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N2K: Pawlenty’s Offensive

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March 21, 2011, 2:07 p.m.

Gov. Gary Her­bert (R) 10/12 said he “would stand up against” neg­at­ive ads about Salt Lake Co. May­or Peter Cor­roon (D) after “a series of TV com­mer­cials crit­ic­al of Cor­roon” were shown to a fo­cus group last week by the ad­vert­ising co. hand­ling his cam­paign R&R Part­ners.

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Her­bert as­ser­ted he “did not want to see them aired.” R&R Part­ners head Bob Hen­rie said “while a re­spons­ible ad firm will give its cli­ents a range of op­tions from which to chose …the only dir­ec­tion R&R has been giv­en by the Her­bert cam­paign is ‘to main­tain a dig­ni­fied, pos­it­ive and is­sues-fo­cused cam­paign.’”

Mort­gage ana­lyst Milton Mon­son, one of the par­ti­cipants in a fo­cus group, noted that “among the ad sub­jects” were “Cor­roon send­ing his chil­dren to private school, rais­ing county taxes and fees, as­so­ci­at­ing with lib­er­al Demo­crats and sup­port­ing tax cred­its for re­new­able en­ergy.” Mon­son, a Cor­roon sup­port­er, “de­scribed them to a friend,” and “that friend passed along the in­form­a­tion” to the Cor­roon camp.

Her­bert:”I plan to run a pos­it­ive cam­paign to the end. As op­posed to my op­pon­ent, who is run­ning very neg­at­ive cam­paign ads, I’m not go­ing to do it. I’m run­ning a pos­it­ive ad cam­paign and you can take that to the bank. …Every­body’s un­com­fort­able with the Peter Cor­roon cam­paign ads. The only dis­ap­point­ment is that Peter Cor­roon is not un­com­fort­able with this and he should be.”

Cor­roon: “I think this shows the hy­po­crisy of the Her­bert cam­paign. I’m just show­ing the facts and the truth and now he’s got his neg­at­ive ads ready to go.”

Cor­ron “said it doesn’t mat­ter wheth­er Her­bert asked for the ads.” Cor­roon: “That’s non­sense. If they’re in­volving the cam­paign, Gary Her­bert has some say and some con­trol over them” (Roche, Deser­et News, 10/13).

CHICA­GO — The Wood­lawn neigh­bor­hood on this city’s South Side has been de­clin­ing for so long that the latest fed­er­al ef­fort to re­vital­ize it is lit­er­ally be­ing built on the ru­ins of the last one.

In the late 1960s, the Hous­ing and Urb­an De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment provided loan guar­an­tees to help the Wood­lawn Or­gan­iz­a­tion, the ten­a­cious loc­al group foun­ded by famed com­munity or­gan­izer Saul Al­in­sky, de­vel­op a three-block-long hous­ing pro­ject called the Grove Parc Plaza Apart­ments. Of­fer­ing garden apart­ments (an al­tern­at­ive to the dis­astrous high-rise pub­lic hous­ing sym­bol­ized by the now-de­mol­ished Robert Taylor Homes), Grove Parc was once con­sidered the cut­ting edge of urb­an re­devel­op­ment. Now it is dreary and dilap­id­ated, and HUD is tear­ing it down to try again.

Urb­an policy hasn’t gen­er­ated much pub­lic de­bate un­der Pres­id­ent Obama. But the pres­id­ent, who worked as an Al­in­sky-style or­gan­izer just south of Wood­lawn, has quietly put his own twist on the per­en­ni­al chal­lenge of re­viv­ing poor com­munit­ies.

His strategy rests on the cri­tique that, too of­ten, Wash­ing­ton’s an­ti­poverty pro­grams have failed be­cause they tried to treat one prob­lem fa­cing a com­munity — hous­ing, crime, edu­ca­tion — without ad­dress­ing the oth­ers. The White House is prompt­ing fed­er­al agen­cies and loc­al groups to de­vel­op more-com­pre­hens­ive re­sponses that at­tempt to sim­ul­tan­eously ad­dress all of the in­ter­locked chal­lenges that plague low-in­come neigh­bor­hoods.

Un­der a White House-dir­ec­ted ini­ti­at­ive, fed­er­al agen­cies deal­ing with hous­ing, edu­ca­tion, crime, and health care are seek­ing to align their ef­forts — and de­mand­ing that loc­al jur­is­dic­tions do the same. “What is really re­volu­tion­ary about this ap­proach is that, for the first time, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is bring­ing its full re­sources to bear in a co­ordin­ated way,” says HUD Sec­ret­ary Shaun Donovan, who is help­ing to lead the ef­fort.

