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Landlord’s Family Evicting Hero

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Landlord’s family evicting hero
WRIGLEYVILLE | Sick girl saved life, but her mom’s being forced out

April 15, 2009
BY ART GOLAB Staff Reporter/agolab@suntimes.com

Two years ago, a 9-year-old girl with a heart defect crawled through a window to rescue her 84-year-old landlady, who had fallen and lain on the floor of her Wrigleyville apartment for 15 hours.

The little girl, Missy Kowalski, was hailed as a big hero.

Now, Missy and her family, who’ve lived in an upstairs apartment of the two-flat for four years, are being evicted by the family of Kathleen Slattery, the woman Missy rescued.

Missy’s family paid their rent on time, court documents show. But Slattery’s relatives said Missy’s mother, Deb Gordils, had “agitated and disturbed” Slattery and her live-in caregiver and made comments aimed at harming Slattery. They got a court order of protection barring Gordils from any contact with Slattery.

Gordils — who has run for alderman and earlier this month waged an unsuccessful campaign as a Green Party candidate to replace White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel in Congress — said Slattery’s relatives are abusing the order of protection process to get her out of the apartment sooner.

At the height of the dispute, Slattery, 86, who owned the building, died Saturday in her apartment in the 1300 block of West Byron. She had been suffering from dementia and complications from several falls.

Gordils, who was on a month-to-month lease, said she was sent an eviction notice on March 13. It gave her and her daughters, Missy, now 11, and Petra, 7, until today to move. The relatives didn’t give a reason — and they don’t have to.

Gordils said finding a new place on one month’s notice would be hard because she has had to spend a lot of time recently caring for Missy, who was born with multiple holes in her heart and has missed 14 of the past 20 days of school because of health problems.

“Medically, it’s been one of her hardest months in many years,” said Gordils. She added: Missy “doesn’t understand. She said, ‘But, Mommy, I saved her.’ ”

“I told her: She’s not doing this, other people are,” Gordils said.

Slattery’s niece, Mary Siwak, who was Slattery’s guardian and sought the eviction, declined to speak with a reporter after a court appearance Tuesday.

In court papers, Siwak said Gordils violated the court order by ringing her aunt’s doorbell and yelling at Slattery’s caregiver about the medication she was giving Slattery. “None of this ever happened,” Gordils said. “I’m not worried about it because it’s not true.”

Gordils said Slattery once told her “that she wasn’t happy with other people making decisions, and she mentioned to me that she felt she was being over-drugged. I advised her to talk to her doctor. That’s all.”

Gordils also said she once called the city’s Department of Aging to ask for a well-being check on Slattery after the protection order was issued.

In probate court Tuesday, Siwak’s attorney, Gino Peronti, told a judge that Gordils has been telling him and “anyone who would listen, that my client and this caregiver are actually responsible for the death of Kathleen Slattery and they conspired to kill her with overdoses of medication.”

“My client would welcome an investigation,” Peronti said.

Gordils said she was only expressing concern over the care Slattery was getting and does not intend to file a police report.

In the wake of Slattery’s death, her relatives agreed Tuesday in court to let Gordils and her family stay in the apartment until June 1. That will be enough time, Gordils said, to find a new place.

ht/Brent McM

Ronald Hardy

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