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The [Wednesday] Papers

"If the Barack Obama Presidential Center is built in Washington Park, the city envisions a walking community, where visitors would step off a CTA Green Line train and stroll along decoratively landscaped sidewalks, lined with pedestrian scale lighting and seating areas," the Tribune reports.

"In Jackson Park, visitors might spend an afternoon biking from the lakefront to a well-lit, paved trail through the Midway Plaisance to the Obama center. Others might prefer to take the No. 10 CTA bus from downtown to the Museum of Science and Industry and then on to a new stop at the presidential library.

"The two ideas are among a list of proposals Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office submitted to the University of Chicago last year to strengthen its bid to place the Obama library and museum on the South Side in one of the two parks. Most of the proposals address transforming areas fraught with crime and neglect into a safe and inviting environment where visitors feel at ease - a key challenge for the first presidential center built in a low-income, urban neighborhood."

Oh, I get it. Now that those neighborhoods could be of value to elites, they will see investment. Otherwise, forget it.

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"But while the specific plans were just proposals, Emanuel also promised in a letter to the Barack Obama Foundation that the city would make infrastructure improvements and that he would lead the way in bringing new investments to the surrounding neighborhoods, creating jobs and spurring economic growth. The documents were obtained by the Tribune through the Freedom of Information Act."

Where is the outrage, our policy makers ask. Kids shooting kids. Where are the community leaders?

I'll tell you where they are: In your face, begging for something more than neglect and shouting despair at being harvested by predatory lenders, vendors and opportunistic pols.

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"Now that the South Side bid has been selected, the mayor faces the daunting task of delivering on those promises at a time when the city is trying to work its way through a financial crisis."

Does anyone doubt that somehow, someway the city will find the task less than daunting?

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"Many of the mayor's proposals would have to be approved by the library foundation and the National Archives and Records Administration - the federal agency that oversees presidential libraries - and incorporated into the architect's design. Still, the documents offer a look at how the city envisions easing safety concerns about the South Side and making the areas near the library aesthetically appealing."

Or, to put it another way: We care more about the safety of tourists than residents.

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And to developers, "aesthetically appealing" means "whiter."

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"A study commissioned by the U. of C. last year suggested that the library and museum would have a $220 million a year economic impact on the city, primarily due to an increase in visitors. To reach that goal, the Obama center would have to draw 800,000 visitors a year - more than the combined number who visited the presidential libraries of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton last year and significantly higher than the 491,000 who visited the newest presidential library - that of George W. Bush."

In other words, the University of Chicago, self-proclaimed haven of intellectual dispassion, commissioned an indefensible study that produced just what they were looking for!

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"Sustaining such high attendance would also be difficult, since the number of visitors to presidential libraries tends to decline over time."

Maybe a ferris wheel?

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"Schwieterman pointed to the United Center on the West Side and U.S Cellular Field on the South Side as examples where large-scale economic development failed to follow major projects.

"It's hard to predict whether people will spend money in the neighborhood. You've got 20,000 people going to games at (U.S. Cellular Field), but we don't have a vibrant seven-day-a-week retail environment around the stadium. For economic growth to occur around the library, the city has to figure out a way to keep people from buying peanuts in the parking lot on the way and then escaping into their cars when they're done."

Yeah, I'd say the city didn't try real hard - except revitalizing Madison on the way from the Loop to the arena as a sort of adult safe passage. Otherwise, both facilities were built for commuters, with moats to protect them from the locals.

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"To spur public and private investment in the area, Emanuel said in a letter to foundation board Chairman Martin Nesbitt that he would create a citywide steering committee of business, civic, planning and government leaders to draft a community economic development strategy for the selected site."

Dear Marty: I know we've ignored these neighborhoods up 'til now, but now that we're going to want to go to them, we need to fix them up. Here are some ideas.

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"He also promised that World Business Chicago, an economic initiative that he heads, would establish an office in the neighborhood to assist local business owners and entrepreneurs develop business plans geared toward capturing the new tourism market. The city's Department of Planning and Development also will establish office hours there to help local real estate developers and retailers gain financing for new developments and refurbishments, he said."

As for the neighborhood that loses out, too bad!

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"There were signs of the mayor's growing involvement in the bid in the months leading up to the official announcement that the library would be built in Chicago. Emanuel took the helm late last year when the foundation made it known that there were problems with the U. of C.'s bid - notably that the university did not own the parkland it had proposed using."

The mayor "took the helm" only after botching the project so badly the Obama foundation dressed him down for it. Let's be clear.

