Opinion

Shakedown: Black communities want dibs on Obama library

Get ready for the bribery bids to go out.

There are still three-plus years to go on the Obama presidency, but the city that gave the world shakedown artist Jesse Jackson is already getting in gear for a racial spoils fight over where the presidential library should go.

USA Today puts the squabble more delicately in a story Sunday,  “Race, class emerge in battle over Obama library.”

obamalibraryGraft is probably going to emerge in that battle, too.

Any presidential library is a money machine – Bill Clinton’s library in Little Rock, Ark., turned into a $1 billion real-estate boom, according to USA Today. George W. Bush’s library is worth $50 million a year to the Dallas area around Southern Methodist University, the paper reported.

Now throw in the sink of corruption that is Illinois, where yet another prison-bound governor put up for sale the very Senate seat the sainted Obama held before ascending to the presidency, and you have to wonder how far this money game will go.

In Chicago, as legendary newspaper columnist Mike Royko wrote, all political questions really boil down to, “Where’s mine?”

So far, that question’s being asked more or less openly by community organizers in the largely black South Side – where Obama got his start – and Chicago State University, “in the heart of the South Side,” according to USA Today.

“I am not saying that he owes everything to the African-American community,” South Side community organizer John Owens told the paper. “But he did get his start here, and this community was his political base. This is an opportunity for him to help the community where he started from.”

Opportunity to help equals payback time.

The University of Illinois-Chicago, in the much-whiter Near West Side, has also thrown its hat in, but declined to talk to USA Today about it, for some reason.

Meanwhile, the University of Chicago, private, affluent and onetime employer of both the first lady and the former (apparently terrible) constitutional law professor who became president, has already hired former Obama senior adviser David Axelrod to “lead a program intended to encourage students’ interest in politics and public service.” Since that sounds vaguely like “hang around and be David Axelrod until we land this library thing,” Mr. Axelrod should do well.

There are other contenders, and plenty of time, but the story is just an early sign that the end of the Obama presidency will just be the beginning of a new era of racial– and financial – spoils.

Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at [email protected].

Comments

Latest Articles