Marion Catt likes his neighborhood. It’s near the Minne Monesse Golf Club, east of Grant Park and one mile from the Indiana state line.
As he drives down East 7000N Road, he identifies the owners of houses in his neighborhood — a mixture of retirees and young families.
I joined him early Wednesday morning. The sun was just coming up. And kids were waiting for the school bus.
Despite all that he likes about his neighborhood, one thing perturbs Catt, an 88-year-old retired construction worker who lives alone in a ranch-style house he built in 1978.
Just down the road is a house that has a white vertical sign with black lettering that says, “F---- off.” It leans against the garage and can be seen from the street.
Catt said the sign was put up a couple years ago.
“The neighbors are talking about it,” Catt told me as he drove around the neighborhood. “It’s not a good sign to have.”
I didn’t knock on the door of the house with the obscene sign, figuring the obscene message was equivalent to a “no trespassing” sign.
Catt acknowledged his concern wasn’t the biggest issue, but he said it’s not a good look for the neighborhood, especially with children around. He said he went to the police, but they could not do anything about it. It’s private property, and people have free speech rights.
Still, I cannot blame Catt for his concern. Let’s say you were searching for a house and your top two selections were equal in every way except one had a neighbor with a “F---- off” sign. Which house would you pick?
No matter how salty your language is, I bet you would choose the one without the offending sign. So, is Catt really wrong to object? I don’t think so.
OLIVET HAS SAY
Yes, I understand people get carried away on Facebook and jump on the bandwagon to criticize the latest target. Last week, it was Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais.
The Facebook commentary was in response to our story about an Olivet official who publicly urged the village of Bourbonnais to ban recreational marijuana sales.
One person wrote, “In no way should ONU have any say in city of Bourbonnais business.”
Another chimed in, “Olivet doesn’t pay any taxes but they want to control the community and use the police and fire and snow plowing services for free.”
Yet another said, “Olivet can relocate. KCC can put that campus to use.”
Dozens of other posts carried similar messages.
It is true that Olivet, like all nonprofits, is exempt from paying property taxes. That does not mean nonprofits have an obligation to stay quiet about local issues. In America, we all have a say. No exceptions.
This argument that Olivet is a freeloader holds no water. According to the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County, the college employs 550 people. Those are people who live around here and pay property, income and sales taxes. Much of the student body comes from somewhere else. That means outside money is coming into our community. That’s good for the local economy.
It’s fine to disagree with Olivet on marijuana. That’s what a spirited debate is all about. But it’s wrong to say that Olivet has no right to speak out. It does have that right, and it always should.