My cell phone has a message. It is from Tonya Lamia. She says she and Janyce Fadden, the president of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC), want to get together with me to discuss some things I said in an article a couple of weeks ago in The Rock River Times. I call her back. Am I in trouble? I laughingly ask. She laughs in return. We decide on having a drink after work on the following Tuesday at my place, the Irish Rose.
Tuesday comes, and we sit in one of the window booths. I order the ladies some fried bread (langos), a bread plate (basil pesto, sun-dried tomato pesto, parmesan and olive oil) and our new pan-fried oysters with the tahini sauce. We sit and talk, not just about my mistakes in the article, but about Rockford in general, and where it is going. Tonya has a copy of the article, with all my screw-ups highlighted. I felt like a high school student who had failed, sitting in front of my teacher holding my latest rotten exam.
Janyce is being pretty kind to me since I really got a lot of things wrong in my article. First among them is that Fritz Jacobi is the president of the RAEDC; he is not, Janyce is. He is a director at large of the councils executive committee, although at one time he was the chairman. I am pretty embarrassed by this. The new chairman is David Schertz, an administrator at St. Anthony.
Second, and this is why I didnt know that Fritz was no longer chairman, for a year now I have failed to pay my dues. Since my heart attack last August, someone has been paying my bills for me. Things werent going so well for a while, and I didnt want the extra stress of looking at them. The person who is doing it for me rightly decided to pay things that kept the business going. The Council fell to the bottom, behind things like the rent and the electricity. I should have realized that since I was not receiving Council mailings.
Third, the Council no longer is supporting the Perryville extension. That was a policy implemented by the former head of the Rockford Area Chamber of Commerce, Ryan Petty. My thinking is more in line with the present Councils stance. In other words, when I said I dont know why I am supporting the Council since Ryan is gone, I had it backward.
The surprising thing is that these two women were willing to forgive me. It helped that I have a friend who wants to join the Council. Were all getting together Jan. 23 to do that, and to decide what committee my friend and I might be useful serving on. Were going to Café Greco. That will be before Bernie undergoes his remake.
Café Greco will be closed from Jan. 30 until Feb. 5. The restaurant is going to be totally redecorated a la some television remake show. Sitting at the bar over my rare hamburger without the bun, I laughingly suggest that we line up a remake for Bernie, too, maybe at someplace like 5 Spa. I say we could go over to the Office bar and find five guys to help out. It might prove too confusing for the regular patrons, though. They might not be able to tell what restaurant they were in.
Although I was wrong about Fritzs present involvement with the RAEDC, I still think our daily needs to be recrafted. There are a few bright lights at the daily; among them, Corina Curry, Chuck Sweeny and Greg Newel, and for a while there was an interesting column by Mark Bonne along the lines of this column. I wonder what happened to that?
Mike Leifheits Hanging Out In Rockford reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. These columns are available on his Web site, IrishRoseRockford.com. Leifheit is owner of the Irish Rose restaurant in the downtown River District.
From the Jan. 11-17, 2006, issue