On Tuesday, President Obama and the first lady used the State of the Union spotlight to pay tribute to an innocent teenage girl shot and killed by Chicago gang thugs. On Friday, Obama will travel to the Windy City to decry violence and crusade for more gun laws in the town with the strictest gun laws and highest gun-related death tolls in America.
Does the White House really want to open up a national conversation about the state of Chicago? OK, let’s talk.
Obama, his wife, his campaign strategists, his closest cronies, and his biggest bundlers all hail from Chicago. Senior adviser and former Chicago real-estate mogul/city-planning commissioner Valerie Jarrett and her old boss Richard Daley presided over a massive “Plan for Transformation” in the mid-1990s to rescue taxpayer-subsidized public housing from its bloody hellhole. How’d that work out for you, Chicago?
Answer: This social-justice experiment failed miserably. A Chicago Tribune investigation found that after Daley and Jarrett dumped nearly $500 million of federal funding into crime-ridden housing projects, the housing complexes (including the infamous Altgeld-Murray homes) remained dangerous, drug-infested, racially segregated ghettos. Altgeld is a long-troubled public-housing complex on Chicago’s South Side, where youth violence has proved immune to “community organizing” solutions and the grand redevelopment schemes championed by Obama and company.
In fact, as I’ve reported previously, it’s the same nightmarish ’hood where Obama cut his teeth as a community activist — and exaggerated his role in cleaning up asbestos in the neighborhood, according to fellow progressive foot soldiers. As always, Obama’s claims to success were far more aspirational than concrete.
In the meantime, lucrative contracts went to politically connected Daley pals in the developer world to “save” Chicago’s youth and families. Another ghetto housing project, the Grove Parc slum, was managed by Jarrett’s former real-estate empire, Habitat Company. Jarrett refused to answer questions about the dilapidated housing development after she ascended to top consigliere in the Obama administration.
But as the Boston Globe’s Binyamin Appelbaum, who visited the slums several years ago, reported: “Federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale — a score so bad, the buildings now face demolition. . . . [Jarrett] co-managed an even larger subsidized complex in Chicago that was seized by the federal government in 2006, after city inspectors found widespread problems.” Grove Parc and several other monumental housing flops “were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters,” Appelbaum wrote. “Those people profited from the [federal] subsidies even as many of Obama’s constituents suffered.”
Democrats poured another $30 million in public money into the city’s public schools to curb youth violence over the past three years. The New York Times hailed the big-government plan to fund more social workers, community organizers and mentors, and create jobs for at-risk youth. But watchdogs on the ground exposed it as a wasteful “make-work scheme.” One local activist nicknamed the boondoggle “Jobs for Jerks” because “it rewards some of the worst students in the school system with incredibly rare employment opportunities while leaving good students to fend for themselves.”
Obama and his ineffectual champions of Chicago’s youth will demand more taxpayer “investments” to throw at the problem. But money is no solution to the soaring fatherlessness, illegitimacy, and family disintegration that have characterized Chicago inner-city life since Obama’s hero Saul Alinsky pounded the pavement. As Heather Mac Donald noted in a damning indictment of the do-gooders’ failures, “official silence about illegitimacy and its relation to youth violence remains as carefully preserved in today’s Chicago as it was during Obama’s organizing time there.”
Team Obama will find perverted ways to lay blame for Chicago’s youth-violence crisis on the NRA, Sarah Palin, Fox News, George Bush, and the Tea Party. But as the community-organizer-in-chief prepares to evade responsibility again, he should remember: When you point one finger at everyone else, four other fingers point right back at you-know-who.