How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Posted on behalf of No Quarter blogger City Nell

The Obamas' new home has received a lot of attention in the corporate media and on the blogs. This post will discuss other perspectives.

Hyde Park, where the Obamas have lived since 1994, is home to the University of Chicago (UC) Law School and at least one of UC's hospitals. Leo Struass taught in the university's Committee on Social Thought. The Federalist Society was born at UC, and it is the alma mater of many Neo Cons, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Kenwood, where the Obamas' new home sits, is a small neighborhood, only 1.09 miles in area. It is bound on the south by Hyde Park, on the north by North Kenwood, and on the west by the neighborhood of Highland. Kenwood was once one of the most elite neighborhoods in all of Chicago.

This map shows the juxtaposition of the Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods:

 According to 2000 census figures, both neighborhoods boast racial diversity.

Group IdentificationHyde ParkKenwood
White15.9%43.5%
Black75.7%37.7%
Hispanic1.64%4.11%
Asian4.27%11.3
Other2.52%3.39%

A census commissioned by Century 21 Real Estate in 2005 reveals how Hyde Park and Kenwood are comparable in almost every category, with Kenwood having the smaller population.

NeighborhoodsHyde ParkKenwood
Population Estimate22,6009,514
Avg. Family Income81,80088,839
Median Age3945
% of Population with Bachelors Degrees21.03%21.75%
% of Population with Postgraduate Degrees42.49%32.14%

The Obamas had decided that politics was Barack's ultimate future while still dating. In 1991, then Michelle Robinson, who was then Obama's fiancée, left her job at the law firm of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. She went to work for the city of Chicago, first as an assistant to Mayor Daley, then as the Executive Director of Public Allies Chicago, a nonprofit that provides leadership training to young adults interested in public service careers.  

In 1996, she left the Public Allies to help create a student volunteer program at The University of Chicago. By the time of this interview, she was the Executive Director of Community Affairs for The University of Chicago Hospitals.  This is how Michelle portrays her change of career:

She was devastated when her father died from MS complications. "That's when I started analyzing my life, sitting in a firm," she recalls, adding that in that same year she also lost one of her best friends from college to cancer. She soon left the firm to pursue a much lower-paying path in the public sector.

The fact is Michelle was actively recruited for City Hall by a close friend, Valerie Jarrett, who was Mayor Daley's Deputy Chief of Staff at that time. Valerie later became the Finance Chair of Obama's 2004 US Senate campaign and then First Treasurer of Barack's political action committee, Hopefund.

It helps to have friends at City Hall. Among other positions, Michelle was appointed twice to sit on the board of the Commission of Chicago Landmarks for two consecutive terms. Michelle maintained this board seat from 1998 to March 2005, although normally a member only serves one 4 year term.

Flush from the success of Barack's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the Obamas decided it was time to find a residence more fitting for their anticipated new status. Barack's 1995 autobiography Dreams of My Father soared, and they knew Alan Keyes was no threat to their future success in the US Senate elections.

Sitting on the Commission of Chicago Landmarks board, Michelle knew of a permit, waiting for review and approval to sell, for a designated Historical Georgian revival home built in 1910 with four fireplaces, glass-door bookcases fashioned from Honduran mahogany, and a 1,000-bottle wine cellar owned by a doctor in Kenwood. The Commission is supported not only by donations and taxes but also by charges for permits. It's a pretty extensive process, and they want a complete history of the house and property when a permit is requested. Once the Board approves a permit, the application goes to the city planning or zoning commission if more than a simple sale is involved.

The doctor who owned the Kenwood home wanted more than the Obamas could afford. As Barack has stated in numerous press interviews, buying the home would be a stretch.  Barack contacted his patron Tony Rezko, despite knowing he was under investigation at the time, in order to see what could be done so the Obamas could afford their dream house.  Sub-division was likely the agreed-on solution. In order to divide the lot, which the doctor purchased as one entity, he would have to:

-- Hire an approved architect and general contractor, who had been involved in renovations and sub-divisions in Kenwood previously

-- Have the lots surveyed and new plot plans drawn

-- Re-start the Landmark Commission permit approval process

-- Hold a public hearing (required).

On page 51 of the Commission on Landmarks Ordinances, one finds a justification for the doctor agreeing to subdividing the land.

The applicant bears the burden of proof that the existing use of the property is economically infeasible and that the sale, rental or rehabilitation of the property is not possible, resulting the property not being capable of earning any reasonable economic return.

Pages 51 and 52 of the Landmark ordinances show how many proofs and other forms of extensive documentation are required in order to subdivide the land. Can any rational person believe the doctor would have been willing to go along with having his property sub-divided, and all the work and time involved, without compensation and assistance? Who paid for this?

With Michelle sitting on the Landmarks board, Commission approval wasn't expected to be an issue, even though I have not located notice of the Public Hearing from any of the involved boards. From there it would go to the City Planning Board and the Zoning Boards, which also require public hearings. Each of these steps average between 6 weeks and 3 months to complete.

The doctor's property was located in what Chicago Zoning Terms refer to as Residential Single zone 1, or RS1. This means the house the Obamas bought required 6,250 sq. ft of area. Even if it had the designation lowered to RS2, it still would have required 5,000 square feet, as seen on page 5 of Chicago's zoning ordinances. Starting on page 8, the ordinances specify setbacks and how much space must be available on each side of a building. The open space on the building's sides normally conform to Fire Regulations, so that equipment can access all portions of a building during crises.

