Skip to comments.Obama A Champion Of The Slumlords
Posted on 09/26/2008 9:23:50 AM PDT by jazusamo
The column should help convince you that if you want the corrupt Chicago-style political cronyism on a national basis, you should vote for Sen. Barack Obama. This is one sliver of how Sen. Obama's actions will translate into disaster totally contrary to his saccharin-sweet speeches. When you ponder what candidate can best handle the economy, take into account how Sen. Obama betrayed the public trust and how he was a central figure in some of the worst economic management of recent times.
You won't read about this in the mainstream media, but Sen. Obama did to the taxpayers of Illinois exactly what shady mortgage lenders have done for the national economy. This is another of the many examples of Sen. Obama's rhetoric being exactly the opposite of his actions. He delivers oratorical lullabies of beauty, but his actions betray the old disastrous course of failed liberalism, radicalism, and socialism.
Sen. Obama blames the present national crisis on crony capitalism. But he omits two crucial facts:
1. He was at the middle of the crony capitalism that led to the present financial crisis while in the U.S. Senate, and while Sen. John McCain was calling for reform of the system, Sen. Obama was raking in contributions from the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac family at the heart of the present mortgage scandal and was not lifting a finger when Sen. John McCain was calling for reform. He talks reform but practices the corrupt style of Chicago machine politics. There is where he learned the politics he now practices and which enabled him to climb the political ladder. Sen. Obama, and the rest of the Democrats in the Senate were silent, while a group of senators headed by Sen. McCain pressed for reform, and precisely predicted the disaster that is now upon us. I've told this part of the story in another column, but there's a second and equally important part.
2. That second part of the story involves Sen. Obama's leadership in doing to Illinois what is now taking place on a national scale with disastrous consequences.
This Illinois mortgage scandal is explored by David Freddoso, author of the book, The Case Against Barack Obama, in an article written for the National Review Online. Mr. Freddoso explains that Sen. Obama has compared our current mortgage scandal to the savings and loan scandal and bailout of the late 1980s. Mr. Freddoso writes that at the time of that scandal, "Too many S&Ls took advantage of the lax rules set by Washington to gamble that they could make big money in speculative real estate ... [T]hey made hundreds of billions in bad loans, knowing that if they lost money, the government would bail them out. And they were right. The gambles did not pay off, our economy went into recession, and the taxpayers ended up footing the bill."
Now if that sounds familiar, you're right. Mr. Freddoso writes, "It sounds a lot like what Barack Obama did to Illinois taxpayers as a state senator in Springfield. Using his elected office and his clout, Obama helped Tony Rezko and other unscrupulous low-income housing developers, a.k.a. slumlords, obtain millions of dollars in state grants, tax credits, low-interest loans, and regulatory advantage."
In case you've forgotten, Mr. Rezko is the now convicted felon who was a close associate of Sen. Obama, who was one of his key fundraisers, and who was involved in a land transaction with him that Sen. Obama admitted was "bone-headed." And well he might admit the nature of the transaction. That's because it appears that the land transaction may have been a payoff by Mr. Rezko to Sen. Obama for all of his legislative favors obtained for Mr. Rezko over the years.
Mr. Rezko and the others helped by Sen. Obama's legislative work proved to be slumlords, so Sen. Obama was in effect making Mr. Rezko and other developers rich by building housing that was then left to deteriorate into uninhabitable slums. Mr. Freddoso writes, "Taxpayers had no serious chance of recouping these 'investments' in Mr. Rezko and other developers. And many beneficiaries went one step farther, depriving the public of even the benefits they could have gotten. These developers took government help to build low-income housing, and then let their buildings deteriorate into uninhabitable slums."
Sen. Obama was a great champion of this kind of low-income housing, but he was also a champion of his donors and friends responsible for the housing who then neglected the developments so they became slums.
Sen. Obama introduced at least six bills giving these developers special tax breaks, tax credits, building and maintenance subsidies, and zoning exemptions. He wrote letters on behalf of his close associate and now felon, Mr. Rezko, and another close friend and former boss at a law firm, Allison Davis. He was the godfather of these slum developments.
According to an expose appearing in the Boston Globe, a Davis development, Grove Parc Plaza complex, was described as follows: "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."
One of Mr. Obama's campaign advisers, Valerie Jarrett, was until recently the chief executive of the company that managed the Grove Parc Plaza complex. She managed another housing complex until its condition deteriorated so much that the government seized it in 2006.
Another Obama donor, Cecil Butler, also became an Obama financed and sponsored slumlord. His Lawndale Restoration complex was confiscated by the government in 2006, "after city inspectors found more than 1,000 violations."
The city of Chicago sued Mr. Rezko's company at least a dozen times for failure to heat its properties. At one of the Mr. Rezko's developments, tenants went without heat from late December 1996 to mid-February 1997. Mr. Rezko's company claimed it lacked funds to heat the unit in Mr. Obama's district. But it had enough money so Mr. Rezko could write a check for $1,000 on Jan. 14, 1997 for the campaign fund of state senator Mr. Obama.
Mr. Rezko wasn't a small time operator. Over one decade, Mr. Rezko's company would get more than $100 million in loans from the city, state and federal governments in addition to private bank loans all for low-income public housing in Chicago.
The bottom line is that you can now add to the long list of questionable associated of Sen. Obama such as unrepentant terrorist William Ayres, the Rev. Jeremiah "God Damn America" Wright, the bigot and radical Father William Pfleger, more questionable associates, namely, a long list of slumlords that robbed their tenants and the state of Illinois, all with the help of then Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama. Mr. Freddoso writes that there is ample evidence of how closely Sen. Obama was and is still tied to this world of slumlords: "He's taken contributions from its big players and pushed legislation favorable to them. His closest ally in that sphere has been Rezko, who raised $250,000 for Sen. Obama's campaigns before being convicted on unrelated corruption charges earlier this year."
Mr. Freddoso has some advice for those who have to listen to Sen. Obama's recent lectures on government accountability and regulation: "When Barack Obama talks about risky real-estate investments and failures of government oversight, remember how he put Illinois taxpayers on the hook for some of the worst real-estate investments of all - investments in his close friend and in other slum landlords who took the public's money and betrayed their trust."
Voters should not think when casting a ballot that they are judging a contest in oratory. They are electing the leader of the free world, and should look to a candidate's record, achievements, and values, not his oratorical prowess. Sen. Obama would make an excellent speech coach, but there is nothing in his record, his achievements to date, his value system, or his associates that suggests he should be considered for our most important office.
Herb Denenberg is a former Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner, and professor at the Wharton School. He is a longtime Philadelphia journalist and consumer advocate. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of the Sciences. His column appears daily in The Bulletin. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.