World War II Vet Battles City Over $25,000 Water Bill

CHICAGO (CBS) – A 98-year-old World War II veteran faces the battle of his life — with the city of Chicago.

The source of their legal dispute is a nearly $26,000 water bill.

CBS 2’s Brad Edwards reports.

Hawkins Fairley gazes out of his South Side picture window to his past, the empty field that was the steel mill he worked for decades. That was after his two years fighting the Battle of Saipan in World War II.

Now, he’s in a diminished state and fighting a formidable enemy: City Hall.

“This is like when I was in the Army,” Fairley says.  “That’s what I’m fighting now — just like I’m fighting a war.”

His dispute with the city started with a May 2010 bill for $3,188.21. It exploded by July 2011 for $15,965.90. According to Fairley’s lawsuit against the city, Fairley won his claim in October, with a judge determining he didn’t owe anything.

But his latest bill — dated June 19, 2012 — is for $25,884.08. But his water service, at full strength, comes out as a trickle.

“I want the mayor, work out a deal for this 98-year-old World War II vet to be able to have a cool glass of water and a cool shower on the Fourth of July,” Fairley’s attorney, William Spielberger, says.

A spokesperson for the Department of Revenue told CBS 2 the agency is willing to negotiate a truce with the veteran.

“We’ve had extensive conversations between Mr. Fairley’s attorney and our outside council. We will do everything we can to work with Mr. Fairley and come to a reasonable solution,” the department said.

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