Public Records at the Chicago Commission on Landmarks, the Chicago Planning Department and Chicago Zoning Boards would show the exact dates of permits, hearings and approvals. Michelle was so confident she listed the Obamas' condo, which was located on the first floor of a Hyde Park Brownstone. In October 2004, Michelle expressed surprise to a Chicago interviewer that the Condo had sold so quickly, which meant they either had to put off a closing date or write in a lease agreement for a specified amount of time in their Condo purchase contract.

2004 was a year flush with success for the Obamas: the autobiographical book sales increased; the DNC speech had been well received; Obama won his US Senate seat; and Michelle received a recent promotion to a $316,962-a-year position as Vice President at The University of Chicago Hospitals. Their income was over 1.67 million dollars, with anticipation of even greater gains ahead.

All that needed to be done, in the name of the doctor, on the Kenwood property was completed by March 2005, and the house was finally listed. Michelle Obama resigned her seat on the Chicago Commission on Landmarks at the same time. Barack and Michelle closed on their new home in June of 2005, for $1.65 million dollars, $300,000 less than the asking price, and most likely using the proceeds of their Condo for a down payment, while taking out a mortgage for $1.32 million from Northern Trust. Tony Rezko's wife purchased the newly divided sub-plot for the full price of $625,000 and closed on the same day.

The City of Chicago requires parking permits, or people must rent space at parking garages for around $30 per diem. There is no overnight on-street parking. The Obamas had no yard to park on, and most likely parked on Rezko's property.

Within in a month of purchasing their new home, the Obamas began the same process the doctor previously went through. Because Tony Rezko was being indicted, they needed to be distanced from him. So the Obamas hired a lawyer and an architect. Additionally, the Obama's wanted to put up a fence separating the two properties. On page 21 of the Landmark Ordinances above, it states fences for Historic homes can be no more than 5' high and must not be visible from the street. If the Obamas had purchased a prefab chain, picket or wooden fence, they would have lost the Historic designation and also the eight-year property tax freeze benefit accrued by agreeing to keep the house in conformance with Landmark regulations.

A picture of the front view of Obamas' house reveals landmark and zoning requirements.

The concrete wall and evergreens were most likely done after the city appropriated land for sidewalks, and the paving of what has been noted as a wide and busy thoroughfare. If you notice, the trees were planted one to two feet behind the concrete wall, most probably a result of zoning constraints.

 The new fence was specially fabricated to conform to historic standards, and the $14,000 cost was billed to Rezko per agreement by Obama and Rezko. Obama states he paid for the architect and Lawyer. Strangely enough the fence actually sits ON the property line between the two lots. Obama agreed to yard maintenance for both properties. And given Obama's history with the Harvard Law Review and his limited known court experience from public records, Obama most likely either edited or personally wrote the legal documents for his sub-division and the fence. On January 12, 2006, the Obamas closed on the 1/6th of Rita Rezko's property they purchased for $104,500.

Facts not specifically cited above, and much more, can be found in this Chicago Tribune article.

This MyDD diary features a special video from NBC news that provides broader views of Obama's property. The diarist makes note of an SUV sitting on the 1/6 new parcel of Obama's land.

In all likelihood the driveway was previously on Rezko land. Behind the house is most likely an old carriage house converted into a garage. Parking on the street in that type of neighborhood is prohibited by zoning and fire safety laws, unless someone in authority had been previously notified of a large gathering.

One other event of note occurred in 2005. Daniel Mahru, Rezko's partner in Rezmar for 16 years until the two men had, according to Mahru, "a difference of opinion," resigned from Rezmar, Rezko's slum landlord operation. Did Mahru leave because he knew any shady deals while Rezko was being investigated would lead to disaster?

There were lots of people involved in the purchase of the Obamas' house, and they would all be owed some kind of consideration for their help and support. Obama's favors from Rezko amount to $925,000, plus an additional $14,000 for the fence, bringing the total cash value to just one person to $939,000.

Will Rezko sit quietly in jail or will he bring Mayor Daley, Governor Blagojevich and Senator Obama down with him?

How will Obama repay the "favors" he owes all these people?

I am sure Patrick Fitzgerald will reveal all these connections and much more in Rezko's upcoming trial at the end of this month.

Tags: Antoin "Tony" Rezko, Antoin Rezko, Barack Obama, Chicago, Commission of Chicago Landmarks, corruption, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Michelle Obama, Real Estate, Tony Rezko, Valerie Jarrett (all tags)

Comments

85 Comments

Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

I think Obama needs to use Hope.

Hope Rezko keeps his mouth shut.

by NewHampster 2008-02-04 03:19PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Obama really has "good judgment".

by Actright 2008-02-04 03:30PM | 0 recs
why did he claim

he was wearing shabby clothes and shoes with holes in them when he was given this 'bonehead' deal, living in a squalid apartment?  What worries me most is what does he own Tony?  Where did that photo of him and the Clintons appear from, if not from him?  and the info about him donating money to someone in her campaign? If he's still helping Obama, then they have a close relationship that may well involved quid pro quo's.  

by anna shane 2008-02-04 03:23PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Ohh, Michelle Obama was on the Landmark commission? This looks much more fishy than we were led to believe, where is bored now now?

by souvarine 2008-02-04 03:25PM | 0 recs
OH.MY.GOD.

The Board of Landmarks???? When will the corruption end???

Ann Coulter called... she wants her "research" and innuendo skills back.

