Friday, October 8, 2010

'I wanted that kid to lose sleep that night'

So, you want to know what an asshole looks like but you don’t have the Gumby-ness to arch straight back and see for yourself? Fear not. Fridays With Shane feels your pain and has thoughtfully provided a photo:

His name is Constance “Connie” Xinos. He's a lawyer who lives in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook. He likes to dump on little girls who go to village board meetings to protest the layoffs of their favorite librarians.

Hence, “asshole.”
Here’s the story, from columnist Burt Constible, in the Oct. 2, 2009, edition of the Daily Herald, a daily newspaper covering the suburbs of Chicago, and which also provided the photos of the lawyer and the library dome. As of this week in 2010, the library is still standing and the good people of Oak Brook are still checking out books. So Mr. Xinos hasn't yet won:
- - -

Telling her mother that she wanted to come to the aid of a library under attack, 11-year-old Sydney Sabbagha stood at the podium before the Oak Brook village board.
"I used to go to the library knowing there were people there to help me find a book. Now there is no one to help me," Sydney said solemnly. "It will never be the same without the people you fired."
Sydney nestled back into her seat, but that didn't stop 69-year-old criminal attorney Constantine "Connie" Xinos from boldly putting her in her place.
"Those who come up here with tears in their eyes talking about the library, put your money where your mouth is," Xinos shot back. He told Sydney and others who spoke against the layoffs of the three full-time staffers (including the head librarian and children's librarian) and two part-timers to stop "whining" and raise the money themselves.
"I don't care that you guys miss the librarian, and she was nice, and she helped you find books," Xinos told them.
"Don't cry crocodile tears about people who are making $100,000 a year wiping tables and putting the books back on the shelves," Xinos smirked, apparently referencing the fired head librarian, who has advanced degrees and made $98,676 a year. He said Oak Brook had to "stop indulging people in their hobbies" and "their little, personal, private wants."
Sydney was upset and "her little friend was in tears" after Xinos spoke at the meeting last week, says mom Hope Sabbagha.
"I wanted that kid to lose sleep that night," a grinning Xinos says Wednesday, as he invites me for a nearly two-hour interview in his Mercedes-Benz in the gated Oak Brook community where he lives. "This is the real world and the lesson, you folks who brought your kids here, is if you want something, pay for it."
Xinos, who unsuccessfully sued to stop the building of the new library, which opened in 2002, sits on one side of the issue. He lost his election bid to be a village board member, but has been president of his home association since 1983 and worked to elect board members who agree with him about the library.
On the other side sits Barbara Benezra, the longtime president of the Friends of the Oak Brook Public Library, who considers the library "my third child."
"This is the heart of the village," Benezra says as she tours the library and surrounding gardens under a sign sporting a Cicero quotation reading, "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."
"We don't have a grocery store," Benezra says. "We have this."

The dome of the Oak Brook, IL, Public Library. Attorney Connie Xinos wants users to take over paying for it from their own wallets, or have it closed down.
While Benezra acknowledges the need for some budget cuts at the library, given the recession, she says, "There's always been a faction of this town that's been anti-library."
The librarians, who stereotypically remain hushed for this story, obviously feel a bit threatened. They have turned to the Teamsters for some labor help.
Teamster librarians in Oak Brook? Mercy.
"We get good contracts for all kinds of professionals," says Brian Rainville, executive director of Teamsters Joint Council 25, which oversees 100,000 Chicago-area Teamsters, from pharmacists to zoo keepers.
"They have given us petitions," Village Manager David Niemeyer says of the Teamsters. "Assuming they do become certified, we'll have to negotiate with them."
Other village employees are unionized and the village works out contracts with them.
"Everybody thinks Oak Brook is rich and has all kinds of resources, but we don't," Niemeyer says. "Oak Brook has very low taxes and that's a point of pride in this town."
Begun as a volunteer effort in 1961 with donated books, the library occupied a small space in village hall until it moved into an old school two years later. It stayed there until the village built the new library.
The library is a village department funded by the general fund, same as the police, fire department and public works. It has no taxing power. Its budget comes from the village, and much of that money comes from sales tax, as there is no property tax. And sales at the mall and other businesses are down.
"We're probably going through what a lot of towns are going through," Niemeyer says of the budget cuts. "None of these things are easy."
It's not complicated for Xinos.
"You may like the library, but when you call 9-1-1, you want a policeman or a fireman before someone to tell you where the books are in the library," says the man who has talked of privatizing, outsourcing or even closing the library.
"I understand that my philosophy is conservative," Xinos says, adding that government just needs to catch bad guys, put out fires, fix the streets and make sure buildings are sturdy.
He campaigned, successfully, against a plan to bring subsidized housing for seniors into town by declaring, "I don't want to live next to poor people. I don't want poor people in my town."
A poor kid who grew up in Berwyn and worked in his dad's cafeteria in Chicago, Xinos went to law school and served in the Marines. Xinos says he speaks for Oak Brook's view of the Teamsters when he says, "Nobody here likes those kind of people."
Xinos, who says he never had children in part because he wasn't sure he'd be able to support them, sprinkles the F-word throughout his conversations. He dismisses a recent library event involving dogs with a blunt three-word rant in which he bookends swear words around the word "that." (Shane’s note: newspaper policies against swearing in print don’t apply to me. He said, “Fuck that shit.”)
That attitude doesn't represent the silent majority in Oak Brook, who support the library, Benezra says.
"There's been no discussion on the village board about closing the library," Niemeyer notes. "There is great pride in our library. We have an outstanding library."
Shane’s take: An amazing philosophy  from a guy who doesn’t pay a dime in property taxes for the library—or for any other public services he enjoys. Yep, Oak Brook residents are blessed with the presence of a huge regional mall—Oak Brook Center—and a number of other businesses. The city budget, from cops to firefighters to libraries to painting the yellow stripes on the pavement, is funded by sales taxes collected from retailers. So Connie pays not a dime in property taxes for all the privileges he enjoys. Which is why he should just shut up.


