A Cow, a Cat, and a Post Office

June/12/2012 16:22PM
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This is a story about a cow, a cat, and a post office. After the Chicago Cows on Parade success, the cows were put up for auction. The proceeds went to the Chicago Art Institute, which I felt was a good cause. I jumped on the auction site and began bidding on three cows. I was called away on business and forgot about the auction. When I remembered, I thought,,oh, oh, I may be the proud owner of three cows, a herd.

Luckily, I was the successful bidder on only one, Kevlar. It was called Kevlar because it was simply sprayed with an inch of Kevlar, the material used in bullet proof vests for soldiers and cops.

When Kevlar was delivered my wife was very unhappy. Kevlar, it seems, is a mix of mustard yellow and olive green, a very unattractive color. The wife declared, “I don’t even want that thing in my yard, it’s ugly. Why did you buy that ugly cow?”

After a lifetime in business, I decided I needed a salvage plan. Besides the cow, I had a 200 lb. block of cement with bolts to mount Kevlar.

The next day, my wife went off somewhere and I went to the local hardware, got spray paint and painted Kevlar black and white like a Holstein. The wife loved it, called the cow blaze and into the garden it went.  Each year I have re-painted the cow with a different theme. This is the 2012 version, Calicow. The model is perched atop the cow.

Last year, Kevlar paid a dividend. The neighbor’s tree crashed down and flattened Kevlar. Snapped her right off at the bolts. Any of the other 299 Cows on Parade Cows I might have bought would have been shredded. Not Kevlar, she lost only a horn and an ear.

In the private sector we learn to be creative, to make lemonade from lemons. A lesson never tried on government.

Which brings me to the cat. We have feral cats in the yard from time to time. We are animal lovers and began to research what should be done about feral cats. The answer, trap  them bring them to the shelter and we will kill them for you. Like scrapping the cow, that seemed very inhumane. My wife did the trapping part, but took them to the local vet and had them spayed and neutered. This cat is just about the last of the feral cats, since none can reproduce.

When you make your next donation to the National Humane Society, just remember how they and ASPCA look after feral cats. Trap them and we’ll kill them for you. Your government at work.

When the government has an ugly cow situation on their hands, how do they handle it? This next story from the Chicago Tribune tells you how they are handling a post office in Geneva, Illinois.

By Kate Thayer, Chicago Tribune reporter

June 11, 2012
Patrons of the post office in west suburban Geneva’s quaint downtown might notice new signs of life, with new paint on the exterior and a restored Depression-era mural inside.

Despite these improvements, the building was held up as a symbol of endangered post offices, cited by a group of preservationists to illustrate their gripe with theU.S. Postal Service’s management of facilities across the nation.

“I think they picked the wrong post office,” Geneva resident Pat Schanz said as she walked near the building last week.

But those close to the issue say the condition of a public building isn’t the only thing that determines its future. After the U.S. Postal Service announced it would study closing some offices, it created a confusing process that has scared off potential buyers in recent years, they say.

“We’re asking for a clear process and timely information,” said Chris Morris, of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Chicago office.

The organization on Wednesday released its 2012 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The list included “Historic U.S. Post Office Buildings,” representing buildings across the country that face uncertain futures. It used the recent history of the Geneva post office, which had been put up for sale and taken off the market, as the prime example of the problem.

The Geneva post office went on the market in May 2009. Soon after, developer Joe Stanton, of Fagans Inc., expressed interest in buying it. Stanton wanted to pay $900,000, lease 2,000 square feet back to the post office, and redevelop the remaining portion into a restaurant and retail space. But the deal never went through.

“There was so much bureaucracy … the project finally imploded based on the sheer weight of minutiae. Their system to get it done was so bad it just made it impossible,” Stanton said. “It was very frustrating.”

Mark Reynolds, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service’s Chicago district, acknowledges that selling post offices isn’t a simple process.

“We just don’t give these buildings to the first person who waves a check,” he said. The organization also wants a developer to agree to preservation guidelines, he said. Now the building is off the market, and the Postal Service’s focus has shifted from disposing of buildings to reducing hours to save money, Reynolds said.

Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns agrees with the point the preservationists are making, noting that an opportunity for redevelopment was lost, and the building’s future remains uncertain.

“Not only was the redevelopment community left with a bad taste in their mouth, but Geneva is now more guarded,” Burns said.

City officials want to keep the post office as a central part of the downtown, ideally as a place for mailing and shipping, or otherwise as a private business such as a restaurant or store, said Ellen Divita, economic development director.

If plans to sell the building resurface, city officials say they want a smoother route for developers.

Noreen Haiduk, a 26-year Geneva resident, was happy to see the “For Sale” sign come down, but she still worries about its future.

“Like everyone else here, I love the post office,” she said. “The (U.S. Postal Service) is still in danger.”

Just remember, a vote for Obama is a vote for more government that can find ways not to sell a building for a million dollars. A vote  for Romney is a vote for someone who might figure out how to save a few cows and cats.

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