Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Signs

You know there’s something a bit disconcerting about seeing a couple of auctioneers duct tape a big yellow auction sign to your building.

Actually I should say a building in our association.

Apparently one of our mortgage company neighbors is tired of having their unit on the market.

A price reduction of close to $60,000 wasn’t working for them either.

They’ve reached their breaking point and are putting the unit on the auction block.

Did I mention that this unit is in the building that has the crumbling facade?

Oh yeah---that hasn’t been fixed yet either. But that’s another conversation for another post.

So my lovely sister and I are driving to Moo and Oink for some last minute barbeque fixins’ when I spy my neighbor and a nice couple chatting while a big yellow sign announcing an auction was being duct taped to the brick of the building.

Boy howdy---pull over sissy dear Woody has to investigate.

Now granted I looked like a bag of ass---my ever-present weekend headscarf, crappy tank top, jeans and my throw back sunglasses probably didn’t present the best picture to the couple from the auction house.

They seemed like a nice couple. I know they were only doing their job.

Nonetheless I explained that due to provisions in our declarations and bylaws, no sign---much less a big yellow one---could be posted in any unit window or on the outside of the building.

The gentleman said there was nowhere else to post it near the premises. He wanted to know where would I suggest that they place the sign.

No, I didn’t say what you think I might of said.

When dealing in condo business, it’s always best to keep it professional.

I suggested that they put it in the ground.

They said that after a few inches they simple hit concrete and the signposts wouldn’t go in any further.
They claimed that there was nowhere else to post the sign other than the building.

While I understood their predicament, that solution was simply unacceptable.

Plus how friggin’ ghetto would that shit look?

We have another unit in that particular building that’s for sale as well. How in Pete’s name is that one gonna get sold with a ghetto ass auction sign posted on the building?

Despite the fact they had a job to do that sign was going to come down immediately after they left.

The couple seemed resigned to that fact, took a few digital photographs and called it day.

My sister and I proceeded to Moo and Oink.

When I came back to take the sign down, it had already fallen.

Duct tape + humidity + brick = Sign on ground.

Reflection

Yesterday I neglected to give a shout out to some very ordinary people who have (and had) done extra ordinary things, in some very uncomfortable places with some very unfriendly people.

Memorial Day just isn't the start of the summer and an excuse for me to work like one of Pharaoh’s slaves in the kitchen.

It's a time to truly reflect and thank those of you who have served and are serving so the rest of us have little to worry about except our bootleg developers.

I'm quite sure there are people on the face of this planet who wished they had my problems. Hell, I'd be willing to bet that some women can't even own property much less complain about it's condition.

This Brie eating and Chardonnay swilling southsider salutes you.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

3%

Yet another letter that's worth sharing:

Hey, I just found your blog and love it.

I'm one of your white, VW-driving Woodlawn neighbors. It's great to see someone else talking about race in Chicago. I'm in the middle of "Making the Second Ghetto" which is all about the forces that formed the South Side, including the shady real estate deals and the unfair lending practices. It's pretty eye opening (and a bit heart-breaking)

I was just talking about the rent vs. own debate that residents in Woodlawn are wrestling with. By the way, I tried to leave a comment, but I'm not a blogger so I was blocked from doing so. Regardless, great blog.

Thanks,

XXXX

Is that not just a hoot? I wonder if my black chardonnay swilling, brie eating ass can hitch a ride in the Jetta to Trader Joes? That ladies and gentlemen would be true diversity in action.

A Trashy Follow Up

The humidity is doing quite a number on my hair today.

Ladies and gentlemen I literally have an afro. A friggin' Angela Davis afro is sitting on my head as you read these soothing words.

All I need is a black power pick, large hoop earning and a darshiki to complete the look

Note: This is NOT a good look for me (or anyone).

But the humidity and the rain does encourage all things green to grown and flourish. For those of us who like that type of thing, this is great.

You know what else is great?

The fact that the school across the street is not only picking up the trash on the parkway every week but their lawn crew also mows down the grass/weeds on a weekly basis as well.

Who says a little effort won't go a long way? The block looks super.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Facade

We barely avoided our porches crashing to the ground so I guess it makes sense that something had to eventually catch us off guard, right?