Awright, awright, Gabi's right. I suavely tapdanced out of answering last week's question: Who Would I Do If I Weren't True? 

So, these are the Lovelies on my secret list. Well, the celebrity knockouts, anyway. Note there are no young'uns. Why? Young folks don't know nuthin'. To attract The Shane, they gotta have some livin' in their loins, some deep hot coals in their souls, a way lotta smarts in their attics and a sway in their hips that kids just can't pull off cause they haven't lived. The lady on my list can talk about everything cause she's been there and done that. And, she laughs at my jokes, and I at hers, because we both know the reference. Humor's at the top of my must-haves in a Lovely. 

As for any non-celebrity (i.e., normal) ladies who might or might not be on my list? You'll never know. Because a true gentleman never tells ...

Elizabeth Montgomery. Samantha in "Bewitched," her perkiness and sensuality-under-the-Mom-clothes look still makes my--ah, nose--twitch.

Kellie Martin. Cuter than hell as a young'un, only got better into her 30s and 40s. Yum!

Grace Kelly. Before she became Princess Grace, she was a terrific actress. Well, terrific looking anyway, with a tremendous poise and style that makes my heart go pittie-pat. 

Evangeline Lilly. Kissable even eating bugs on desert islands. 

Catherine Bell. The female JAG officer on the show of the same name, I'd salute her day or night. 

Jennifer Love Hewitt. All right, all right, one woman under 30 made the list. How could she not with that smile? Well, not in this photo. This one shows her other, uh, winning attributes. But trust me, she smiles like a champ.

And finally, Catherine Deneuve. For those who know, no explanations necessary. For those who don't, no explanations suffice. 


Oh, right, today's question: What's the trash-tabloid headline for my protagonist? Well, police detective Emily Thompson, fearless slayer of the serial killers who are hunting her, is my protag, and the paparazzi sure do like her, blowing things up as she does. So, her National Enquirer headline: 


When Shane Gericke isn't mooning over the newest female host on The Weather Channel, he's writing thrillers like TORN APART. Visit him at 


TracyK said...

I think I will goes as that a-hole for Halloween. What a creep!
And this just makes me laugh, but my word verification today is "noogrine"
Maybe that can be a future topic - come up with definitions for you word verification?

Shane Gericke said...

Yep, Tracy, he's a creep, all right. He shudders at the thought of spending even a dime on the community at large. Basically, he wants to pay taxes for police, fire and streets, and everything else should be paid out of pocket by users. If they can't afford it, tough shit.

He probably loves that story a few days ago, where a fire chief ordered his crew not to put out a man's burning house because the man forgot to pay his $75 annual fee for fire service. House burned to the ground with the firemen standing there watching. Though they did put a hose on the house next door (which had paid the fee) to make sure it didn't catch fire. This is, of course, compassionate conservatism.

Connie's latest outrage was telling the Oak Brook village board that they should fire one firefighter a month until the union agrees to slash its pay, pensions and benefits ... cause ol' Connie thinks they're vastly overpaid. (Which they aren't.)

