Covering the WestSide as it is today and Challenging everyone to become involve as we move into the future.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Gee Ike - Now It's YOU trying to Circumvent The System
I used to think that what I wanted most was to hear those Blago tapes. I was even willing to purchase them. You know, the tapes that are slowly being released where we've gotten to listen to then-wannabee senator Roland Burris salivate over Barack's old seat while pondering how to give the ex-governor money without it looking like a pay-to-play scheme. Now we have headline news from our own Austin Alderman, Isaac "Ike" Carothers. We've learned that he's been wearing a wire for an entire year while talking to other politicians and developers. Now those are some tapes I really want to hear!
As I read the newspaper account regarding his indictment last week on corruption charges, one quote from Carothers stood out: "These allegations are based on things from 2004," he said. "I've been alderman for five years after that. I think we've been effective."
So I went through some of my old Austin Weekly Newspapers from 2004. I came across one column that I wrote, responding to the then plans by the Macondo Corporation to redevelop Chicago Avenue, Division Street and North Avenue in Austin. When I questioned the alderman about how he would help black folks take part in the planned re-gentrification of Austin, Ald. Carothers told me that he didn't feel he should have to "hand-hold his constituents." So it's very interesting to now learn that he was doing all the hand-holding he could with developer Calvin Boender, who was also indicted.
Carothers is accused of successfully manipulating the zoning changes for the Galewood Railroad yard property at Central, just north of Bloomingdale. He's also alleged to have held his hands out for payouts made in the form of improvements on his West Race Street home. The feds say he got $40,000 worth of repairs while Boender made $3 million on the sale of the land because of the zoning change. To put it in terms that most of us can understand, that's kind of like helping someone make $30,000 on a deal and they give you four cents. No offense, but it is quite embarrassing when you look at the trivial amounts that our elected officials are accused of taking. Can't we just once get a black elected official who, when the charges are made, is accused of having embezzled thousands of dollars and not just pennies? I am not advocating dishonesty. I am just pointing out how they sell themselves and our community out so cheaply.
Continuing my search through old papers, I discovered one article where Ald. Carothers called Austin a "blighted community." When I wrote about that comment in January 2005 his response back to me was swift and terse. He took me to task for not calling him to verify the comment. But I did him one better. What I did was call the reporter who had a tape recording of the testimony and, lo and behold, there was Ike's unmistakable voice calling us "blighted."
In another article from Jan. 27, 2005, Ald. Carothers was again responding loudly and critically. This time he was belittling Jesse Jackson, Jr. The congressman had criticized the black aldermen for not doing enough to make sure African-Americans got their fair share of city contracts. Carothers' quote that was highlighted on the front page was so appropriate, that I feel the need to reprint it.
"No one has denied the fact that there are some people who try to circumvent the system, and you can't stop someone from lying. And when we discover those people, we need to deal with them."
Wow! In light of his indictment, Ald. Carothers' words are almost self-prophesying. What are we-the community who now has another elected official who is representing us as an indicted alderman-supposed to do?
When it comes to our elected officials, if they've done a million things right and then willfully do one thing that's wrong, does that "wrong" take away from any or all of the million "right" things? Part of the problem we have as a community is always trying to equalize the good and the bad. As far as I am concerned, if the allegations about Ike are correct, it has negated all of his positives. He sold us out for a mere pittance - a paint job and the price of new windows and doors.
But all is not bad news when it comes to Ald. Carothers. If the allegations are true, that he wore a wire, then we can post his picture all over Austin with the following caption. "When it's your butt on the line-SNITCH, SNITCH, SNITCH!"
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Arlene Jones' Biography
I was born in Chicago. I grew up in Cabrini Green. I attended Wells Sr High, the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle where I majored in Spanish and minored in Education. I have a diploma in Computer Programming.
I moved to Austin when I purchased a home here. I have two children.
I have been active in the community since moving here. I started with my blockclub. In the early 1990s, I worked with several people to try and form the North Austin Homeowners Association. I even went on patrol with a group of people who had a walkie talkie car patrol of the neighborhood.
As with most programs in the AA community, many factors led to the demise of those groups. Lack of support from elected officials was at the top of the list.
There were several people who had a group and we met out of DaVinci Manor. DaVinci Manor was at the corner of North Ave and Central where Walgreen now stands. Again there was very little interest in saving that building and our community lost a beautiful hall.
I have protested the state of the Central Ave bridge. I worked with Leola Spann and did many a smoke out including one in the 1500 block of North Lorel where drug paraphenalia layed on the ground. I have over the years here in Austin worked with the following groups at one point or another:
Northeast Austin Organization (Mary Volpe, Tom Hosea);
Northwest Austin Council;
Brotherhood of Black Men;
Westside Health Authority;
Every Block A Village;
25th District Housing Committee;
African American Employees at the Merchandise Mart (AAEMM);
Lafollette Park Advisory Council;
Garfield Park Conservatory Advisory Council;
Westside Executive Advisory Council;
Austin Landmark Cultural Center;
Concerned Citizens of East Garfield Park
and so many others that it gets hard to remember.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. -- Malcolm X