It would seem that a part of our facade provided our little wake up call.

Almost two weeks ago a three foot section came crashing down from above the third floor balconies to the street below.

It was only through God’s grace that no one got hurt or property didn’t get damaged.

We have so many school aged children in the neighborhood---how could we even form the words to apologize to someone’s mother for such a mishap?

The thought alone makes tears well up in my eyes.

It’s not like we don’t have enough to consider---now this? While I’m sure you can understand my moment of self pity and passing comparison with Job, it does kind of make you wonder if the association is jinxed.

There’s just so much that has yet to be addressed and we (and I use that term loosely) are fighting so hard that you would think karma would cut us a little more room than usual.

Or at least stop kicking us in the ass.

I was on my way home from the train and saw our board President run out the gate and around the corner. When I followed, a pile of bricks and a cloud of dust greeted my gaze.

The bricks fell right in front of one of the three entrances to our association.

Had anyone been exiting or entering the building the precise time those bricks had fallen they would have been badly hurt.

From what I’ve been told, the building wasn’t tuck pointed upon it’s rehab and now normal wear and Chicago weather has loosened our facade.

As of this post, the resolution of this situation---at least to my knowledge---remains very much up in the air. I have not heard how much the repairs would be much less tuck pointing of the whole building.

I know another special assessment is coming.

Methinks it’s time to up the ante with Mr. Knight.

Either his ignorance or outright negligence is squarely to blame for our present circumstances. Hazardous back porches, sketchy wiring, a growing city fine and now a falling facade---someone owes us some money.

I think it’s time to collect what we’re due.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Railing Against The Man

An Open Letter To The Pinheads at Cerberus Capital Management:

You suck.

Now I know that there are levels of business that are way above my fuzzy little head but the eventual gutting and closing of Cub Foods on 87th Street cannot be one of your company’s finest moments.

In fact, rumor has it that all of the Cub Foods in the Chicagoland area will be closed within a year. Would that have anything to do with Cerberus’ involvement in a group to purchase the Jewel supermarket chain? Or has that already happened?

Now forgive me if my conspiracy theory addled brain is working overtime but south siders have very few shopping options.

South siders without cars have even fewer.

Taking away a high quality affordable option for groceries while owning the high cost alternative is like putting the rat in charge of the cheese don’t you think?

Because I’m sure it never entered your mind that when taking away Cub Foods would drive most of your consumers south of Madison Street to Jewel.

It’s not like the prices at Jewel weren’t ridiculous to begin with. I’m sure this significant reduction in competition will lead to those going down---right?

If you jokers think that my brie eating, chardonnay swilling ass is going to knuckle under to this under performing store bullshit you’ve got another thing coming.

I pissed and moaned about going miles away from home to get decent food at a decent price and I put the jinx on all of us.

Jewel may be a place where I can get chittlins AND veggie burgers at the same store but you cats ain’t the only game down here.

While Save-A-Lot and Food 4 Less may not have the selection, they definitely have the deals. I also hear that Ultra Foods is the bomb diggity.

I’m going to go to Cubs for as long as I can or until their stock runs out but don’t think I won’t be shopping at these other places for the best deals until I find my new grocery shopping home.

Don’t also think that I won’t be activating that dormant account at Peapod. They come down to the ‘hood as well.

The most egregious part of this whole thing is that a quality shopping center which are few and far between on the south side is losing an anchor store with nothing slated to fill it’s spot in the near future.

Like we need another unlit boarded up place with an unpatrolled parking lot for the Jenkins Boys to hang.

Bravo, Cerberus---the neighborhood, the whole of the south side and a soon to be former customer thank you for attempting to take the area back economically twenty-five years.

I’ll soon be hitching rides to Trader Joes to buy my Brie and chardonnay there.

So nuts to you.

Warmest Regards,

The Woodlawn Wonder

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Beating The Horse Further

Just so you don't think I'm blowing smoke up your ass about this race and neighborhood thing, a cat from Northwestern noticed it too.

Interesting reading.

Lattes and Liquor Bottles

To quote Bob Roberts, the times are a-changin’---back.

I mentioned in last Tuesday’s post a brief history of the decline of Woodlawn and how the demographics in my little hoody hoo are changing.

