No, Ernest Hemingway never said that his home town of Oak Park, Illinois, was a burg of broad lawns and narrow minds.
What might he say of them now that the village is suing a former property owner for failing to make repairs to a home that the Oak Park Fire Department caused?
James Bogard hopped on the real estate investment train just before it derailed. Stuck with an investment property he couldn't flip, he took an offer from a developer and thought he'd gotten out from under without too much damage to his fiscal health.
Alas, the developer bought it for a tear-down and promptly turned the empty house over to the Oak Park Fire Department so that they could use the house for training purposes. The building was coming down anyway, so why not let the firemen get some much needed practice in venting, rescue, and the rest.
Double alas for Mr. Bogard. The deal fell through---after the fire department had put gaping holes in the roof, punched holes in the walls, and filled the place with smoke to replicate a fire.
As proof that no good deed goes unpunished, the Village of Oak Park sued Mr. Bogard, insisting that he as the homeowner had to fix the place up. And not even a letter of thanks from the firemen who reaped the benefit of trashing the place.
The case has been dragging on for the past three years, with Mr. Bogard pointing out the fact that the fire department is at fault for the damage. Shouldn't they have run a quick title search to verify that the developer who gave them access to the house was actually the owner before taking an axe to the roof?
Mr. Bogard is suing the Village, seeking compensation for the damage and a removal of the fines that the Village levied against him for those same damages. He'd like the Village to make good on his losses, which include the inability to rent the house when he couldn't sell it. Considering the fact that the fire department made the structure uninhabitable, it's a fair claim.
Village officials aren't talking, but what can they say after pulling such a bone-headed manuever?
How about, sorry, forget the fines, please go away and stop calling attention to a case of bureacracy run wild. It distracts from the town's elite position as the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway.