Thursday, September 25, 2008

Obama's 'Gazebo to Nowhere'

The Illinois Attorney General is now investigating a $100,000 state earmark from Barack Obama to the wife of a former campaign worker that apparently produced nothing of value to taxpayers unless you call an isolated, unfinished gazebo in a weed-filled lot a structure of value.

Obama and Kenny Smith announced the "Englewood Botanic Garden Project" at a January 2000 news conference at Englewood High School. Obama was in the midst of a failed bid to oust South Side Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush for a seat in Congress. The garden -- planned near and under L tracks between 59th Place and 62nd Place -- fell outside of Obama's Illinois Senate district but within the congressional district's borders.

Obama vowed to "work tirelessly" to raise $1.1 million to help Smith's organization turn the City of Chicago-owned lot into an oasis of trees and paths. But Obama lost the congressional race, no more money was raised, and today the garden site is a mess of weeds, chunks of concrete and garbage. The only noticeable improvement is a gazebo.

Sounds a lot like the low-income housing developments in Obama's state senate district. Developers got rich, Obama got campaign funds and residents and taxpayers got screwed.

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