Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Illinois Watchdogs Bark Up the Right Tree of Social Justice and Reform

 

I hail from a family that lived on the south side of Chicago proper in the 1950s; a time when that area was known for its lush city parks, friendly communities, and a general aura of prosperity.

But it was also a city community in which “da mayor” ruled over everything with an iron hand. That man was Richard Daley, Sr., who back in the Nineteen Teens and Twenties, had attended the same city schools as my father. It was not unusual for the phone to ring on a Saturday afternoon and one of Daley’s lieutenants ask to speak with my dad.

Daley was known for a phenomenal memory in which he could meet a ten-year-old at a wedding and then, while out campaigning eight years later, ask if she was still going out with her sweetheart from fourth grade. So, it was not at all surprising that he remembered my dad and knew of his reputation for being an honest CPA, with a great love of number-crunching.

The reason for the call was always the same: Daley needed some help in the comptroller’s office inside City Hall. The mayor’s lieutenant was asking what arrangements would need to be made for my father to consider leaving his current job and start working for the organization.

My father would point out that he was happily employed and was making a decent salary. He remained unwavering about politely refusing, even when offered a significantly larger paycheck.

When my dad hung up, my parents would invariably “discuss his refusal.” Usually my mom would make it clear that if he really was such a smarty pants CPA, why would he turn down such a proposal?

My dad would say, “I am not turning down a job offer; I am turning down the likely possibility of spending five to ten years inside one of Illinois’ lovelier accommodations at some point in the future.” She would tut-tut at him, showing some disgust. He’d then reply, “I’ve visited people inside Illinois prisons – no amounts of money would make me desire to ever spend time there. Even if we could live a bit high on the hog for some time period prior.”

So I grew up knowing that the Democrat Party in Chicago and Illinois was corrupt. Now that I live in California, which is equally corrupt, I still think about the Land of Lincoln. So when I recently happened upon a website that focused on the ongoing corruption in Clark County, IL, I was eager for the details.

Back in November 2014, two military veterans Kirk Allen and John Kraft, who live in Edgar County, IL, decided to have the board members of Clark County placed under citizens’ arrest. From a local Illinois website:

Public boards are used to facing angry crowds, but most have never encountered what happened at one recent meeting in central Illinois.

In what was one of their most epic displays of political crime-fighting, which was captured on video, Allen and Kraft held the entire Clark County Park District Board under citizen’s arrest on May 13, 2014, for violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act, a Class C misdemeanor.

When asked if there would be public comment, one of the board members said, “I vote no.” Followed by five other board members.

Board attorney, Kate Yargus, could be heard on video saying there would be no public comment that night, and told the board members they were “free to go,” even after Kraft’s citizen’s arrest announcement. She tried to cite statute to Kraft, but before she could finish, he said, ‘Just sit down, you are making yourself look like a fool.'”

From the article, it was clear that Yargus was the fool. This pair of citizens had already spent significant time in organizing a group called the Edgar County Watchdogs. And due to their enthusiasm for busting corrupt officials, they did not leave corruption in other Illinois counties alone.

Yes according to the same website, the pair of enthusiastic crime fighters had already:

…driven 102 public officials to resign from their posts, including 33 officials in Edgar County alone. The pair busted the mayor of Redmond for attempting to hold office while living out of town. They represented themselves in court and beat Illinois Assistant Attorney General Emma Steimel in a lawsuit seeking access to state e-mails.

Officials who have resigned due to the Watchdogs’ efforts include a property tax assessor, the Edgar County board chairman, an entire airport board and its manager, the attorney for Kansas Township’s fire department, Shiloh’s superintendent of schools, and Effingham’s health department administrator, among others. After they exposed corrupt, illegal, and self-serving spending habits by the Ford-Iroquois County health department, the entire bureaucracy was dissolved.

In some cases, federal agents have even stepped in to investigate and issue subpoenas to local officials after receiving tips from Kraft and Allen.

So what happened after the County Board was put under citizens’ arrest? Again, according to the article:

Deputies were dispatched to the scene, but instead, that night, Clark County Sheriff, Jerry Parsley, went and personally responded. Parsley said he knew it was a heated situation and felt it would be best if he handled it. He said that Kraft handled the citizen’s arrest responsibly, and the board was definitely in violation of the Open Meetings Act by not allowing the public to speak.

