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Overtly political

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014

* There’s no real mystery behind this bill

An Illinois House committee is again endorsing Speaker Michael Madigan’s plan to offer a $100 million incentive to lure Barack Obama’s presidential library to Illinois.

The Executive Committee voted 7-4 Wednesday to send the plan to the House floor. […]

Madigan believes the public money would be well spent. But public funds have never been used to build an official presidential library recognized by the National Archives.

Madigan has made it crystal clear that he will do whatever he can this spring to move legislation that will gin up his party’s base voters.

A recent Rasmussen Results poll of Illinoisans found that President Obama has a 96 percent job approval rating among African-Americans, 89 percent job approval rating among liberals, 85 percent with Democrats, 66 percent with voters 18-39 and 57 percent among women.

Madigan wants the Republicans to loudly oppose this bill, regardless of the financial cost to the state. Bet on it.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Steve - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    It’s so reassuring to hear that Boss Madigan wants to spend $100 Million on something Illinois can’t afford. It’s creepy to think these guys want to run health care , education, and other things. No word yet on who’s going to build the library and whether they are “campaign contributors” to the right politicians.

  2. - Oneman - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:52 pm:


    No he wants to spend 100 million to make Republicans look bad…

  3. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    I said it before, this move by Madigan is purely political.

  4. - Tony - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:55 pm:

    How can we get 112 million to pay back wages owed for work completed by state employees to be as important?

  5. - Adam Smith - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    I’m curious why we can’t get proud mega-rich Obama fans like Penny Pritzker and Fred Eichener to pony up the 100 mil if this it is such an absolute must that Illinois be home to this library.

    All presidents should have their papers housed in a library open to all and a little museum is also in order. A little public seed money is not out of line…but 100 million???

    There are plenty of billionaires who are enthralled by Obama. Let them answer his call to “pay their fair share” and kick in the cash.

  6. - Allen Skillicorn - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Noboby opposes the library, it’s just that we cutting services and shorting education to fund it.

    “Madigan has made it crystal clear that he will do whatever he can this spring to move legislation that will gin up his party’s base voters.”

    Is the Democratic base really that gung-ho about fiscal irresponsibility?

  7. - Ghost - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    Il can have the Lincoln presidential library and the presidential library of our first minorty president….

    Seems like a strong tourist draw that will more then pay for itself. Didnt the GOP push for funding for the State Fair even though it doesnt support itself because of the money it brings into the community?

    Or does the GOP not want to support bringing in outside money to the state and developing torusim to support small buisness and increased revenue for the State?

  8. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    === - Oneman -


    No he wants to spend 100 million to make Republicans look bad…===

    Nope. Not at all.

    Speaker wants, “For the Record”, that Illinois Republicans will not support the building of an Obama Library.

    Big difference. It’s optics.

  9. - Wally - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    And the state of IL will continue its downward spiral and more and more baby boomers will go to Florida and Texas, taking their money with them , while more and more people in the state go on the public doles and so on…………sigh

  10. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    It is bad public policy and politics at its most cynical. Madigan knows that Obama is not on the ballot to drive voter turnout, so he has to get the base motivated somehow with a bogus issue.

  11. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:09 pm:

    And the next time somebody tells me that term limits “already exist — just vote people out”, how undemocratic they are, etc., this should be exhibit #1.

    Imagine using $100 million in taxpayer funds for Democratic GOTV. Sickening.

  12. - John A Logan - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    This state is politically putrid.

  13. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:10 pm:


    Selma, Alabama has a civil rights museum which is fitting given its history. Nevertheless, it is not a major tourist destination yet.

    I am not certain that an Obama library will be a popular destination comparable to the Lincoln Museum.

  14. - LincolnLounger - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    And before I get lectured how “everybody does it” and it’s like other pork barrel spending, it’s NOT. Rich donors likely would never be willing to pitch in to build a highway or public works project. Plenty of people would be willing to pony up for the Obama library. HUGE difference.

  15. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:14 pm:

    And only one Democrat had the integrity to vote against Madigan as leader of every Democrat in Illinois? Insane.

  16. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    Rauner could win the election today by gathering a few of his pals together and donating $100 million to Obama’s library committee.

    I’m only half-joking. It would be a brilliant political move to pony up big coin for the Obama library. He and Griff could put up big numbers in a heartbeat.

