Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What's New Pussycat, Part II

Not to be outdone on the development tip, Dorchester Street (Avenue?) has new construction projects as well.

Even Though We Lost, We Still Won

Yeah I know the picture's a little late but look at what we get to look at every day (weather permitting)

Friday, February 09, 2007

Civil War

I sent a "head's up" e-mail to the wife of one of our board members; she also happens to live across the hall from me. I figured that as a common courtesy that she should also know what's about to happen as 4 or the 6 unit owners are about to embark on this electric project.

The e-mail below are her feelings on the subject. This ought to be an interesting next two weeks.

Thanks for sending me the update.

What interruptions do you forsee? If the interruptions are just temporary shutting off power to do the work, that is understandable, at least from my perspective. This type of interruption would not cost the board anything and not require the association to hire anyone. But if electrical work in the common areas is needed as a result of the work in individual units, I don't think the board should pay for an electrician, since the work is being done in individual units & the board has consistantly said they would not pay for this.

If anything is interrupted or damaged in the common elements as a result of the work, I believe that the unit owners would be liable for that, but we should consult the lawyer about that. The board should not pay for something that it has clearly stated that it would not pay for and any expense related to it should come from the unit owners t! hat are doing the work. In sum, before anything seriously impacts the electricity of the common elements, it should have board approval.

Since the board has consistantly said that they would not pay for any electrical work and this is not an approved common element expense, the association should not be out of money to pay for any electrical work until that is voted on by the board. There are specific steps that need to be taken in terms of board approval for any expense.

As you all know, we are still not in financial situation to pay for expenses like this when we have immediate things that need to be paid for. Having another special assessment to pay for electrical work is simply out of the question, but would be the only option considering that we are still in debt! I personally cannot afford more expenses considering that we have structural damage on the front decks, as well as damage to our stairs, and the $10,000 debt that was not accounted for in the 1st special, just to name a few problems.

Just my thoughts.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Unmixing, Parting Words

I sent this final e-mail of the series on 1/26/07 to the tier owners and the Property Manager of the second floor unit:


XXXX and I are not upgrading the electrical in our units. We are simply ensuring that the proper lines are going to the proper circuits that in turn is being billed to the correct individual.

All in all it's very simple.

Carlton Knight put every last unit owner in this position and there is no easy way to figure out a solution. Despite the fact we have a strong legal case, we can't sue him as we have not been able to locate his money. So in the end, we as an association have to figure out how to deal with this issue. Both XXXX and I were hoping that as a tier we could all work together with this fix and finally have our electrical in good working order.

Apparently that is not the case.

As I stated previously, unit owners will pay one way or another---either out of pocket or with a special assessment. On it's face, it seems that it would be cheaper to simply pay the $350 out of pocket to ensure the safety, security and electrical accuracy of XXXX's property and her tenant.

You are correct, we will proceed with this project with or without you. Now it would be great if 1509, #2 were on board but if you choose not to be and the unit has power issues as a result, you can never say that the process wasn't inclusive or that you weren't given sufficient warning.

Regardless of your level of participation, we will still keep both you and the board updated with timelines and our progress.

If you feel the need to take a litigious posture please note that most owners in the association are in possession of a number of documents detailing the status of the electrical. Since the electrical remains in this questionable state, if XXXX ever chooses to enroll the unit in the CHAC program I would think that once a CHAC inspector got his or her hands on that report and see the electrical boxes in person, the unit may not pass an inspection.

Naturally no CHAC clients could be placed in the unit until the issue is addressed. That could mean the potential loss of rental income & subsidies.

XXXX and I are not trying to be inconsiderate or thoughtless. I can imagine you would not want to live in a place where you wonder if you can wash your clothes, dishes and run your microwave at the same time but also wonder what your electricity bill will be based on the usage of your neighbor.

The XXXX condo association cannot reimburse me for the electrical bills I've possibly paid for in the last five years nor will I ask them to.

My hope is that with a few people we can start to find our way out of this mess and make our building a better place to live.