In Kenwood and Hyde Park, there are a lot of old mansions that would sell for about 2x the price if they were anywhere on the North Side. The fact is, it's just difficult to get full price on your home down there. Also, how many people do you know, even with average-priced homes, that get the list price when they're selling their house? Would your first offer on a $200,000 house be $200,000, or would try to low-ball with $170K and use that to start negotiating? (Note: there were other bids for the house that the Obamas eventually bought--their bid turned out to be the highest).

Seriously people, common sense. Obama probably shouldn't have been involved with a shady character like Rezko at all, but this happened quite early on in the case against him.

Check out this diary for a debunking of the myths you continue to propagate.

by Max Fletcher 2008-02-04 03:30PM | 0 recs
Re: OH.MY.GOD.

Closed below list in 2005? You are full of it.

by souvarine 2008-02-04 03:39PM | 0 recs
Re: OH.MY.GOD.

Max, that guys hawking his book on Obama; you are going to hoist up as Obama's defender a profiteer off of Obama?

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-02-04 05:43PM | 0 recs
Re: OH.MY.GOD.

Has anyone found evidence that contradicts his claims?

Again:

(1) The Obama family were not the only bidders on the home.
(2) This was the South Side we're talking about, not Lincoln Park or Wilmette. It is very likely that it would be hard to meet the original asking price on a home that large on the South Side. Many of the old mansions down there have been turned into community centers because no one would buy them.

by Max Fletcher 2008-02-04 06:56PM | 0 recs
Re: OH.MY.GOD.

That is not the case in the Kenwood neighborhood, which has enjoyed stable property rates for decades.  Moreover, there is no evidence that other bids on the property were made.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-04 06:58PM | 0 recs
Ah, Wikipedia eh? (n/t)

by Max Fletcher 2008-02-04 07:08PM | 0 recs
to expand

because that was overly sarcastic and bitter, and I'm sorry I acted like a dick...

Kenwood is a working-class neighborhood. It is getting better than it once was, and it is not as impoverished as some of its neighborhoods, but its not the kind of place where hordes of rich people are looking to buy mansions. The near-North side, or basically anywhere between the Loop and Wrigleyville, is the nicest area in the city proper, and the wealthiest suburbs are for the most part along the North Shore, like Wilmette, Winnetka, Kenilworth, Lake Forest, etc.

by Max Fletcher 2008-02-04 07:29PM | 0 recs
Re: to expand

kenwood is not a working class neighborhood; it is an upper middle class neighborhood compromised of large single family homes.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 04:28AM | 0 recs
Re: OH.MY.GOD.

Yes, the south side wherein over 50% of the population in Hyde Park and Kenwood have Bachelors/Graduate degress and where the Median income is between $81,000 and $88,000 oer annum. All you have to do is click on the links in the boxes above.

Obama's claims - Let's see He says he knew nothing about his constituents having no heat. However there is a letter Obama wrote in November 2003, that not only uses the racial canard, but also has this statement:

"My office and those of South Suburban legislators have been flooded with calls from upset commuters who had called Metra to complain about the service. One woman was told that the reason there are no bathrooms is because Metra bought the Electric Line from the Illinois Central and that the problem will be fixed eventually. The other person who complained received no call back.

http://www.hydepark.org/transit/obamatra nsitlet.htm

So we are to believe these same constituents who raise hell about diplated trains stations, and cars with no bathrooms, simply sat quietly in their homes and froze for 5-6 weeks, and supposedly DID NOT notify his office?

Unless you plan on your book being as FACT challenged as those of Ann Coulter, may I suggest you do a lot more research - because believe me there is lots more, including the fact that Obama's hired a convicted felon and ex-con to be a senior staff member at Obama's training camps for his campaign.

http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazi ne/December-2007/Bad-Camper/

by Grandma M 2008-02-08 12:23AM | 0 recs
factcheck.org:

The Truth, without jokes:


Q: Does Obama have a real estate problem?
Was Obama's real estate deal in Illinois really an issue?

A: A political patron from whom he bought a strip of land is under federal indictment, but there's no evidence Obama did anything improper.

Here's what happened: In 2005, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, bid $1.65 million for a house on the south side of Chicago. According to newspaper reports, the owner was also trying to sell an undeveloped parcel of land adjacent to the property Obama was buying, and he wanted the sales of the two to close on the same day. Obama has said that he mentioned he was buying the house to a longtime political patron, Antoin (Tony) Rezko, a developer. Rezko's wife wound up buying the lot adjacent to Obama's. At the request of the Obamas, who were seeking a bit more space for their yard, she later sold them a 10-foot wide strip, or about one-sixth, of her land. The Obamas paid $104,500 for it, or about one-sixth of what Mrs. Rezko had paid for the entire property.

Obama doesn't appear to have reaped any financial advantages from the transactions. The reason the deal has received a good bit of attention is that Tony Rezko - whose political contributions to Illinois' former governor, Obama and others totaled in the hundreds of thousands of dollars - was known to be under federal investigation at the time the Obamas were purchasing their home.

I know the way Senator Clinton has been treated by the media has been rather unfortunate, but its important not to start trumping up false charges against her opponents. After all:

"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

Yeah, I may have failed at that one with the Ann Coulter reference in my original response, but people should realize when their shovels are hitting rock instead of more dirt. Obama should not have been involved with the likes of Rezko, and he's said as much, but the insinuations of quid pro quos (and worse) that have become routine on this site are totally inexcusable, and should not be allowed to continue unchallenged.

by Max Fletcher 2008-02-04 07:16PM | 0 recs
Re: factcheck.org:

the material you cite is dated.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-04 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: factcheck.org:

Well, the material you've cited is blatantly misleading and much of it made up, so touche good sir

by Max Fletcher 2008-02-04 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: factcheck.org:

everything cited in this diary is factual.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 04:27AM | 0 recs
please proivide links then

You draw all kinds of conclusions here with no evidence.