“It’s not that they should have. They’re mandated to,” Parsley said. “The people need to have their voice. It’s not a dictatorship. It’s a democracy.”

The sheriff arrested six of the board members. The seventh board member was not arrested because he voted against the other members. As they were escorted out of the building, the crowd cheered.


November in Illinois is early winter. Many prior winters of discontent had gone into the Edgar County Watchdogs and the most energetic fury that had them reversing the fortunes of corrupt officialdom. Officials in Edgar County and other places then felt a lot more heat than one would imagine ever coming their way.

I, for one, salute my fellow watchdogs. They are an inspiration. After all, I was recently wondering how to proceed here in my county in California. But now, thanks to Mrs. Allen and Kraft, I have a clear template.

For other information about corruption in Illinois, I offer up the excellent documentary: All the Queen’s Horses. It focuses on the embezzlement by one small-town financial officer, Rita Crundwell. Ms. Crundwell managed to steal $54 million from Dixon, IL, over her 20-year reign, while being at the helm of Dixon’s bank accounts. The movie can be viewed here on YouTube.

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There are 25 comments.

  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    People are no darn good.

    • #1
    • January 21, 2020, at 3:10 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  2. RightAngles Member

    Wow I had no idea your dad knew Mayor Daley! I grew up in the suburbs, but we all knew very well how corrupt his machine was. And it’s still in place. I remember in the Obama years telling people I wished everyone could be from Chicago so they’d plainly see that Obama ran the White House the same way Daley ran Chicago. Corruption, kickbacks, and cronyism. Rotten to the core.

    • #2
    • January 21, 2020, at 3:29 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  3. JoelB Member

    I always thought the south side of Chicago was the baddest part of town.

    • #3
    • January 21, 2020, at 6:23 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  4. The Reticulator Member

    Interesting. I spent three days in Edgar County this past summer, and didn’t know it was involved in all of that. 

    The first day I was riding south toward Paris, taking photos of places where there were visible traces of the west boundary of the cession from the Fort Wayne Treaty of 1809. It was a hot day, and I was stopped by the side of the road east of Chrisman, studying Google Maps, trying to figure out if I needed to go out of my way to Chrisman to replenish my water supply. A man in a pickup stopped and asked if I needed help. When I told him what I was up to, he said I could fill up at his house, a mile away in Scotland. So I followed him there. It was an older house, with Trump signs in the yard. We visited for a few minutes. We didn’t talk politics, but I explained that back in the early 70s I had lived in Danville (the next county seat to the north). The man’s son was surprised to hear that with its social and economic problems it was sort of a mini-Chicago already back then. I would be surprised if this guy and some of the other people coming and going at his house didn’t know a lot about this Edgar County watchdog group. Maybe if I had stayed longer to visit I could have learned about it. 

    I found an earlier address of the watchdog group (from a FOIA request) but had to do some interpretation to figure out where it was, because highway numbers have changed. The road south from Chicago used to be (I think) Highway 1, often known as the Dixie Highway. Now it seems part of it is U.S. 150 and part of it is Illinois Hwy 1. In fact, we touched on that topic while I was filling my water bottles. Anyhow, making the appropriate substitutions I figured out that the organization’s address was on the Dixie Highway, a dozen miles from Scotland. Whether that’s the current address I don’t know. I often get snoopy about things like that. While trying to figure it out, I came to realize that Google Maps isn’t quite as helpful as it used to be at telling me which street addresses lie along a given section of highway.

     

     

    • #4
    • January 21, 2020, at 7:50 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  5. RightAngles Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Interesting. I spent three days in Edgar County this past summer, and didn’t know it was involved in all of that.