In short, the white people have called—apparently they want their neighborhoods back.

In my earlier post I alluded how class and race are often a potent mix in Chicago and the outlying suburbs. People don’t want to talk about the elephant in the room but it’s there and it isn’t going away.

The Chicago Sun Times did an excellent article on how race or the perception of the racial demographic of a neighborhood affects the value of a home. While the revelation wasn’t jaw dropping to me, other people were simply amazed.

To be frank, one of the reasons I moved to the south side from the north side because I was tired of being “the exception.”

No matter when or how it’s phrased it has been my experience that somewhere along the line you’ll be praised for how articulate you are and how you’re such as asset to the neighborhood.

That’s modern version of saying that you’re a credit to your race.

Like those individuals had never seen a black woman tend to a flower garden before.

Kids, that weighs on a sister after awhile.

I knew that there are other middle class blacks just like me---I wasn’t a once in a lifetime occurrence. I got tired of being damned with faint praise. I got tired of people raving aobut my facilitation of a near riotous C.A.P.S. meeting yet not recognizing me on the street in non business attire.

But most of all I got tired of some people assuming that the whole of the black race was no good.

Granted, the Jenkins’ Boys are in full effect but they, not the rest of us, are the exception and not the rule.

So I set off for parts unknown. I set off to live in a black neighborhood

Plus it would be easier to sneak into barbeques in the park as Uncle Roscoe’s and Aunt Wanda’s long lost niece.

It also didn’t hurt that the prices south of Madison Street are more affordable.

Well fast forward a couple of years and look what we got; Woodlawn edging toward the precipice of full blown gentrification.

Why am I bringing this up? Why am I flipping the elephant on its head?

The old condo rumor mill is all a twitter with the news that we might be getting our first white neighbor in the association.

Lord Jesus.

While it’s good to hear that one of the foreclosed upon units will be sold to an actual resident owner, I’m kinda torn on this one.

Not only did I want to live in a black neighborhood but I envisioned improving the neighborhood---reinventing it into an upwardly mobile hip happening place; just simply one that’s populated by black people.

Apparently there’s some type of negative stereotype that too many black people can decrease the appearance and property value of a neighborhood.

I don’t know how and why such bullshit got started but it could start to explain the disparity in the home values of Avalon Park and Portage Park.

But I think people are building a bridge and getting over themselves as the homes in Jackson Park Highlands are better than those crap McMansions in Lincoln Park.

The great thing about the Highlands is that it’s an all black neighborhood with historic mansions and rich people.

It’s my dream neighborhood.

I walked through there one day to take a look at my uber house with the wrap around porch and was greeted with looks that could freeze water.

With some of the Highlanders it’s not an issue of color but rather of familiarity. If they don’t know you and you’re not an invited guest, you’re gonna get the stink eye.

I can’t say I blame them as I look at people I don’t know meandering through my neighborhood the same way. If you don’t have a legitimate purpose or a destination---gets to steppin’

Naturally some will think that the positive changes that will start to be seen in the hood may be a direct effect of the changing demographic.

I welcome my new neighbors but it makes me wonder what our home values would have been with the improvements to the neighborhood with the current demographic?

When I bought my first place in Uptown the neighborhood was going through similar changes.

Now the old hood has blown up and home prices have skyrocketed.

Perhaps I’ve become a good indicator of if a neighborhood will increase in value. Perhaps from now on we’ll call it the Woody factor.

Who knew?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Thumbs Up For Bloglet

Bloglet should be operational for those of you that have subscribed. Now your developer hatin' can continue uninterrupted.

Thanks for your patience.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Job

From our friends at Wikipedia.com:

"Job was a man of great probity, virtue, and religion, and he possessed much riches in cattle and slaves, which at that time constituted the principal wealth even of princes in Arabia and Edom. He had seven sons and three daughters and was in great repute among all people, on both sides of the Euphrates.

His sons made entertainments for each other; and when they had gone through the circle of their days of feasting, Job sent to them, purified them, and offered burn-offerings for each one in order that God might pardon any faults unintentionally committed against him during such festivities. He was wholly averse from injustice, idolatry, fraud, and adultery. He avoided evil thoughts, and dangerous looks, was compassionate to the poor, a father to the orphan, a protector to the widow, a guide to the blind, and a supporter to the lame.

