Obama Presidential Center Squares Off in a Chicago Court Today
Former President Barack Obama’s museum will present its case today in a Chicago courtroom. District Judge John Robert Blakey will hear arguments on a key motion by city attorneys to toss a lawsuit by Protect Our Parks that aims to halt the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) from ever being built in the selected location. The group argues that Obama’s $500 million museum and library in a public park, to be built along Chicago’s lakeshore, runs afoul of laws dating back to the 1800s barring new developments in a 26-mile chain of parks hugging Lake Michigan. Should backers of the center prevail, which is expected though you never know, the OPC would be built seven miles south of downtown Chicago in Jackson Park, which is named after former President Andrew Jackson -- a wealthy slave owner and infamous “Indian killer.” The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s near low-income neighborhoods where Obama once worked as a community organizer. It’s also just blocks from the University of Chicago -- where Obama was a law professor -- and near where the Obamas lived until he won the presidency in 2008. Protect Our Parks is accusing the city of illegally transferring park land to The Obama Foundation. City lawyers say the group is misreading the law and is misrepresenting how the approval process played out. They also argue the center would provide a major economic boost to economically hard-hit minority communities in the vicinity. Backers estimate the OPC will create 5,000 jobs during construction and over 2,500 permanent jobs. An estimated 760,000 people could visit each year, foundation officials say. We’ll keep you posted on the lawsuit. More here.