FLOTUS: Chicago needs Olympics because American kids are fat; Plus: The Jarrett whitewash
Michelle Obama wants you to know that the all-out Chicago Olympics bid is not for The Cronies.
It’s for…The Children!
Especially, says Mrs. O, the fat children:
We need all of our children to be exposed to the Olympic ideals that athletes from around the world represent, particularly this time in our nation’s history, where athletics is becoming more of a fleeting opportunity. Funds dry up so it becomes harder for kids to engage in sports, to learn how to swim, to even ride a bike. When we’re seeing rates of childhood obesity increase, it is so important for us to raise up the platform of fitness and competition and fair play; to teach kids to cheer on the victors and empathize with those in defeat, but most importantly, to recognize that all the hard work that is required to do something special.
Chicago can’t keep its children safe, let alone fit. How about letting another international city foot the massive bill and instead exposing hometown children to Olympic ideals by securing their neighborhoods first so they have somewhere to swim or ride bikes without fearing for their lives?
The White House blog has also posted a response to criticism of the crony Olympics bid on the Glenn Beck show.
Here’s the audacious Obama administration whitewash of Chicago’s fiscal ills:
RHETORIC: CHICAGO IS CLOSING THE GOVERNMENT SEVERAL DAYS A WEEK BECAUSE THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO BE OPEN. Beck’s guest Caddell said, “Chicago is closing the government several days a week because they cannot afford to be open. They are going to go and reward — this is the biggest scandal.” [Transcript, Glenn Beck Show, 9/29/09]
REALITY: CHICAGO HAS HAD ONE REDUCED-SERVICE DAY IN 2009, AND WILL HAVE TWO MORE ON THE FRIDAY AFTER THANKSGIVING AND ON CHRISTMAS EVE. On August 17, 2009, CBS Chicago reported, “If you planned to check out a library book, visit a city clinic or have your garbage picked up on Monday, you’re out of luck. The City of Chicago is basically closed for business on Aug. 17, a reduced-service day in which most city employees are off without pay. City Hall, public libraries, health clinics and most city offices will be closed. Emergency service providers including police, firefighters and paramedics are working at full strength, but most services not directly related to public safety, including street sweeping, will not be provided. That also includes garbage pickup. Residents who receive regular collection on Mondays should expect trash to be picked up on Tuesday. Some other customers may experience a one-day delay as collectors catch up. As part of the 2009 budget, three reduced-service days were planned for 2009, days which are unpaid for all affected employees — the Friday after Thanksgiving; Christmas Eve; and New Year’s Eve. The City Council recently approved moving the reduced-service day planned for New Year’s Eve to Monday. The 2009 budget anticipates saving $8.3 million due to the reduced-service days. In addition to reduced service days, all non-union employees were asked to take a series of furlough days and unpaid holidays, and most non-sworn union employees agreed to similar unpaid time off.” [CBS Chicago, 8/17/09]
The city has a budget hole of $700-$800 million (and rising). The Chicago public schools are $500 million in the hole. Hospitals are in cutback crisis mode. Daley leased out parking meters to raise $1 billion in cash. Furloughs have hit thousands of workers in city government and as well as the schools. And more can be expected if the Olympic bid is successful.
The White House also attempts to downplay both the appearance and reality of Jarrett’s conflicts of interest:
RHETORIC: VALERIE JARRETT WILL BENEFIT FINANCIALLY. Beck asked, “Is it possible that she is going to benefit if the Olympics come to Chicago?” Caddell responded, “Well, that’s the word. She has certainly had a lot of dealings going on in real estate.” [Transcript, Glenn Beck Show, 9/29/09]
REALITY: UPON ENTERING GOVERNMENT, VALERIE JARRETT DIVESTED ALL HER REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT HOLDINGS EXCEPT FOR A SINGLE INVESTMENT THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OLYMPIC BID. Valerie Jarrett divested all her investment real estate holdings upon entering government except for a single real estate holding that she was unable to sell. This single real estate investment has been determined by White House Counsel and the independent Office of Government Ethics to present no conflict of interest in performing her duties as a White House advisor. It has nothing to do with the Olympic bid.
The White House has not identified which “single real estate investment” Jarrett has retained. Taxpayers have to take the White House at its word that the property “has nothing to do with the Olympic bid.” The other divestments do not absolve her of conflict of interest questions. She is involved directly in self-dealing — lobbying HUD with the Chicago 2016 bid chair Lori Healey to siphon federal funding for the $1 billion Olympic Village.
Jarrett’s former slum-breeding real estate firm, The Habitat Company, still stands to benefit from Olympic Village contracts:
The biggest building project by far would be the Olympic Village, to be constructed on land the city has agreed to buy for $86 million. The city will use an unspecified amount of property tax revenues to pay for infrastructure costs such as new streets and sewers for the development, which would be turned into a new residential community even if the city doesn’t win the Olympics.
Chicago hopes to sidestep Vancouver-type problems, Ryan said, by using multiple developers and lenders on the village development. “Vancouver selected a single long-term financial partner, and that’s where the problem came.”
Eleven developers have already expressed interest in the property, including Joseph Freed & Associates, Magellan Development Group, Related Midwest and a team made up of Enterprise Development, Fogelson Properties and Forest City Enterprises, of Cleveland. Another interested party is Habitat Co., whose former chief executive was Valerie Jarrett. Before becoming a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, Jarrett was a vice chairman of the Chicago bid team.
And, of course, she is the current de facto Olympics czar in the White House.
Jarrett presided over the gross deterioration of public housing. Many of the same city housing officials who stood watch over these failures are now on the 2016 bid committee with interest-conflicted developers like Michael Scott Jr. Martin Nesbitt, Jarrett’s old family friend and Obama’s finance chair, is currently on the panel and head of the Chicago Housing Authority.
The untold story is the “public-private partnership” racket between developers and Chicago government of which Jarrett was an integral part. As de facto Olympics czar, she has used White House authority, staffing, and budget to push for the mass redistribution of wealth from ordinary citizens to Chicago’s richest power brokers and real estate moguls.