substantial infrastructure issues three years after initial board turnover. I shudder to think about what may surface in the future.

Currently one of the only ways we a condo association can recoup any monies from our developer is through a civil lawsuit. I quite frankly don’t think that’s fair. Our association does not have the money for long term quality legal representation and what regulations there are about shoddy development have little if any criminal consequences.

In short, in the City of Chicago and in the State of Illinois an individual has more governmental oversight on the purchase and performance of his or her car than the roof over their head.

That is extremely disturbing.

Unethical real estate development can be slowed or stopped altogether if various levels of government enact legislation to either license developers or develop resources to allow interested consumers to check the accreditations or violations of developers. Moreover, sweeping changes in the law crimilizing developers who create a life threatening situation through inexperience or negligence needs to be considered.

Your prompt consideration in these matters would be gratefully appreciated.


The Woodlawn Wonder

Next on the drop off list, Congressman Bobby Rush, Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (don't you love the name) and Illinois Congresswoman Barbara Flynn Currie.

Yup, it's on and poppin'.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Dance With The Devil

I’m feeling a tad woozy.

I have to give props to someone with whom I have a profound ideological disconnect. Actually it’s not so much an ideological disconnect as I’m not a supporter of her politics.

It’s not like we knock back tea and cucumber sandwiches on a regular basis.

Nonetheless, I was taught to say “Thank You” when someone does you a favor or points you in the right direction. I never, ever, ever thought I would write these words in a million years:

Thank you Alderman Helen Schiller. There I said it.

Don’t be alarmed---that sound you hear is hell freezing over.

The Alderman and her staff were helpful enough to point me to Norma Reyes in the city’s Department of Consumer Services who in turn got me to another contact within her office for further assistance.

I used to live in Alderman Schiller’s 46th ward and was not a fan of her ward politics or social policies. Trust me, that’s putting it mildly. Nonetheless, I knew that she had experience in dealing with questionable developers so I figured I’d give a call up to the north side to see if I could find any good information.

That call paid off.

While I don’t yet know the status of my request with the city at least thanks to the Alderman Schiller’s office at least I got started in the right direction.

It only proves the adage that the toes you step on today may be connected the ass you have to kiss tomorrow.

Humbly submitted,


Joker's Wild

Nothing can ever be easy with our condo association.

Our third foreclosure that was scheduled to happen last Wednesday has been delayed until the end of the month. The current owner filed a last minute motion in court on the day of the foreclosure sale.

Please also note that this joker owes us back regular assessments and the special assessment. Yet he somehow either has the resources or convinced a lawyer to do work on his behalf.

Apparently the motion stated that the owner was “trying to work something out with the mortgage company.” He won’t let it go---he can’t just let it be done.

Forget the fact that he’s completely screwed all of us by not shouldering his fair share of the financial load. Forget the fact that the unit was on the market (and still may be) and hasn’t sold. Forget the fact that it’s another unit that sits empty. The most important thing about the foreclosure is the new owner, whether it’s a mortgage companies or an individual, give us an opportunity to collect assessments. Every month the unit is tied up in legal foreclosure limbo, is another month we can’t collect assessments.


Sunday, November 06, 2005


There is another voice in the wilderness. Someone who has listened and understands the problems that not just our association has had but the drama other homeowners are going through on the south side.

That voice just happens to belong to the Chicago Tribune’s staff reporter David Jackson.

Cats and kittens, Mr. Jackson and his employer have started a five part series into mortgage fraud and how it’s financial and human impact is devastating homeownership on the south and west sides of Chicago. As I read today’s articles, my hands started shaking so bad that I had to put the paper down.

I was both excited that someone else had put it together but so pissed that good hard working people have lost so much.

Go to the articles at

David Jackson is a fucking rock star. We should bring him gifts of fine meats and cheeses. We should sing his name on high.

Friday, November 04, 2005


Apparently I am a dumb ass. My comprehension skills aren't quite what I thought they were.

I called the AG's office to confirm that my complaint had been given the middle finger and was pleasantly surprised when I found out that I misunderstood the letter.

Then of course when I read that the business in question may contact you a bout a possible settlement I take that to mean that then of course they may not contact you. I've always looked at the glass as half empty. It's just the nature of my personality.

Nonethelss I received a phone call back for the citizen's advocate who's name is listed on the letter and she pointedly informed me that my developer has 15 days to respond to the forwarded complaint. When that time frame has passed, she'll let me know the next step.

