Joe Lake leaves Chicago but not its political scene -- he dons his cape of justice again


Laughing, Joe Lake said, "Now that I've lost a lot of weight, I realize that I was fat! And, I don't want to gain it back!"

Joe Lake, former Wicker Park and Bucktown resident, has physically crossed Chicago's borders to reside in the northwest suburbs, but he is not leaving the city's political scene anytime soon, he said Sat., Feb. 1. 

His new residence in Des Plaines is closer to his daughter, Melissa, and he will have to do less of the day-to-day chores he did in his Chicago apartment. "More time for the computer," he repeated several times with an ominous tone in his voice. The determined look on his face and the twinkle in his eye translates into, "Oh, boy, Joe is back. Batten down the hatches!" 

Known by many government officials, the FBI and the Department of Justice, Lake donned his cape for justice on his first job after receiving his Master's Degree from the University of Michigan. "They didn't tell us about corruption when we were in school," he explained. 

"But I learned about that pretty quick in my first job, which was writing zoning recommendations at a bi-county planning commission in Maryland. A friend had me see a Congressman. He asked if there was bribery going on. I said 'yes.' An ex-FBI agent, he got the FBI checking and then the Department of Justice came. After a while, there was a string of convictions. 

As he went to other jobs in the East, he discovered illegal actions were going on elsewhere. He went from heading up zoning in a county through being an independent planning consultant. At that point the FBI was practically on his speed dial list. 

He and his family moved to Chicago near the Hancock Center and his children went to Ogden Elementary School. "There was too much crime going on down there in the mid-seventies. It was around the time that the Water Tower Place was going up," said Lake. So they moved to Palatine. 

Lake worked as a realtor and licensed sales agent as well as a loan officer in Palatine until he partially retired. After the death of his wife Jacqueline in 1997, Lake, the father of three, and his daughter were living in a house too big for two people.  

In the Spring of 1998, they moved to the 1700 block of N. Wood St. "She knew about what was happening in the City because she had a boyfriend who lived here and she talked about moving to Bucktown. 'Don't worry Dad,' she said. 'You'll be trendy for the first time in your life!' 

"The backyard was filled with weeds, beer cans and a swimming pool. It took a month to clean it up. That is when I became a gardener and got set up to be on the 2001 Bucktown Garden Walk. 

"By the way, Melissa married the boyfriend, Brian Gallagher, and they had my now 7 year-old grandson, Jackson." 

For several years, Lake worked as a loan officer at CS Financial in Logan Square to be able to care for his disabled son Chris. [At the age of 29 in July 2008, Chris passed away. He was an activist for the disabled and a longtime employee of then Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn.]

After Lake got settled into his new neighborhood, he became involved with the Bucktown Community Organization and then the Wicker Park Committee. Soon he was participating with development and zoning issues as well as what is right and wrong about the process of dealing with them.

Once again wrapped in his justice cape, he worked at changing the committee composition and process of reviewing development and zoning issues. His approach to making those changes did not make him popular among many. 

When Scott Waguespack became a potential candidate for 32nd Ward Alderman, Lake knew the voting record of then Alderman Theodore "Ted" Matlak. The Chicago Tribune studied 10 years of zoning changes to show how real estate interests poured millions of dollars into various alderman's pockets. Matlak was number one, as Lake predicted. Waguespack won the race against Matlak in 2007. 

"I started running out of corruption issues in the 32nd Ward, so I branched out to other Wards and other offices," said Lake. Being just a mouse click away from Chicago, Lake is going to be wearing his justice cape during all the upcoming races. You can check him out on his Facebook page…he will be greeting you soon!  



Oh do I have a juicy race for

Oh do I have a juicy race for you. Let's say matlak redux, only bigger.

Got a big cape race for you.

Got a big cape race for you. Soon. This will be fun.

Oh do I have a juicy race for

Oh do I have a juicy race for you. Let's say matlak redux, only bigger.

I'm back. I just got my cape

I'm back. I just got my cape out out the cleaners. Joe Lake

Joe Lake's Cape

You should have told me, Joe. I would have cheerfully hand washed it for you <3

Thanks. I am not worthy. Joe

Thanks. I am not worthy. Joe Lake

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