Monday, January 11, 2016

(Photos) Abandoned homes in the corrupt city of Harvey, Illinois, part two

Three weeks ago I posted my first photographs of abandoned homes in the impoverished and corrupt city of Harvey, Illinois, a south suburb on Chicago.

And Harvey is back in the news, and as I noted in that first entry, that's almost never a good thing.

Yes, that's me in front of the large and fancy "Welcome to Harvey" sign on the corner of Dixie Highway and Sibley Boulevard (Route 83). I live in Morton Grove, Illinois, which has a similar population, and we somehow struggle along with wooden "Welcome" signs.

Eric J. Kellogg has been Harvey's mayor since 2003--at the very least you can say that his time in office has been troubled.

Harvey has been flouting state law for several years by not submitting its financial records to an independent auditor.

This burnt-out asphalt brick frame home is on US Route 6--159th Street.

On Fox 32 Sunday yesterday morning political reporter Mike Flannery ran a story about Harvey. "It has the highest effective property tax in Cook County of any town," Flannery said, "and the mayor--Eric Kellogg and his administration--have declined to document just where all that money is going to be spent."

Here is Flannery's report.

In that prior Harvey post, I reported that Harvey's City Council refused to approve Kellogg's property tax levy. Cook County Clerk David Orr, a Chicago Democrat, says he won't collect those taxes, which are estimated to be worth $13 million.

Most of Harvey is in Thornton Township. In the last presidential election, 87 percent of the vote went to Barack Obama--the highest percentage of any Cook County township.

Scrubby trees are growing in the courtyard of the vacant Vail Apartments.

In his report Flannery said that Harvey's comptroller will run out of cash some time this year. Meanwhile, Kellogg is threatening to lay off half of the city's police force.

Nature is slowly reclaiming this home on Leavitt.

This is what the Chicago Tribune said about that police force in 2014:
The Tribune found that Harvey has the highest violent crime rate among hundreds of Chicago suburbs — yet few arrests. The [Tribune] series also detailed shoddy police work, not surprising given the questionable backgrounds of many of the suburb's sworn officers.
Here is the link to the entire 2014 Tribune Harvey series. And here is a Trib rundown of Harvey cops with dubious records including Kellogg's brother who was a plumber before being hired as a part-time cop.

This brick craftsman house at 262 W. 148th Place doesn't look too awful...

...but looks are deceiving. That's the home's flooded basement.

Back to the Tribune:
Who's been providing oversight, meanwhile, over Harvey's reckless mishandling of taxpayer dollars? Nobody, that's who. Harvey hasn't submitted its outside annual audit to the state comptroller's office for four years running. State comptrollers could have sent in auditors themselves and billed the city, but didn't.

Those audits could have found, as the Tribune did, that Harvey was overspending its budget, skipping its pension payments, failing to pay its bills, piling on debt and spending millions on risky development deals. Harvey's long-term debt is $50 million; its outstanding water bill with the city of Chicago is $18 million, which is roughly what the suburb brings in each year in taxes and fees.
An abandoned Dixie Highway gas station.

More from the 2014 Tribune article:
Billing himself as a reformer, Kellogg ousted the incumbent mayor in 2003. He quickly stacked the city payroll with relatives and rehired police officers who had been removed for wrongdoing. A spike in violent crime led state and county investigators to raid the police headquarters early in 2007, seizing records on unsolved crimes.

An abandoned alley north of 159th Street. City services are poor in Harvey.

In addition to being mayor, Kellogg is also the assistant superintendent of School District 152.

A shuttered JJ Fish and Chicken on Sibley--just a couple of blocks east of the "Welcome to Harvey" sign.

Here's another abandoned brick craftsman.

If Harvey runs out of money in 2016--don't expect a rescue because the state of Illinois is in the seventh month of a budget standoff. And that means we may soon see Illinois' first Mad Max-style lawless city.

If that happens, as he did with Englewood in Chiraq, perhaps Spike Lee will make a movie about Harvey.

Earlier post:

(Photos) Abandoned homes in the corrupt city of Harvey, Illinois


Anonymous said...

Let me venture a history.

Blacks move in

Whites move out

Blacks elect blacks to "run" the city

Rampant nepotism and crime ensue

Businesses all but abandon the city

Drug use, welfare and crime skyrocket

Taxes increase insuring almost total abandonment by producers

That about cover it? Rinse, lather and repeat nationally.

Anonymous said...

Please excuse me if I say "Let it rot." Harvey is getting the government it voted for.


Unknown said...

Squalor....that sums it up....

Cal Skinner said...

Time for state government to have the authority to take over a city's administration in cases like this.

Anonymous said...


Former Resident said...

It was on the ballot and it passed there term limits in Harvey

Anonymous said...

What's sad is that I was born in this town, my father, my grandmother, my great grandmother etc settled this town at the turn of the century. Harvey used to be a beautiful place until the the 60s and 70s. It breaks my heart that this town has fallen into decay like this.

Sam Lowry said...

I don't live anywhere close to Harvey. In fact I live in Vancouver. I just heard about this town on NPR this morning. The reporter grew up in Harvey and returned there to see a very different town. Sad to see Decay like this.

Unknown said...

Born and raised in this town. Was a great place to grow up my street was 145th and Green my old house and block look great its weird how some are vacant lots and boarded up homes. Then some parts look nice. we have a Harvey Daze every year in Sept if you grew up , went to school,worked in HARVEY YOU A WELCOME.We had 675 people come this year. And no we dont have it in Harvey to dangerous. its a shame what happened to our little city.