She also stated---and this a direct quote---"The letter is pretty clear."


I let one of my co-workers read the letter and she got it---why didn't I? Is all of this drama finally blurring my perspective? Re-read the letter in the post below and let me know if I'm losing my mind.

The Middle Finger

The office of the Attorney General for the State of Illinois sent me this little ditty:

Dear XXXX:

The consumer protection division of the office of the Attorney General has received your consumer complaint. A copy of your complaint has been forwarded to the above named business for their review and response,

The business may contact you about a possible settlement after they receive our letter. We encourage you to consider any reasonable offer. If the business responds directly to our office, a copy of their response will be mailed to you.

This is an informal meditation process. We are unable to represent private citizens in legal disputes.

Please direct all correspondence to my attention, Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, 100 West Randolph Street Chicago, IL 60601. Please reference your file number on all correspondence.


Attorney General
State of Illinois

Everyone please take note, you have more protections in the State of Illinois if you buy a crappy car than if the roof over your head is dangerous. I just got told to fuck myself from the AG's office.

Apparently my developer has done nothing wrong in the eyes of the State of Illinois.

I can hear the bullshit now, "It's not that we're not sympathetic but your case simply doesn't fit the parameters of fraud. The statutes are very specific."


The crusade continues.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Big Money, No Whammies---The Back Story

Our developer’s girlfriend was the legal owner of a unit in our association.

Despite the fact he made sure the assessments were paid, on paper the unit belonged to her. Now it’s not my place to speculate on the nature of their arrangement, but on more than one occasion, our developer referred to himself as “an owner.”

It would definitely lead one to think that he was the defacto owner of the unit. Who knows?

It had been on the market last summer in 2004 and again this summer---eventually, the unit sold.

We were getting new neighbors---the saints be praised.

Unfortunately a small snag occurred after the closing---the association didn’t get a check for the balance of the remaining regular and special assessments. Obviously we weren’t going to let this one go without a fight.

Our new neighbor and her family are lovely people. She started coming to association meetings almost from the time the ink was dry on her closing documents. While everyone welcomed her with open arms, there was that little thing about the outstanding assessments. Scratch that, our biggest concern was the collection of the $4,600 special assessment.

Those porches aren’t gonna get paid for with wishful thinking.

This was turning out to be quite the situation. You just can’t roll up on a sister for a bill she didn’t create like you’re a pimp chastising his independent contractors. Yet we needed to establish a dialogue, map out a plan and get the money in our coffers.

I took the lead (**shocking**) and left a welcome note on our new neighbor’s mat and asked her to call me when she got a free moment. After a few days of telephone tag, we spoke and I asked her about the special assessment money. Apparently our developer put it in an “escrow” account at the title company. Additionally, the money could not be released until our developer said so.

Now that’s a head scratcher.

Kind readers, I’m not sure about how it works where you live but the in the County of Cook, the City of Chicago you’re not supposed to close on any condo transactions without a paid assessment letter. While most title companies know this rule, it sometimes “falls by the wayside” with first time home buyers or with less experienced closers. This situation was shaping up to be no exception.

Our new neighbor understandably was hesitant to get involved in what essentially amounted to debt collection. Unfortunately for her, the assessment was (and is) tied to the property. If one owner doesn’t pay it, the new one will have to. Unless there is a bankruptcy proceeding, back and/or special assessments aren’t discharged they stay with the unit.

She started getting the message when we billed her as due and owing for the special.

Seeing that she was completely new to the process the fact that she got the money released at all was a miracle. Then of course it might have had something to do with the little nugget I dropped in her ear about purchasing title insurance and the closing happened without a paid assessment letter.

Heads have rolled at title companies for far less.

Who knows? It’s none of my business how she made it happen---all I know is that it happened.

Oft times the most effective people are the ones that speaking softly (as our new neighbor does) and carry a big stick.

Rock on Sister Sledge.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Big Money, No Whammies

This just in---some much needed cash has just rolled into our coffers.

When our developer's girl friend sold her unit, the special assessment that we leavied for the porches was not paid upon closing. As a result, the new owner was now saddled with the debt of over $4,600.00.

Being a first time home owner and completely new to the process she was not happy when we introduced ourselves in one breath and asked her where the special assessment money was with the other. Nobody like to make a money grubbing first impression on a new neighbor but business is business.