For example:

Barack contacted his patron Tony Rezko, despite knowing he was under investigation at the time, in order to see what could be done so the Obamas could afford their dream house.  Sub-division was likely the agreed-on solution.

By all accounts, that didn't happen.  The Obamas were one of two bidders on the house.  How could they set up a backroom deal with a complicit seller who just wanted the highest price on the house?

And then you present this hypothetical:


Can any rational person believe the doctor would have been willing to go along with having his property sub-divided, and all the work and time involved, without compensation and assistance? Who paid for this?

He couldn't sell the house for his original asking price!

Anybody who has ever sold a large piece of property (in a difficult market) knows that sometimes additional expenses are necessarily incurred in order to make the sell.

The supposition and innuendo in this piece are unbelievable.

When did MyDD become a haven for such sensationalism?
 

by Damien in Texas 2008-02-05 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: please proivide links then

everything cited in the diary is factual.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: please proivide links then

Prove it.  Provide links.

by Adam B 2008-02-05 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: please proivide links then

links are provided in the diary.  i recommend you read and reread it until the diary's import and significance are fully comprehended.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 06:42AM | 0 recs
Re: please proivide links then

I did. These are the questions you haven't answered.

by Adam B 2008-02-05 07:12AM | 0 recs
Re: please proivide links then

I did.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 09:16AM | 0 recs
Re: please proivide links then

everything cited in the diary is factual.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: please proivide links then

it's a fact .... it's full of sh#$.

by JoeCoaster 2008-02-05 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: please proivide links then

no, it is not.  but obama supporters refuse to view the fraudulent transaction as an ethical lapse.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: please proivide links then

Suntimes Obama Interview from article published Nov 5, 2006 :

Q: Did you approach Rezko or his wife about the property, or did they approach you?
A: To the best of my recollection, I told him about the property, and he developed an interest, knowing both the location and, as I recall, the developer who had previously purchased it.

by Madison 2008-02-07 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: factcheck.org:

Why did the owner of the property insist that the lot be sold on the same day?

Did he have it rezoned recently?

If so why?

Why did Rezco buy a $600,000+ block of land just to have it sit idle ?

If rezco has such dreams for this land why did he sell 1/6 of it to Obama at cost?

How did Obama gain the use of this 1/6 for the time prior to his buying it without reaping financial gain?

Is Rezco connected to organized crime?  

If so is Obama?

by sonofdonkeykong 2008-02-05 08:00AM | 0 recs
Judgement

All this happened 3-years after Saint Obama came down from the Mount with the scrolls of superior judgement handed to him from Gawd himself. The same infallible judgement that he is beating Hillary up with now.

Obama is toast. It is just a matter of time. Clinton has only mentioned it once. She pointed it out  so diligent voters could look into it and make up her own mind. The Republicans, on the other hand will be ruthless. You can't run as the candidate of purity, and all that is good in this world, with a Tony Rezko tied to you. People can forgive mistakes but they hate liars and hypocrites.

by ineedalife 2008-02-05 02:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks truthteller! I have two questions:

there are many contradictions, and i doubt the landmark commission would allow anyone to erect a structure on the mansion's erstwhile yard.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-04 03:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks truthteller! I have two questions:

Oncce Obama bought the strip with his driveway on it there was no way to get into Rezko's side without going through the gate - on Obama's property.

by georgiast 2008-02-04 04:07PM | 0 recs
Supreme Court, Supreme Court

The corporate-friendly, pro-choice moderate judges Hillary would appoint to the high court would be a million times better than any judicial appointment by McCain (who has voted to confirm every Bush judge, as far as I know).

by desmoinesdem 2008-02-04 05:14PM | 0 recs
this is a complicated story

I think it's better to keep it really simple.

Let's assume Obama did no significant legal work for Rezko and has never done him any favors. Let's also assume that Obama knew nothing about any unsavory business practices by Rezko.

Basically, he wanted a nicer house than he could afford, and he got a rich guy to pay full asking price on the adjacent lot so that the seller would accept his bid on the mansion.

How many brilliant attorneys would advise a client who was an elected official to enter into that kind of arrangement with a wealthy constituent?

It just doesn't look good.

Any other presidential candidate would be crucified by the media for this. But Barack "turned down a high paying job to become a community organizer" Obama gets a pass on using a rich guy to acquire a house that was beyond his means.

by desmoinesdem 2008-02-04 05:17PM | 0 recs
Re: this is a complicated story

i'm sure that id obama gets the nomination, the republicans will give him every benefit of the doubt on this matter ;-)

that stuff with michelle obama on the board approving all these shenanigans is VERY bad. it's hard to act innocent convincingly with all this evidence that it was a long sequence of "coincidences".

when people want a nice house, they do funny things. but not like this.

by campskunk 2008-02-04 05:36PM | 0 recs
Re: this is a complicated story

First of all, the link in the diary contains this information:

Obama admits he played a mostly behind-the-scenes role at his law firm, Miner Barnhill & Galland. He researched the law, drafted motions, prepared for depositions and did other less glamorous work during his three years full-time and eight years "of counsel" to the firm. Many trial lawyers spend their time similarly, part of a trend over the last 20 years of settling a greater percentage of cases before trial.

