Judge: Let ex-Cicero president work on house without police interference
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporter September 12, 2013 9:04PM
The home of former Cicero Town President Ramiro Gonzalez has been half-built for years, after the Town of Cicero halted its construction in 2005. | Becky Schlikerman/Sun-Times
Updated: October 15, 2013 7:14AM
The red-brick home with a stone tower in the front has sat half-built in Cicero for about eight years.
The home’s owner, an ex-town president, said his political enemies wanted to run him out of town and wouldn’t let him finish the house.
Then the town sought to demolish the house because it said it was unsafe.
The house has been empty, boarded up and surrounded by weeds for so long that kids in the neighborhood think it’s haunted.
But it appears one of the largest homes in town will likely remain standing.
Cook County Judge James Gavin ordered on Wednesday that Ramiro Gonzalez and his wife should start to do some work on the home. The judge also ordered the town — and he pointed specifically to its police department — not to interfere as the couple install a chain-link fence, pump out water from the basement, remove mounds of dirt from the property and remove weeds.
Gonzalez’s attorney said this means his client will one day be able to complete the construction of his home.
“After eight years of experiencing dictatorial tactics in Cicero . . . they’re now able to finish their dream home and move in,” said Gonzalez’s attorney, Tony Peraica.
Ray Hanania, a spokesman for Cicero, said in an email the town is “glad” Gonzalez will be cleaning up the property, which was “demanded” by the town. But he pointed to the judge’s order that says Gonzalez won’t be able to do any other work than what’s specified in the court document.
The ordeal started in 2005 just weeks after current Town President Larry Dominick beat Gonzalez in that year’s election. Dominick and other town agents issued a stop work order on the home’s construction, and they also issued more than 500 tickets — totaling in excess of $100,000 — and Gonzalez was denied building permits, according to a lawsuit filed this year and Peraica. A year earlier, when Gonzalez was running the town, he was told his plans were in compliance with the town’s rules, according to the lawsuit.
Gonzalez said it was an effort to run him out of town and make it difficult for him to challenge Dominick in the next election. They also targeted his brothers, Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez filed a federal lawsuit in 2006, but a judge last year ruled in the town’s favor. Hanania pointed to that lawsuit and said “Mr. Gonzalez’s claims about political retaliation were made in a lawsuit filed against the town which was dismissed in its entirety by a judge for lack of merit.”
After that, Cicero sought to demolish the two-story home that spans three lots claiming it was “dangerous, unsafe, abandoned, and a general nuisance,” court records show.
Gonzalez filed a lawsuit earlier this year seeking to stop their efforts.
On Wednesday, as far as Peraica and Gonzalez are concerned, the judge determined “the construction will go on” they said.
The judge is going to monitor the progress made on the house to avoid “further abuse,” said Peraica, a former Cook County commissioner who once was a Dominick ally.
Gonzalez said he plans to finish the home and eventually move in.
After all, he and his wife had planned to move in before their daughter was born.
She’s now 8 years old.