Friday, February 03, 2006

Counting The Ways

As I stated in the Corrosive post, Caustic is a royal pain in the ass.

How, you ask?

Let me give you one of two examples of this person’s typical behavior.

Our association is located across the street from a prominent all boys Catholic high school. Around two years ago, this institution started work on what is now their brand spanking new field house. Unbeknownst to us, the school had petitioned the Department of Streets and Sanitation to officially take possession of the street.

The school’s plan was to close the street, turn it into green area and fence it in with the rest of their campus.

Unfortunately for those of us who live on the south side of the school’s property line, that street was the most direct route to the Metra platform

By the time any of us found out what was going on---our official notices and letters were going to the wrong address---it was too late to do anything about the process.

Sidebar: This incident was the catalyst for me becoming much more active within my association and my neighborhood. When I started tracking down why official mail was going to the wrong address, I started unearthing that our condo association’s paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office was out of date and had lapsed. It’s somewhat ironic that the school across the street prompted me into greater building and civic awareness.

Nonetheless, I sprang into action informing my neighbors of what was about to happen and also contacted the principal. This street was important for our commute to the Metra station. Without it, anyone who lived south of the school would have to take one of two other paths that not only are out of the way but both are along busy streets.

One of the routes is on a street that has no sidewalk on one side and a broken and crumbling one on the other. Additionally, both paths can be extremely dark and desolate and night.

Not an attractive alternative.

The school was sympathetic to our plight and arranged a kind of Q & A with the Principal and his staff as well as our alderman.

While the meeting itself wasn’t too well attended by my neighbors, a few did show up and questions were posed and answered.

We all got a quick education in how the City of Chicago works, what an alderman can and cannot approve and that the Streets and San is pretty much autonomous. In short, the school and their construction company did everything by the book.

Trust me, I went back and checked when the community letters were sent.

They hired a top notch law firm who literally told me when and where the letters were sent simply by me mentioning the name of the construction project.

The Principal was committed to finding a workable solution, but insurance rates and having their property fenced in ultimately made the decision for him.

He and his staff promised to notify us of any type of community altering actions in the future.

Do you think that their carving out time for a meeting, stepping us through the process giving us the name of their law firm to check on the details would be enough?

No, not for my neighbor Caustic.

Caustic ranted and raved about how unfair it was while offering no viable solutions to the problem. As I found out later, this is something that would be a mainstay of Caustic’s negotiation process.

If you can call being a “my way or the highway” philosophy a negation process.

Honestly, much of what Caustic said is fuzzy as it didn’t make sense with the set of definitives that were being presented at the time.

Construction wasn’t going to stop at this stage of the game because our association didn’t handle its business. It was a hard lesson to learn.

Also a few less minutes of sleep in the morning because I have to get out the door earlier, but nonetheless good came out of the experience.

I (and the collective) learned that if you don’t handle your business in the City of Chicago, your business will handle you. End of story.

I was just so personally embarrassed by Caustic’s escalating tone and behavior I just wanted to die.

Once Caustic was finished, I gave my best “I’m sorry” look to the Principal and his staff.

Thank God our alderman stepped in and executed a Caustic block and somehow defused a potential shouting match.

I mean if the Principal wanted to spend his spare time being berated by an angry homeowner, he’d sit on the property tax appeal board.

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