    The first day I was riding south toward Paris, taking photos of places where there were visible traces of the west boundary of the cession from the Fort Wayne Treaty of 1809. It was a hot day, and I was stopped by the side of the road east of Chrisman, studying Google Maps, trying to figure out if I needed to go out of my way to Chrisman to replenish my water supply. A man in a pickup stopped and asked if I needed help. When I told him what I was up to, he said I could fill up at his house, a mile away in Scotland. So I followed him there. It was an older house, with Trump signs in the yard. We visited for a few minutes. We didn’t talk politics, but I explained that back in the early 70s I had lived in Danville (the next county seat to the north). The man’s son was surprised to hear that with its social and economic problems it was sort of a mini-Chicago already back then. I would be surprised if this guy and some of the other people coming and going at his house didn’t know a lot about this Edgar County watchdog group. Maybe if I had stayed longer to visit I could have learned about it.

    I found an earlier address of the watchdog group (from a FOIA request) but had to do some interpretation to figure out where it was, because highway numbers have changed. The road south from Chicago used to be (I think) Highway 1, often known as the Dixie Highway. Now it seems part of it is U.S. 150 and part of it is Illinois Hwy 1. In fact, we touched on that topic while I was filling my water bottles. Anyhow, making the appropriate substitutions I figured out that the organization’s address was on the Dixie Highway, a dozen miles from Scotland. Whether that’s the current address I don’t know. I often get snoopy about things like that. While trying to figure it out, I came to realize that Google Maps isn’t quite as helpful as it used to be at telling me which street addresses lie along a given section of highway.

     

     

    What?! They changed the name of Dixie Highway?

    • #5
    • January 21, 2020, at 7:59 PM PST
    • 1 like
  6. The Reticulator Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I found an earlier address of the watchdog group (from a FOIA request) but had to do some interpretation to figure out where it was, because highway numbers have changed. The road south from Chicago used to be (I think) Highway 1, often known as the Dixie Highway. Now it seems part of it is U.S. 150 and part of it is Illinois Hwy 1. In fact, we touched on that topic while I was filling my water bottles. Anyhow, making the appropriate substitutions I figured out that the organization’s address was on the Dixie Highway, a dozen miles from Scotland. Whether that’s the current address I don’t know. I often get snoopy about things like that. While trying to figure it out, I came to realize that Google Maps isn’t quite as helpful as it used to be at telling me which street addresses lie along a given section of highway.

     

     

    What?! They changed the name of Dixie Highway?

    I’m not sure. I suppose it was never an official name, but it seems to me the exit used to be identified as such on I-294, and if so, that may have changed. But that could have happened a long time ago without my paying much attention to it.

    • #6
    • January 21, 2020, at 8:06 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  7. The Reticulator Member

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret: Allen and Kraft held the entire Clark County Park District Board under citizen’s arrest on May 13, 2014

    The day after my ride to Paris, I rode through Marshall, the county seat of Clark County. But it looks like I didn’t use any of the Park District’s facilities. I stopped to rest near the Marshall Community Pool, where I set up my Helinox Chair Zero and ate my lunch of gas station food. But that facility seems to be run by the city and not the county. And I rode along a park south of town, but that’s a state and not a county park. 

    On a subsequent rest day we drove through Marshall on our way to and from Terre Haute, where among other things we took the tour of the Eugene Debs house, conducted by an enthusiastic young socialist. You don’t have to be a socialist to take the tour, but maybe it helps. I’m not one, but I’m glad we did it.

    We also spent a couple of nights in Dixon, where we spent part of another rest day visiting the Ronald Reagan boyhood home. If I had known about the $54 million embezzlement I might have tried to get a photo of the scene. I passed within a block of the city hall on my way out of town.

    • #7
    • January 21, 2020, at 8:36 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Wow I had no idea your dad knew Mayor Daley! I grew up in the suburbs, but we all knew very well how corrupt his machine was. And it’s still in place. I remember in the Obama years telling people I wished everyone could be from Chicago so they’d plainly see that Obama ran the White House the same way Daley ran Chicago. Corruption, kickbacks, and cronyism. Rotten to the core.

    They knew each other from grammar school on, but of course, the two men traveled in very different social circles. I think my dad got a kick out of being contacted on behalf of da mayor, but he valued honesty as a core principle. So he never went on to become part of Daley’s inner circle.

    At times I thought my dad’s philosophy was a bit corny, but I came to respect it very much as I matured.

    IIRC, over the next ten years, one of the men who did take the spot my dad was offered eventually became the city comptroller. And he ended up being indicted for fraud, with a jail sentence that was significant back in the day, as he did end up serving time.

    • #8
    • January 21, 2020, at 10:05 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  9. Gossamer Cat Coolidge

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    People are no darn good.

    But then there’s the watchdogs…

    • #9
    • January 21, 2020, at 10:06 PM PST
    • 1 like
  10. Clifford A. Brown Contributor

    There is such a breadth of experiences here on Ricochet, another reason membership is worthwhile!

    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the January 2020 Group Writing Theme: Winter of Our Discontent. Share your tale of winter, discontent, content, or maybe tell us a tale of someone done wrong by an author or film maker. There are plenty of dates still available. Our schedule and sign-up sheet awaits.

    Interested in Group Writing topics that came before? See the handy compendium of monthly themes. Check out links in the Group Writing Group. You can also join the group to get a notification when a new monthly theme is posted.

    • #10
    • January 21, 2020, at 10:39 PM PST
    • 1 like
  11. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Interesting. I spent three days in Edgar County this past summer, and didn’t know it was involved in all of that.

    The first day I was riding south toward Paris, taking photos of places where there were visible traces of the west boundary of the cession from the Fort Wayne Treaty of 1809. It was a hot day, and I was stopped by the side of the road east of Chrisman, studying Google Maps, trying to figure out if I needed to go out of my way to Chrisman to replenish my water supply. A man in a pickup stopped and asked if I needed help. When I told him what I was up to, he said I could fill up at his house, a mile away in Scotland. So I followed him there. It was an older house, with Trump signs in the yard. We visited for a few minutes. We didn’t talk politics, but I explained that back in the early 70s I had lived in Danville (the next county seat to the north). SNIP

    I found an earlier address of the watchdog group (from a FOIA request) but had to do some interpretation to figure out where it was, because highway numbers have changed. The road south from Chicago used to be (I think) Highway 1, often known as the Dixie Highway. Now it seems part of it is U.S. 150 and part of it is Illinois Hwy 1. In fact, we touched on that topic while I was filling my water bottles. Anyhow, making the appropriate substitutions I figured out that the organization’s address was on the Dixie Highway, a dozen miles from Scotland. Whether that’s the current address I don’t know. I often get snoopy about things like that. While trying to figure it out, I came to realize that Google Maps isn’t quite as helpful as it used to be at telling me which street addresses lie along a given section of highway.

    I became curious about the whither and yons of Dixie Hwy, which I used as a commute route after my folks moved out to the far south suburbs when I was in my late teens.

    I came across this section of google maps with various maps of Dixie Highway:

    http://2lanetraveler.com/home/dhmaps/

    And was amazed to find Dixie Hwy extends all the way up to the most northern part of Michigan and down to Georgia.

    If you go to the above link, you can click and also zoom in and can also scroll further north, south east or west.

    I think it is a pretty handy guide for looking at some of the older routes of the nation.

    Of course, you can also see it on Google:

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1reZf5mGowt7hU7gEPoKnFPUmDXk60hnq&ll=41.259481599716885%2C-87.87994435183691&z=10

    • #11
    • January 22, 2020, at 1:28 AM PST
    • 1 like
  12. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    I was raised adjacent to corrupt local politics. I was only involved in it as much as was required to do business. I have seen a few people / groups try to go against government corruption. They occasionally won some battle but in the end usually lost the wars. Local corruption has many way to make opponents to pay. Some as petty as withdrawing services such as garbage collection, snow removal, law enforcement protection. Some as strong as zoning, eminent domain, loss of employment, taxation, county department harassment and jailing.

    • #12
    • January 22, 2020, at 4:28 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  13. Stad Thatcher

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    And was amazed to find Dixie Hwy extends all the way up to the most northern part of Michigan and down to Georgia.

    The portion of US 1 going from Aiken, SC to Augusta, Georgia is officially named the Jefferson Davis Highway.

