Barack’s Housing Scandal

28Jun08

“No one should have to live like this, and no one did anything about it,” said Cynthia Ashley, who has lived at Grove Parc since 1994.

What is Grove Parc, and why is Cindy Ashley so upset? Grove Park is one of the ghettos built and managed under a policy supported by Barack, built and managed by Barack’s friends.

CHICAGO – The squat brick buildings of Grove Parc Plaza, in a dense neighborhood that Barack Obama represented for eight years as a state senator, hold 504 apartments subsidized by the federal government for people who can’t afford to live anywhere else.

But it’s not safe to live here.

What’s this got to do with Barack and the new kinda politics?

Grove Parc has become a symbol for some in Chicago of the broader failures of giving public subsidies to private companies to build and manage affordable housing – an approach strongly backed by Obama as the best replacement for public housing.

Barack supports this stuff – but wait a sec, he’s a good government, compassionate guy, right? Fighting for a better life for the underclass, isn’t he?

Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters.

Wait – are you trying to tell me that when he wasn’t running for reelection, running for Congress, running for Senate, and writing his book, Barack actually got involved with policy matters?

As a state senator, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee coauthored an Illinois law creating a new pool of tax credits for developers. As a US senator, he pressed for increased federal subsidies. And as a presidential candidate, he has campaigned on a promise to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that could give developers an estimated $500 million a year.

Barack remains tied to many who were responsible for the subsidized housing tragedy that occurred in his district. Valerie Jarrett was part of the scam and is senior adviser to Barack’s campaign. Allison Davis was involved in the housing and was a major fund-raiser. And then, of course, there’s Tony Rezko.

Campaign finance records show that six prominent developers – including Jarrett, Davis, and Rezko – collectively contributed more than $175,000 to Obama’s campaigns over the last decade and raised hundreds of thousands more from other donors. Rezko alone raised at least $200,000, by Obama’s own accounting.

How did Rezko get so rich and powerful?

One of the largest recipients of the subsidies was Rezmar Corp., founded in 1989 by Tony Rezko, who ran a company that sold snacks at city beaches, and Daniel Mahru, who ran a company that sold ice to Rezko. Neither man had development experience.

Over the next nine years, Rezmar used more than $87 million in government grants, loans, and tax credits to renovate about 1,000 apartments in 30 Chicago buildings. Companies run by the partners also managed many of the buildings, collecting government rent subsidies.

Why is Rezko so important to Barack?

All the while, Tony Rezko was forging a close friendship with Barack Obama. When Obama opened his campaign for state Senate in 1995, Rezko’s companies gave Obama $2,000 on the first day of fund-raising. Save for a $500 contribution from another lawyer, Obama didn’t raise another penny for six weeks. Rezko had essentially seeded the start of Obama’s political career.

As Obama ascended, Rezko became one of his largest fund-raisers. And in 2005, Rezko and his wife helped the Obamas purchase the house where they now live.

So Barack must have used his leverage with Rezko to make sure the developer took good care of the poor people living in Barack’s district, right?

Eleven of Rezmar’s buildings were located in the district represented by Obama, containing 258 apartments. The building without heat in January 1997, the month Obama entered the state Senate, was in his district. So was Jones’s building with rats in the walls and Frizzell’s building that lacked insulation. And a redistricting after the 2000 Census added another 350 Rezmar apartments to the area represented by Obama.

But Obama has contended that he knew nothing about any problems in Rezmar’s buildings.

Well, if honest Abe Obama didn’t know, we have to take him at his word.

After Rezko’s assistance in Obama’s home purchase became a campaign issue, at a time when the developer was awaiting trial in an unrelated bribery case, Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times that the deterioration of Rezmar’s buildings never came to his attention. He said he would have distanced himself from Rezko if he had known.

Other local politicians say they knew of the problems.

It’s not fair, though, to expect Barack to be aware that his friends were forcing the poor in his senate district to live in squalor. He was busy trying to get out of the squalor of the state senate, and on to the presidency!



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