By Chinta Strausberg
U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-1st) appeared at a recent political forum held at the Chicago Urban League sponsored by Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) where he proudly laid out his congressional record before a standing-room only crowd.
A resident of theÂ Third Ward, Rush acknowledged a number of people attending the forum especially Dowell who hosted the event and who hasÂ worked with Rush on a myriad of projects.
Referring to the dedication of the $12 million Lovana S. â€œLouâ€ Jones/Bronzeville at 35th Street Metra Station, Rush said, â€œIt wasnâ€™t an easy task. It took about 20 years to get it done.â€ While Rush brought this project to fruition, he said it was actually the idea of former Ald. Chris Cohen (46th) who first made the suggestion to him back in the 1980â€™s when Rush was alderman of the Second Ward.
Rush made it clear that said he works very closely with President Barack Obama and â€œprobably has the highest voting percentage with him in the Congress. I donâ€™t think there has ever been a vote Iâ€™ve taken that doesnâ€™t support our President who is under the gun,â€ he said.
â€œThere are just some mean folk in Washington. In the last two years, they have been showing their true stripes and their true character. Some of them I knew when we were in control. Iâ€™ve been amazed just to see how they can just flip their whole outlook. At one time, we had some Republicans were reasonable,â€ said Rush.
Referring to the issue of global warming, Rush said, â€œsome of them at one time really believed that there was a thing called global warming, but now that they are in control they say global warming is a hoax. Theyâ€™ve really flipped for political reasons.â€
But, Rush is especially proud of when he was chairman of the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection. â€œI transformed that committee. The first thing we did was to get more money for the Consumer Product Safety Commission and expand the legislative regime of that Commission increasing the commissioners from three to five.â€
Rush said most of the products weÂ buy are made from China and that it is critical to ensure these products are safe. â€œThis lead in these toys and paint hurts us more than any other community. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is supposed to be your guide against unsafe productsâ€¦. Lead is not good for children for anybody and once itâ€™s there, it never leaves.”
And on Saturday, Louanner Peters, Deputy Chief of Staff and District Director for Rep. Rush, spoke at the Chicago Southside NAACPâ€™s congressional Forum held at the Chicago State University, 9501 S. King Drive.
Facing Rushâ€™s opponents,Â all of whom accused Rush of being absent for a decade, Peters set the record straight.
Peters touched on a variety of Rep. Rushâ€™s accomplishments ranging from economic development, technology to health care including fighting to include post partum care for women in the health care bill.
Peters said about eight years ago, Rush codified the whole issue of food deserts and successfully got money in the Department of Agricultureâ€™s budget â€œthat led to a focus on urban agriculture and the issue of food deserts bringing that to the forefront and putting it on the agenda of that Department and moving some resources into the community.â€
She told of the amendment that Rush added to legislation that strengthened regulations for checking the level of lead in toys. â€œMost of our kids toys are made in China, and we found a totally unacceptable level of leadâ€ she said causes physical, emotional and mental difficulties that many times are life-long problems.
On the issue of the Africa, Peters referred to Rushâ€™s bill, H.R. 656 entitled the â€œAfrican Investment and Diaspora Actâ€ which would direct the president to appoint a Special Representative in a newly created Office of U.S. Africa Trade, Development, and Diaspora Affairs within the U.S. Department of State. This Act, Peters said, â€œwould move U.S. and Africa trade to a division level within the Department of State. It is not now.â€ She said this move would ensure that both budget and policy and programs needed to â€œinstitutionalize the process of enhancing trade between the U.S. and Africa” and to include the Diaspora.
DirectingÂ fire at one opponent who lives in south suburban Evergreen Park’Â who claimedÂ Rush has been absent, Peters notedÂ that Rush is responsible for bringing more than $600,000 toÂ Evergreen Park for residential street resurfacing and the Village’s Library. â€œSome people donâ€™t understand that the District starts on 26th Street and goes to the suburbs of Joliet.â€
Just last Friday, Peters said Rush had 17 mayors, the Cook and Will County Boards staff present in a workshop with the administrator of the Pipeline Safety Administration in Washington and her technicians to work on advising them how to apply for a special grant.
This is key, according to Peters, who explained the south suburbs, particularly Will County, which portions of are now in the 1st DistrictÂ have more pipelinesÂ than any other area in Illinois. â€œThey are all underground in the south suburbs.â€
Peters listed other accomplishments of Rush including breaking ground last year to mark the beginning of the â€œEnglewood Flyoverâ€ project thanks to a $126 million grant that Rush supported from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
He helped the Grove Parc Plaza Apartment complex in Woodlawn to secure a $30.5 million Choice Neighborhood Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Rush held a â€œTransportation Jobs Fairâ€ last August at the Chicago State University where more than 10,000 applicants appeared.
Peters said Rush, who is a ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, has been in the forefront of debates and discussions over Americaâ€™s future course in securing its energy needs as cost efficiently, reliably and responsibly (in terms of public health, safety and the environment) as possible.
Under the new congressional map passed by the Illinois General Assembly and approved by the federal court, Rush now hasÂ 712,000 people in his district up from 638,000 in 2000.
Chinta Strausberg is a Journalist of more than 33-years, a former political reporter and a current PCC Network talk show host. You can e-mail Strausberg at: Chintabernie@aol.com.