    • #13
    • January 22, 2020, at 6:02 AM PST
    • 1 like
  14. The Reticulator Member

    Stad (View Comment):

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    And was amazed to find Dixie Hwy extends all the way up to the most northern part of Michigan and down to Georgia.

    The portion of US 1 going from Aiken, SC to Augusta, Georgia is officially named the Jefferson Davis Highway.

    The state highway between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama is also called the Jefferson Davis Highway. It also has signs identifying it as the route of the historic Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights march. When I rode it on a Sunday morning in spring 2006 I was not able to find a place where I could get the two marker signs in one photo. And contrary to my usual practice I had got an early start. This meant I was riding into the sun, so the photos aren’t very good anyway.

    The highway in Illinois is a state highway, mostly.

    • #14
    • January 22, 2020, at 6:46 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. The Reticulator Member

    I’ve been reading more about the Dixon embezzlement case. One question was why the embezzlement had gone undetected for nearly 20 years. The mayor didn’t notice until the comptroller’s deputy learned of a “secret” account at the bank. Auditors didn’t catch it, and a neighboring city of the same size had questioned why Dixon had a budget deficit while they (the neighbor) had a surplus.

    Citizens were rightly angry about it, but I’m not so sure about the reforms they adopted. Some of them sound good, like cross-training workers and programs so that departments are not so isolated from each other, and instituting other cross-checking of hiring and expenditures. 

    But the citizens also voted in a city-manager form of government. That is part of the progressive program of the past century or so to replace elected officials with professionals. But the comptroller who committed the embezzlement seems to have been an appointed professional rather than an elected one, so I’m not sure that turning more of the government over to professionals is a good one.

    I wonder if any research has been done into the relative rates of criminal corruption in city manager vs elected-executive forms of city government. Seems to me this would be a topic that @sabrdance would know about.

    • #15
    • January 22, 2020, at 7:50 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  16. EB Thatcher
    EB

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    And was amazed to find Dixie Hwy extends all the way up to the most northern part of Michigan and down to Georgia.

    It goes down into Florida as well. In my area, Daytona Beach it’s called (among other names) Old Dixie Hwy.

    • #16
    • January 22, 2020, at 9:25 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    JoelB (View Comment):

    I always thought the south side of Chicago was the baddest part of town.

    I grew up in South Shore and it was as near paradise as you could find in that climate.

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/49138.html

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/48358.html

    I was driving along yesterday and thinking of my next door neighbor when I was a child, He was Mr Hausler and was the retired VP of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. 

    https://www.gldd.com/

    His house was on two lots and he spent all his time tinkering on his house. He had the first sprinkler system I had ever seen. Not automatic like now but the valves were all in underground stations and he had a long metal rod that turned them on and off. He spent one summer replacing the entire wood fence around his property. The posts were all steel and set in concrete. The wooden slats had several coats of paint. He had a bluebird house that he took down each fall and put up in the spring so sparrows would not colonize it.

    What a lovely neighborhood that was. It is now a violent hellhole. I met the man who now owns the home I grew up in. I felt so sorry for him. He asked me to send him photos of then house when we lived there. He would like a middle class life but it is out of his reach. Michelle Obama grew up in a house 4 doors down but years after we had left.

    • #17
    • January 22, 2020, at 6:37 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  18. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    What?! They changed the name of Dixie Highway?

    I’m not sure. I suppose it was never an official name, but it seems to me the exit used to be identified as such on I-294, and if so, that may have changed. But that could have happened a long time ago without my paying much attention to it.

    My father had a golf driving range on Dixie Highway. Just north of Park Forest.

    • #18
    • January 22, 2020, at 6:39 PM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I have family all over the southwest side from Bridgeport to Oak Lawn. We sprang from Pilsen way back when and have followed the well worn paths immigrants take from that location. These are some people who have felt a connection to The Machine despite my sometimes pleas to some of them who liked talking politics for them to realize that to the extent they were ever served by The Machine, The Machine has long since moved on to embrace identitarianism and progressivism as the means to feeding at the trough of city spoils – which surprise surprise don’t seem as infinite as they once did.