Being the helpful neighbors that we are, we proceeded to advise her on how she should go about to get the special assessment money that was in escrow. While it took a little time, our new neighbor was finally successful in her efforts.

All of this started in late July. The money just got released last Wednesday. Seeing that our loan payments start tomorrow (11/1) this news couldn't of come at a better time.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


The lawn is showing signs of coming back from my fertilizer debacle. Sprigs of green are showing through the burned part. Never underestimate the restorative power of water.

No we don't have the permits for the porch yet. Our intake meeting with DCAP is on November 10th.

Our third foreclosure happens on Wednesday.


It's The Principle, People

One of my friends recently asked me why I didn’t sell my place and end this drama.

While it’s easiest to turn tail and run, not only can’t I sell but I’m not going to back down from my unethical developer.

Silly me to think it’s unreasonable to assume that the electric in a newly rehabbed condo is grounded and that the back porches aren’t a death trap. I’m such a goose.

Honestly, who in God’s name is going to buy into an association with major infrastructure problems, a low reserve, a special assessment (with another possibly on the way) in an emerging neighborhood? While I truly believe in the potential of this neighborhood other people don’t exactly get it---they’ll jump on the bandwagon later as soon as we get a Starbucks and a Target.

You know---kind of like all of these new “life long” White Sox fans that litter the Chicago landscape these days.

Everybody loves a winner but few are willing to stick around during the lean years.

Additionally, our developer was required by specific rules to construct our building up to code. There is no way that we should be going through this drama less than three years after the association was turned over. Not only do I believe that he’s clearly in the wrong but his irresponsibility and mismanagement is costing all of us money.

Even if I could sell I wouldn’t---it’s just the principle of the thing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

My mother worked as the Program Director at a church run camp in rural south western Michigan for about five years.

As young children both my sister and I attended the camp which obviously heightened her interest in both their curriculum and activities. One look at the place and she found it lacking in both form and substance. Naturally being a doer instead of a complainer she pitched for and was later named Program Director.

Her title basically carried all of the responsibility of planning and executing the camp's religious instruction, sports, activities and social functions without getting the pay of the Executive Director. Might I add the Executive Director though a nice lady was a tad on the lazy side. My mother ever being the educator and deeply caring about children didn't so much care that she wasn't being fairly compensated but that kids had a safe environment to camp.

After turning around that little hole in the lake, how do you think they repaid her? After all those years of loyal service and progress what do you think the camp's board of director's did?

They gave her the bum's rush. Showed her the door. See ya' sister, nice knowin' you. Peace out!

Her contract wasn't renewed at our church's district convention. She was essentially told, "Thank you for taking the camp to a whole new level, protecting us from lawsuits and generally making the place a better experience for the campers and staff---now get the hell out."

Mama was not a political creature. Woe unto you if you were standing in the way of the welfare of the camp or a child. The ensuing carnage was enough to make Stephen King wince. This didn't happen often but when it did---yowsa!

This is not the way to win friends and influence people.

My mother cried when her father died, when our first house was sold out from underneath us and when those people betrayed her.

Other than those three instances, I can't really tell you when I saw her cry when I was a child.

I also tend to err on the side of right instead of being politically cautious. I apparently come by it naturally. It's nice to know that while I care deeply about many issues, that I won't be the ringmaster of the three ring circus known as politics.

For some reason, the American people tend to think that politicians shouldn't have a past and should (practically) be virgins.

I am neither.

Even though I wouldn't of voted for Senatorial Republican candidate Jack Ryan I think small minded people forced him out of the race simply because he wanted to have more than vanilla sex with his wife.

Let's tick off the list:
Curly Hair
Republican on the outside, John Holmes on the inside.

Where can I sign up for the Christian jubilee?

I mean if a rich, White man can't catch a break; what will the American public do when they find my stash of DVD’s?

But I digress---my point is that I'm not a political person.

All of this begs the question, will I manage to get re-elected to the board next month?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks

As I wrote last week, I went ahead and officially lodged a fraud complaint with both the Attorney General's office of the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago's Department of Consumer Affairs. Quite frankly, I have a feeling I'm about to get a metaphorical middle finger in my (our) search for justice and more importantly, restitution.

From what I've been hearing, there are no specific laws governing shoddy developers. Or should I say there are no specific laws governing shoddy developers that have any muscle in them. As all of us have known for quite a while we may be shit out of luck in the short run. I do plan on getting copies to both U.S. Senators, my U.S. Congressman, my State Senator, State Representative, and Alderman.

