Its incredible what you get for $550 dollars these days, or at least what you could get what when Barack Obama was in the Illinois State Senate

As a state senator, Barack Obama gave $100,000 in state money to a campaign volunteer who failed to deliver on a plan to create a botanic garden in one of Chicago’s most blighted neighborhoods.

….. what was supposed to be a six-block stretch of trees and paths is now a field of unfulfilled dreams, strewn with weeds, garbage and broken pavement

Not bad right. That “campaign volunteer” gave $550 dollars to Obama’s campaign and in return he gets an $100 thousand fake project

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Well maybe bad, since now the Illinois Attorney General wants to know why nothing was ever built with that state money:

Obama grant being probed $100,000 DEAL | State to charity: What happened to garden money, other cash?

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. Smith wrote another $20,000 in grant-related checks to K.D. Contractors, a construction company that his wife, Karen D. Smith, created five months after work on the garden was supposed to have begun, records show. K.D. is no longer in business. Attorney General Lisa Madigan — a Democrat who is supporting Obama’s presidential bid — is investigating “whether this charitable organization properly used its charitable assets, including the state funds it received,” Cara Smith, Madigan’s deputy chief of staff, said Wednesday. In addition to the 2001 grant that Obama directed to the housing association as a “member initiative,” the not-for-profit group got a separate $20,000 state grant in 2006. Madigan’s office has notified Obama’s presidential campaign of the probe, which was launched this week. But Obama’s actions in awarding the money are not a focus of the investigation, Smith said.

Now the Senators team would ague that any Criticism directed at him because this $100,000 he gave to a campaign worker to create a garden, would simply be another example of guilt by association. Strange isn’t it? Either the Senator hangs around unsavory people or he is just the most unlucky person that ever lived. So many of his associates turn out to be terrorists, anti-American, or just plain Common Criminals.

Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Ill.: Jan 15, 2000. pg. 5 A group of politicians, school administrators and community activists unveiled a plan Friday for a $1.1 million botanical garden in the city’s Englewood neighborhood. The proposal calls for a walk beneath the “L” tracks on Princeton Avenue, from 59th Place to 62nd Place. Backers said they hope it will help spur redevelopment in the impoverished area, boost neighborhood pride and soften the impact of traffic and pollution from the nearby Dan Ryan Expressway. State Sen. Barack Obama (D-Chicago) said he planned to seek state funding for the effort and estimated that ground could be broken in early 2001. The proposed garden also would include a gazebo, a parrot sanctuary and a walk of fame.

Gee, that sounds exciting. Let’s go visit: ObamaGarden0708 (Google Maps image is more than likely from before the Sun-Times visit described below occurred, and before the related report and video were posted.) Imagine that. No garden. No parrot sanctuary. No walk of fame. How can that be? What happened? The Chicago Sun-Times tells us the answer, while revealing that “at least” there’s a gazebo — but not much of Wone [2] (video is at link; HT Jennifer Rubin [3] via the TIB All-Stars July 12 collection [4] at Weapons of Mass Discussion):

Obama’s $100,000 garden grant wasted
He vowed to ‘work tirelessly’ to build an oasis for Englewood. It never happened. July 11, 2008 As a state senator, Barack Obama gave $100,000 in state money to a campaign volunteer who failed to deliver on a plan to create a botanic garden in one of Chicago’s most blighted neighborhoods. ….. what was supposed to be a six-block stretch of trees and paths is now a field of unfulfilled dreams, strewn with weeds, garbage and broken pavement. Kenny B. Smith, whose nonprofit group got the money, said it was spent legitimately, mostly on underground site preparation. But he admitted Thursday that the garden is a lost cause because other government money never came through. ….. Smith — an early Obama supporter who gave $550 to his state and congressional campaigns — said he gave his paperwork documenting the work to a state agency and no longer has it. ….. a reporter walked the site last week with a landscape architect from the Illinois Green Industry Association who found no evidence of the work Smith cited. The only major changes since 2000: A gazebo was added, and some trees were cut down. Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said through a spokesman he wasn’t responsible for monitoring the work; the staffs of Gov. Blagojevich and former Gov. George Ryan were. ….. In 2001, at Obama’s direction, a $100,000 Illinois FIRST grant went to Smith’s group. The garden site was part of Rosewood Estates, an affordable-housing development being built by the group, whose unpaid board chairman was Brian Washington, a Sun-Times security guard. Plans called for more than 50 homes, but only a dozen were built, Smith said. The remaining $1 million for the botanic garden was never raised.

Those legendary $400 hammers [5] for the military have nothing on this $100,000 gazebo. A trifling matter? I don’t think so. More like a revealing one:

  • Obama feels no sense of responsibility for the results of money directed to someone HE chose. This isn’t “the buck stops here” of Harry Truman fame; this is “the buck went somewhere else.”
  • Gubernatorial staffs aren’t responsible for monitoring projects like this. State agencies are. If the agency involved didn’t do their job (according to the article, it’s the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity), that’s one thing, but the blame-shifting to other pols is either hopelessly naive (a legitimate possibility, given the candidate’s seemingly endless well of ignorance) or irresponsible.
  • If you look at the full text of the press release [6] that announced the project, you’ll see that Kenny Smith was on hand, and that he made representations about how he was “work(ing) with a variety of governmental agencies and not-for-profit groups to secure funding this project including the Chicago Transit Authority, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the American Society of Landscape Architecture. We have made some progress ….” My bet: Smith had, at most, met with these orgs once or twice, and was blowing smoke about the realistic chances of getting money. For a nominal $550 in campaign contributions, Smith got 100 grand, which “somehow” has mostly gone bye-bye. Bottom line: Obama got hustled. Did he even look into how the rest of the “fund-raising” was going before directing the release of the grant funds?
  • Perhaps that’s why Obama seems oddly indifferent to what ultimately happened. The response from his spokesman (and not the candidate) is tired boilerplate about “provid(ing) residents with a livable neighborhood.” Zzzzzz.

The larger point is this: The guy is hopelessly gullible, can’t even get a $100,000 grant right, and now wants to have the final say in matters relating to a $3-plus trillion federal budget and a $14-trillion economy in a town chock full of con artists and tricksters. Yikes. It would be cool if some enterprising photo-opster could make up a “Barack Obama $100,000 Gazebo” sign (or something more clever — use your imagination), take some pictures at the site, and post them. Until that happens, this will have to do: ObamaGazebo0708 Cross-posted at [7].