Chicago Bids For Obama Presidential Library Could Be In Trouble

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dellimore250 Craig Dellimore
Craig Dellimore, political editor for WBBM, joined the station in 1983...
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(CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s team is working to keep Chicago in play as the future home of the Obama Presidential Library, reports WBBM’s Political Editor Craig Dellimore.

According to a source close to the Obama Presidential Foundation is that the University of Chicago “doesn’t control any of them,” and that there “needed to be a high degree of certainty that if the bid was accepted, the process would be in place for the land to be transferred.”

CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports there is concern about avoiding the same kind of brutal lakefront brawl we’re seeing over the proposed Lucas Museum. With Mayor Emanuel still out of town on vacation, aides are scrambling to work out the same kind of deal the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, and others have.

Mayor Emanuel’s top advisor David Spielfogel acknowledges the Obama Foundation’s concern that neither the University of Chicago nor the city own the property being offered for the presidential library, which is owned by the Chicago Park District.

WBBM 780’s Craig Dellimore

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Spielfogel says the city is looking at all options for meeting the foundation’s requirements and tight schedule, but he adds that the mayor will only consider sites that ensure public land will remain under public control and that the surrounding communities have a say in the process.

The foundation is also reportedly worried that impending changes in the university leadership at UIC could create uncertainty about that school’s competing bid. There is nothing that the city can do about that situation, but news reports suggest Columbia University in New York City has the upper hand with its property and resources.

Spielfogel says the mayor is committed to bring the Obama Presidential Library home to Chicago and will work to keep the city’s bids competitive.

The University of Chicago’s Susan Scher, the former White House official who’s has played her cards close to the vest for the entire process today said only “we have been working closely with city officials and other stakeholders on our dynamic proposal.”

U of I President Robert A. Easter and President-elect Timothy L. Killeen issued a statement on UIC’s bids saying, “Last month, University of Illinois trustees unanimously passed an unequivocal statement of support for UIC’s bid for the Obama Presidential Library. University leadership -– Board Chairman Christopher Kennedy, President Robert A. Easter, President-elect Timothy L. Killeen, UIC Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares, and UIC Chancellor-elect Michael D. Amiridis -– remains committed to UIC’s proposal, including identified properties and the academic program outlined in the proposal.”

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