"I was an associate, and a lot of my work was in the research and writing," Obama told the Sun-Times on Sunday.

"I was one of the better writers. I ended up doing the more cerebral writing, less trial work," Obama added. "That's actually something I regret -- not doing more trial work."

"He wrote lots of substantial memos, but he didn't try any cases," said Judson Miner, a partner in the firm who was Obama's boss.

A search of all the cases in Cook County Circuit Court in which Obama made an appearance since he graduated from Harvard in 1991 shows: Zero.

His practice was confined mainly to federal court in Chicago, where he made formal appearances in only five district court cases and another five in cases before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals -- a total of 10 cases in his legal career. He was on the winning side of just about all those cases. Miner said there were 30 cases to which Obama contributed in some way.

Then there are the Public records of Court Cases  involving Rezko done by the Davis Miner law firm

As Obama admits in the blockquote above:I was one of the better writers. I ended up doing the more cerebral writing, less trial work,".

If you read the whole article linked to in the diary, Obama's value to the firm was his writing skills, not his litigator skills.

by Grandma M 2008-02-08 01:51AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

I'm just curious, did you guys mention that the house had been on the market for four months? That Obama's bid was higher than another bid for the house?

Yeah, I didn't think so.

But, if Obama is the nominee, the Republicans will thank you for your Coulter-esque innuendo. I mean, they've already done the legwork on Clinton - Hsu, Marc Rich, Aaron Tonkin, Sant Chatwal, IPA, Charlie Trie, John Huang, James Riady, Johnny Chung, Roger Tamraz, Jeffrey Epstein, John K.H. Lee, Pauline Kanchanalak, Ng Lap Seng, Abdul Rehman Jinnah, Ron Burkle, Kazahki uranium miners, etc. So, you've got a long way to go to equal the unsavory ties and bad judgment the Clintons have exhibited, but, hey, you've got to start somewhere!

by Loreg 2008-02-04 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

homes such as the obama/rezko mansion normally remain on the market for years.  but michelle ensured that the transaction would be expedited through her position on the commission.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-04 05:42PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

"Normally".  You have a source for that?

Not to mention a source for the proposition that the property was historically designated in the first place, or the blatant falsehood that you can't park your car overnight on the streets of HP-K (I certainly did), or that being on Law Review has anything to do with the ability to draft legal documents ...

I mean, this whole diary is built off a fictional premise. Leo Strauss died twenty years before Obama came to Chicago, and is about as relevant to him as the fact that Ramsey Clark, Ralph Neas and Carol Mosely Braun are also grads of the Law School.

Nor did you mention that Rezko moved ahead with plans to develop six condos on that adjacent property, which explains his interest ...

by Adam B 2008-02-04 07:08PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

I know for a fact that one cannot park in front of the Obama home, which is located across the street from a Jewish temple.  

by truthteller2007 2008-02-04 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

False.  There's a synagogue down at the corner at Hyde Park Blvd, but not across the street.

by Adam B 2008-02-04 07:16PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

it is located across the street from the home.  

by truthteller2007 2008-02-04 07:19PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Prove it.  Name the synagogue.  Show us the GoogleMap.

by Adam B 2008-02-04 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

I will, as I know where the home is located.  In fact, I reside two blocks from the Obama-Rezko property.

Link to map

by truthteller2007 2008-02-04 07:33PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

And the Obama house is not at the corner, as you know.  You're just not telling the truth.

by Adam B 2008-02-04 08:43PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

it is located at the corner.  view the map, and view the video.  

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 04:26AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

I did view the map.  It's not on the corner.

by Adam B 2008-02-05 04:43AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

the home and the lot on which it sits is located on the corner of greenwood and hyde park blvd./51st street.  i recommend you view the photograph again.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 04:58AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

the name of the synagogue is KAM Isaiah Isreal.

website

by truthteller2007 2008-02-04 07:40PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

The synagogue is INDEED across the street.  

Truthteller, maybe you can find one of those Google sky maps, or whatever they're called.

by susanhu 2008-02-04 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

i link to a google map in my first reponse to adam bonin.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-04 07:40PM | 0 recs
publishing names is trollable. nt

by Adam B 2008-02-04 08:44PM | 0 recs
Re: publishing names is trollable. nt

You've really gone round the bend, Adam. truthteller has you dead to rights with pictures, step back and try to maintain some integrity.

by souvarine 2008-02-05 04:35AM | 0 recs
Re: publishing names is trollable. nt

I've listed a variety of ways in which he's wrong.  He's only even trying to rebut one of them, and on that, he's wrong.

Ask him what the specific addresses are for the Obama property and the synagogue, then do the googlemap yourself.

by Adam B 2008-02-05 04:44AM | 0 recs
Re: publishing names is trollable. nt

the google photograph and the video reveals the home and the lot are located at the corner of 51st and greenwood, which is located across the street from the synagogue.  you are wrong, adam.  but i thank you for your effort.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 04:57AM | 0 recs
Re: publishing names is trollable. nt

What is the address of the house?

by Adam B 2008-02-05 04:59AM | 0 recs
Re: publishing names is trollable. nt

i do not know the address.  but i do know where it is located.  and the maps i cite reveal that the rezko mansion is located at the intersection of hyde park blvd. and greenwood.  

i am correct, and you are wrong.  deal with it.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 05:05AM | 0 recs
Re: publishing names is trollable. nt

Zabasearch and other public sources -- including Obama's own public filings related to his candidacy -- put the house at 5046 Greenwood, which is decidedly not at the corner.

