GALEWOOD — My own guilt made it hard not to cringe when the pictures showed up in my inbox.
The snapshots of a forest of dandelions — those hated flowering weeds that choke front lawns and spread their seeds on puffy white pillows caught in the wind — showed every homeowner's landscaping nightmare.
Even though the photos were not of my front yard, I was hit with pangs of guilt because I should have weeded my own front lawn garden weeks ago.
"Footlong dandelions all over," wrote the unhappy neighbor who sent the pictures. "Worst on the block. … I don't know what's worse, the front yard or the back."
The dandelion tattletale said he sent the pictures because the dandelions and tall grass grow on the front lawn of a prominent Chicagoan who prides himself on regular-guy sensibilities — Gov. Pat Quinn.
I drove out to the governor's West Side home to confirm that the front lawn of Quinn's modest Georgian — on a quiet residential block of tidy lawns in Galewood — indeed was the same house with the weed-choked lawn in the pictures. As proof, I took a few artsy photos that proved the tipster right.
Generally, I'm all for calling out politicians on their mistakes, shortfalls and failures.
But at first it just didn't feel right to pick on Gov. Quinn for letting his lawn go while my own front yard suffers from a dandelion problem.
The neighborhood tattletale — a Democrat who's no fan of Quinn's Republican opponent in the November election — suggested I would be doing him and his a neighbors a solid by outing the governor's shortfalls in landscaping.
"Work it into a column," he said. "Maybe he'll get his lawn mowed."
Politics aside, there's no getting around the fact that having an unkempt front yard is one of those things that's almost guaranteed to really tick off your neighbors.
While the state of Gov. Quinn's front lawn isn't a story of political importance, it has become the source of neighborhood aggravation enough for a neighbor to send iPhone photos to a reporter.
I know that that overgrown front lawns and gardens can have an adverse effect on neighbor-to-neighbor relations and the quality of life on any given block.
In fact, as a guy guilty of having a dandelion-filled front garden of his own — who also gets aggravated by the weeds growing in the front yard next door — I'm sure of it.
That's what helped me decide not to let the governor off the hook for having the worst lawn on the block.
I called Quinn's office to inform the governor that his front yard dandelion forest in Galewood had become a source of a neighbor's aggravation.
Quinn's spokeswoman, Brooke Anderson, took the issue seriously.
She told me that Gov. Quinn was a very good neighbor, but he's been very busy finishing up the legislative session in Springfield.
Tending to the front lawn, Anderson said, was definitely "on his to-do list."
I've resolved to put it on mine, too.
And if you — like Gov. Quinn and me — have a front lawn with a serious weed problem, I highly recommend you take care of it as soon as possible, or once the legislative session is over, whichever comes first.
Your frustrated neighbors will thank you.
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