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

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