Part 5: Cheap Living in Cook County Nature Preserves!

October 30, 2012

Located just forty miles Northwest of Chicago, Illinois, there are three houses in which one can live CHEAP, if one is lucky to be picked!, located in the Village of Barrington Hills in the Crabtree Nature Preserve.

These Crabtree Nature Preserve’s houses are three of the forty houses located within the 68,000-acre Cook County Forest Preserve System where one can live Cheap, if one is so lucky to be picked!

Note the words, “lucky to be picked”.

These three houses are inside the Barrington Hills Crabtree Nature Preserve, site of the July, 2007 largest marijuana ‘grow’ of over 38,000 marijuana plants. There are common administrative details procedures in place which apply to all the 40 houses in the 68,000-acre Cook County Forest Preserve District.

All 40 homes are rented CHEAP, and the people staying there are lucky, all must be very well known by at least one Chicago politician, and these renters are not necessarily working for the Preserves as “Watchmen”!

Moreover, at the trial of the two arrested Crabtree Nature Preserve Mexican workers, were the renters living in the three houses on the Crabtree Nature Preserve ever asked to testify that they heard or saw or smelled anything as the marijuana fields were cleared, planted, irrigated, maintained, and gasoline was trucked in for water pumps to run Honda electrical generators?

What about the activity in the process of resupplying Mexican food and Mexican beer on a regular basis for the Mexican workers, which must have numbered more than the two Mexicans who were captured?

It is politically correct to refer to the men as “Mexican workers”, because at their trial both non-English-speaking men admitted to having lived in Mexico where they were recruited to work in the Barrington Hills Crabtree Nature Preserve.

Perhaps it was decided that recruited Mexican workers would “fit in nicely” with the undocumented Mexicans already living nearby in Barrington, Carpentersville, Elgin, Palatine and throughout the entire Sanctuary State of Illinois?

(A future article will address if Rangel and Verra revealed the name of their Mexican drug kingpin? Also, who, if anyone they might have trusted in the Barrington Hills Crabtree Nature Preserve Marijuana Operation, as Rangel, Verra and others prepared and cultivated the eleven ‘grow’ sites and waited for food and other supplies to be replenished with regularity.)

BOTTOM LINE: The Rent was and still is very low as the people living there are not necessarily working for the Cook County Preserves to help defray the housing breaks they are receiving.

Before April 4, 2012, the monthly rent to live as a resident in a Cook County home per month was only: 1.) $240 for a Residence attached to a Cook County Preserve; 2.) $240 for a residence adjacent to a Cook County Preserve; 3.) $480 for a Free-Standing Residence!

On April 4, 2012 the Cook County Forest Preserve Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance http://www.fpdcc.co1/), but the monthly rents are still very, very low : 1.) $468 for a Residence attached to a Cook County Preserve ; 2.) $585 for a Residence Adjacent to a Cook County District Facility ; and 3.) $702 for a Free-Standing Residence.

The ordinance further called for a review of Rental Agreements every two-years, with any monthly rental increased by changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Shouldn’t any rent evaluation instead be based on data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and area Realtors?

If Cook County pays the utilities, maintenance, outside landscaping, snow plowing, etc., the renters are even more lucky!

Should taxpayers continue to accept that Chicago politicians pick who are the lucky ones to rent the forty houses which already stood on property acquired by the forest preserve?

Thirty-seven years ago on March 9, 1975, an article in the Suburbanite Economist questioned the Cook County Preserve’s reserve long standing policy of letting some of its employees live in the preserve at a very low rent.

The charge at the time was that those fortunate enough to be assigned one of the homes were enjoying a low rent existence at the expense of the common taxpayer and that it took political clout to get them. The article advised the County board to take a look at the rents and the service performed by the Watchmen and make adjustments.

Fast forward to an article published by the Chicago Sun-Times on December 7, 2003, Wallets of pols’ pals are greenest things in preserve, where a similar question was posed: Is the mission of the Cook County Forest Preserve “to hold and preserve land” in its natural state for future generations or to hold and preserve jobs for politicians? Related was how the Cook County Forest Preserves over the years has hired political loyalists at the lower ranks and ex-elected officials at the higher ranks.

The Sun-Times analysis of the Forest Preserve payroll found that most top-paying jobs — $80,000 and higher — had been awarded to politicians and the politically connected, not to experts in forestry or natural resource management.

Salaries are paid out of the Cook County Budget, not out of the Forest Preserve Budget!

The lengthy Sun-Times article further enumerated numerous examples of job patronage. Noted was how John Stroger, County Board President at a salary of $170,000, named the sheriff’s officer assigned to be his bodyguard and driver, Richard Waszak, as the new police chief for $82,000, after two Forest Preserve police employees were charged in a payroll fraud scheme (Of interest is that the name of Richard Waszak appears with frequency in Parts 1 – 4 of this writer’s continuing series of Local Citizen blog posts relative to the 2007 marijuana find in the Crabtree Cook County forest preserve.).

In regard to Stroger hiring relatives, friends or political allies for county jobs, Mayor Richard Daley’s brother, John Daley, who was the County board Finance Committee Chairman at the time, “vouched that Stroger makes sure all hires had the necessary credentials”.

Emmett Burke, son of prominent Chicago Alderman, John Burke, and his wife who is a Judge, was hired in 1997. Emmett lived in a CHEAP rental house inside the Spring Lake Forest Preserve in Barrington Hills.

Emmett Burke died at about 3:00 A.M. on January 31, 2007 at the age of 30, riding on a gravel access road normally of limits to snowmobiles near his home within the Spring Lake Forest Preserve in the early hours of the morning, when he veered off the road and struck a tree.

A 9/11 call was made at about 3:45 A.M. by an unidentified man riding another snowmobile with Emmett. At this early hour of the morning, the 911 call was picked up by the Barrington Hills Police Department, who contacted for Cook County Forest Preserve District, which has jurisdiction. Emmett Burke was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:30 A.M.

Richard Woszak recounted during Emmett Burke’s Memorial Service that Emmett started in the Cook County Forest Preserve as a patrol officer, working his way up after serving with the canine unit and the search rescue unit. Upon his death, Emmett Burke ranked third in the Cook County Forest Preserve’s Chain of Command as Deputy Chief of Police helping to oversee a staff of 86 personnel.

A medical examiner’s spokesman said he did not know if alcohol was involved as no results were available.

Was Chicago politics involved in that no autopsyy report was revealed to learn if Emmett and/or his friend were on drugs or alcohol at 3:00 in the morning, and who else was at the scene?

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office would only say that Emmett Burke’s death was ruled an accident, nothing else, but wouldn’t taxpayers have been told more if Emmett had been a common citizen who died this way at 3:00 A.M. in the morning?


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