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.