The push to re­vive Grove Parc and Wood­lawn will sternly test that vis­ion. The com­plex de­teri­or­ated so much un­der a suc­ces­sion of private man­agers (in­clud­ing one com­pany run by Valer­ie Jar­rett, now a seni­or White House ad­viser) that HUD con­sidered clos­ing it and re­lo­cat­ing its res­id­ents. In­stead, ten­ants per­suaded a Bo­ston-based non­profit called Pre­ser­va­tion of Af­ford­able Hous­ing to take over in 2008. Al­though the group op­er­ates in nine states, Grove Parc re­mains “the most chal­len­ging pro­ject we do,” says the group’s young pro­ject man­ager, Thach­er Tiffany.

That’s partly be­cause the prob­lems in Wood­lawn, loc­ated just south of the goth­ic and el­eg­ant Uni­versity of Chica­go, are so en­trenched. After World War II, the neigh­bor­hood con­vulsed through the clas­sic white flight as Afric­an-Amer­ic­an mi­grants from the South suc­ceeded middle-class white fam­il­ies. Des­pite a vi­brant tra­di­tion of neigh­bor­hood en­gage­ment, Wood­lawn suf­fers from the full cata­log of urb­an ills. Dur­ing one work­day last week, clusters of young men drif­ted through the streets as aim­lessly as the first fallen leaves of au­tumn. Only a battered hand­ful of dol­lar stores and nail salons sur­vive along the faded com­mer­cial strip un­der the old el­ev­ated train tracks that run ad­ja­cent to Grove Parc. Just one-third of the com­plex’s res­id­ents are em­ployed.

In Au­gust, HUD provided a $30.5 mil­lion grant to Pre­ser­va­tion of Af­ford­able Hous­ing, a con­stel­la­tion of oth­er neigh­bor­hood groups, and the city of Chica­go to con­front all of these prob­lems. The money came un­der a “Choice Neigh­bor­hoods Ini­ti­at­ive” that pro­motes com­pre­hens­ive strategies for com­munity re­vital­iz­a­tion. Un­der the grant, the man­age­ment group and its part­ners com­mit­ted to raze and re­place the 504 units in Grove Parc with al­most 1,000 new apart­ments for low-in­come and work­ing fam­il­ies; to build a re­source cen­ter that provides “one-stop shop­ping” for job-train­ing and oth­er ser­vices; to for­mu­late new an­ticrime strategies; and to launch en­hanced re­form ef­forts in loc­al schools. A sim­il­ar “Prom­ise Neigh­bor­hood” grant from the Edu­ca­tion De­part­ment will boost this last en­deavor, which in­cludes ex­pan­ded after-school pro­grams and teach­er ment­or­ing.

This pan­or­amic ap­proach cap­tures the goals of Obama’s urb­an strategy. It in­teg­rates policy across a broad range of chal­lenges, con­cen­trates fed­er­al re­sources, and de­mands that com­munit­ies re­ceiv­ing aid build broad co­ali­tions and lever­age loc­al in­vest­ment. “It’s a much more com­pre­hens­ive and hol­ist­ic ap­proach,” Donovan in­sists.

Pre­ser­va­tion of Af­ford­able Hous­ing has already de­mol­ished 126 units, and this week it began mov­ing the first res­id­ents in­to 67 at­tract­ive new ones in vi­brantly colored build­ings con­struc­ted near the El. The ten­ants will in­clude not only poor fam­il­ies re­ceiv­ing fed­er­al hous­ing aid but also work­ing fam­il­ies drawn to the spa­cious apart­ments offered at reas­on­able rents. Fe­li­cia Dawson, the pro­ject’s en­er­get­ic dir­ect­or of com­munity af­fairs, says that those fam­il­ies in turn should at­tract mer­chants to the crum­bling com­mer­cial strip.

If com­mit­ment en­sured suc­cess, Wood­lawn’s re­viv­al would be a fait ac­com­pli; the HUD grant builds on years of ex­traordin­ary loc­al ef­fort and plan­ning. But the head­winds fa­cing the com­munity re­main power­ful — es­pe­cially amid the worst eco­nom­ic down­turn since the De­pres­sion. Bright and airy, the sleek new build­ings now wel­com­ing their first fam­il­ies phys­ic­ally em­body the prom­ise of re­new­al. But years ago, so too did the tattered apart­ments that now await the wreck­ing ball.

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