Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Drag Queens & Politicians & Homosexuals---Oh My!

What is the world coming to when you see the Republican nominee for governor sitting on a float in the gay pride parade?

My first reaction was to shield the eyes of the child closest to me.

Forget the transsexual “women” who are far prettier than me.

Half naked, over baked muscle boys in barely there shorts don’t even raise my eyebrows anymore.

A Republican nominee for governor---that’s something to talk about.

But I digress…

My weekend was spent not hating my developer but rather in search of fun and frolic. I took a short hop up to Minneapolis to watch the Cubs get their ass handed to them.

Then early on Sunday I flew back to Chicago, dropped my stuff off at a friend’s house and settled in for the parade.

If I didn’t know exactly how much I’d been drinking I would have swore that I was hallucinating.

I saw our sitting governor pressing the flesh. Believe everything you hear---his hair doesn’t move---for any reason.

Then a few floats later I saw Judy Barr Topinka, the Republican nominee for governor and almost passed out from the sight.

Just a little background for you folks---in order for politicians to appease a broad range of potential voters, they tend to send people to march for them in a parade instead of showing up themselves.

I’ve never seen Mayor Daley march in a gay pride parade yet he has been well represented in years past.

But when actual politicians start showing up you know something is afoot.

I guess I should of recognized it when the straight girl with boyfriend parade spectator ratio exploded in years past.

And the brouhaha with the display window on Halsted street should have been a red flag.

What clinched it was the entrance of a dueling pianos float from Sluggers.

This is obviously a play for the cabaret set. Perhaps Sluggers’ management is hoping that since it’s a sports bar as well that it may bring in some of the gay jocks.

Apparently the emergence of the gay sports bar Crew has people at Sluggers realizing the potential revenue from gay athletes.

I stopped going to Sluggers after Cubs’ games in my early thirties as their Sam Adams from the tap tastes like ass.

Trust me I drink enough of it so I should know.

The voting population at large may be split on gay marriage but at least one thing is clear in corporate and political America---the gay vote and gay dollar are very much in vogue.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Won't You Be My Neighbor, Part Deux

I’ve made no secret of the drama we’ve gone through in our little patch of heaven.

It was a little touch and go at times, scary at others but I believe that we’ve been through the tough times. We're emerging from the fray a little bruised but none the worse for wear.

Assessment collection is up, delinquencies are virtually non existent and slowly but surely the foreclosures are being sold off one by one.

If the rumor is to be believed, a firefighter (**yowsa!**) has allegedly sewed up the third foreclosed upon unit.

But I’m coming to you good folks for a slightly different reason.

I put the pitch out last year for people to become my neighbors but I’m not quite sure if the invitation was investigated and/or accepted.

That’s why I’m giving you kind souls yet another chance to rest your head in Woodlawn.

As luck would have it, my neighbor is selling her place

Like mine, it’s a two bedroom, one bath with a living room, formal dining room and all of the modern conveniences like in unit washer & dryer, dishwasher, HVAC and security system.

Let’s face it friends, it’s a steal at $179K.

If you like vintage buildings (like I do) and want to realize the American dream, we’d love to have you come down and hang with us.

If you’re a faithful reader of this blog, you already know the questions to ask.

Moreover, I’m not going to insult your intelligence and white wash our past problems. The key to that phrase is these were our past problems---we’ve all come such a long was from January of 2005.

The roof has been patched, the fa├žade has been repaired and we’ve got us some brand new back porches.

Plus that little special assessment thing would have to be paid off by the seller prior to closing.

A special psst to you first time home buyers within the city limits, Chicago Public School Teachers, Fire Fighters, Police Officers & University of Chicago employees, I believe that all of you can qualify for mortgage or closing assistance through a variety of programs.

I love how people are practically giving you money to buy a home.

I know part of what you’re thinking, “Gee the price is great and I love the place---if I could only plop it down in Lakeview of Lincoln Park.”

Well I hate to rain on your parade, Blanche but you can’t.

Quite frankly none of us can.

The irony is that Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Old Town and many parts of Lincoln Park were unqualified shit holes until people saw those diamonds in the rough and took responsibility for the neighborhood.

That also meant telling the Jenkins Boys to move along.

You don’t think the neighborhoods that you see in their current form just happened that way do you?

Come be my neighbor. Come be a part of the solution. Buy me neighbor’s unit and let’s greet each other on our front porches.

In five years you’re going to enthusiastically thank me.

I might even throw in a Moo & Oink T-Shirt as a welcome to the neighborhood gift.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Good News, The Bad News & The Good News

The Good News: The second of our four foreclosed upon units sold at auction yesterday.

The Bad News: It sold for $130,000. Significantly below appraised value.

