Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why does Chicago have to beg to be site of Obama presidential library?

Wednesday is the second day of hearings this week concerning proposals to transfer land to the Chicago Park District to compensate it for public parks land the city wants to offer up as the future site of the Barack Obama presidential library and museum.

Such a facility would be a significant site to bolster Chicago tourism, along with a way of memorializing the time period during which Chicago had influence over the White House and Washington-type activity.

IF ONE LOOKS at the other presidential libraries that exist in this country, one sees that it is a way in which men who work their way up to the presidency wind up acknowledging the people back home – paying tribute to the people who knew him when he was a nobody, yet voted for him anyway!

Yet Chicago is being made to beg to be the site of the future Obama facility in a way I doubt any other city has ever had to do.

I don’t doubt that the people with Columbia University who have put together a proposal to attract the museum/library to New York City have an enticing plan that would be worthy of the future facility.

Yet an Obama library and museum located in New York would be unique amongst all the other facilities – by which U.S. presidents dating back to Herbert Hoover have their legacies on display to the public.

THEY USUALLY GET located in home towns, capital cities or college towns significant to the particular president’s home state.

While I understand Barack and Michelle Obama have already said they do not plan to immediately move back to Chicago upon the completion of his presidency early in 2017, the city still has so much of a tie to Obama’s career path.

Even the President William J. Clinton library and museum got put in Little Rock, Ark., even though the former (and potentially future) first couple never returned to live there – instead preferring the New York suburbs.

But for Obama, we’re being put through a circus routine – being forced to “up our bids,” so to speak, to benefit the presidential foundation that ultimately will choose the future Obama library/museum site this spring.

WHICH IS WHY the park district had to hold hearings Tuesday and again on Wednesday to determine how to appease the people who hate the idea of park district land being used in any way for any Obama project.

It almost feels like Chicago is being extorted for more, more, more!

When it’s over, you just know many people are going to think this is some sort of political fix – as though Chicago was offered a chance to bolster its bid while interests in New York and Hawaii were being considered on the merits of their proposals made late last year.

Will we hear Columbia officials complain later this year that they would have been willing to offer more, if they had been given the chance to amend their bids?

INSOFAR AS THE desires to use sites in Jackson and Washington parks for an Obama library/museum, I’ll be the first to admit those are prominent South Side parks that are not living up to their potential.

Perhaps the future museum presence can help bolster those locations somewhat.

Although it seems like a lot of political gamesmanship Chicago has to endure – with Mayor Rahm Emanuel being put through a lot of political strain to ensure he doesn’t suffer the embarrassment of becoming the former White House chief of staff who couldn’t even keep his former boss in their shared home town.

That, most likely, is what this week’s hearings are truly all about!


No comments: