The great thing about newspaper endorsement interviews is that they are completely on the record, the candidates are typically a little nervous and, for once, we have something they’d really like: Our endorsement.
So I was in the catbird seat last week when I asked an Oak Park village board candidate if they had heard about the latest batch of dunning letters the village’s California-based parking ticket collection service had just delivered. I am the lucky recipient of two such letters reflecting the village’s attempt to extricate yet another $240 from me. The most recent of these allegedly unpaid tickets/late fees is 19 months old.
The mustiest is three years old this month. We’d also had an e-mail from a reader/parking criminal detailing his plea for mercy cum insanity defense as he protested being assessed late fees on parking tickets he claims to have paid years back. Yeah, I know, every one in parking ticket prison is innocent!
So our squirming candidate actually rolled his eyes and took it when I said, “You do realize that this is the sort of thing that makes Oak Parkers insane about living in Oak Park.” Then he actually did the right thing and said, “Yes, I know it makes people insane.”
The village spokesman told our Marty Stempniak that the village will press on in trying to collect this past due $250,000 (approximate) while also acknowledging that the entire delay is based on – wait now – a software glitch at village hall.
Myself? I’m going to sit on these solicitations to further bankrupt me and wait to see if there is a political solution before the village opts to, as their collection letter suggests, boot my car, suspend my driver’s license, or refuse “to issue, renew or provide any license, permit or permission applied for or requested by you.” I guess this means my cat Jester is going rogue and unlicensed this year.
On the other hand: If I could be convinced that the entirety of the $240 the village is blackmailing me for would be invested in fixing potholes on Pleasant Avenue, I might just pay up. Would have to be cheaper than the two pothole-induced flats I’ve had repaired in the past month.
About the Irish: Funny thing when you write a column suggesting that the local Irish might be prone to a mere handful of vices including drinking and brawling. Had a handful of private correspondence from individuals with Irish surnames who thanked me for my assessment of the tribe. But the letters to the editor, also a handful, concluded that I’m a “sad, angry, little man” and that the South Side Irish lads I went to high school with must have enjoyed beating the hell out of me at every opportunity.
Now that’s an odd conclusion and one that seems to confirm an Irish propensity for brawling since I never said the Beverly Boys beat me up. I said they were obnoxious and sweet. I never got beat up in high school.
Now grade school, that’s a different story. And if I ever see those Irish brothers, the Bertsaws, you’ll see how fast a sad, angry, little man can still run.
All the Buzz: Took in the debate last week at the Buzz Café between the two River Forest presidential candidates. The Oak Park Arts District restaurant was packed for what has been a series of candidate debates for Oak Park and River Forest races. Reminded me again of how intuitively Laura Maychruk’s Buzz reflects and focuses the energy of these villages.
Well, duh: Got a 21 percent price hike on my newly newsless Chicago Tribune home delivery subscription. By way of explanation, the bill reported “Your subscription price includes a fee to partially offset operating expenses associated with delivering to your home.” Seems like the point of a subscription is to get the delivery. Now don’t do me any favors, Tribune.