The Chicago Way comes to Cincinnati
Here’s how the shakedown works:
Either self-appointed “community organizers,” or – worse – those leading
non-profits already funded with tax dollars claim historic oppression of their
community, their constituency, that can only be remedied with huge infusions of
cash from developers otherwise trying to grow the tax base, bring jobs, and
bring a new or expanded business to town. They make similar demands of cash
from the City and County governments themselves.
Thus, these community organizers
use their political clout to extract cash from elected leaders and to block the
needed governmental cooperation to achieve the progress such as a zone change,
a building permit or a street improvement. In the past, in a professionally-run city like Cincinnati,
these things were largely “ministerial” matters handled by bureaucrats on a
routine, non-political basis. But
under this new way of doing business, the elected political leaders, and their
now hyper-political administrative appointees, block the needed governmental
approvals until their extortionate demands are met.
Simple zone changes become pitched
political battles, or silent means of killing projects for developers who have
not paid off the right people.
For more than 50 years, they have
done business like this in Chicago and the locals know it is wrong, but they
laughingly call it the “Chicago Way.” In order to get anything done you must make a political
contribution to your alderman and payoff powerful community groups.
We read with some amazement that
the Obama Presidential Library is the focus of one such shakedown right now (read
President Obama has
committed to bringing this economic development windfall to Chicago’s
economically-troubled south side.
claims that the Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock
bought a $1 billion real estate boom, and the George W. Bush library is worth
$50 million per year to the Dallas area.)
But rather than thanking President
Obama for bringing this important development that any community would welcome
with open arms, community organizers are demanding a “community benefits
agreement” from the Library organizers to allow the project to go forward. They want a commitment of “jobs” and a
commitment of cash to “permit” him to bring his official papers into their
Even more amazingly, the community
organizer-in-chief has declined their offer and stood up to the new generation
of community organizer bullies. He
The exact same “community benefits
agreement” is what powerful political leaders were demanding from Children’s
here in Cincinnati. And lest we
think Cincinnati dodged a bullet when a narrow majority of Council and Mayor
Cranley rejected the extortion, the same shakedown artist – former Cincinnati
Mayor Dwight Tillery – happens to be one of the largest donors to Denise
Driehaus and Todd Portune, the democrats that are the new majority on the
how Tillery’s “Closing the Health Gap” has accomplished precious little for the
enormous infusion of tax dollars it has received from City Hall for years.
But just last month – outside of
the counsel from their official advisors on the Hamilton County Tax Levy Review
Committee and the Elderly Services Advisory Committee – the new democrat
majority on the County Commission jacked the Senior Services Levy up 37% and tucked
in there a little gift for Dwight Tillery’s nonprofit.
Of course, the Senior Services levy
is a favorite with voters – who would not want to help Cincinnati’s
elderly? But for Portune and
Driehaus to give such a gift to their key political supporters, on top of the
same shakedown artists demanding millions from the Children’s Hospital
development signals a new and dangerous direction for our City and County – the
new “Cincinnati Way.”
Issue 5 – the 37% higher Senior
Services levy – and the Children’s Hospital shakedown are two sides of the same
a new way of doing business in Cincinnati.
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