If you live two blocks from the house, you can confirm the address yourself.

by Adam B 2008-02-05 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: publishing names is trollable.

Based on google the only house on a corner with a side yard as depicted in the MSNBC video that is anywhere near the address you've given is the one across from the Synagogue. The other houses near that address have yards in the back.

by souvarine 2008-02-05 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: publishing names is trollable. nt

"the Rezko mansion?"

This thread is totally insane.

I just dropped in to catch a whiff of what this site is about.  

{Donning gas mask).

Can anybody here get a clue?

by nailbender 2008-02-18 06:24PM | 0 recs
Re: publishing names is trollable. nt
If you bother to follow the link to the KAM Isaiah Israel Synagogue in the left hand corner is this address. 1100 E Hyde Park Blvd
Chicago, IL 60615-2810
by Grandma M 2008-02-08 01:08AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Susan, someone fed the two of you false oppo.  

by Adam B 2008-02-04 08:44PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

no, it is located on the corner.  

by truthteller2007 2008-02-05 04:27AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Why does Obama frame the gist of his mistake being the point of buying the strip of land? Saying on This Week:

OBAMA: Well, George, this is a story that has been out there for a year, and has been thoroughly gnawed on by the press, both in Chicago and nationally.

Tony Rezko was a friend of mine, a supporter, who I've known for 20 years. He was a contributor not just myself but Democrats, as well as some Republicans, throughout Illinois. Everybody perceived him as a businessman and developer.

He got into trouble that was completely unrelated to me. And nobody has suggested that I have been involved in any of those problems. I did make a mistake by purchasing a small strip of property from him, at a time where, at that point, he was under the cloud of a potential investigation.

And I've acknowledged that that was a mistake. But again, nobody has suggested any wrongdoing. And you know, I think, at this point, it's important for people to recognize that I have actually provided all the information that's out there about it.


I would have thought the mistake happened way previous than when the strip was bought.

Anyway, younguns don't remember Whitewater at all I guess. If Obama does get the nomination, I'm not sure whether this all will matter or not, in a hypothetical GE with Obama. I do agree it stinks mightily, but you gotta want to look at this with unvarnished eyes to smell it, and that's not too likely in our political environment by the media anytime soon.  But, Freeperville will make this diary looks like child's play.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-02-04 05:49PM | 0 recs
Which....

makes it ok, or even commendable, in this instance, for us to just make things up?

by Max Fletcher 2008-02-04 08:01PM | 0 recs
point-by-point?

In case you still haven't figured out how ridiculous this truly is...

Leo Struass taught in the university's Committee on Social Thought. The Federalist Society was born at UC, and it is the alma mater of many Neo Cons, including Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Really? Charleton Heston went to my school years ago, but somehow I'm managing to type this without the impediment of having an assault rifle strapped to my back. This is at worst intentionally misleading and at best completely irrelevant.

Kenwood, where the Obamas' new home sits, is a small neighborhood, only 1.09 miles in area. It is bound on the south by Hyde Park, on the north by North Kenwood, and on the west by the neighborhood of Highland. Kenwood was once one of the most elite neighborhoods in all of Chicago.

And now, in terms of median household income, it is slightly below average, no doubt buoyed by some of the residents of the large mansions like the one in question.

The Obamas had decided that politics was Barack's ultimate future while still dating. In 1991, then Michelle Robinson, who was then Obama's fiancée, left her job at the law firm of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood. She went to work for the city of Chicago, first as an assistant to Mayor Daley, then as the Executive Director of Public Allies Chicago, a nonprofit that provides leadership training to young adults interested in public service careers.

The author provides no basis whatsoever for his or her assertions that Michelle Obama decided to work for the city in order to advance her husband's political career.

In 1996, she left the Public Allies to help create a student volunteer program at The University of Chicago. By the time of this interview, she was the Executive Director of Community Affairs for The University of Chicago Hospitals.  This is how Michelle portrays her change of career:
She was devastated when her father died from MS complications. "That's when I started analyzing my life, sitting in a firm," she recalls, adding that in that same year she also lost one of her best friends from college to cancer. She soon left the firm to pursue a much lower-paying path in the public sector.

The fact is Michelle was actively recruited for City Hall by a close friend, Valerie Jarrett, who was Mayor Daley's Deputy Chief of Staff at that time. Valerie later became the Finance Chair of Obama's 2004 US Senate campaign and then First Treasurer of Barack's political action committee, Hopefund.

Here, the author not only takes great (or absolutely disgusting, as it were) liberties in interpreting Michelle's reaction to the death of her father and lifelong friend, but he or she also once again attributes the career decision of a self-made Princeton and Harvard Law graduate as a subservient move meant to further her husband's political career. This kind of lie wouldn't be as outrageous if it wasn't so distasteful, but there you have it.

Flush from the success of Barack's speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, the Obamas decided it was time to find a residence more fitting for their anticipated new status.

Once again, we have a derisive statement made without any supporting evidence.

Can any rational person believe the doctor would have been willing to go along with having his property sub-divided, and all the work and time involved, without compensation and assistance? Who paid for this?

To reiterate, the offer that was accepted from the Obama family was the highest bid offered. And once again, the author makes an accusation of wrongdoing without providing any sort of evidence to back up such a claim. And, by the way, how can any rational person could believe that the owner of a house would accept the highest offer available when looking to sell? Has anyone looked into why the doctor didn't accept one of the lower offers made for the house? Hopefully Clinton and Obama both stick around after tomorrow, so truthteller can look into that one for us.