God permitted Satan to put the virtue of Job to the test. At first by giving him power over his property, but forbidding him to touch his person. Satan began with taking away his oxen: a company of Sabeans slew his husbandmen and drove off all the beasts; one servant only escaping to bring the news. While he was reporting this misfortune, a second came, and informed Job that fire from heaven had consumed his sheep, and those who kept them; and that he alone had escaped. A third messenger arrived, who said "The Chaldeans have carried away the camels, have killed all your servants, and I only am escaped."He had scarcely concluded, when another came, and said, "While your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking in their eldest brother's house, an impetuous wind suddenly overthrew it, and they were all crushed to death under the ruins; I alone am escaped to bring you this news."

Job rented his clothes and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground saying, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord had taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."As Job endured these calamities without repining against Providence, satan solicited permission to afflict his person, and the Lord said, "Behold he is in your hand, but don’t touch his life." Satan, therefore, smote him with a dreadful disease, probably leprosy, and Job, seated in ashes, scraped off the corruption with a potsherd. His wife incited him to "curse God, and die" but Job answered "Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"

In meantime, three of his friends, having been informed of his misfortunes, came to visit him - Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. A fourth was Elihu the Buzite, who from chapter 32 bears a distinguished part in the dialogue. It is also interesting to note that others also may have been listening to the dialogue of Job and his three friends.

They continued seven days sitting on the ground by him, without speaking, but at last Job broke silence, and complained of his misery. His friends, not distinguishing between the evils with which God tries those whom he loves and the afflictions with which he punishes the wicked, accused him of having indulged some secret impiety, and urged him to return to God by repentance and humbly to submit to his justice, since he suffered only according to his demerits.

Job, convinced of his own innocence, maintained that his sufferings were greater than his faults and that God sometimes afflicted the righteous only to try them, to give them an opportunity of manifesting or of improving their pious dispositions, or because it was his pleasure, for reasons unknown to mankind."

The above synopsis pretty much summed up how I felt when part of our building facade came crashing down to the pavement last Thursday.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

There Goes The Neighborhood---A Primer

The last time my sister visited, she looked quizzically out my back window.

When I asked her what caught her eye, she replied that she didn’t know that I had white neighbors. I told her that I have a number of white neighbors.

Talk about shock and awe.

Ladies and gentlemen, cats and kittens everything old is new again on the south side. White folks are coming back to Woodlawn.

Some people don’t realize that a vast majority of Chicago’s south side---Woodlawn, South Shore, Roseland and other neighborhoods used to be what historians like to term as working white ethnic neighborhoods.

You see race and housing have been and still are a touchy subject in Chicago.

The advent of housing discrimination laws, an expanding black population from the south, unscrupulous land lords along with block busting realtors; neighborhoods “flipped” in a very short time.

Then of course some people’s irrational fear of integrated living usually gets the better of them.

Nonetheless, our little hamlet experienced those changes and boy did the ‘hood real take a pounding.

Property values plummeted and stores left.

Crappy landlords split up beautiful graystones and majestic homes into rooming houses. They crammed everyone in the same small space together and then chose not to maintain the property.

Charging scandalous rents to those who could least afford them for such shitty living conditions.

Frankly Woodlawn was a mess.

While the neighborhood isn’t out of the woods yet, the eastern part of Woodlawn that borders Jackson Park has pulled itself out of the tailspin and has showed all of the signs of making a comeback.

First off, you literally don’t have to fear for your life like you did back in the day.

Baby Skid Row and it’s accompaniment of seedy lounges and prostitutes is gone. Some of the green line that ran over Baby Skid Row was demolished

Gentlemen who are alumni of the school across the street tell me stories of how they were accosted to and from school by people throwing debris out of the windows.

Those same gentlemen also tell me of how a large gang literally ruled the neighborhood.

Most of these stories or actions either predated my birth and/or my moving to the south side. While I wasn’t witness to these events, research and listening to many similar stories leaves me to believe that everything I’ve heard is pretty accurate.

