WASHINGTON, September 22, 2017 — “When you spread the wealth around,” presidential candidate Barack Obama famously told Joe the Plumber in 2008, “it’s good for everyone.”
That is, unless that wealth belongs to the Barack Obama Presidential Library, which is to be built in Chicago’s Jackson Park, a down-and-out community of south Chicago.
A city known for its off-the-chart murder rate and corruption, Chicago is also known for its community organizers and their tendency to engage in corporate shakedowns.
You may recall that before getting into the slimy, coarse, cunning and Byzantine labyrinth of Chicago politics, Mr. Obama was himself a community organizer who in the 1980s pressured the city’s first black mayor, Harold Washington, into funneling federal dollars toward the construction of a “jobs center” that never produce many jobs.
Chicago, like most of America’s corrupt major cities, has codified corporate political shakedowns, calling them “community benefits agreements.”
Take Elk Grove Village, for instance. Located near busy O’Hare International Airport, nine proposed marijuana dispensaries have promised to pony up $75,000 in earnest money to its community organizers with a promise to fork over 5 percent in future profits.
Pay to play much?
So, community organizers aren’t happy that the former president doesn’t want to play by the same corrupt rules he once employed.
Shannon Bennett, deputy director of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I know how this town works and how the world works,” he said regarding Obama’s future Library. “If it is not written, it didn’t happen and it’s not legally binding.”
Angry organizers have even come up with a clever hashtag with which to pressure the former president: #GetItInWriting.
It’s feared the library will lead to the gentrification of the surrounding, depressed communities where it will eventually sit. Organizers have therefore demanded that library developers construct affordable housing to offset any future community improvements and that the presidential library earmark job set-asides for the locals and opportunities for local businesses.
As students at the University of Chicago’s news site The Gate put it, community benefits agreements assure “community organizations are treated as legitimate partners rather than groups to be appeased.”
Back in 2007, David Moberg, writing for The Nation, said,
“The work of Obama – and hundreds of other [Chicago] organizers – did not transform the South Side or restore lost industries. But it did change the young man who became the junior senator from Illinois in 2004, and it provided clues to his worldview as he bids for the Democratic presidential nomination.”
It took the socialists at The Nation magazine to admit that community organizers aren’t worth a bucket of warm spit when it comes to benefiting the communities they supposedly serve. But it sure provides a perfect platform for demagogues to further their future political ambitions.
A coalition of community organizations under the umbrella group “Community Benefits Agreement for the Obama Library,” says on its website:
“We universally agree that the Obama Presidential Center has the power and duty to help restore suffering south side communities in innovative ways, and to begin leveling the playing field historically pitched against African Americans. While we recognize the old ways of redeveloping black communities have not created community wealth, we see exciting potential to develop differently now. We aim to catalyze measurable and substantial increases in our community wealth and well-being through sustainable, inter-generational land ownership and transfer; increased revenue streams through neighbor-owned businesses and buildings; and revived resources for vibrant lifelong learning.”
They believe, as a former Chicagoan once told them, “When you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everyone.”
And they think it’s Obama’s turn to spread the wealth… his wealth.
What goes around, comes around. And somewhere in America, Joe the Plumber is having a good laugh.