    • #19
    • January 23, 2020, at 10:43 AM PST
    • Like
  20. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret: My dad would say, “I am not turning down a job offer; I am turning down the likely possibility of spending five to ten years inside one of Illinois’ lovelier accommodations at some point in the future.” She would tut-tut at him, showing some disgust. He’d then reply, “I’ve visited people inside Illinois prisons – no amounts of money would make me desire to ever spend time there. Even if we could live a bit high on the hog for some time period prior.”

    Your father was a wise man. Great post, CarolJoy.

    • #20
    • January 23, 2020, at 10:52 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  21. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    I’ve been reading more about the Dixon embezzlement case. SNIP

    But the citizens also voted in a city-manager form of government. That is part of the SNIP

    I wonder if any research has been done into the relative rates of criminal corruption in city manager vs elected-executive forms of city government. Seems to me this would be a topic that @sabrdance would know about.

    Thank you for your analysis of the way the city manager position can go wrong.

    It also is so strange that given how immense city and county budgets are these days, how no regular audits are insisted upon.

    Back circa 2000-2002, the mayor of Fairfax, Calif, one Frank Eggar, decided someone should audit Fairfax. This is a town of 7,600 people or so. (Possibly one of the top psychedelic capitals of the world. A tie dye T shirt is required, if not to be actually worn, but at least to hang in one’s closet.)

    Anyway, people really slammed Eggar over this. “Don’t you trust your colleagues on the city council?” “Don’t you trust department heads?”

    Eggar claimed it was not a matter of trust but accountability. He got the go ahead for the audit, and he also ensured it would be a physical audit.

    The difference between a normal audit & a physical audit is that in the former, the receipts representing accounts payable are matched up with invoice amounts, and then someone examines the balances. Everything is on paper. Period.

    In a physical audit, whatever is bought and paid for is examined. If the dept manager for Parks & Recs claims how 2 years ago, they purchased 6 table tennis tables, someone has to ensure that those 6 table tennis tables were received. That they exist in the rec building for which they were purchased.

    Anyway, according to the physical audit: back in 1991 or so, the city manager for Fairfax was fed up with the city’s phone system. The old phone contract was about to run out. She initiated a new contract with Sprint. Sprint agreed that for an initial payment of abt $ 95,000 they would take over the city’s phone system. Then X amount of phones would be installed with equipment to be maintained under this contract. Sprint would also receive $ 100,000 or so annually for doing this.

    Eggar’s audit indicated that Fairfax Calif had not received so much as a single phone. The city mgr lady, who apparently was also fed up with the lack of pay she got, she took off for a new job elsewhere. And no one was in the loop about Sprint. For close to ten years, the old primary phone contract kept the communication lines going. Yet Sprint raked in almost a million bucks — for Nothing!

    Because of this audit, the city of Fairfax received a reimbursement check representing close to one million dollars. No actual criminality – just horrid carelessness of past city mgr!

    • #21
    • January 23, 2020, at 5:39 PM PST
    • Like
  22. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    I always thought the south side of Chicago was the baddest part of town.

    I grew up in South Shore and it was as near paradise as you could find in that climate.

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/49138.html

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/48358.html

    I was driving along yesterday and thinking of my next door neighbor when I was a child, He was Mr Hausler and was the retired VP of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company.

    https://www.gldd.com/

    His house was on two lots and he spent all his time tinkering on his house. He had the first sprinkler system I had ever seen. Not automatic like now but the valves were all in underground stations and he had a long metal rod that turned them on and off. He spent one summer replacing the entire wood fence around his property. The posts were all steel and set in concrete. The wooden slats had several coats of paint. He had a bluebird house that he took down each fall and put up in the spring so sparrows would not colonize it.

    What a lovely neighborhood that was. It is now a violent hellhole. I met the man who now owns the home I grew up in. I felt so sorry for him. He asked me to send him photos of then house when we lived there. He would like a middle class life but it is out of his reach. Michelle Obama grew up in a house 4 doors down but years after we had left.

    Someone in my Brainerd neighborhood put in sprinklers, and he also configured the lighting so that the water was bedazzled with various colors at night. So pretty. And all that sprinkling business was really innovative – my folks sure hadn’t seen anything like it when they were young.

