It has been a busy summer. We sold our old house (Hoorah!) and bought a new house (in Oak Park). With all the moving, Marsha has really been bossing me around, but I do take instruction well.
As a result of all the distractions, I’m just now catching up on the local news, and there certainly was a lot to catch up on.
I was excited about the Gay Games. It showed to the world that we are an inclusive, tolerant community. I thought we were going to see world-class gay athletes like Sheryl Swoopes, but I’m not so sure that I couldn’t have beaten some of the contestants. There seemed to be a little disappointment that more people didn’t turn out to cheer the athletes, but why would you watch strangers of average ability compete on a hot day? My wife tells me that you’re born gay, so maybe next year we could host the Short Games or the Big Feet Games.
And then there was the continuing saga of the Colt building. How long did it take to build the Taj Mahal? Apparently our trustees are examining various scenarios to restore and renovate this historic building named after the Baltimore Colts. Weird since we live in Chicago, home of the Bears. There were three scenarios presented at a recent board meeting: Scenario A-village invests $10 million and there is a negative return; Scenario B-invest $11.8 million and there is a negative return; and Scenario C-village invests $7.1 million and there is a smaller negative return. How about we restore and renovate the Colt building to be a rutabaga farm or a chinchilla ranch? Both of these proposals would cost a lot of tax-payer dough and would lose money too. I have an idea: Let’s have a do-over on this whole stupid idea.
Another big story of the summer may just impact this Colt building restoration business-the whopping increase in real estate tax bills. As surely as the swallows return to Capistrano every March 19, there is a great outcry every three years following the first tax bill after a triennial reassessment. Residents are stunned that, following successful referenda by the parks, library and high school, their property tax bills went up. Duh. Kind of like Christmas. Mom gets diamond earrings; Dad gets new golf clubs; and the kids get iPods, flat screens and new cellphones, and the family is stunned when they get an astronomical MasterCard bill in January. Like our timely California feathered friends, our leaders have just as predictably responded. Illinois is lousy at funding its schools; all the taxing bodies should have a meeting (that’s the ticket-a meeting!); and the homeowner should be sure he is receiving his exemption. (Just how big an idiot would you have to be to not claim your exemption?) Don’t get me wrong-I don’t understand how tax assessments in the decade have gone up 53 percent while inflation is up only 16 percent, but the current debate and discussion is as tired and tiresome as the inevitable discussion of how cold Chicago is in January.
But better days are ahead because Mr. Tom Barwin formerly of Ferndale, Mich., was unanimously chosen as our new village manager. Tom, according to Mr. Pope, was a “perfect match” for Oak Park. I think they said that about Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett. Oh well. I must admit I’m a little suspicious about Mr. Barwin’s selection. Just how could his selection be unanimous given the history of board acrimony? What’s the deal? Does Mr. Barwin have sublimal soothing powers that make everyone like him? Did anyone else apply for the job? I’ll put my concerns aside for now, and wish him the very best because Lord knows village managin’ ain’t easy.