There were lots of people involved in the purchase of the Obamas' house, and they would all be owed some kind of consideration for their help and support. Obama's favors from Rezko amount to $925,000, plus an additional $14,000 for the fence, bringing the total cash value to just one person to $939,000.

Will Rezko sit quietly in jail or will he bring Mayor Daley, Governor Blagojevich and Senator Obama down with him?

How will Obama repay the "favors" he owes all these people?

I'm guessing the $925,000 figure comes from adding the $625,000 price Rezko paid for his home, plus the $104,000 the Obamas paid for the house, plus any number of other dollar figures arising from a Google search of Obama+Rezko+$. The premise of this is pretty shaky, especially since Rezko was apparently developing the lot and stood to make a profit, and that the land Obama bought from Rezko came at a reasonable market price. Again, accusations of quid pro quo and other wrongdoing wholly unsubstantiated by any factual backing.

Obama made a poor judgment call here, but this is being taken to disgusting proportions by the people who write these kinds of diaries. This is skirting the edge of outright lying and character assassination, and it is something everyone who recommended this diary ought to be ashamed of.

by Max Fletcher 2008-02-04 09:01PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford
Obama: Rezko was under a cloud of "potential investigation"??
I thought the investigation was already underway when Obama bought the house.
by annefrank 2008-02-05 04:10AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Jerome - Obama's house deal proves we are still dependent on the CORPORATE media to "vet" candidates.
This is the same CORPORATE media that promotes corporate interests - not ours.
And the same CORPORATE media that has given Obama a pass from the gitgo.

It really doesn't matter if most of Obama's donors are lobbyists or ditch diggers. The key is - the CORPORATE media and their CORPORATE sponsors are promoting him.
Obama's their guy!

by annefrank 2008-02-05 04:36AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

You are right on about the Coporate Media.

Truth is both Obama and Hillary are funded by the same group of BIG money

And who do the 6 Media Owners turn to when they need a large influx of cash? Doesn't it make sense they would contact these same Money people?

And given the financial dependency, that gives the BIG money people lots and lots of control of the story!

by Grandma M 2008-02-08 02:11AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Actually in a GE with Hillary, were talking about a big GOP smackdown. They are salivating at their shot at Hillary. Ever Rove is any in his seat. Wanna know why?
http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?i d=076fd56f-4aca-4683-a9d1-3c55d748946e

Believe me if there are no shady deals in Obama's past, which is why they keep harping on this. If there were dirt to be had, they'd have found it. Bill has connections all over the place, as does Hillary, I am sure even GOP operatives would not mind giving Hillary a helping hand in dirt digging (they want her sooooo bad).

Um..there's nothing...zip ziltch zero

You people seem to think this incident is a "where there is smoke, there is fire"

Well the fire trucks have not shown up. There is none. Not for extreme lack of trying to find the fire though.

by mageduley 2008-02-09 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

"Also, since Bill Clinton has investments in Asia. What makes you think the troops are coming home?"--KOTS

Aside from the fact that I think you may have your geography all wrong, you need to be less obsessed with Bill Clinton and more concerned by the declining influence of America in Asia.  Asia does not need Bill Clinton's money, in fact Asia is propping up our ailing superpower with infusions of loans. In fact I predict that Asia and the European Union will use the period of a would be President Obama learning on the job to consolidate power and influence at considerable disadvantage to America. Bet you the Russian's, Chinese, Iranians  and Europeans are not only eagerly waiting to take advantage of Obama's day 1 but his Day 100 as well.

by superetendar 2008-02-04 06:10PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Since Hillary relies on Bill's judgement (like she did for the war) and the fact that 50% of Hillary supporters vote for her because they like Bill and want a return to the renaissance of the 90's, I think it is fair to look at Bill's decisions since they influence Hillary's as well.

For example, see my post:
If I knew then what I know now....
http://www.mydd.com/story/2008/2/5/02921 /96839

by mageduley 2008-02-09 07:42AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Throw you lot in with a "crook" and you might be able to get a mansion, too.

by reasonwarrior 2008-02-04 06:15PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

A U.S. senator buying a house from a crook under federal investigation - is insignificant.
Move along...

But a plaintiffs' lawyer owning a BIG house while advocating for the working poor - {gasp!}

by annefrank 2008-02-05 04:16AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Thank you for answering questions I had posted in previous diaries on this subject. The matter of the historic nature of the building and neighborhood puzzled me. Lots of this type are difficult to split up. On the other hand, the Landmarks Board has a sleazy history. In Illinois, things like this require public hearings. And there usually is a neighborhood history group that raises a fuss. It will be interesting to see if any records of such public hearings exist.

A more usual approach would have been to raise money for the small lot and make it into a park or community garden. There are these all over the city.

On the north side, very few old mansions have such spacious yards. My understanding is that the Drainage District requires such open space for runoff. Chicago sits on top of a lake side bog, on about three feet of fill. There are always drainage problems. It might be usefull to see if there was a drainage or hydrology impact statement filed. Sometimes these are required. There frequently are regulations in built up neighborhoods governing how much more open land can go under a roof. Selling off property can raise the drainage fees. Another avenue to explore.

Like most Chicago standard issue scandals, this is coming out in dribs and drabs. How politically connected was the fence builder? When I lived there, residential fences were very scarce. They can be trouble in a snowy climate. And don't stand up well to large amouns of snow and ice. One year when I lived there, roofs were carrying six feet of snow in January.

