The day before yesterday and yesterday, I began a too long journey into the past toward a point about Huntley School Board President Shawn Green’s apparent unwillingness to pursue the repayment of money that should not have been paid District 158 employees until after criminal proceedings are completed.
It involved my foray into handing tax protests in cooperation with a young Crystal Lake attorney.
“Who Says You Can’t Pay
Your Taxes Under Protest?”
and put it in all the county papers.
The deal was that the attorney and, I figured, I would take a cut of any successfully protested taxes. I figured that the first year very little money would be made, but in subsequent years there was a possibility of good revenue.
So, I’m playing the role of law clerk and one day right before the August due date for the first installment, I get a call from the Chicago bureau of United Press International.
I was asked my comments about having been sued for practicing law without a license by the McHenry County Bar Association.
To this day I have thankful that my exact comments were not printed.
The week before, the young attorney I had gotten to handle the legal work had backed out under pressure from the bar association. I figured I had enough protest taxes in house to find another to take his place and continued filing the paperwork for more complaints during that last week before the deadline.
The trial attracted the attention of a Mike Royko-like columnist who wrote his column under the pseudonym “Phoenix.” He was published in a mostly non-subscription paper published by Richardson Publications out of Dundee Township. It circulated there, plus Cary, Algonquin, Wonder Lake, probably McHenry and elsewhere.
Phoenix, who turned out to be Northwestern Railroad public relations man and former Wall Street Journal reporter Jim McDonnell, started writing about the “Bar X Gang’s” attacking Skinny. (I was a lot thinner then.)
I found the columns hilarious…probably the only bright spot most weeks while I awaited the trial.
I knew better than to hire a local lawyer. I hired Michael Shakman, who besides being the Shakman of the eventual Shakman decree had been president of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, a reform group in Cook County.
The trial was pretty open and shut.
Had I prepared and filed these tax protest forms?
Was I under the supervision of an attorney?
Well, not all the time.
I think the Judge was Charlie Parker. I know the courtroom used was his, which was located right next to the county treasurer’s office.
In any event, I lost the case, was fined $150, told to hand over my paperwork to attorney Conerty and spent my life’s savings. I’m pretty sure I paid for Shakman’s trip to Greece the next year.
As we sat in my parent’s living room after the verdict with an associate who had graduated from my alma mater Oberlin College a bit before I did, I was as close to wanting to go the barricades as anytime in my life. Had I been an anti-war protester, I’m sure that’s what I would have done.
I thought—whether rightly or wrongly—that I had been done in by the system I had supported all of my adult life.
But, I couldn’t think of anything that needed changing more than the real estate tax system.
Tomorrow, the upsides to losing the case.