But enough of the history lesson…

It was only a matter of time before north side real estate sticker shock reintroduced white people to the south side.

I’m not saying that my neighborhood is about the “flip” again but the influx of new neighbors that happen to be white isn’t about to stop anytime soon.

While I don’t have any hard numbers I can say that out of eight condo conversions or new buildings, it seems like 60-70% of those units were purchased by my new white neighbors.

I should have known something was up when Jettas started outnumbering hoopties.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Tasty and Delicious

Yet more love rolls in from the Chicago bloggin community as this humble offering was cited as one of Tastypopsicle's 10 most recent delicious links.

As if that weren't exiciting enough there is a link on the site to pictures of a floppy eared rabbit named Mayor McCheese

Now if the Cubs could get on a hot streak, life would be great.

Bloglet Drama

Apparently new posts aren't coming through when I post for those of you who have Bloglet subscriptions. I've just become aware of this issue and will work quickly to resolve the situation. I'll keep you folks posted.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Coincidence

You see my friends; my developer had greater plans in mind than just developing our building.

He also went ahead and developed an abandoned six flat down the block.

I can’t speak to the quality of work or the astuteness of the association.

What I can tell you is that a little over three years after its renovation & sale all six units have been foreclosed upon. The yard and the parkway are a weed choked mess and the lights in the hallways and foyers aren’t working.

Then of course, all of the light bulbs could have blown at the same time.

The association and the building didn’t stand a chance for survival as four out of the six units we owned by Ryan Hudson and Jamael Sanford.

Those names sound familiar?

Those are two of the four deadbeats who owned in our association. If their track record with us severs as any indication, it would stand to reason that the assessments weren’t getting paid at the six flat down the street as well.

As a matter of fact, the new owners didn’t even have the presence of mind to get their tax bills taken out of the name of the original trust that they bought the units from. So all of the tax bills were being mailed to the incorrect address---brilliant, huh?

Seeing that the building was a vacant wreck prior to it’s development and that it will further deteriorate into a vacant wreck now that all six units have been foreclosed upon, smart money says that for all of the “development” that happened it should have been left alone.

Despite the fact it’s a smidge easier on the eye, the circumstances of both the building and neighborhood are still the same.

The only thing that happened is that my developer and a whole bunch of “investors” got paid.

My developer got paid when the units sold; the investors more than likely got paid courtesy of CHAC and the housing voucher program as I suspect that the building was 100% rentals.

Then of course I could be wrong.

The only thing the neighborhood got was an eyesore and more foreclosure stats to add to our zip code.

Do you know how difficult it will be to attract good quality neighbors in a high foreclosure zip code? No matter how much you like the neighborhood, if a bank won’t loan to you because of the foreclosure numbers you have no other choice but to look elsewhere.

Without solid demographics, retailers won’t relocate stores to the area.

Without stores, yours truly has to continue to schlep 22 blocks south and 19 blocks west on public transportation for groceries.

I think that’s roughly about five miles for food and personal care items.

Did I happen to mention that I don’t have a car? It’s either lefty and righty, the CTA or sympathetic friends who provide the bulk of my transportation.

I’ve become a wiz on what you can put in a backpack or wheeled shopping cart.

What I have to do to have a garden each year no person should have to go through.

Nonetheless I’m sure you get my point.

That’s why I was so upset when I heard that my developer was taking on another project in the neighborhood.

While I fully realize that he cannot be held responsible for the actions of the unit owners once he sells his inventory, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Ryan Hudson and Jamael Sanford wound up owning down the street in another building rehabbed by my developer.

Then of course, fate does work in mysterious ways.

Anything’s possible.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kerplunk

Have you ever just had that feeling that the other shoe is about to drop? That all of your best laid plans will go awry? Hold on to your hats kids, because I have a sneaking suspicion that eight months of hard work is about to be blown out of the water.

I pray that I'm wrong.

Falling On My Sword

Outright lying was the last fucking straw.

Our current treasurer sending a second fraudulent and misleading invoice to the mortgage company unit owners was wrong. More importantly it’s against the Illinois Condominium Act.

I could not sanction lying and what amounted to stealing by my presence on the board. I chucked the whole kit and caboodle and wished them well.

