Tuesday, June 30, 2009

…And While We’re At It

I have it on good authority that the Roosevelt Collection is going rental instead of condo due to the housing meltdown.

To those in the know this ain’t exactly groundbreaking news.

My source also tells me that the earnest money is due to be refunded “in a timely manner.”

Now does that mean timely in a “it took you less than 48 hours to cash my check” type of way or timely in “If you piss me off I’ll make you wait for your money---and you’ll be lucky to get it” type of way?

Due to crappy protections afforded to home and condominium buying consumers, will everything be dragged out until the legal statute of limitation to recover earnest monies run out.

*Cough* Theatre District Lofts*Cough*

Time will tell.

But here’s something to ponder during your day.

While the pundits say that the economic pitfalls of this recession are easing, there are those of us out here in the real world who would beg to differ.

Worrying about money is a new thing to some people.

They played by the rules, they saved and invested and didn’t initially worry when they lost their jobs.

But then three months stretched into six and six months into a year.

And despite cutting their spending and living carefully, their money has run out.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, the shit is really hitting the fan.

Down payment money that was flowing so freely a few years ago is now the difference between putting food on the table and having to apply (and be rejected) for a Link card.

That money is the difference between making your mortgage payment and moving in with the relatives.

Yesterday’s yuppie or sink (Single Income No Kids) is today’s marginalized worker.

But marginalized on not, they want their money back.

Unlike other marginalized workers of old, this bunch is a lot more savvy and vocal.

I hypothesize that they will find a way to get their money back.

Whether it’s via social media, networking, writing elected officials or overhauling the whole freaking system, someone is going to make it happen.

‘Cause this time it’s not just the little guy who’s getting his house bulldozed by the city.

Everything’s been flipped on its head and now people are finding themselves in positions their grandparents and parents worked very hard to rise above.

This new class of marginalized worker is not used to being ignored.

Let’s just hope that change will come through positive and productive means and not as a result of chaos and upheaval.

But in the meantime the revolution might be forestalled if people were refunded the earnest money that’s rightfully theirs.

Just a thought.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Uptown Foolishness

The guessing game of the day:

Exactly when will buyers in the unfinished phase (phases?) of the Theatre District Lofts receive their earnest money back?

It's been over a year.

Looks like the lawsuits are starting to pile up concerning this little fiasco.

Just asking...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hold Up

Yes, I know we’re all shocked and pissed by the Honorable John Fleming’s ruling.

But leave it to those kids at the Chicago Reader to show that this type of thing isn’t so uncommon.

Perhaps it’s time to focus outrage on the process that lets violent abusers walk and get the flipping laws changed.

And yes, that would require vigilance, follow-up and perhaps a letter or two to your state elected officials.

Most of us know that it’s not okay to beat on anyone but as the Reader article illustrates, this wasn’t the first time someone got their clock cleaned and the offender got a slap on the wrist.

Judge was simply the messenger.

No need to shoot him.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


About a month ago, the bricks came raining down from the façade on the Blackstone side of our building.

Yes, dear readers---we’re having façade issues again.

Except this time it was a different section.

Once again we were lucky that no one got hurt. But unlike the last time, our little mishap didn’t go unnoticed.

Hence the love note from the city.

How did I find out?

Easy---the city sent out the notifications to the last information that they had on file. Seeing that no one has bothered to file an annual report or bothered to change our registered agent with the state, the city decided to send notification to anyone they could find.

That included my address.

Now before I get on my soap box, I will acknowledge a few things in defense of my neighbors who are doing the heavy lifting.

The focus at the time was on paying off our existing special assessment and continuously following up on those members severely behind in their monthly assessments.

That hand you see being raised would be mine. Guilty as charged.

The rigors of dealing with association business and your own personal life has been known to drive a person batty. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Watching your lay about neighbors make excuse after excuse on why they either won’t or can’t help; listening to empty promise after empty promise can wear on your nerves.

I can understand the frustration for those of you who take the mantle of leadership upon your shoulders.

I can also understand why you’d want to slap the living dog piss out of your neighbors.

Nonetheless, the burden is yours to bear until you say you don’t want it anymore.

So as long as you control the money or are on the board---you have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of the association.

That means filing the correct paperwork with governmental bodies.

That means applying for the refuse rebate from the city.

That means following up on capital projects despite the fact that no one wants to hear about another special assessment.

Because when you don’t----well---you have our little situation.

I personally used to handle those initially insignificant tasks that come back to bite you in the ass but personal matters got in the way.

Then the unemployment.

Then I was told I was a bad neighbor.

At that point, I decided why should I use my talents and connections for people who don’t fully appreciate them?

I’ve showed everyone what was needed to be done.

If you’re too busy or too lazy to print out a piece of paper, fill it out and find supporting documentation---shame on you.

I’m done enabling a group of grown ups.

I know it’s not all about me. I simply dug down deeper than most are willing to do and found the answers we needed for our multiples situations.

It’s not like I’m curing cancer.

But it appears that in my absence, things have been handled in a less than efficient manner.

