Thursday, August 21, 2008

Barack Obama the crooked developers' pal

David Freddoso in today's NY Post - BARACK'S FAVORS FOR CORRUPT CRONY:
Barack Obama has admitted it was "boneheaded" to get involved in a land deal with Tony Rezko, his friend and fund-raiser. But the media's focus on that deal has distracted from the bigger question: Why would Obama become involved in any deal with a man like Rezko, who made his living sponging off taxpayers and corrupting public officials? Because, by the time of the deal, the two already had a long relationship of mutual benefit.
After Rezko's 2006 indictment on unrelated federal corruption charges, Obama denied unequivocally that he'd ever helped the man: "I've never done any favors for him."

That's simply false. Rezko was a genius of corporate welfare who enriched himself at taxpayers' expense, both legally and illegally, via his multiple political connections. Yes, he went to others for the illegal deals that landed him in prison. But Rezko depended on Obama when he wanted legal access to the state treasury. The arrangement was a far cry from Obama's image of "change and hope."
The hope is for crooks who have Barry's cell phone number, but I digress.
In October 1998, Obama wrote city and state officials, urging them to give Rezko $14 million to build an apartment complex outside of Obama's state Senate district. The Chicago Sun-Times noted last year that Obama's request included $855,000 in "development fees" for Rezko and for another developer, Allison Davis, who happened to be Obama's old law-firm boss. Obama's spokesman said it was just a coincidence that the state senator wrote letters to obtain millions of dollars for his two longtime friends. In fact, Obama was a dependable ally of subsidized developers in the Legislature, giving Rezko and others broader help as well. In "The Case Against Barack Obama" [Freddoso's new book] I identify and parse six housing bills with which Obama was closely involved.

These and the other Obama-backed bills helped make millionaires of Rezko and other slum developers at taxpayers' expense. The developers - including his former law boss and an adviser to his current campaign - reciprocated, together giving and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama's campaigns.

To sum up: Obama got them subsidies to build. He secured them a steady income of government rent subsidies. He arranged special tax credits and abatements for them. He backed measures that increased demand for their services, and helped them legally circumvent local laws.

Gosh, young Barry must have been a star pupil in the Chicago school of politics. I'm not as sure as Mr. Freddoso that Barry didn't do anything illegal though. Wanna bet that Rezko turns state's evidence to keep out of the slammer if Obama isn't in a position to pardon him after the election?

However, the best part is that ole Hussein thinks these types of "private-public partnerships" are just the ticket for developing affordable housing in the USA. Aside from the graft, read Binyamin Appelbaum's lengthy expose in the Boston Globe of how it worked out for the residents in Grim proving ground for Obama's housing policy:

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.

About 99 of the units are vacant, many rendered uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls. Battered mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks. In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale - a score so bad the buildings now face demolition.

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.

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.

Maybe Barry should just call his big plan the My Developer Pals Trust Fund? As for the taxpayers, well they always get screwed, just more so in Chicago.