Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:

Laws of unintended consequences: Oak Park moved quickly last year to shut down local massage parlors that effectively front prostitution. Three storefront massage businesses were closed after police stings made clear that legit massage therapy was not taking place.

And then the village board rapidly passed a comprehensive set of regulations for all massage services in Oak Park intended to keep the prostitution rings from seeping back into the village.

Now a year into these regulations longtime Oak Park massage therapists are speaking up, telling the village board they have overreached with regulations that require each therapist to advise each new client that sex services are not provided in their establishments and opening their records to government scrutiny every six months for review.

To their credit, members of the village board did not get defensive last week when challenged by the massage professionals. Instead they directed staff to come back promptly with revisions to the massage ordinance that will be less intrusive to these health-care professionals.

Meanwhile, it appears Oak Park is slogging back into the near hopeless issue of regulating how many dogs, cats, gerbils and chickens are allowed if you live in a house, a two-flat, or condo/apartment.

When last we were mired in this debate in 2004, it took up considerable bandwidth over many months. Indoor cats. Outdoor cats. Total number of critters allowed in a house? Ten, of course. In an apartment? Five is the obvious answer. But, for instance, you can’t heavy up on hamsters. Only two are allowed. You could have two cats who could eat the hamsters. That would change the equation and also bring back many nightmare scenarios from my childhood. 

The good news: have as many fish as you want. No one is counting, except for that cat sitting on top of the tank.

You want the village board to not have time to approve more tall buildings? Get them started on a debate on chickens in the backyard or the precise wording a massage therapist must use to tell a pain-wracked client there’ll be no hanky-panky.

Looks good: As noted regularly, I’m no architect. But the initial renderings of the five-story project being forwarded for Lake and Lathrop look terrific. Mainly because it looks different. The building is white. It would fit in perfectly in Miami — or on Lake Street.

Iman Shumpert: Looking forward to OPRF great Iman Shumpert coming around for a Wednesday Journal Conversation on July 11 at Dominican. These are fun evenings as we invite back to their hometown locals, who have gone into the world to make their names, for an evening’s conversation. Charlie Meyerson is our moderator, as always. 

You can get tickets now at oakpark.com/conversations.

OPRF contract? Blink and it will be July. No sign yet of a contract with faculty at Oak Park and River Forest High School. That hundred million plus in cash reserves is burning a hole in everyone’s pocket. Tough to be frugal when you’re rich. Even if it is taxpayers’ money.

Meanwhile in Evanston: Oak Park and Evanston are frequently compared. That’s a reason I follow news out of Evanston fairly closely via the RoundTable, the town’s independent newspaper, and Evanston Now, an independent digital news source. 

Lately, Evanston has been facing down a $2.9 million deficit in its general fund. It took the unusual step of creating on online survey of residents listing a range of programs and their approximate costs and then asking residents what programs should stay and which should go. 

Top of the to-be-axed pile was Divvy bikes. Fifty-four percent said save the $165,000 cost. Public art and culture projects also took it in the neck. Alley repaving, storefront rehab subsidies, vacation rental permits, and sign inspections were also frowned on. Rounding out the top 10 in Evanston was the annual boat launch dredging.

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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...