We have come a long way in a short period of time. To engage in this bullshit reeked of our developer.

Now I can stomach a lot of things but I was in not was ready to sell my soul on this one.

There are certain things that shouldn’t ever be done. Number one is share a toothbrush with someone, number two is certain “private acts” should remain private and not be transferred to any recordable medium and number three is you shouldn’t lie and cheat your neighbors.

Make sure you write those down as those are pearls of wisdom I’m giving away for free.

I know all three happen (*shudder*) but they shouldn’t.

Especially the third.

Then of course let’s set aside the legality and morality of this tawdry little tale. I’m ignoring what I believe to be an important part of the story.

Me.

I can be a ball breaking, self righteous, judgmental pain in the ass. On the other hand I can be overly generous (to a fault), compassionate and loyal---whether it be to a person or a cause.

Let’s put it out there. Self realization is important.

Nonetheless, I would ask no less of anyone that I would demand of myself.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know about the exploits of the past year and a half and how I’ve played a part in this whole little melodrama.

Let me correct myself and shed my modesty by revealing my large part in turning this ship around.

To date my suggestions and recommendations have saved or netted the association over $15,000 in line item costs, project costs & “found money” from the city.

Let’s count the ways, shall we?

2003 & 2004 Refuse Rebates from the city totaling approximately $2,700.00 of found money---I researched and applied for the program.

The $3,500 & $2,500 dollars in savings in 2005 and 2006 by doing our own yard work and maintenance---my idea. I developed the first maintenance schedules from May 2005 until the end of that year.

Who found a costly $3,300 overcharge on the porch contract? Yours truly.

Who had the bright idea to leverage a look at other insurance agencies into a $3,000 savings on our annual premiums? D’oh! It looks like it was Woody to the rescue again.

Despite that fact that I’m a human being who falls short of God’s grace, I can---if given half a chance---make a discernable difference.

I wonder how I can sneak all of this in on my resume?

Let’s not even talk about who found the reliable porch contractor whose bid came in a full $20,000 under the competition or who found the financing for the porch project in the first place.

Guilty as charged.

Believe it or not, I managed to do this with a (somewhat) active social life AND two jobs. Most of these little tasks were done over numerous lunch hours.

Who says sixty minutes can’t make a difference?

I’m in it to win it folks. This is my home.

So when I point out mistakes or inconsistencies, it’s never about me lording over someone, it’s about what’s legal and what’s right.

The current language of the Illinois Condominium Property Act clearly states that when a unit is bought out of foreclosure, the new owner is not liable for any old debts or prior special assessments.

It’s pretty freaking clear on that point.

So despite my many e-mails and verbal explanations, our treasurer still went ahead and charged the mortgage company unit owners for debts that they didn’t legally owe.

What makes it even worse is that we have a judgment against the person who is legally responsible for that debt.

In effect, we’re double dipping. We’re charging two different people for the same thing.

That’s like selling a cold bottle of beer to two different people.

What a crock of shit.

That type of slimy, duplicitous behavior is disgusting.

And to further add insult to injury, I get the not so subtle rebuke about the definition of board duties.

Excuse me?

I didn’t hear anything about board duties when I was doing the grunt work researching and contacting the mortgage companies to find out where we should be sending the invoice.

After all, that should have been the treasurer’s job, right?

I didn’t hear anything about board duties when I caught the $3,300 overage on the porch contract.

We all should have been going over it with a fine tooth comb, right?

So it strikes me as odd that chests want to get poked out about who is doing what in the association.

You want my help and dedication when it’s beneficial but shun it at will?

Screw that. I hit the door.

Let’s see if this dog can hunt without its sense of smell.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Resignation Letter

Below is a copy of the regisnation letter that I sent to the board of our association earlier today. I will fill in the back story in a future post.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through extensive conversations and e-mails, I've repeatedly suggested how the mortgage company owners should be invoiced.

I may be proven wrong, but it has been my experience that honesty, fair dealing and adhering to the statutes of the condominium act have worked. Moreover, the mortgage companies will pay their fair share but it must be clearly and concisely spelled out on an invoice.

