It was November. The Development Review Team at Oak Park Village Hall was ready to talk Whiteco. They had summoned Tim Connelly, president of Whiteco Development.

Connelly, who is clearly evil and who represents a company that only wants to rip-off Oak Park taxpayers, entered village hall timidly. He’d been here before. Too many times. Too many public hearings. His red eyes darted from side to side as he ventured down a hallway. He was looking for the wailers, the screamers. He still awoke in the night, sweating, hearing, “You’re stealing my sunshine!” and “God decreed Harlem and Ontario ought to be a parking lot! Who are you?”

He was greeted by a village hall staffer who offered to take his coat, to get him a bottle of water. He knew, though, that in the inside pocket of his cashmere overcoat was the contract, the document signed by his partner, the Village of Oak Park, allowing his company to build the 113-story, oh, only 11-story, apartment building and townhomes in Downtown Oak Park. If he gave up his coat, the staffer would most certainly steal the contract, get the white-out and before noon he’d be committed to building a one-story Swedish smorgasbord with a rooftop Trader Joe’s (applause here as Whiteco-hating Oak Parkers have some sort of Trader Joe’s fetish). Why, they’d probably alter the deal so that instead of getting a gazillion-dollar subsidy from the village, he would actually be paying for the land.

Nooo, he wasn’t giving them his coat and he’d brought his own damned water bottle.

“Where’s Mike Chen?” demanded Connelly, referring to the village official who had crafted the complex agreement with Whiteco. “Tampa,” came the reply from the village hall employee. “When’s he due back?” “Never,” said the staffer.

“Where’s Carl Swenson?” said the now moist Connelly. “He’s going to Arizona. And it’s not a vacation, neither,” said the gloating employee.

“When are you going to start building the extension of the Holley Court parking lot that we agreed to?” said Connelly. “Just yesterday we were talking about the process for getting around to that,” said the staffer.

“No, not a process, not in Oak Park, not again!” said Connelly doefully.

“Now, Mr. Connelly, … may I call you Mister?” asked the staffer. “You might a heard about our election here a few months ago. We got some new ringmasters in town. And they wanted me to ask you, knowing of course that we are partners and that we have a contract and that we promised you a gazillion dollars to build this edifice, they wanted me to ask you if you really wanted to build this edifice or if, maybe, you’d prefer to evaporate. Evaporation is a painless process. Natural really.”

“What if I told you that Mr. Dean White, the owner of Whiteco and a really rich guy, is prepared to call your bluff and sue your oh-so-diverse municipality into ruin!” said Connelly.

“Then I’d say, meeting adjourned, nice to see you, Tim, have a great Thanksgiving. How are the wife and kids, anyhow?” said the staffer. “And if anyone from that pesky newspaper calls and asks, with irony dripping off their jerky voice, ‘So when’s the groundbreaking?’ that we agree to say that we’re still talking, and moving ahead through a process, that there is no timeline of any sort, but that it’s just one heck of a partnership we’ve got going here.”

“Deal,” said Connelly.

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...