George Wells’ Memoir – Part 2

Yesterday, McHenry County Blog started a multi-part review of the memoir of former Mayor George Wells. He called it, “It’s That Way Everywhere, George.”

Here’s the second installment. (If anyone else who has read it would like to give his or her take on the book, just email it to me and I’ll put it up. I’m sure different parts will intrigue different people.)

Wells bemoans what he clearly considers a sell-out by Crystal Lake Park Board Commissioners Candy Reedy, Dave Phelps and Jim Orkfitz, all of whom won election with his support as Wells was leaving the park board. They “cleaned out all the professionals.”

Much later, he offers this amusing opinion:

“The Crystal Lake Park District is still operating in the Neanderthal Age—no disrespect intended for the Neanderthal people.”

Wells even comments on the convention center and sports center, concluding that a largely unidentified group of “decision-makers” will make sure that it happens.

The “we decision makers” comment was made by Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Exec Bob Blazier at a meeting Wells attended as mayor. The “decision makers” apparently consisted of Blazier and his friends, Wells concluded.

During Wells’ term he kept hearing that Crystal Lake city government was hard for business to work with. He asked various people who made the comment to give specifics, but no one would.

Wells concluded that it was a part of a campaign to get rid of City Manager Joe Misurelli.

[Let me suggest that two people in my precinct would have been happy to provide specifics. One was a mover and shaker at Black Dot. He told me that it was cheaper to build a new facility in Freeport than to build a parking lot in Crystal Lake. Another from the late 1980’s told me he was moving his factory from Crystal Lake to Richmond because of problems he had with city officials.

[But, of course, Wells did not know of either of those instances.]

Wells proudly reports that city staff enforced city codes.

One day, Wells writes, he

“received a call from the president of a well-known national chain of restaurants. This gentleman wanted to know if we could get together and talk. I asked him what he wanted to talk about. He told me that he just wanted to meet me and find out, in effect, how things worked in Crystal Lake. I told him that both of us were very obviously busy and that I did not think we needed to get together because I could tell him in two minutes over the phone how we operate. I told him it was very simple. We had regulations, zoning, and codes and we adhered to them….That was the last I heard from him until the grand opening of the facility.

“At the festive opening of the restaurant I was approached by one of the executives of the corporation, and he told me that they really felt good about being in Crystal Lake because they had a clear understanding that they had to comply with all the rules and they were sure that everyone else had to do the same thing and this, in their opinion, assured them that the local government was honest and sound, which made their investment in Crystal Lake a good business decision.”

Wells also related how when he and his wife went out to eat, after the meal, restaurant owners often offered to let them eat for free.

“I had to explain to them that I did not accept gratuities such as that. The thought crossed my mind as to what might have been the policy in the previous administration, since this little episode happened so often.”

Part 3 Sunday


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