It is unfortunate that the #2 unit may be affected by the path we're choosing but there really is no other way to straighten out this situation.

The Unmixing, Litigation Edition

Believe it or not, this e-mail saga is winding down.

The property manager sent a final response on 1/26/07 on his postion. Naturally I had an initial brief response. The e-mail was sent to the usual cast of characters (tier owners & the board):

Well, it's good to know where you both stand. I don't see any additional correspondence necessary since your decisions are final.

I back you both 100% in your desires to upgrade your units, however you see fit. I'm just saddened that you refuse to be empathetic and consider our desire to not be effected by your decisions.

I am confident that not only do the Declarations and By-Laws but that the judicial system also will support our case.

Please take this information as you see fit, but understand that if we are effected, we will seek retribution by the full extent of the law.

...And I fire back:

Duly noted.

The Unmixing, The First Floor Chimes In Again

This e-mail was sent on 1/26/07 by the first floor unit owner on my tier to the board and all tier owners:

To everyone:

We can definitely talk more about solutions, but my intention to separate my
lines from the unit above me is a done deal. And I won't feel a bit sorry
for the electricity going out, because everyone has known about these issues
for the past 4 years.

I would think that a person would fix their problem areas in the unit first, then rent it out, but that's just how I would handle mine.

If you were that concerned with how this was going to big problem once we decided to get the work done, why haven't you communicated any input until now or maybe did some research yourself to try to come to a solution?

What about your responsibility as a property manager XXXX, you mean to tell me XXXX never mentioned this to you and your blindsided by this situation? This is just another instance where I find it disappointing that a very important issue like our electrical is being trivialized.

Our electrical is jacked and I am not going to live with intertwined lines any longer, let alone, not having enough power to run my apartment on a stable level.

I'm done for now.

The Unmixing, Snarky Is As Snarky Does

The following e-mails were also sent on 1/25/07 to the tier owners and the board:

From the Property Manager:


Thanks for your response. Your passion toward fixing this issue is evident and understood. Still, I'm in need of some clarification on a few points made in your email.

It appears from your perspective that this discussion is over. You're unwilling to take this to the board and this project is going to happen, sometime mid-to-late February. Furthermore, your position appears to be that since you've sufficiently warned us, if you disrupt any of our electricity, we better call an electrician and find the money to pay for it because "the onus falls on [us]."

I know that email can be taken out of context because one cannot read body language, facial expressions, and other aspects necessary to effectively communicate without misunderstanding. Your commitment to the association, compassion for your neighbors and willingness to follow procedures addressed in the Declarations and Bylaws suggest that I'm misinterpreting your email. Will you please shed some light on my confusion?

...And My Response:


What clarification did you need? What questions or concerns did I not answer?

The Unmixing, I Explain AGAIN...

This e-mail, sent on 1/25/07, is my response to the property manager's queries. It also went to the unit owners on my tier and the board:

Our current electrical system is an unfortunately legacy of Carlton Knight's shoddy development.

For those of us who have been here since the beginning, we know that Mr. Knight left us with significant and expensive infrastructure issues. Some of which are just now pushing to the head of the repair list. Unfortunately the electrical has been a known and documented concern within the association for at least three or four years. As XXXX may have shared with you the back porch project of 2006 was our first priority.

The point you make about a limited common element and the payment concern may have some merit, the fact remains that the money is coming out of unit owner's pockets one way or another. It will either come out of pocket voluntarily or via another special assessment.

Frankly speaking as both a board member and unit owner, I am not willing to put my neighbors through another potential special assessment when we are barely half way through paying off the first one.

Additionally let's be clear on what that $350.00 covers: That is simply to make sure that the correct electrical lines for the correct unit are going to the correct circuits. In short, that the person who's name is on the bill is paying for the electrical that he or she uses.

I have been paying for the XXXX basement's electrical for over five years. Or perhaps the association has been paying for my kitchen electrical---at this point no one knows. Nonetheless the situation should be straightened out and as a concerned neighbor I'm not willing to sacrifice the financial stability of the association as a whole for a matter that can be worked out among members of the same tier.

