Surely Not! Most Transparent Administration ever.

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Surely Not! Most Transparent Administration ever.

Post by Newt » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:01 pm

'Collusion' with Chicago officials and 13 other problems locals have with Obama Presidential Center

A panel of national and local experts, comprised mostly of African-Americans, lambasted Chicago city officials in a meeting Wednesday night for how they have worked closely with the Obama Foundation to build the Obama Presidential Center on public land despite criticism and serious concerns from representatives of the South Side neighborhood.

"You have all this talk about collusion between Trump and Russia, right? To me, that sounds like collusion between the city and the university, and we see the same thing happening in relation to this," one of the panelists, Jawanza Malone, executive director of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, said.

University of Chicago professors, leaders in the black community, and experts on historic preservation and architecture repeatedly condemned former President Barack Obama and his organization for engaging in closed-door negotiations with the university and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as Obama's first term chief of staff, and said the Democratic leader is ignoring the historic black community's needs.

Panelists indicated that their main gripe is the lack of representation by those overseeing the project. The speakers also listed other grievances they had with the current plan, though they agreed the center itself was not the issue, but rather how it was being rolled out.

Below is a list of 13 of those concerns.

1. Despite receiving invitations to attend and participate in the discussion, no one from the Obama Foundation, city of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, the park district, or University of Chicago chose to attend the meeting, university professor Tom Mitchell announced.

2. The Obama Foundation has refused to sign a Community Benefits Agreement, which Mitchell said would put in "writing the many glowing promises that protect low-income residents from eviction and higher rents." The idea of a CBA was "declared out of bounds with a promise that the Obama administration would do even better than such an agreement." No such deal has been struck in the four years that organizations and residents have voiced concerns about gentrification due to the project.

3. In the early planning stages for the center, which was rolled out in 2014 as a plan for a library, the Obama Foundation did hold community meetings, but Mitchell said they were "more like marketing exercises, sometimes like pep rallies, featuring glossy PowerPoints, but relatively few opportunities for open public discussion.

Instead, we were given breakout groups, which fragment the public and questionnaires that reduce the public to statistical interest groups." Mitchell added that on the "rare occasions when an open discussion was allowed, questions were too often or evaded."

4. What started as a presidential library that would be overseen by the National Archives quickly turned into a privately run operation that saw other private entities try to get a piece of the deal. A PGA golf course scheme and five-acre parking garage were both announced as additions to the center, only to be rescinded later due to public outcry.

5. The Obama Foundation is being planned at Jackson Park, a 20-acre space of public land that is one of the oldest parks in the country.

"The University of Chicago’s bid called for the confiscation of parkland at either Jackson Park or Washington Park — land held in public trust. This is nationally significant and historic parkland. Jackson and Washington Parks, along with the Midway Plaisance, were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., the father of landscape architecture who also designed New York City’s Central Park, and the involvement of Olmsted and his sons with the Chicago parks lasted for decades. All three parks are listed in the National Register of Historic Places," said Charles Birnbaum, president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.

6. Despite there being large plots of private land available in other parts of the South Side and other universities that have offered to sell land, the foundation has stuck with UC's backroom deal, the details of which are not available to the community. Other possible places for the center include city-owned land across the street from Washington Park, the University of Chicago owns land that could be used for the center, and three other universities that fought to host the OPC proposed to site it on land owned by each of those universities.

7. The University of Chicago's winning bid to put the center in Jackson Park has never been made public to this day. Panelists are concerned with the university's "land-banking" in recent years, buying millions of dollars of property around the neighborhood since 2014 in what some said is an effort to have real estate they can cash in on once the center prompts gentrification and spikes real estate values in the area.

"This is an all-reward, no-risk situation for them. They have no skin in the game, but now they can develop and make money off the land they own, rather than using some of it for the OPC. And, we do know they’ve spent millions of dollars in the past few years buying more land on the South Side," Birnbaum said. "We’ve never seen the University of Chicago’s bid for the OPC. What's in it? And we need to know about the university’s landholdings on the South Side. Right now that information is about as available as President Trump’s tax returns."

8. "University of Chicago, Mayor Emmanuel, the Chicago Park Board, the Obama Foundation, and others have set a bad, and frankly, dangerous precedent by taking park land held in public trust for the center," warned Birnbaum. He said privatizing parkland in this case would give a green light to every municipality in the country that aims to confiscate parkland for other private enterprises.

9. Neither the Obama Foundation nor the University of Chicago have released a schedule of the Environmental Protection Agency's approval process under the National Environmental Policy Act and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

10. The center's planners have yet to prove how it would stimulate the local economy without doing more damage to it.

"If we're gonna take tax dollars, whatever amount it is, we should first of all know — are we aware that the process has a return-on-investment analysis? These are all reasonable questions. Is there parity in the process?" asked Naomi Davis, founder of Blacks in Green and Bronzeville Regional Collective in Chicago.

11. The University of Chicago in 2013 retained the Anderson Economic Group to determine the potential economic impact of a presidential library and museum on the Windy City's South Side. That report was never publicly released. In addition, a study by Deloitte cited $3.1 billion in business during construction and the first decade the center is open, but did not address hyper-local concerns.

12. Property values in the South Side have already started to jump at the news that the center could be opening there.

"Woodlawn had the third-highest increase in property value in the entire country. Take every neighborhood in every city in every state in this country and Woodlawn, a community that's been ignored for generations, came in No. 3. Now what changed last year from all the previous years is why we're here talking today. That announcement drove real estate speculation through the roof," Malone said.

"When asked about this, the mayor of the city, Rahm Emanuel ... said that it was a sign of good things to come. So the question that immediately came to mind was 'Good things to come for who?' The median household income for Woodlawn is [approximately] $25,700. Nearly 80 percent of the population is comprised of renters ... Rents are going to increase and so some of the most vulnerable people of our city are going to be forced to leave Woodlawn in search of affordable housing," he added.

13. Those who are concerned or not concerned with the project cannot "simply trust" the former community organizer to protect Chicago's poor black communities from gentrification, said Barbara Ransby, professor of African-American, gender, women, and history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"It's not our job to say, 'Whoever's in charge ... whoever is going to guarantee x, y, and z in our community.' To say that we cannot demand from a black president, if we have to demand from a black president who served black people, that should not be seen as insulting from anybody," Ransby said. "Why not have the Obama Presidential Center lead the way?" she asked. ... le/2651022

it was a sign of good things to come If you like your Dr. you can keep your Dr. If you like your health care, you can keep your health care..

Chicago keeps going deeper in debt and Obama and Emmanuel get richer and richer with their snouts in the public trough. Isn't that the progressive/democrat way>

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Re: Surely Not! Most Transparent Administration ever.

Post by Rabbithoundjb » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:06 am

It's great Newt, it's democrats sh.ttin on democrats that have about all been democrats for decades. I LOVE IT!

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