I am a Yid. I like to rock. Veitur!

- [ Tuesday, September 28, 2004 ] -
Succah: Yes, but no. Maybe.
The hobby condo complainers caused no problems last night. I was able to address all their concerns to satisfaction. The well-meaning but bureaucratic-to-a-fault condo board is another story.

First, I will give you a very short version of some third-hand condo history. There are about eighty units in the building. The building was predominantly older people. Now there is a stream of young, frum couples moving in. There used to be an evil condo-board from the older crowd that acted unilaterally and ruled the condo with an iron fist. Due to a cell-phone tower, some bad science, lawyers and a petition, the evil board was ousted. A new, mostly young and frum board took its place. This new board is very timid, and wants to keep everything straight and on the up-and-up. They fear being ousted with the same ease as the previous board.

Back to the succah. At the meeting last night, the decision came down to a yes. But only on the condition that the condo is covered at no cost for any additional liability.

Wonderful! Start building the sukkah! Not quite. We have to satisfy everyone's version of liability. In legal terms, unlike mathematical terms, there is no difference between probable and possible.

The fact is there is no additional liability. We (my wife and I) already have coverage for all liability. The fact that we will have a succah up for ten days (nine days, now) doesn't increase the liability. With no change in insurance policies, everything is covered.

We changed our policy. We added the condo-board, the management company, and all affected parties with a rider. Now the building is covered even for legal fees that might come up in lawsuits from the sukkah.

The coverage is there.

The board needs to have the building's lawyer to look at a piece of paper with the new insured's names on it. For $145/hour. At our expense. Maybe it'll be fifteen minutes, maybe it'll be three hours. They want a blank check, without giving any estimate.

It ends here. We've done all we can do. We are Jewish, so we know at least a handful of lawyers who can look at this professionally for nothing. My wife works at a law firm that exclusively handles the cases of a large insurance company. She has all the connections, knows many lawyers, and has extensive knowledge of this particular area of liability coverage. We can certainly find a dozen ways to show the board that the building won't be liable for any damage resulting from our succah.

There are many ways to see that we can build a succah legally, with complete protection from liability for the building. Some of these ways say that we don't need any additional coverage at all. One of the ways say that we can build a succah, and if the board doesn't like it, they can issue us a paper that will tell us to take it down in thirty days (of course, they would have to vote on it). There are a few ways to see that maybe some people might not be 100% satisfied.

Almost every person on the board told me that they don't have a problem with it, but just to cover their own asses, it's forbidden without this lawyer's consent. We can't issue a blank check. I understand both sides.

My wife, who keeps me on the up and up, and I thank her and God for that, would like for me to follow the strict version of the condo's rules. I can be hot-headed and make poor decisions on my own. But I must follow her wishes and not act out in this case. I'm sure that makes me a better person. That's why I'm not building a renegade succah. That's why the neighbors and condo-board won't be upset with us.

As I'm writing this, there are frantic phone calls and e-mails shooting around to push through the BS and make this decision that everyone already agrees with airtight enough to satisfy everybody.

As it stands now, our friends have stepped up to risk the open-ended lawyer's fee. We are pushing veitur.

I would like to thank MO-Chassid for his professional help and well wishes on this aggravating erev-erev-yontif.

I would also like to thank my amazing wife for all her diligence in the paperwork area and her patience with my insanity (insanity is an explanation, not a defense).

UPDATE (later on 9/28/04): I also forgot to mention that the board actually voted on this last night. I came to the board meeting at the end, and I was told, in the presence of the entire board, that I could build the succah that night (9/27) if I verbally agree to pay the lawyers fees. I fetched my wife from upstairs, and we discussed our terms with the remaining members of the board. At the end of the conversation, the three remaining members couldn't agree on their recollection of the decision, and the decision that they had voted "YES" became a "NO." They voted that I could build it pending a verbal agreement. Then three of them said they couldn't verify what they voted on it.

UPDATE (later on 9/28/04): I'm furious. The lawyer has decided that she has to draft a letter for us to sign. I can't even imagine what strange and new species of BS will evolve from this steaming pile. And I still have several hours to put up a succah, along with my day job and extra errands I have to run before the chag.

UPDATE (later on 9/28/04): The lawyer's letter is running at least $350, paid for by a good friend of ours in the building. I really hate that he has to shell out even one dime. In addition the letter is totally bending him over backwards, in that he has to accept total liability for everything. In the remote chance that something bad, God forbid, happens, he's totally f'ed. He is signing a paper he doesn't fully understand. He's been in the building forever and he just wants a succah. I hate that it went down like this. It's much uglier than I ever wanted it to be. But I should be happy. I got what I wanted. Why do I feel like crap?

UPDATE (later on 9/28/04): We could rent a flatbed and build a succah on that for this cost.

UPDATE (later on 9/28/04): Now I'm just being bitchy. I would feel more comfortable with a $350 bribe. But I've been reminded by the new owner of my succah that we are making Chicago condo history. I'm very thankful for that and very proud.

UPDATE (later on 9/28/04): I've gotten over it. I'm really excited about it.