Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Slumlord: Scratch my back, I'll scratch yours

LandWhite Developers, a New York firm specializing in "low-income housing" and opportunism, wants to help Rockford. No, really. Rockford attorney Ian Linnabary said so. It must be true.

LandWhite is dead-set on rejuvenating the city by welcoming 158 poor individuals and families to the Village at Southgate, which would be sited at 11th Street and Sandy Hollow. Unfortunately for the developers, neither city staff nor the ZBA think it's a good idea, and it's in direct conflict with Rockford's long-range plan. The city feels the area is better suited for commercial and industrial tenants, but the plot thickens as a pair of aldermen who've comfortably been in office too long are holding the wooden spoon and tending the spice rack.

After a poor diagnosis for the project was corroborated by city staff and the ZBA, the request made its way to a city council committee, but no vote was taken because Ann Thompson-Kelly and Lenny Jacobson were curiously absent from City Hall Monday night.

The apartment complex, destined to become a rapidly-depreciating slum, happens to be in Lenny Jacobson's ward. Regardless of what his constituents, who'd be neighbors of the complex, have to say about it, Lenny always puts unions first. I mean, how else do you think the guy remains in office? If that's not enough incentive for Lenny to back the plan, maybe LeonardWhite could propose putting a bar in the complex to seal the deal. Time to retire from politics, Lenny. I'm getting a hard-on for your bullshit. This is your opportunity to bow out gracefully before I release the Rottweilers with orders to go for the balls.

Ann Thompson-Kelly seems to have an interest as well. LandWhite has been chomping at the bit for months to "redevelop" the former Church School in her ward. They want to turn it into a 44-unit home for old folks. I wonder if Thompson still dips her toes in the concrete business, as was the case with her company being awarded a sweetheart sub-contract for the new justice center (courtesy of Sjostrom & Sons).

The other option for Church School is demolition of a building that holds many fond memories for lifelong residents in the area, despite falling into disrepair. Last year, the city wrestled away the dilapidated building from a minority group that dreamed of turning the building into a community center. Annie turned on them and backed the foreclosure when LandWHITE offered an alternative which would allow the company to acquire the property for next to nothing. Black voters in the 7th Ward should remember this when she's running for re-election. Despite all her lip service to remain in the good graces of the African-American community, let's just call her Aunt Thom-pson.

The 7th Ward needs the kind of representation the 5th Ward is getting from the likes of council freshman Venita Hervey, who truly has her finger on the pulse of the best interest of the black community in Rockford. Hervey impresses me, and local government needs more folks like her, even if she is a lawyer.
Back to the Village at Southgate. LandWhite is only offering $800,000 of its own money, while trying to cash in on $16,800,000 of taxpayer risk. Take a look at those two figures again to make sure you read them correctly.

The Register Star reported:

"The city should deviate from its land-use plan for a number of reasons, Linnabary said, including the project’s merit and the developer’s potential involvement in another project of great importance to the city.

“This developer is willing to work with the city on the redevelopment of Church School," Linnabary said. 'The developer will be making no money on it, but they can make a profit in the residential project. They’re willing to do Church School if they can get Southgate.”

Hmmm. So, LandWhite is only willing to be a do-gooder if the city breaks the rules for them to build an apartment complex that nobody wants or needs? Meanwhile, they say they won't turn a profit on the Church School project, which they say they'll only redevelop if Southgate is approved. In other words, they're gonna make such a huge profit on Southgate that they'll buy votes in other wards in order to get the 10 votes they need for approval.

Fuck these out-of-towners in both ears and any other readily-apparent orifices. They only want to collect state-guaranteed rent on projects that would shrivel their dick like a stack of dimes without taxpayer subsidization.

Lenny must go. Annie must go. And LandWhite, most assuredly, needs to take a hike. If a better offer doesn't come along, demolition would still be an improvement.

Watch closely May 10. Prepare your scorecards. I suspect the vote will be very much along party lines. That's why Democrats held it out May 3 in absence of Lenny and Annie. It needs their votes to have a chance at passing. The question is, which Republicans can be bought behind the scenes before then?

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