While the invoice below is a good tool to track the history of debt for that unit, I feel that the sentiment of either hoping that the mortgage company will pay the almost $4,000 or that they will figure out their correct amount to be duplicitous and misleading.

We are knowingly engaging in misrepresentation at the least or fraud at the worst.

I strongly feel that we are setting ourselves up for a potential lawsuit as the board is not acting in the best interests of the association. We are not justly levying the proportioned assessed amount upon this particular unit and hoping that they simply don't know the law or catch the mistake.

As a board it was always my impression that we were to champion the association. As we continue to dig ourselves out of our financial mess, the consistent influx of assessments should continue to be a top priority. At this point I can only question if that issue is a priority as I believe that those invoices will largely go ignored.

More than likely, this issue will still be discussed at future meetings all because the correct steps have not, or will not, be taken.

Trying to pull one over on your neighbors---residents or not---is tantamount to something Carlton Knight would try and I find it appalling.

The law has been cited, the situation has been explained ad nauseam and I even redid the invoices to show the correct amounts. Apparently all of this has fallen on deaf ears. It saddens me that in an attempt to right our ship we have to even give the appearance that we're plundering others.

It is with a considerable amount of thought and consideration that effective immediately, I resign my membership from the Board of Directors of the XXXX Condominium Association.

This Just In...

I've resigned from my condo board. More later.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Insult, Injury

Nothing my developer does should surprise me anymore.

The crappy renovation; having my intelligence insulted; sitting in an administrative hearing and having my intelligence insulted; having the association saddled with a fine that was not of our doing---at this point, I thought I had seen it all from this joker.

I found out last week that my heartless, amoral, shifty developer is developing a piece of property that I can literally see from my kitchen window.

I almost lost my shit when I heard the news.

We have worked so hard just to get back to a level playing field after we discovered the shambles we were left with.

Last year was the start of our rebuilding and let me tell you it hasn’t been all shits and giggles down here on the south side.

You may be a little surprised to hear this but it’s somewhat tough to get the love south of Madison Street.

While not a native Chicagoan, I did go to college in the north suburbs and spent the first six of my eleven residential years living on the north side. I never quite understood the north side vs. south side thing.

It soon became apparent when my zip code changed to 60637 that the south side thing was going to figure prominently into my everyday life.

Apparently your I.Q. points drop and your propensity for criminal behavior go up once you move down here.

My friends beseeched me not to go---that I’d be killed, that no one would come to visit---Hell Woody, why would you move down there? You don’t know anyone?

Jesus, I would have gotten less flak for going into the Peace Corp.

But I did it, I made the break and moved into what I thought was my perfect little place.

The discovery of our problems made me resolute. Clich├ęs fell like pearls from my mouth: Tough times don’t last, tough people do. If we all work as a team we can make this happen.

Blah, blah, blah.

Then reality set in ladies and gentlemen. I was a little taken aback to find out that service people won’t come to give us estimates or return phone inquires because of the perception of our neighborhood.

The ones who would give us an estimate tried to jack us so bad that we should have taken that bullshit to the police and had them brought up on charges.

It took us six months to find The Porch People. We should have had contractors lining up to do the job.

Forget about getting a loan from a downtown bank for the work we needed done. It wasn’t going to happen.

We didn’t look good on paper and besides when the address was given during the initial discussion, those phone calls also happened to not get returned either.

The future was not looking bright.

A lot of hard work, frequent calls to my Alderman, the help of a friend who knows trades people and Shore Bank saved our asses.

Making people tow the line when it came to assessments, a special assessment and a couple of liens didn’t hurt either.

We had approximately $1,000-$1,400 in the bank at the beginning of 2005. We have increased that amount to over $28,000 in less than a year.

So much diligence has gone into getting us fiscally healthy; could there be any surprise that I got upset that the developer was still around.

The man that I believe is responsible for a majority of our problems is still being allowed to profit at the expense of our neighborhood.

You see my friends; his involvement in Woodlawn didn’t end when he developed our homes.

He had his sights set on yet another prize.

Mr. Jackson Continues

Chicago Tribune reporter, David Jackson, is still on his white horse chasing down the money in the mortgage fraud game.

Just in case you missed these two articles amidst your weekend fun, they're worth a look.

Fight the power.