    During the summers, my mom, sister and I spent so much time at Rainbow Beach over near 79th. It really was a lovely part of the world. It was only when I moved out to California that it dawned on me that the climate in Chicago is basically tropical from May 20th or so on. Lots of humidity, but if you live near the lake, you are swimming in some pleasantly warm waters.

    • #22
    • January 23, 2020, at 5:44 PM PST
    • 1 like
  23. The Reticulator Member

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):
    It also is so strange that given how immense city and county budgets are these days, how no regular audits are insisted upon.

    From what I read about the Dixon case, it looks like the auditor may have been sued and that there was a settlement for a substantial sum of money. I wonder if it should be (or was) a responsibility of the auditor to note the lack of proper controls and cross-checking on the accounts, but I don’t know much about that business. And I haven’t read all the articles about the case, yet. All I read about the lawsuit was the first paragraph or so of a news article.

    • #23
    • January 23, 2020, at 6:27 PM PST
    • 1 like
  24. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    I always thought the south side of Chicago was the baddest part of town.

    I grew up in South Shore and it was as near paradise as you could find in that climate.

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/49138.html

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/48358.html

    I was driving along yesterday and thinking of my next door neighbor when I was a child, He was Mr Hausler and was the retired VP of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company.

    https://www.gldd.com/

    His house was on two lots and he spent all his time tinkering on his house. He had the first sprinkler system I had ever seen. Not automatic like now but the valves were all in underground stations and he had a long metal rod that turned them on and off. He spent one summer replacing the entire wood fence around his property. The posts were all steel and set in concrete. The wooden slats had several coats of paint. He had a bluebird house that he took down each fall and put up in the spring so sparrows would not colonize it.

    What a lovely neighborhood that was. It is now a violent hellhole. I met the man who now owns the home I grew up in. I felt so sorry for him. He asked me to send him photos of then house when we lived there. He would like a middle class life but it is out of his reach. Michelle Obama grew up in a house 4 doors down but years after we had left.

    Michael, what a wonderful story of your early life, as well as a peek into what Chicago was like in the Forties and Fifties. And how sweet it is for you that the statute of limitations has probably run its course for your skipping out on kindergarten. Also, it really is a tale showing how parents were not at all helicopter parents back in the day. With people like your Hug around, parents didn’t need to be.

    Thank you for sharing the photos.

    • #24
    • January 23, 2020, at 9:19 PM PST
    • Like
  25. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    JoelB (View Comment):

    I always thought the south side of Chicago was the baddest part of town.

    I grew up in South Shore and it was as near paradise as you could find in that climate.

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/49138.html

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/48358.html

    I was driving along yesterday and thinking of my next door neighbor when I was a child, He was Mr Hausler and was the retired VP of Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company.

    https://www.gldd.com/

    His house was on two lots and he spent all his time tinkering on his house. He had the first sprinkler system I had ever seen. Not automatic like now but the valves were all in underground stations and he had a long metal rod that turned them on and off. He spent one summer replacing the entire wood fence around his property. The posts were all steel and set in concrete. The wooden slats had several coats of paint. He had a bluebird house that he took down each fall and put up in the spring so sparrows would not colonize it.

    What a lovely neighborhood that was. It is now a violent hellhole. I met the man who now owns the home I grew up in. I felt so sorry for him. He asked me to send him photos of then house when we lived there. He would like a middle class life but it is out of his reach. Michelle Obama grew up in a house 4 doors down but years after we had left.

    Michael, what a wonderful story of your early life, as well as a peek into what Chicago was like in the Forties and Fifties. And how sweet it is for you that the statute of limitations has probably run its course for your skipping out on kindergarten. Also, it really is a tale showing how parents were not at all helicopter parents back in the day. With people like your Hug around, parents didn’t need to be.

    Thank you for sharing the photos.

    As I said, I feel so sorry for the black accountant who was living in the house when I last visited. He had a child and his partner/wife plus a brother living in a basement bedroom he had added where that party room was when I lived there, He wanted that middle class life we had but his neighbors will not let him have it. I spent a lot of time at Rainbow Beach.

    • #25
    • January 24, 2020, at 8:24 AM PST
    • 2 likes