If the laws don't address such important issues, perhaps it's time to get them changed.

I'm not sitting on the back of the bus.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bonus Plan

I've gone ahead a made multiple posts today for your weekend reading enjoyment. The next three days will be too packed with sports and working to even attempt to get anything uploaded.

Have an enjoyable weekend and root out evil developers wherever you find them.


I've Gone And Done It--Part III---The Friday Bonus

This is the last part of my letter to the Illinois Attorney General's Office and the Chicago Department of Consumer Services:

The City of Chicago and the State of Illinois use all means within their legally vested powers to hold XXXX financially and legally accountable for the damages he has caused the XXXX Condominium Association which may include:

Remove the outstanding judgment against the XXXX Condominium Association and have the debt transferred back to Mr. Knight.

Send a summons to XXXX Bank and XXXX Bank to discover any possible assets (including trusts) of Mr. XXXX and freeze them pending the possible outcome of pending litigation.

Put liens against any real property Mr. XXXX holds in the City of Chicago and Cook County.

Ban Mr. XXXX or any corporations or property development business he may have an interest in from doing business in the City of Chicago.

The XXXX Condominium Association is reimbursed $81,000 to repay the loan for the construction of our new porches and any future loans or costs associated with Mr. XXXX’s mismanagement or negligence.

All developers in the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois be bonded against latent defects in their developments up to $1,000,000.

I trust that the City’s knowledge about this nightmarish situation can bring about a much needed change.


The Woodlawn Wonder

Cc: Illinois Attorney General’s Office---Fraud Division
Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Barack Obama
Congressman Bobby Rush
State Representative Kwame Raoul
State Senator Barbara Flynn Currie
Alderman Leslie A. Hairston

I've Gone And Done It---Part II

Part two of my cover letter to the Illinois Attorney General's and the Department of Consumer Services for the City of Chicago:

Despite his questionable and deeply troubling development of our association, Mr. XXXX has demonstrated that he is not concerned with any of the current consequences that any municipality or corporation can bring against him.

In the section titled “Open Cases” the cases that the city has filed against him is staggering. If I were to venture a guess, I would suspect that a majority of them may concern either the management or development of a property. While I can’t begin to second guess Mr. XXXX’s state of mind, it may be safe to surmise that the reason these

cases are of little concern to him may be the financial penalties assigned aren’t enough motivation for him to do the right thing.

In short, up to this point, Mr. XXXX has little reason to fear the City of Chicago.

In the section titled “Judgment” a debt that Mr. XXXX incurred for non-management of a building 79th & Colfax became our responsibility when the our association was cited as a third party defendant. In addition to being our developer, Mr. XXXX was also our condominium president from 2002-2004 and the registered agent for the association from our inception until 2004. The paperwork I assembled will show that despite the fact that these legal proceedings had started prior to our association being formed, Mr. XXXX was in receipt of registered mail about this situation. He never once notified anyone on the board about this issue. Even though he was our registered agent, to the best of my knowledge he was never a paid employee of the XXXX Condominium Association.

The debt that started out at $2,550 in 2001 has now grown to almost $4,500. It would seem that Mr. XXXX did not act in the best interests and in a fiduciary manner concerning the welfare of the association.

Also note that the first page of the “Judgment” section is from the most recent bankruptcy filing of Mr. XXXX. I secured this information by going to the bankruptcy clerk’s office at the Dirksen Federal Building. The social security number cited on that document is XXX-XX-XXXX. If you look at what appears to be the social security number on the documents concerning the judgment for the Colfax building, you’ll see that the number is XXX-XX-XXXX.

It also appears that in the multiple bankruptcy filings that Mr. XXXX has filed over the past 10-15 years, several companies---including utilities---have come out with little more than a debt incurred by Mr. XXXX and no repayment.

From my personal dealing with XXXX and by the paperwork that I have gathered, it’s not difficult to see that he is well versed cutting corners and evading financial and legal responsibility. What continues to puzzles me is the following:

How can a man who has questionable business practices at best be allowed to call himself a developer?

What qualifications, if any, does the city of Chicago require for any person to call themselves a developer? If I can’t cut someone open with a scalpel and call myself a doctor, why can any individual just call themselves a developer?

Why are there no central resource to allow both the city and interested consumers to check on the accreditations or violations of developers

Why was Mr. XXXX allowed to apply for and receive construction permits despite the number of open violations on all three buildings?