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"The mayor orchestrated a plan to transfer about 20 acres of parkland owned by the Chicago Park District to the city, giving Chicago the right to enter into a long-term lease with the foundation."

Only at the last minute before public opposition could coalesce. Then he held fake hearings. Again, let's be clear.

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"In April, he helped shepherd a bill through the Illinois General Assembly in an effort to close loopholes that could have been used in a lawsuit against placing the library on parkland."

Again, let's be clear: He went to Springfield and, on the sneak, changed the law to conform with his plan rather than conform the plan to the law.

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"But City Hall documents show that the mayor's office held meetings and telephone conversations with the U. of C. months before the university presented its bid to the foundation in December. The documents also show the extent to which the mayor's staff helped to develop certain aspects of the university's bid, from proposing public school collaborations to suggesting bike lanes in the surrounding neighborhoods."

In other words, and why do I always have to put these articles in other words, the bid process was a sham and Emanuel certainly put his thumb on the scale for the University of Chicago while other bidders such as the University of Illinois-Chicago wasted time, energy and resources.

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"While the Obama Foundation is responsible for raising money to build the library before turning it over to the federal government to run, the group must negotiate financial responsibilities with the city before the first shovel of dirt is turned.

"Issues such as which entity will be responsible for clearing the parkland for construction, who pays for increased police protection around the construction site and who pays for such prep work as environmental studies must be worked out. If Chicago follows the path of other cities that have hosted presidential libraries, such costs could also fall on the city."

In other words (sigh), taxpayers are already on the hook.

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"The Obama Foundation will independently raise all of the funds needed to construct the Obama Presidential Center, and we intend to work collaboratively with the city and community to ensure that every aspect of the future project maximizes benefits to the South Side and to all Chicagoans," Nesbitt said.

And because he said it, the Tribune published it, despite its total lack of value. For example, it would be interesting to ask Nesbitt if he expects taxpayers to foot the bill for any aspect of the project, and if so, why.

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"No specific dollar amount was included in the correspondence, but the documents outlined potential partnerships with Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, the Illinois Department of Transportation and other agencies."

So everyone is gonna pitch in!

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"The library project comes as the city faces a projected $1 billion budget shortfall next year and agencies such as the CTA are dealing with reduced aid from the state. Efforts to squeeze funding from the state would meet strong resistance in the General Assembly, which is dealing with the budget crisis."

It might be a good time here to do some math and see if the city will really see a return on the library - or if a few select developers and vendors will make out like bandits at our expense. Hint: It's the latter.

*

"The U. of C. has offered only one financial incentive - a 6-acre swath of land between the Green Line tracks and Martin Luther King Drive. Susan Sher, senior adviser to U. of C. President Robert Zimmer, said the university has no plans to offer any financial assistance or aid in fundraising."

U of C's gonna U of C.

Obama Worst FOIA President Ever
"[D]enying requests, delaying responses, charging exorbitant fees, censoring responses and generally obfuscating records requests at unprecedented levels."

Will the library have anything to say about that? Of course not. And that's why it's a wank.

Meet The Riverwalk!
A Beachwood field trip.

Hawks In 6
That seems to be the consensus. Which means Lightning in 7.

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Kaner's hometown Buffalo News checks in on its boy.

Our Favorite Beatles Songs
Another Beachwood Special Report.

Fantasy Fix: Year Of The Rookie
Kris Bryant may not even be the best.

BeachBook
* Constitution Rock: Darwin Elementary and the State of Illinois.

* Gospel Singer Marvin Sapp Says Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Is Racist.

* Obama's Adventures In Africa.

"In this particular article, I talk about the waivers that the Obama administration put in year after year to allow South Sudan to use child soldiers . . . "

If only the University of Chicago desired to sponsor an intellectually honest Obama library to serve the nation - and the world. Instead, we're getting a propaganda palace.

* Future Of Former Finkl Steel Puts Heat On New Alderman.

* Berwyn Club Owner Removing Two-Way Mirror In Women's Bathroom.

* World's Tallest Cow Dies On Northern Illinois Farm.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Six in one hand, half-dozen the other.



Permalink

Posted on June 3, 2015


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Slow TV Chicago.
POLITICS - Dangerous, Low-Wage Industries Depend On Immigrants, Refugees.
SPORTS - Wrong Foot Louie vs. The Fireball Kid!

BOOKS - Meet Chicago's American Writers Museum.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Meet Limo Bob.


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