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Old September 25th, 2008, 07:51 AM   #1
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Zack's Avatar
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 6,766
Agent of change politics

Uh-oh. Looks like one Mr. Obammy is guily of funneling his own pet peeve project. Only in this case it looks like the money wasn't even spent on what it should had been. Looks like Obammy has no problem giving tax dollars to his buddys.

A $100,000 state grant for a botanic garden in Englewood that then-state Sen. Barack Obama awarded in 2001 to a group headed by a onetime campaign volunteer is now under investigation by the Illinois attorney general amid new questions, prompted by Chicago Sun-Times reports, about whether the money might have been misspent.

The garden was never built. And now state records obtained by the Sun-Times show $65,000 of the grant money went to the wife of Kenny B. Smith, the Obama 2000 congressional campaign volunteer who heads the Chicago Better Housing Association, which was in charge of the project for the blighted South Side neighborhood.


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.

In a previous interview, Smith said the state grant money was legitimately spent, mostly on underground site preparation.

But no one ever took out construction permits required for such work, city records show. And a contractor who Smith said did most of the work told a reporter all he did was cut down trees and grade the site with a Bobcat


The relationship between Smith and Obama dates to at least 1997, when Obama wrote a letter that Smith used to help the housing association win city funding for an affordable-housing development near the garden site. Plans called for more than 50 homes; a dozen ultimately were built.

Smith also has donated $550 to Obama campaign funds.


What I was hired for was: Clean up the area and cut the trees -- that's all," Marin said. He said he rented a Bobcat -- a sort of small bulldozer -- for the project.

And how much did Smith pay him? "If he spent about $3,000 with me, that was too much."

Hmmm, I wonder where that $100K in tax dollars went?
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