Your condo is your home, you have to treat the association like a business.

Or at the very least insure that the city doesn’t come snooping around.

Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen, we have completely stepped in it---the proverbial shit is getting ready to hit the fan.

My concern is that when we get these violations repaired that our cash strapped city will find new ones.

If the city is trying to collect on Bears season ticket holders PSL's, anything's possible.

I predict that this is not gonna turn out well.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Not Good

Per my Twitter post yesterday, we received this "love note" from the city.

Jesus take the wheel.

The backstory about this avoidable mess will follow in short order.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Yes, that's the year John F. Kennedy was elected President.

And as luck would have it, it’s also the ranking my humble offerings were given by the Chicago Media Workshop’s report titled “Journalism We Want and Need.”

I’m wanted and needed? I feel very valued right about now.

You can find my blurb on page 19.

Chanting “I’m number 60!” doesn’t have the same ring as “I’m number 1!”

But sometimes you can't put a price on being wanted AND needed.

Friday, June 12, 2009


It seems that my fellow Woodlandites are none too happy with the shenanigans and foolishness going on around 61st Street/South Campus area.

If you didn’t know, South Campus is the new name for that part of Woodlawn just south of the Midway (60th Street). Commonly recognized as the dividing line between University of Chicago and Woodlawn.

In the past the University of Chicago specifically told their students and faculty not to go south of the Midway. While that stance has been eradicated, the perception persists that once you cross that boundary, your physical being and immortal soul are in peril.

Nonetheless, those brave souls who have done just that and decided to make their homes in Woodlawn are pissed.

Potholes and gunfire just don’t seem to be their cup of tea.

As a matter of fact, one new blogger is simply furious at The Woodlawn Organization.

So much so that his whole blog is dedicated to shine a light on what he perceives as mismanagement of the subsidized housing managed by the organization.

Oooh Whee…

South side stand up.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Salting The Earth---The Pictures

Vacant lots that until recently had grass and weeds in abundance. Then a few weeks ago---nothing.

Now do you see what I'm talking about?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Eye In The Sky

I noticed a new addition to the 63rd Street Metra commuting experience this morning: The platform is now equipped with security cameras.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

As usual, I was running for the train when I saw a metal pipe-like structure attached to one of the wooden lamp posts. Imagine my surprise when at the end of the pipe I spied the unblinking eye of a camera.

Though I haven’t walked the platform to confirm it, there are probably cameras in plain sight of all four entrances to the station.

That suspicion was nearly confirmed as I looked across the way on the south bound platform and saw another camera pointing at its south entrance.

The scuttlebutt is that Metra in conjunction with Apostolic Church, had the cameras installed.

After all, the rapist still hasn’t been caught and the platform, stairwells and viaduct are extremely dark and isolated during the daytime much less at night.

While I welcome the cameras, I wonder if they’re monitored---If so, by whom? Dose this mean that they’re may be an emergency call box somewhere in our future?

If the scuttlebutt is true, it’s nice to see public and private entities working together to achieve a common goal.

Now I have to be careful if I have a “wardrobe malfunction” and go to correct the problem.

Unlike this crazy YouTube generation, there are just some things that just don’t need to be caught on camera

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Hammer Time

If you think for one minute that I wouldn't be all over this if given the opportunity, you're nuts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that was a big bowl of awesome!

A&E, let's flash mob Michigan Avenue.

Drop me a line, let's talk.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Salting The Earth

I noticed something the other day.

Nothing was growing on the numerous vacant lots in my neighborhood.

Not a weed, not a blade of grass---absolutely nothing was green.

And when I say nothing was green, the grass had been cut a few weeks ago and the remaining stubble was brown.

On its face and in the short term, that might be seen as a good thing. But natural things just don’t stop growing for no reason.

They definitely don’t all stop growing only on the vacant lots in Woodlawn at the same time.

Is it possible to save money on labor, gas and the wear and tear of equipment that the city may have literally salted the earth?

While I hate weeds and overgrown lots, the possibility that some type of chemical was applied to the ground makes me incredibly uneasy.

If this is what’s going on is this a new city policy? Is it safe for the ground and the water table? Hell, are we even by the water table?

What happens if a (reputable) developer someday builds on those vacant lots? If a chemical was applied will it retard any other vegetation growing?

Could you dig and put in a vegetable garden?

Note: Due to the high concentrations of lead paint in older buildings, it’s normally recommended to not use the grounds around the site of an older building or former building for vegetable planting.

I just find it extremely odd and the timing too close to be a coincidence.

Has anyone else noticed new “brown fields” popping up on city owned or vacant lots in their ‘hood?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dodge Ball

The bad news is that I’m still losing my job.

The countdown continues.

The good news is that I’ve renegotiated my mortgage (*again*) where I now pay $300 less a month.

Believe it or not, my mortgage is near what it was when I first moved in 2001.

While that frees up money, it would be nice if I continued to have a steady source of income.

Reducing instead of increasing debt would be welcome right about now.

My roller coaster life would kill a lesser person.