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Uploaded on Aug 23, 2008


Beneath the mammoth shadow of The University of Chicago, city blocks are pristine. It is here, a short distance from a world class Titan of American institutions, where the Obama mansion stands boldly at the end of an extravagant avenue in Chicagos South Side. A storied dwelling, built of cheery red brick trimmed with cloud white trellis; the property is buttressed by a long, goose-necked driveway while an elaborate wrought iron fence protects its manicured, emerald grounds.

Just beyond this cozy bubble of academias lush neighborhood, a stark reality exists. Exploring the neighborhoods within a 10 minute drive of the Obama family mansion reveals the remnants of the forgotten poor. In some places a vast emptiness exists; barren landscapes, houses deteriorating and broken, windows burned out or boarded-up, pop cans and plastic sacks dancing across streets and catching on barbed wire. In some places, there are people; cautious, huddled, weary, waiting for a bus, searching the want ads.

Words cannot describe the tragedy of Mr. Obamas South Side. It has been like this, at times a little worse or at times a little better, for decades. This is who Mr. Obama represented. This is who Mr. Obama organized. This is less than 5 miles from the front yard where Mr. Obamas daughters play.

According to the last census reports, the national average of individuals living below the poverty line arrives at 12.4% with a median household income of $41,994.00. In these neighborhoods, individuals living below the poverty line showed an astounding 35.7%, 37.5%, and 46.3%, with median household incomes ranging from $14,205.00 to $ 25,705.00.

Time is not Mr. Obamas friend. More and more dirt is being drudged up by the trial of Tony Rezko, the famed Chicago slum lord and Obama family friend. The Chicago Sun Times reported that at the same time Mr. Rezko donated to Mr. Obama, residents in one of Mr. Rezkos buildings were without heat for more than 5 weeks. Eleven of Rezmar Corps foreclosed properties were in Mr. Obamas state legislative district.

Had I known that there were buildings that were in deteriorating or poor condition, that certainly would have given me pause. But I didnt know, Obama said. This is the thumb print of Mr. Obama. Time and time again, Mr. Obama has been known to look the other way on controversial issues; from Mr. Rezko to Reverend Wright to schedules from his State Legislative days to more than 100 present votes in the Illinois Senate.

Chicagos South Side has been slowly transforming. Over the past decade, the City has been bringing down the housing projects with a wrecking ball. At Robert Taylor Homes, built to house 15,000 of Chicagos poor and at one time crammed to double that amount, residents were given 180 day eviction notices. The major complaint of activists was that the building of new mixed income housing failed to keep up with the wrecking. The poorest of the poor moved into other housing projects nearby.

It is impossible to claim ignorance about the dismay of the communities in Mr. Obamas backyard. Where does the buck stop? As president, looking the other way will not cut it, not in these dire times. The job of the President requires an equal amount of judgment, anticipation and action. Mr. Obama has yet to prove he has earned his stripes


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