Saturday, July 12, 2008

Obama's $100,000 garden grant wasted

Is it possible that this is another broken promise by the upstart young presidential candidate, Barack Obama. From the Sun-Times:

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.

Obama -- who was running for Congress when he announced the project in 2000 -- said the green space in Englewood would build ''a sense of neighborhood pride."

Instead, 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.

"We gave up," said Smith, who heads the Chicago Better Housing Association. "It was a losing battle."

You know what I think I'll take that original statement back...

But 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.

"It is clear that Englewood residents have not been able to benefit from a completed community garden," Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said. "Sen. Obama will . . . do everything he can to ensure that the Englewood community gets the resources it needs to provide its residents with a livable neighborhood."

OK, well whoever is to blame for this, it's a fact that this looks like a mess. A promise of something unfulfilled.

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