Sunday, June 29, 2008

Staggering revelations about Barack Obama

On Friday, the Boston Globe released an in depth look into Barack Obama's community activism in Illinois.

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.

But a Globe review found that thousands of apartments across Chicago that had been built with local, state, and federal subsidies - including several hundred in Obama's former district - deteriorated so completely that they were no longer habitable.

Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama's close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama's constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted.

This story is not just about Tony Rezko, but many other developers that have received millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars.

Barack Obama has used his power as a community activist/attorney, State Senator and US. Senator to line the pockets of developers with millions of dollars.

The developers, in turn, launched his political campaigns and have carried him to the verge of the US presidency.

Barack Obama wrote legislation that made it easier for the developers to line their pockets.

Obama translated that belief into legislative action as a state senator. In 2001, Obama and a Republican colleague, William Peterson, sponsored a successful bill that increased state subsidies for private developers. The law let developers designated by the state raise up to $26 million a year by selling tax credits to Illinois residents. For each $1 in credits purchased, the buyer was allowed to decrease his taxable income by 50 cents.

Obama also cosponsored the original version of a bill creating an annual fund to subsidize rents for extremely low-income tenants, although it did not pass until 2005, after he had left the state Senate.

Barack Obama sat on boards and committees that doled out millions of dollars to these developers-

Allison Davis, Obama's former law firm boss, dabbled in development for years while he worked primarily as a lawyer. He participated in the development of Grove Parc Plaza. And in 1996, Davis left his law firm to pursue a full-time career as an affordable housing developer, fueled by the subsidies from the Daley administration and aided, on occasion, by Obama himself.

Over roughly the past decade, Davis's companies have received more than $100 million in subsidies to renovate and build more than 1,500 apartments in Chicago, according to a Chicago Sun-Times tally. In several cases, Davis partnered with Tony Rezko. In 1998 the two men created a limited partnership to build an apartment building for seniors on Chicago's South Side. Obama wrote letters on state Senate stationery supporting city and state loans for the project.

In 2000 Davis asked the nonprofit Woods Fund of Chicago for a $1 million investment in a new development partnership, Neighborhood Rejuvenation Partners. Obama, a member of the board, voted in favor, helping Davis secure the investment.

Stunningly, many of these same developers continue to play a vital role in Barack Obama's campaign for the presidency.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to Obama's presidential campaign and a member of his finance committee. Jarrett is the chief executive of Habitat Co., which managed Grove Parc Plaza from 2001 until this winter and co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems.

Allison Davis, a major fund-raiser for Obama's US Senate campaign and a former lead partner at Obama's former law firm. Davis, a developer, was involved in the creation of Grove Parc and has used government subsidies to rehabilitate more than 1,500 units in Chicago, including a North Side building cited by city inspectors last year after chronic plumbing failures resulted in raw sewage spilling into several apartments.

Antoin "Tony" Rezko, perhaps the most important fund-raiser for Obama's early political campaigns and a friend who helped the Obamas buy a home in 2005. Rezko's company used subsidies to rehabilitate more than 1,000 apartments, mostly in and around Obama's district, then refused to manage the units, leaving the buildings to decay to the point where many no longer were habitable.

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.

Tony Rezko has already been tossed under the Barack Obama bus. My guess is that Valerie Jarret and Allison Davis will be the next victims to be tossed under the bus.

So what does Obama have to say for himself? Not much.

Obama's campaign, in a written response to Globe questions, affirmed the candidate's support of public-private partnerships as an alternative to public housing, saying that Obama has "consistently fought to make livable, affordable housing in mixed-income neighborhoods available to all."

The campaign did not respond to questions about whether Obama was aware of the problems with buildings in his district during his time as a state senator, nor did it comment on the roles played by people connected to the senator.

In fact, Obama is working on the next phase of pillaging the pockets of taxpayers and lining to pockets of his developer friends.

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.

What a guy, huh?

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