Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:

Political scum comes home: Oak Park and River Forest largely avoid the excesses of venal political rhetoric that continues to scar our body politic. But just a bit slopped over in the closing days leading to Tuesday’s election. In the final days Jim Rowe, Republican candidate for state senate in the 39th District, hand-delivered and used robo-phone-calls to try and slime Sen. Don Harmon.

There was a glossy piece that pictured Harmon sandwiched between George Ryan and Rob Blagojevich as poster boys for corruption. Ryan was labeled as “Convicted.” Blago as “Under Investigation.” And Harmon was slapped with the to-this-moment-legal process of “Seeking Re-Election?!?!.” The slur was to say that Harmon has assisted child molesters in exchange for campaign cash.

Where’s the bottom in all this? How cynical can our politics get? And how much more will voters take before they tune out totally?

That woman, again: I was watching the early evening news on Oct. 24 and saw the flames shooting out of the George Diamond restaurant building on South Wabash. I called our newsroom for two reasons. Our South Loop newspaper, Chicago Journal, was still on deadline and could get the story in the next day’s paper. And because I knew from experience that the owner of the George Diamond/Wirt Dexter/Louis Sullivan landmark building was none other than Lorraine Phillips, also the longtime owner of the Sawyer Business College building that marred Downtown Oak Park (on the Marion Street mall) for decades.

Ms. Phillips is an obstructionist loon. She sat on the empty Sawyer building on Marion Street for years, repelling any serious bidders for the site (including this newspaper) and then fighting the village’s eminent domain efforts through the courts for years after that. When the Journal looked at the building 15 years ago, Phillips took us on a tour of the decaying structure, denying all the while that she owned it. “I represent the owners,” she’d say. Later when we wanted to pursue the discussion, she reluctantly agreed to a second meeting in a back booth at the George Diamond steakhouse. Such a strange meeting, we walked away.

Now she has overseen the destruction of a genuine Chicago landmark as she mismanaged the Louis Sullivan building into ruin. The building, sitting in the midst of an astonishing real estate resurgence all about it, has been vacant since early this year when the city ordered it shut over four major building code violations. Workers using torches to remove a boiler for scrap seemingly caused the unintentional fire. Of course, considering the building’s ownership, it was uninsured.

About those cops: Years back, Oak Park cops would fairly routinely approach a red light, stop, turn on their flashing lights and proceed through the intersection, not in any further rush, or in pursuit of any evil-doers. It was always annoying to me, seeming to be just an obvious flaunting of police power. Somewhere during the advent of community policing, local cops must have gotten the message because I haven’t seen that happen in years.

But now, twice in a month, I’ve seen Chicago police cars pull the same trick right here in Oak Park. This is even more annoying.

Gone camping: Had the privilege of spending three days last week with my daughter’s fifth grade class from Beye School as we went off to Wisconsin for a three-day camping trip. A bit chilly, though the cabins were toasty at night. What a wonderful experience. Good kids, great teachers.

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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...