The Good News: Since appraisers usually use MLS listings for their comps, the sale
should not affect our property value.

The sale is still pending final approval from the seller and then won’t close for another 30 days. I can only pray that our new neighbor is someone who actually wants to be our neighbor, live in our association and is a decent responsible person.

Please no more investors or flippers.

(**fingers crossed**)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Finally

Believe it or not the 2004 refuse rebate check is here.

Christ almighty.

Now it doesn’t bother me one bit that it takes the city so long to process these requests. If memory serves me correctly, I submitted both the 2003 & 2004 requests in January 2005.

The city’s pace should never be a factor. If you’re trying to do something with them you should always know that it will take some time to process.

The issue, my friends is the mail.

Apparently the check was mailed on May 12th. It just got returned back to the department who sent it on Friday, June 16th.

It took over a month to recover this bad boy.

And do you want to know what the kicker is?

On the front of the envelope is a big yellow label stating that delivery was attempted but the address was not known. No forwarding address was on file---return to sender.

Curious, eh?

It doesn’t stand to reason why I’m getting some of my mail but other things simply don’t make it to the mailbox.

At least this badly needed check is in hand.

You know I’ve already sent a complaint to the post office for my zip code. Would you expect anything less?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

An Appropriate Quote

I found this quote from Hugh Jackman in the June edition of "O" magazine:

"Not everything I do will be successful. But I can live with a failure if it is born of conviction."

Kind of appropriate (and timely) considering this Maurice Cousin bankruptcy business.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Justice Denied

Mr. Robert B. Katz, Esq has completely screwed us.

I’m sure he’s a nice man and I’m sure he’s great at his job(s) but to blow our judgment against a deadbeat like Maurice Cousin out of the water is almost too much to bear.

You see Mr. Katz in a bankruptcy trustee in the northern district of Illinois.

He was the person solely responsible for deciding a “no asset” finding in Mr. Cousin’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

What that unfortunately means for us is that Mr. Cousin will be allowed to dismiss the judgment we have against him for back assessments and the special assessment.

All of that work, plus all of those legal fees are down the drain and there is not one fucking thing we can do about it.

Then of course no one ever promised us a rose garden.

It doesn’t matter that we need the almost $7,000 judgment.

It doesn’t matter that Mr. Cousin effectively rented his unit to individuals of questionable character while in the midst of his foreclosure.

Don’t even get me going down that path on a rant…

It doesn’t matter that Mr. Cousin has a job and we were thisclose to throwing a garnishment on his wages.

None of this apparently didn’t (or can’t) factor into the Mr. Katz’s decision.

I’m sure our attorney advocated our cause to the best of his ability during the creditor’s meeting.

We may be getting the business end of a donkey kick but Mr. Cousin’s financial woes aren’t over yet.

Another lawsuit was filed against him on March 30th by a law firm.

Apparently they seemed to be a little miffed that Mr. Cousin hasn’t paid them the $31,308.25 that he owes.

Also to the best of my knowledge, he has not amended his bankruptcy filing to include that debt.

I hope the nice law firm people serve his balls to him on a plate. Go get ‘em tigers.

That wild cheering you hear from afar will be me urging you on.

By the way, if I ever find out and can prove that Mr. Cousin was lying to the bankruptcy court in that meeting, the association will have a fraud complaint slapped on him so fast it will make his head spin.

Oh yeah, Maurice---if you’re reading this little post---I have a special message for you.

Paraphrasing from the indomitable Ms. Celie of the novel, The Color Purple:

“Till you do right by us, everything you think about gonna fail.”

Take that karma to the bank you triflin’ bastard.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Back Door Gardening

My never ending quest to kick Chicagoland gardening ass has started anew.

I put my container garden down on my front balcony and back porch about three weeks ago. While some may consider the weather coolish, I personally think its great for growing plants.

I planted a combinations of red geraniums, purple petunias, licorice plants, ivy and alum root in suspended bamboo flower boxes on the back porch. It looks pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

The oft referenced new back porches overlook two vast vacant lots immediately south.

Sometimes the lots are strewn with debris and dog droppings. Other times they serve as a parking lot for the big rigs and a place for the homeless to setup camp.

Whenever I feel someone watching me and I check all of the usual places (across the way in the other buildings, etc.) nine times out of ten if I look really closely I’ll spy a new temporary neighbor who has setup camp in the nest of ghetto trees in the vacant lot.

Ghetto trees are basically a type of weed that if left untended literally grows into a tree. They’re everywhere in urban areas. I think they look like ass.

The leaves provide protection from the sun and unless you really look you can’t tell that there would be anyone in there.

Perhaps I should ask him (or her) how the flowers look from their vantage point.

This year I was lucky enough to spy the most full, red and vibrant geraniums at my flower guy’s stand at the Federal Plaza farmer’s market.