Additionally, why didn’t the city follow up with its permit process by at least inspecting the building for which the permit was pulled?

Why didn’t the lack of occupancy permit set off a red flag?

How did permits get issued in 2001 when there were open violations in 2000?

Why aren’t engineering firms be held liable for the property reports that they issue? If CEO’s and CIO’s of large publicly traded companies have to sign off on the accuracy of their finances, why are engineering companies any less liable for the safety and habitability of someone’s home?

Why are there seemingly little protections for the consumer when purchasing a condominium in the city of Chicago and the State of Illinois? Why is the onus put on the consumer---in many cases a first time home buyer---to prove they didn’t know about latent defects? If there specific lemon laws for cars, why can’t there be one for homes?

Will it take a death of a person before someone on the governmental level responds to these loopholes? Mr. XXXX is fully aware that we cannot even begin to pay a law firm to pursue these matters civilly. Quite frankly we’re too busy making sure our porches don’t fall down and that we don’t burn to death in our sleep to even mount such a campaign. We only have so many financial resources and felt it best to address matters directly related to our health and safety prior to looking into litigation. Nonetheless, I believe in the power of government to protect us from individuals and entities that would egregiously take advantage of week or non-existent legislation.
How can where I eat (restaurant), nightclub entertainment, and smoking be so heavily regulated but who builds the place where I rest my head at night is not?


Now I’m not sure how this phenomenon started but all I can say is, “It’s about time!”

The University of Chicago has managed to recruit a cadre of super hot Brazilians. Words like “Thank God” and “Yowsa!” seem to escape my lips when the thought crosses my mind.

For those of you not in the know, The University of Chicago despite its super elite academic status cannot parlay that smarts into the looks department. Now granted, earlier this week I was complaining that I myself was falling down on the job. But trust me boys and girls, I clean up well---really well.

It’s different when you have something to work with and it just needs a little tweaking vs. managing to hit your face with the springboard as you dive into the gene pool.

Which, truth be told, isn’t that much of a deal breaker.

If you have something to work with---a personality, wit, a good sense of style, basic hygiene; all of that can compensate for not so stellar looks. I mean look at the late Duchess of Windsor or Eva Peron. Both weren’t winning any beauty pageants but made the most of what they had and worked it---hard. Both are now style and cultural icons.

It has been my experience that the U of C kids are 0 for 4 on most counts.

That’s why these friggin model hot Brazilian men stick out like sore thumbs.

They’re tall, they’re dark mysterious men of color, they’ve got great teeth, they’re beautiful and most of all they can hold an honest to God conversation. On top of that can you believe that they’re smart enough to get into U of C?

I mean I know all of those kids are gonna be my boss someday but at least I took comfort in the fact that I was socially superior. Now I’m not too sure if they keep on getting the hotties to come to Hyde Park.

My first encounter with the hot Brazilians was when I was hoping on the bus on a Friday evening a few weeks ago. We were both caught in the rainstorm but only one of us had their shirt on.

I hate when ridiculously hot bodied men come up to me in bus shelter and ask my permission to take their shirts off. The only thing I could think was…”Dear Penthouse, I never thought this would happen to me in a million years…”

That’s when I knew this bus ride was NOT going to suck. Plus he was impressed that I knew Brazilians spoke Portuguese, not Spanish.

I’m sure he would have been more impressed if my makeup had not been washed off in the rain.

45 minutes of wit and pleasant conversation made the usually torturous ride fly by in what seemed like seconds. Alas, he had to exit at 55th and Hyde Park Blvd. I continued on to Woodlawn.

Heavy sighs all the way around.

I've Gone And Done It---Part I

The gauntlet has been thrown down.

Today at lunch I officially lodged a complaint of fraud against my developer with the Illinois Attorney General’s office and the Department of Consumer Affairs for the City of Chicago. While I'm optimistic that this may help our situation, it may not. We'll just have to take it one step at a time.

Part I of the five page cover letter accompanying a three ring binder chock full of corroborating information reads like this:

Department of Consumer Services, City of Chicago
50 West Washington Street
Room #208
Chicago, IL 60602


Pursuant to our phone conversation, I am filing a fraud complaint against my condominium developer, XXXX. As the accompanying documentation will show, Mr. XXXX not only violated key procedural and safety regulations but he has little regard for any consequences that the city may bring.

