When Tim Heitman moved to Seattle last summer, he thought he was putting Chicago behind him.
Basking in the relative warmth of winter highs in the low 50s and a football team on its way to the Super Bowl, Heitman is settling in on the Northwest coast just fine.
But Chicago won't let him go.
After selling his Sauganash home in late August, Heitman received a $100 red light camera ticket in the mail.
He had no problem paying. "I know I deserved it," Heitman said.
It was the next bill from the city that irked him.
Although he had closed on the Sauganash house Aug. 27 and obtained a certificate showing his water bill was paid in full, he began receiving letters at his Seattle home from Chicago's Department of Finance.
For reasons he can't understand, the city was charging him for water service after his move.
It wasn't a ton, just $38.75, but it was not his responsibility.
"I've called them several times and they've told me to send them copies of my closing papers and the water bill certification notice, which I did," Heitman said. "Nothing seems to make a difference."
He sent back one of the bills with a notation: "This property was sold in August. Send bill to new owner."
That didn't work.
"One of their agents even told me that she understood the problem and she would change the account so the bill would be sent to the new owner, but the bills just keep coming to me in Seattle," he said.
Tired of getting the runaround, Heitman emailed What's Your Problem?
He said sending his information to the city was like releasing it into a black hole.
"I suppose I could resolve this by just paying the darn thing, but why should I?" he said.
The Problem Solver emailed Tom LaPorte, spokesman for the city's Department of Water Management.
The next morning, a representative from his department called Heitman to say his account has been adjusted to show the $38.75 was paid in full, and assured him he would not be receiving any more bills.
Heitman said the representative told him the problem was the fault of the title company, which did not process the paperwork properly.
He's just happy to have it behind him.
"I am liking (Seattle) a lot, although I would kill for an Italian beef sandwich from Al's or a pizza from Lou Malnati's," Heitman said. "I lived in Chicago for 40 years and I do miss some things about the city very much."
Bureaucracy is not one of them.