Where does America come up with these idiots??

Noogrine. That's a cool word. Maybe it's when you feel a new migraine coming on ...

Or not :-)

TracyK said...

They let the house BURN? Dear God - what the hell is wrong with those people? They are all giving me a noogrine!

Meredith Cole said...

Hope the town doesn't let him bully into cutting library service, Shane. We can't afford not to have free libraries. Or fire service. Sigh.

I like your tabloid headline, BTW.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

He was proud of making a little girl cry and taking away her books. Wow. The scary thing is that he seems to have so much power in the community and no one's really busting him. No libraries? Burning the books and houses of those who can't afford to pay? Terrible.

I notice a lot of cute blondes with cleft chins in your list Shane. What about Saffron Burrows?

Shane Gericke said...

I actually prefer brunettes and redheads best, Rebecca! But so many celebrities are blonde with cleft chins, alas. What's a guy gonna do?

Shane Gericke said...

Saffron Burrows. The name alone intrigues me ...

Shane Gericke said...

So far, Meredith, the village is resisting very well. Most of the council thinks the guy's an idjit. Unfortunately, as head of a homeowners association in a very well to do town, he does have some influence. Not enough, though, to do much of anything except be windy.

Shane Gericke said...

The burn-the-house-down thing wasn't in Oak Brook, it was in some other down down south, just a few days ago. It was a perfect illustration of what I find wrong with "everyone on his or her own" mentality.

The town didn't want to pay for a fire department, so they turned it over to a private fire service. Fee: $75 a year for anyone who wanted fire protection. Those who pay get protected. Those who don't, fuck 'em--let the house burn down.

In this instance, the guy simply forgot to pay the bill. He'd paid the two years prior, just forgot. He even told the 911 operator he'd pay immediately, he forgot, just put out the fire, and the chief refused: pay up or burn down. I thought was an outrage, and I would have had the chief arrested.

But then again, he's not a public servant. Some things simply cannot be left to private enterprise. Not if you want a true community. Which is why people like Connie disgust me so. Get sick? Can't pay the bill? Die. Being attacked? Can't have your own security guard? Die. Can't buy your own books? Don't read. Makes me ill.

Gabi said...

I'm sorry I wasn't at the Oak Brook library board meeting. Anyone who doesn't celebrate an 11 year old taking a stand and doing something scary in support of it is just the sort of person I like to meet in a public place. Long ago I learned that being loud, incisive and personal in that setting means all his little minions will never look at him again without hearing your voice and will clearly not make his mistake. I could congratulate him on not polluting the gene pool while suggesting that it wasn't exactly a free choice given his, well, short comings but still a break for the rest of us. I could hum "If I only had a brain" from the Wizard of Oz or I could stand at the podium and talk about all the tax-free benefits he is getting and, since he is not being taxed, suggest that his rant against a child is a community threat that should not go unchecked. Every parent at the school should call him, emaill him at his home and office, even visit him to tell him that adults in Oak Brook don't bully little girls. He wants to be famous, let him. With the truth. And since president of the homeowner's association is an elected position, timely truth would benefit the community.

As for firing one union firefighter a month until the union agrees to alter an existing contract, guess Connie isn't that good a lawyer. That would cost this town far more than the salary of the firefighter which they would ultimately have to pay as back pay anyway.

You do have a varied and interesting "list," Shane. Smart and sassy. Good choices, all. You're smart to keep the I actually know her list on the QT. No sense going death by blog.

Shane Gericke said...

LOL, Gabi. I agree with all of it. He's a bully, and bullies need to be pounded, verbally if not always physically. Your approach on him at the meeting would also be mine--remind him loudly that he does not pay taxes, so what exactly is the ox he's trying to gore? And what standing does he have to bitch about it anyway?

And bullying an 11-year-old? It's reprehensible. But that's what we can expect from this kurrent krop of konservatives who are delighted to take their Social Security, Medicare, and other benefits from the Gubbmints they claim to thoroughly despise. I'd be more impressed if Connie said he paying out of pocket for everything. But guys like him, they never do that, do they?

Fortunately, no one in Oak Brook seems to take him very seriously. Far as I know, nothing he's proposed has been actually passed. And, the blowhardism prompted the librarians to call in the Teamsters Union to organize themselves. Which strikes me as just desserts.

Thanks for the heartfelt writing!

As for my secret Wanna Do list, it makes me a Man of Mystery to my adoring hoard of fans like . . . uh, well, there's Bill over there, and Mersey over here, and . . . uh, I know there's more around here somewhere, where'd they go . . .