Please also note that due to the volume of information, I have separated it into sections with the following section headers:

Porches Decs & Bylaws
Building Report Open Violations
Permits Judgment

Open Cases Electric Report

The first section is not titled but contains the original MLS listings and my purchase agreement.

As the MLS listings will show, the three buildings that comprise the Blackstone Condominium Association were marketed as a “new conversions.” If memory serves me correct, when I first saw many of the units in my building, they were torn down to the studs. The Property Report clearly makes mention of remodeling in Sect 2.02, the poor condition of the back porches in Sect 2.03 and that the existing electrical would be maintained (Sect 2.07). Unfortunately the property report and the final set of Declarations and Bylaws were never given to me prior to closing. I only obtained a set from a neighbor who closed six months after me.

The Declarations and Bylaws mention on one of its last pages that all open violations will be corrected. As you can see by the supporting documentation obtained in 2001, 2002 and 2005 that is not the case from the city’s point of view.

Additionally, Mr. XXXX only applied for what seems to be incomplete permits under the 6509 XXXX address. No mention is ever made of the 1501, 1503, 1507 & 1509 XXXX Street addresses. In my investigation, no certificate of occupancy was ever applied for.

As an association we are going into our third year after the initial turnover only to discover the true quality of the work that was done on our homes. The porch is close to crumbling and our non-grounded electrical system is an imminent threat to every resident’s health and safety.

With this incarnation of this current board, the first full board without Mr. XXXX as a member, we have been able to identify and are attempting to rectify these hazardous situations before someone gets hurt.

We have been able to secure a reputable porch contractor as well as financing to address the issue. We are simply awaiting construction permits from the city. While we would like to have this project done before the weather changes, the fact of the matter is that the current permit process can take up to four months. As an association we have made the condition of the porches known to our unit owners and residents---all we can do is cross our fingers and hope that the permits come in prior to the cold weather.

The electrical system is a much different and more dangerous story. Per the enclosed report from master electrician XXXX, our electrical is not grounded. There is substantial, life threatening issues with the construction of the complete system throughout the association.

In the rehabilitation of a property that is over the 40% construction threshold, the City of Chicago Electrical code clearly states that all of the BX conduits must be removed and the electrical system must meet or exceed its current rules and guidelines. As Mr. XXXX’s report painstakingly details, these rules and guidelines weren’t even a factor in the rehabilitation of our buildings.

We now also know that our central air conditioning and heating units are running off of a separate illegal feed from Commonwealth Edison.
(It keeps on getting better, huh?)

Ms. XXXX these are merely the serious infrastructure issues that we currently know about. I fear what discoveries the future may bring.

I’m sure there are a couple of run-on’s, comma splices and tense changes but I’m sure you all get the drift. That was merely round one of my deliveries. Next week the elected officials get a copy then I need to start to cultivate a close personal relationship with our local news hounds.

Ding, ding---game on.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

From Bad To Worse

Per my request, this letter was sent to me to foward on to our Alderman about the condition of our Porches by our vendor The Porch People:

Re: Imminently hazardous Porch conditions

Dear Ms. XXXXXX, and members of the Board:

During our recent return to the building in preparation for the temporary stabilization of the porches, our Senior Field Superintendent accompanied by our Master Carpenter determined that the association’s three (3) porches are extremely dangerous, should not be used, and may not survive this upcoming winter.

Given the above, we will plead with the City of Chicago Department of Permits (DCAP) to consider “fast-tracking” this Permit Application. We can not, however, guarantee that they will be sympathetic, given the volume of applications they process. At the same time, we urge you to perhaps contact your Alderman for assistance.

If you have not done so already, we advise that the Board post notices that strongly suggest the porches be used only as an Emergency Exit.

I will advise you of our permit application intake take, as soon as it is assigned to us by DCAP.


Project Administrator

Who, in God's name, is taking me out for drinkies? I hope those permits come in soon.

My Cross

I feel bloated AND crabby.

Being active in one’s condo association, juggling multiple jobs, being domestic and managing a social life can be a bit much. As a result, my physical appearance can sometimes drop to the low point on my list of priorities. I figures as long as I bathe and don’t smell, the pretty part can happen anytime. It’s difficult trying to make sure that your home will still be standing when you’re waiting for your nail polish to dry.

This is the cross I bear.

I’m breaking out, my hair just has a mind of it’s own. I feel like I have that “I look like a troll feeling.” You know what I’m saying…

But things are looking up

You see when I’m sitting in my seat for game one of the World Series, it won’t matter what I look like, as people won’t be focused on my visage. They’ll be too busy looking at the game.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Rock Star---Part II

You would think that someone who won 3rd place in a city wide gardening contest would know how to properly put down fertilizer.

No such luck.

I found out that after you put down the Scott's Turf Building you need to water it after a 24 hour waiting period. It didn't say that on the bag---I swear. I followed the instructions to the letter but noticed that the grass was starting to burn so I called the respository of lawn knowledge---otherwise known as my sister---to ask what I did wrong.

She told me that if I caught it early enough all I needed to do was water the grass. If not, I was going to have a fun time reseeding the lawn.


Needless to say, I'm watering the lawn everyday for the next couple of days.

I also found out that I won 3rd place in the container garden category in Mayor Daley's Landscape Awards Program. Finally some recognition of my supreme gardening skills. Now if only I can crack the Chicago Tribune's Glorious Gardening Contest I would truly be a gardening rock star.

The Tribune's contest has gotten so competitive that I think you'd have to sacrifice your first born to even get a honorable mention.

The floral arts ain't for bitches.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Judas Kiss

Why in God’s name would you ever give someone a stick to beat you with?

That’s the question I’m going to ask one of our board members when he attempts to explain why he would give detailed financial information to our developer.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our developer’s daughter owns a unit in our association which she rents out. From the time I bought in until now, our developer pays the assessments and I would assume handles the rest of the day to day property management issues associated with the unit.

As most of you already know, we as a board had to get tough on late assessment payers as well as people who let large balances build. If you’re late with your monthly assessments you will be assessed a $25.00 late charge. If you’re more than 60 days late with your assessments, we refer you to our lawyer to place a lien on your unit.

No ifs ands or buts. Case closed. Done deal.

We’ve already filed liens against two people and when our developer’s daughter was over 60 days late with her assessments, we filed a lien against her as well.

Our developer was not happy.

He sputtered about suing and how we’re unfairly targeting his daughter because of personal animosities towards him. Now while I’m not a fan of our developer (It’s obvious by the title, huh?), we try to do things fair and square---by the book. Everyone gets treated the same. Because if we don’t treat everyone the same, a case can be made that two levels of ownership exist.

That would smell like a lawsuit.

Anyhoo, Mr. Developer eventually has his lawyer fire off a letter proclaiming the innocence of her client, how the unit’s assessments were never more than 45 days in arrears and that his repeated requests to find out the total assessments owed went unanswered.

What a steaming load of shit.

While I expected the usual smoke and mirror from this guy, what I didn’t expect was for one of our board members to e-mail him the detailed figures that I sent to the board and two other unit owners who wanted to know the totals.

We are not the CIA---we’re not in the secret business. Our developer could have gotten the assessment totals at any time if he had simply asked the treasurer. You know---the person whose duty it is to keep tally of the money.

That would have been too simple, right?

Instead he tries to do an end run around the board and everyone who sees through his shit by communicating with his chosen one who also happens to sit on the board. While I have a ton of opinions to express about that relationship, it’s best I stick with the issue at hand.

Bottom Line: It was wrong to communicate anything to our developer without running it by the board first.

When I wear my condo board hat, I run everything---and I mean EVERYTHING---by the board prior to proceeding. Trust me, I have a folder full of e-mails and communications on everything from changing our registered agent to finding a porch contractor tucked away in a couple of e-mail accounts.

I believe in the sanctity of paper trails.

Despite the fact that this person made a serious error in judgment, my e-mail proves nothing. In fact our developer’s lawyer misunderstood the notation of having a balance to mean the account had extra money---an overage if you will. When in fact this unit owed us $54.00 from July and was then assessed a $25.00 late fee on top of that. Both August and September’s regular and special assessments were late and that unit went out to collections.

Just like everyone else.

Additionally, we need to stand together when dealing with our developer. If he had or has any questions regarding finances he should have been referred to the treasurer. We are fighting for our financial lives and trying to bring light to the fact that this man is beyond unethical. He has literally put our lives at risk. I shouldn’t have to sit down and explain that to this person. Our contact with his should be civil, matter of fact and to the point.

The fact that this board member passed this information into his hands simply adds fuel to suspicions that I’ve had for a long time.

Me’ thinks we have a rat in the woodpile.