Thanks for keeping us up to date on a slowly unraveling scandal.

by DaleA 2008-02-04 06:50PM | 0 recs
The corruption list goes even farther
Check this out!!! This really nails it!
http://www.tnr.com/politics/story.html?i d=076fd56f-4aca-4683-a9d1-3c55d748946e
by mageduley 2008-02-04 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The corruption list goes even farther

saying "bill clinton" wont make this go way you twit!

bill didnt make them be so greedy.

that was probably barry...

by Seymour Glass 2008-02-04 08:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The corruption list goes even farther

So the juvenile everybody does it exonerates and excuses unethical behavior? And if so why?

by Grandma M 2008-02-08 02:22AM | 0 recs
Re: The corruption list goes even farther

Obama is as clean as they come. There is no doubt that the Clinton campaign has pulled out all of the stops to try and find some dirt ANY dirt on Obama.

He has this small instance in his past. He has given all of the money to charity. That is no easy feat because trying to do the 6 degrees of kevin bacon thing and trying to find every store clerk, secretary, newspaper boy, that knew of Rezko and gave money to Obama's campaign the Hillary campaign will latch on to.

It is amazing that after all of the serious digging there is only this.

It is the Hillary campaign with their multitudes of shady deals that are trying to spin this and say "Look, he's not clean either. He is a shady politician just like the rest of us."

Every newspaper, media outlet is looking for their next scoop. Believe me if there were any shady in Obama's past they would have found it.

You Hillary supporters harping on the rezko thing are really sad. "Support my candidate, because we're all corrupt so at least with me you get a 2 for one presidency to keep us safe"

Sad

by mageduley 2008-02-09 06:31AM | 0 recs
from an obama supporter

Even if he is completely innocent, it looks terrible. He should give up some amount of money representing any decreased price.

by highgrade 2008-02-05 05:57AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

"Even if he is completely innocent, it looks terrible."

No it doesn't - it looks very bad for the person who concocted that lie, but a lie is a lie is a lie. Shame on the one who repeats it to his imagined profit.

If you guys think that you doing your candidate a favor - you're greatly mistaken. She's probably screaming "OMG! Save me from my supporters!"

by Allexamina 2008-02-08 03:45PM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

She's probably screaming "OMG! Save me from my supporters!"

That's is the sad part. You are giving Hillary way too much credit. Remember she was the one screaming "slumlord" on national TV. She has no ethics nor morals. If anything she is just like the GOP. It doesnt matter if what you say is true. A lie can get around the world before the truth has a chance to put its boots on.

Hillary learned a lot from their persecution in the 90's. She knows what worked against them whether it was true or not didn't matter.

This is how she believe's the game is played. The American ideal of truth and justice is just well "quaint" to her.

We know of another Administration official who thought American ideals and the Geneva conventions were "quaint". Alberto Gonzales.

by mageduley 2008-02-09 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

A basic question:

What was Rezko's intent in buying the lot?  Some have suggested to develop into townhomes.  If the neighborhood is zoned R1 he could not develop it nor could he by selling a swath of the lot then be able to develop townhomes.   Was he going to build a single family house?  Could he build a single family house now that the lot is smaller?   Has anyone appraised the lot and determined it's best and highest use?  

by Iskandar 2008-02-11 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Parking

"The Obamas had no yard to park on, and most likely parked on Rezko's property."

False.  Just take a stroll down the street using your own link to google maps, and you can see that they have a driveway that goes to significant parking options, which you can see in your own link.

http://maps.google.com/maps?q=S+Greenwoo d+Ave+%26+E+Hyde+Park+Blvd,+Chicago,+IL+ 60615,+USA&ie=UTF8&t=h&om=0& amp;layer=c&cbll=41.802853,-87.59913 1&ll=41.803278,-87.599106&spn=0. 000828,0.001824&z=19&cbp=1,605.2 752176672861,,0,5.191207970554523

by TheDuke 2008-02-12 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

I lived in this house for a number of years in the 70's. So, for the record, 5046 S. Greenwood was a double lot on the corner of 51st and Greenwood, across from KAM Isaiah Israel. The 51st St side of the lot was just fenced lawn...wrought iron fence standing on a cement base a foot or two high. The driveway was on the north side of the house, going from Greenwood and heading directly west, past the port cochere, to the coach house.  It makes lots of sense to divide the parcel into two, as that huge lawn was plenty big for a second home.

A bit of history, as an aside. The house had been owned by the uncle of Leopold (Leopold and Loeb murdered Bobby Franks. Bobby's house was on 51st St, a couple blocks west of this property. After the scandal Uncle Leopold gave the property to KAM, and supposedly left town in shame. I can't vouch for that. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod purchased the property, intending to tear it down and build a large church structure. In the meantime, they used the first floor as a church and the staff lived on the 2nd and 3rd floors. The Lutherans sold the home to a private party sometime in the early 80's, as I recall.

It's a great building, and the purchase price doesn't seem out of line for similar homes in the neighborhood. Although you can't park across the street in from of the KAM entrance, there's plenty of street parking, the garage/coachhouse, and a very long driveway.

Just wanted to correct some misperceptions about the property.

by Chiboy 2008-02-20 11:10AM | 0 recs
Re: How To Buy A Mansion You Can't Afford

Yep, agreed. I lived in Kenwood just off 51st St. for a few years recently, I can at least verify that street parking is, in fact, legal and widespread. Not that this is the key point in all this, but...

by tomchaps 2008-04-17 01:26PM | 0 recs

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