Now I’m no expert but they stood out head and shoulders above any ones I’ve ever purchased at Home Depot. In fact, the ones at Home Depot would never truly take off and grow like the ones at the Grand Hotel do.

I’ve learned the secret---it’s all in the grower.

I’m so supremely happy with how the back porch looks that I’m making plans to replicate it on the landing next year.

Who in God’s name wants to look at urban renewal 24/7?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Spot On

I’ll be damned if I didn’t see several cricket games going in Washington Park a few Sundays ago.

Talk about jaw on the floor.

Snappily dressed people of color---at first glance I thought everybody was black---in crisp white uniforms will grab your attention. I later discovered that the urban cricket players were mostly expatriates from Her Majesty’s Commonwealth; mainly Indians, Pakistanis, West Indians and Africans.

I couldn’t even begin to make this one up.

Cricket on the south side of Chicago? Next thing you know the Jenkins’ Boys will be mixing up Gin and Tonics between games.

As if that weren’t enough, I found that the croquet and lawn bowling peeps have their own little set---complete with a clubhouse mind you---in the shadow of the Museum of Science and Industry.

Between the bird watchers in the Osaka gardens and the Anglo sports enthusiasts, the hood is looking less and less ghetto fabulous the longer I live here.

Perhaps that's it---Woodlawn is uping the ante for ghetto fabulousness.

Jesus, I feel like I’m in the blacksploitation version of a Merchant-Ivory film.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Tea & Crumpets

You see my good and faithful readers, the laws and ordinances regulating real estate development in Chicago are pretty clear cut.

Per the real estate developer registry of the City of Chicago, a developer of residential projects must have the following:

Valid articles of incorporation from the Secretary of State’s office.
A valid certificate of good standing from the Secretary of State’s office.
A valid City of Chicago Business License.

Once all of that paper work is in order or perhaps in conjunction with applying for a City of Chicago business license; the applicant can register as a residential developer. Afterwards, a developer’s license number is issued by the city.

Upon receipt of the license number, the developer can now apply for his or her building permits. They must also have the license number displayed not only the permit application but also on contracts, estimates and advertisements associated with their residential development(s).

That’s the way the game is supposed to be played.

One step leads to the other which in turn leads to the next.

I simply mentioned the above process to the Lord High Executioner.

I also asked if an individual owed the city money for fines, lawsuits, traffic tickets and the like if they would be issued a license before it was paid in full.

I also questioned how could a building permit for a residential building be issued to a developer who hadn’t cleared the registry process for the city?

The frightening thing is how many mid sized or smaller developers have already been issued permits by DCAP despite the fact a developer’s license number was not a part of their application?

Is it possible that DCAP is not checking the applications or are ignorant of the statutes?

These requirements were enacted by the city over a year ago.

As I laid all of this out for the Lord High Executioner---who will now simply be referred to by the initials LHE---he looked at me in amazement.

“You’ve put a lot of time into this.”

Indeed.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Introducing The Lord High Executioner

Baby steps of progress are being made, faithful readers.

The Lord High Executioner, two others from his office---Buford Pusser, Lady Deathstrike and I sat down and had a little chat during lunch time today.

The knowledge sharing was fast and furious.

Truthfully things went about as I expected.

To make a long story short, everyone present was appalled by the quality of the ridiculously shoddy work done---or should I say not done----our on building.

Yet again, I’ve been told that we have more than enough to go after my bootleg developer in a civil proceeding.

I reminded the good folks---and hopefully they excused my French---“Money talks, bullshit walks” when it comes to civil suits. No one who has the resources, contacts or time would touch us without knowing that there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Good legal eagles cost quite a bit. We’re barely keeping up with the maintenance to our home. How can we come out of pocket for the high quality representation that we need?

I let the assembled company know that our safety and the condition of the building came first.

No funds = no lawyer.

Such is life but I wouldn’t be surprised if a good legal resource surfaced in the near future. Just a hunch---call me optimistic.

To the Lord High Executioner’s extensive knowledge, there was nothing he could do to erase the unfair judgment that is now our responsibility due to our developer’s shitty property management.

Once the gavel falls on a case of that nature it’s extremely difficult to get it undone. I think it’s time to attempt to contact someone in the Revenue Department.

That dog may not want to hunt but I’m gonna kick it’s lazy, tick infested ass until it does.

That was a metaphor folks for I don’t believe that we as an association can be held liable for our developer’s mismanagement.

Once I take this as far as I can take it and if I’m still receiving the same answer, there’s always the court of public opinion, right?

Isn’t that what newspaper reporters are for?

The Lord High Executioner also commented about our developer’s application for construction permits from DCAP.

