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The [Friday] Papers

"[I]f Obama opts for New York after all he's put Chicago through, it will be more than a slap in the face to the town that made his career," Joe Cahill writes for Crain's.

Chicago would be left with no presidential library but a gaping hole in the principle that public parks belong to the public. Capitulation to the Obama library's demands sets an ominous precedent for handing over parkland to private interests with the right kind of clout.

The process engineered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and rubber-stamped by aldermen makes a mockery of public control of parkland and the supposed independence of the Chicago Park District. Parks commissioners hopped-to when Emanuel demanded they transfer the land to the city so the city could give it to the library foundation.

These actions came after Emanuel and library backers cynically whipped up public fears that New York would get the project unless Chicago served up park sites. Never mind that numerous non-park properties around Chicago would make fine locations. The University of Illinois at Chicago's proposal for a West Side site didn't get anything close to a fair hearing.

If two jewels of Chicago's park system - both designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted - can be sliced up, what chance do other parks have?

The mayor and others insist no precedent has been set, calling the presidential library a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Something tells me we'll hear the same thing the next time a well-connected party covets city parkland.

Thanks, Obama!

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Meanwhile . . .

"Months before the public was officially told that the South Side sites for the Obama library, museum and academic center would be in parks, City Hall and the Chicago Park District knew they were in play, according to e-mails obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times."

Let me tell you something: From what I've learned, the University of Chicago planned to use parkland from the start - but never bothered to inform the park district and just assumed the mayor would take care of it. But let's see what the e-mails show.

"By the time the U. of C. submitted its first round bid on June 16, all the sites the South Side school was proposing included parkland.

"While the U. of C. did do community outreach, part of its strategy was holding off for as long as possible confirming to the press that they wanted President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle to consider putting their project in either Washington Park or Jackson Park or the South Shore Cultural Center."

The University of Chicago deliberately kept the public in the dark - which is something you only do when you think what you are doing is wrong.

For the most part, though, the e-mails obtained by the Sun-Times are relatively mundane. In this case, the e-mails should have simply been one component of reporting out what really happened behind the scenes, not the end in itself.

For example, the question of why the University of Chicago won't use its own land has never been answered; my understanding is that the university fears an Obama library on its actual campus would be seen as partisan.

Why an off-campus site has to use public parkland also remains a mystery. Were any other designs/proposals considered by the university? What logistical issues led the university in this direction? What are the larger development issues involved - and what involvement has the city had?

Finally, isn't this an Emanuel screw-up royale? It never should have gotten to this point.

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"The Barack Obama Foundation was expected to announce this month where the library will be built. But a source said the uncertainty of Chicago's mayoral race has prompted officials to put off the decision until after the April 7 election," the Tribune reports.

What in the world could this mean?

A) Choosing Chicago would presumably be a huge win for Emanuel, so this means the library is going to New York.

B) See A.

I mean, let's just suppose for a second that the library folks might feel they won't get the same kind of cooperation from Chuy Garcia as they would Emanuel. Would that really be a difference-maker in siting the library? Chuy might be gone in four years. Who knows who takes over in New York. It just makes no sense that Chuy would be even a sliver of the Obamas' algorithm.

Perhaps the Obamas don't want to give Emanuel an election-season gift lest the library itself bet tainted as a political vehicle from the get-go. That, too, seems nearly incomprehensible - he gave him a national park and one of the great closing ads of all time!

Perhaps the library people could just tell us what's going on.

But then, that's not this president's style.

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So the Michael Reese site is being saved for a casino.

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President Bystander hopes the library goes to Chicago, and also wishes someone would have closed Gitmo.



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Programming Note
I don't have the emotional strength to write about the latest Homan Square developments or the mayoral race today, but I'm likely to talk about both on this weekend's Beachwood Radio Hour.

Also:

* The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour and The Week In Chicago Rock are in pre-production.

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Campaign Lies In Action
Watch how Team Rahm edited a video of Chuy Garcia to turn a thoughtful, nuanced statement into nothingburger it could attack.

Chance The Bomber
Plus: The beauty and decay of Pilsen, and a big birthday bash for Midwest authors. In Local Book Notes.

Beachwood Photo Booth: The Friendly Skies
A bird. A plane.

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BeachBook
* Gannett Cuts Newsroom Staff After Boosting CEO's Pay.

Journos sit back and take it like they have for decades.

P.S.: Be mad at this, not at Google for inventing a way to index the Internet and sell ads against it. Fools.

* College Of DuPage Signs Off On Deal With PR Firm.

First assignment: Fix the damage done by hiring a PR firm.

* WGN-TV Disappears Vagina Sparks Segment.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: It's them, not you.



Permalink

Posted on March 20, 2015


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock Including Riot Fest Highlights.
TV - No Rehabilitating Vietnam.
POLITICS - Trump's Farmer Heavily Subsidized.
SPORTS - The Cubs' Season In Verse.

BOOKS - Dots & Dashes.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Certified Angus Beef® Honors Chicago Stars.


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