Moreover I'm also exploring the possibility of having my electrical upgraded to 10 circuits instead of the six that I have so my lights don't flicker when I plug in an iron or mixer. As I have both a small stackable washer and dryer, dishwasher, microwave, stand alone range and refrigerator it's important for me to make sure that not only do I have enough power to run the appliances that I currently have but to also be able to bring in additional ones in the future.

It is both XXXX's & my fondest wish that not only the association but XXXX will be on board with this first move to correct this glaring oversight. I feel fairly confident in speaking for us both by saying that this project is going to happen---and happen in the near future. If as a result, the lines are straightened out and the responsible party does not take the steps to have them reconnected to the correct circuit, the onus falls on them.

I do not agree with your statement that if the work affects other areas or units that it's my responsibility to make sure those area's electricity has been restored.

That's why XXXX and I are giving (and has given) everyone significant notice of what's going to happen so we can all do this together to minimize power interruptions. If she and I are the only ones interested in pursuing this matter at this time and units and common areas wind up in the dark, no one can say they weren't sufficiently warned.

This has been discussed and debated. we both would like to think we're good neighbors by sparing the association the large expense of having the financial onus fall of them. We've even followed the procedures set down in our Declarations and Bylaws notifying the association about major work inside of our units.

Now it's time for the work to begin.

Once our due diligence is finished and the written estimates are in we will let you know when the work will start. I would guess on mid to late February. The name and number of our potential electrician is in XXXX's first e-mail below.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Unmixing, The Property Manager Speaks

The Property Manager's response was sent on 1/25/07 to all tier unit owners and the board:

Thank you for sending us notice of your intentions to contract the electrical work. It's comforting to know that you're proactive in your approach to attacking the issues that affect our XXXX community.

At first glance, it seems though that this may be an issue that should be handled by the association. If in fact the lines are tied, then wouldn't this be considered limited common areas, thus falling under the jurisdiction of the condo board? This characterization of the issue will allow the expense of correcting the lines to be shared with all members of the association.

I suspect the $350 over-the-phone estimate to be grossly understated. But, not only should the financial cost be considered in making this decision, the potential liability should also be strongly considered. Unfortunately, if work in our units effects other units or the common areas, we would be responsible to remedy those effected areas. That could become a financial burden we can't bear.

Has this issue been brought to the board's attention and put up for discussion/vote? Or is it that you prefer to handle the issue yourselves?

Mr. Property Manager

The Unmixing, Additional Woody

This e-mail was sent on 1/22/07 once again to the board, all tier unit owners and the 2nd floor unit's property manager after the first floor unit owner's letter of the same date:

Good Afternoon,

Like XXXX I am also eager to get my individual electrical situation resolved.

As I mentioned at the board only meeting last week, I know that the 1509 basement electricity is tied to one of my circuits. I discovered this last year when the porches were being constructed. The heavy power tools blew the circuit which took out the basement lights, basement electrical outlets and most of my kitchen power.

When Mr. XXXX straightens out our situations it may be that the association may need to either engage his services or the services of a qualified electrician to make sure the common areas continue to have power.

I cannot emphasize that step be taken in conjunction with the work that will soon be performed to minimize electrical disruptions.

While I'm not sure if XXXX's electricity and my electricity are intermingled, I wouldn't doubt it at this point. I hope that you can also be on board as we start to untangle yet another mess that Carlton left us with.

I'm sure that with the recent jump in electrical prices, that we all want to make sure that our collective bills reflect our true usage.

At this point, I anticipate the work to happen sometime in the month of February. More information will follow.


The Unmixing, The First Floor Speaks

This e-mail was sent on 1/22/07 from my first floor neighbor to the board, all owners in our tier and property manager for the 2nd floor unit after she and I had consulted two electricians about our concerns:


I am ready to start electrical work on my apartment that will separate
our electrical lines.

As you know, when my fuses blow, your entire kitchen
shuts down. I am sure that you and your tenants have experienced this in
the past. This email is to inform you, so that hopefully you will join
XXXX and I in getting our lines straightened out to the basement.

This is just the first round of hopefully resolving some long-standing electrical
issues in my apartment. So at least I know that I am only paying for my
electrical usage, not my neighbor's.

Just as a caveat, your tenants' home-based hair salon is yet another reason why our electrical has to be straightened out. This situation is just blatantly over and above normal
usage of our utilities and isn't even "legal" under our Decs and Bylaws. I will definitely contact your property manager and you to disclose when the work is going to happen.

Bill XXX, is the electrical contractor that we will be working with. He gave me a quote of $350 over the phone, and will be getting written estimate this week. I thought this was very reasonable and am hoping that you will hop aboard to get this taken care of. I can assure you that my electrical will be affect your unit, but I am unsure if XXXX's unit will have any effect. Did you have any issues in the past?

If there are any updates or changes in schedule, I will also forward any information along to you.

Thx for your time and consideration.


The Unmixing, Happy New Year

This e-mail is dated 1/5/07 and was sent from me to my condo board and the two other owners in my tier:


As some of you may know the electrical service in my unit has been a major concern to me for the past few years.

In fact it was only last year during the porch construction that I discovered that the electrical to the back of my unit was tied in the XXXX basement electrical. Knowing that XXXX has also had similar problems in the past, both she and I setup an appointment with XXXX from XXXX Electric to see if our individual situations can be sorted through.

I'm mentioning this to the board as the electrical to some common areas and other units in the XXXX tier (or the building as a whole) may be affected by any discoveries and/or changes.

For instance, if the basement power has been erroneously connected to a circuit for my unit, that power will eventually be disconnected. It is my hope if such an issue arises, that all of this can be done as seamlessly as possible.

Seeing that we know the electrical work on the original condo conversion was questionable at best, I have a feeling that unit owners have been partially paying for other unit owners (or the common areas) electric usage.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions or concerns.


The Unmixing

Our electrical is, quite frankly, a mess.

If you've read my earlier post about this epic saga---you already know about that drama.

After having countless electricians come over to take a look at the electrical system then run like the wind; we have finally found someone who apparently can take care of our individual unit issues.

While as an association we have many issues with our electrical system, the main culprit is the electrical wiring for one unit may be connected to the circuit for another.

As a result, one unit owner may be paying for the electricity for their unit AND the portion of another unit.

In my case (to the best of my knowledge) I'm paying for my electricity AND the basement electricity of my tier which includes our building's intercom system.

Ain't life grand?

So like the diligent little home owners that we are, my first floor neighbor and I intended to get the problem rectified.

It be unfortunate if you kids saw me out on the corner in order to pay my mortgage like electric bill.

By the way, our electrical provider, Commonwealth Edison has sharply increased their rates so everyone's bills are taking a hit.

Silly us---we tried to get the other unit owner in our tier and her property manager on board. Thinking that once our electrical was corrected, there is a significant chance that her unit (and some of the common areas) might be in the dark.

Seeing that she has renters that wouldn't be a good thing.

Much to our surprise we’ve met resistance. The next few e-mail posted e-mail transmissions will tell the story.

Why can't anything be easy around this joint?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What's New Pussycat?

I've already blogged about the Living Green Lofts.

Now say "hey" to the new kid on the block from Sergio & Banks.


So if you're starting to clean out your closet in advance of spring, these good organizations could always use your immaculately cared for items:

The Bottomless Closet
This organization provides employment assistance, couseling and clothing to women on public aid and the working poor who are in transition. It's a great program---I've been donating to them for years. They're always looking for professional clothing and accessories for women sizes 14 on up. Big girls need love too.

The Glass Slipper Project
Do you really need to wear that old bridesmaid dress out for Halloween again? Why don't you just dry clean it and donate it to these nice folks so a girl can afford to go to prom. Once again, they always need donations from a size 14 on up.

The Brown Elephant Resale Shops
A Chicago Institution affiliated with the Howard Brown Health Center. A leading provider or health and wellness programs for the gay, lesbian, transgendered and bisexual community.