From what I understood, little could be done to prevent him from getting the necessary paperwork to complete his new development(s).

As he was stating his concerns, I felt like watching a batter wait for the right pitch before knocking it out of the park.

As the responses piled into my head, I thought this may not deny him his permits, but at least he’ll have to go through the city’s nightmare of a bureaucracy.

This might be easier than I thought.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Let There Be Light

The lights are finaly going up on the back porches.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can finally see the end of the tunnel.

Since an open roof option was chosen, the lighting system that we previously had wouldn't work. When it rained, the fixtures would fill up with water and the last time I checked water and electricity didn't mix.

We found the electrician via The Porch People and had him come out and do an estimate a few months ago. One of the last things I remember presenting to the rest of the board was his estimate but it took around three months to pull the trigger.

Truthfully there may have been scheduling problems as this is the high season for construction and home improvement work. Getting a construction permit in the city of the Chicago ain't exactly a speedy thing as well.

Then of course, that's not really my direct concern anymore is it?

I'm just happy the work is being completed and we can finally put a fork in this project.

Now if only paying for it was that easy.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Courtesy Calls

Courtesy of yours truly CHAC is now well informed about the glaring loopholes regarding foreclosures in their system.

I have talked with several high level people regarding why government money is being sent to people whose properties are either going into or are deep in the foreclosure process.

My remedies and suggestions are getting the once over by the top brass. Time will tell if I’ve made a difference on this one.

The wheels of justice grind slowly.

Courtesy of yours truly my developer now has a stop work order placed on the building he’s “developing” literally around the corner from me.

In fact, when the leaves are off the trees, I can look across the vacant fields and see where the work was happening.

That's was as in past tense.

That’s all been stopped now.

True to form, Mr. Knight was basically doing a gut rehab with no plans on file with the Department of Construction and Permits, commonly known as DCAP. He also did not apply for any permits until recently.

Not a one.

I can only imagine the next groups of buyer’s faces when they find out that their homes are not quite what they imagined them to be. Then of course both the Attorney General’s Office and the Consumer Affairs Department of the City of Chicago basically told me I don’t have a right to expect that my electricity be done correctly.

So what do I know?

Nonetheless a stop work order was issued May 10th.

Now hold on to your hats kids ‘cause this is where it gets tricky.

Per the Real Estate Registry ordinance that was created by the city every front page of an estimate, contract, subcontract and advertisements for residential real estate development must have the developer’s business license number.

More importantly every application for a building permit is supposed to carry that business license number as well.

Mr. Knight has no business license number that I can find registered with the city.

Now I’m sure my search hasn’t been as detailed as it should be. It’s kind of difficult to know the name of every business registered in the Illinois Secretary of State’s system. It would be nice to be able to pull up a list using a registered agent query but that animal doesn’t exist for that office yet.

I did have the city do a search on several known business names that Mr. Knight has used in the past or is the registered agent for according to the Secretary of State’s office and nothing turned up.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t have a business license, it just may be under a name of a company I have yet to discover.

If he wants to continue to develop residential property legally (note the key word legally), he’ll have to beat a path to the Department of Revenue’s door.

Now here’s the linchpin---the internet listings for Mr. Knight’s developments that are currently in circulation should, according to the registry, be taken down.

Nowhere in the internet listings did I see any business license number.

What happens if some person falls for that pre-construction pricing bit, and actually plunks down some hard earned case as earnest money on a development that has no architecture plans or legal permits?

Then they have to wait for a development that may or may not happen.

That individual then may or may not throw any plans about breaking leases and a moving date out the window.

Roof over your head? Highly overrated.

What happens if this person loses out on another potential unit because he or she put down a contract on a building that is for all intensive purposes sitting on the back burner?

Moreover the earnest money might give my developer capital to keep his ruse(s) going.

You see the Lord High Executioner has been very helpful with this whole Knight business.

When the report hit his desk about Mr. Knight’s development activities in my hoody ho, I could hear the amazement in his voice.

Lord High Executioner:
“He essentially did a gut rehab with no permits. He didn’t even file any type of plan with the city.”

Me:
“I told you so. This does not come as a surprise to me.”

Lord High Executioner:
“How can you just do that?”

Me:
“Because he can---trust me this is an established pattern.”

Lord High Executioner:
“Well it doesn’t matter as everything will have to be ripped out reinstalled and inspected properly.”

Me:
**grinning into the phone**

Wait till the Lord High Executioner gets a copy of the tape from the informal hearing with Consumer Affairs from last fall, he’s gonna plotz all over himself.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Teaser

Posts about conversations with various city officials, a stop work order, CHAC loopholes and a date with the Lord High Executioner are all in the works.

I've been a busy little bee the past few weeks.

Stay tuned.