  17. - Oneman - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:18 pm:


    I would be a little more impressed if there was a history of this for other presidential libraries since FDRs…

    All be it the numbers are from 2011 Reagan outdrew Licoln 367,506 vs 293,135

    So lets say long term Obama out draws Reagan (again long term, not the first year or two it is open) gets 600,000 a year after a while.. Not bad, but way less than the 2.1 the Shedd gets, or the 1.5 the MSI gets and unless I missed something we have just outright given either of those two entities a hundred million in one shot.

    Also please explain to me, unless you are in favor of all of the givebacks we give to large companies why assuming the U of C gets it (or is behind it) an entity with 6.7 Billion in it’s endowment needs 100 million of taxpayer money.

    If we need to build an exit ramp or something fine. But hey here is 100 million you didn’t ask for is classic Illinois

  18. - Sangamo Sam - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    “Madigan wants the Republicans to loudly oppose this bill, regardless of the financial cost to the state. Bet on it.”

    Probably so, but by offering up $100 million (coupled with Quinn’s recent comments about giving the cities more of the State’s tax revenue) I think it hurts the State’s position in the pension lawsuits.

    Not that I’m complaining…

  19. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    SERENITY NOW! SERENITY NOW! Ok, with Quinn’s problems this may be the first mis-step Madigan has made in quite sometime. If the Republicans and God for bid just one democrat that talks about how important education is, say’s This is crazy talk… It could have been Quinn himself! But no, he got behind it!We have the Polls to show people in this state are not happy. You can have a vote on the record all you want. You may when this silly battle… But with all coming out, you will lose the war. The President is unpopular. Before I hear I am wrong, use the Google. The only thing that makes sense, is when I said the day Pension reform passed, MJM used Rauner by name as he was not leading in the polls. The only thing that may work is he want’s Rauner in the office. Then he has someone to place blame on… If MJM is so good, I am sure he see’s that PQ is even more vunlerable now…. Now, I will calm down as library was mentioned and adjust my tinfoil hat. That is all.

  20. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    A smart political PR guy would know how to turn this back into Madigan’s face.

    “Madigan wants to spend $100 million to build a library to honor Barack Obama. Why not spend it to teach our children to read instead?”

    “Madigan wants to spend $100 million in “infrastructure” spending for the Obama Presidential library. Wouldn’t it be better to spend that money building schools where students can learn about him?”

    You get the point….

    Is the GOP smart enough to know how to handle this? Doubtful.

  21. - Anon - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    == Noboby opposes the library, it’s just that we cutting services and shorting education to fund it.==

    Our conservative friends express concern for services and education? Yet they prefer cutting services and education to extending the income tax hike. You can’t have it both ways.

  22. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    If the library shared space with a Charter School, Bruce would provide the money. Problem solved.

  23. - Norseman - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:58 pm:

    The GOP lacks anyone who can think out of the box. If they did, they would have come up with some type of alternative.

  24. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    - Norseman -,

    I still stand by my “60/40 Loan” Plan;

    Library raises $60 million, triggers $40 million loan by Illinois to allow a swift completion of the Library, and the Library is obliged to pay, first, the State of Illinois is full the $40 million in benchmark timetables set by both parties, that can not beloved by either.

    It’s not remotely perfect, but it shows good faith, a minority financial interest that is a loan, not a Grant, and also expedites the actual building of the facility by allowing 60% of the funding raised to be seen at 100% on hand.

  25. - Jimbo - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    I want the library, and I think it will be a major draw tourism wise. However, this appropriation is going through the same legislature that intends to claim they are broke, and argue police powers are necessary to fix the pension system. Yes, I know the library would be bond, money, and maybe bring in more money than is spent over the long term, however the pension mess is borrowed money as well, and the only thing the state HAS to pay, is actual pension payments to retirees. The unfunded obligation is a debt on paper. Look if I have 20k in credit card debt, I’m not bankrupt if I can make the minimum payments. Is it fiscally prudent to do so? No. But if I can’t pay down the balance, I don’t have a choice. I don’t go file bankruptcy because I’m sick of paying 200 per month in interest.

  26. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    Norseman..They did… Let private funds pay the way the other libraries were funded. One dinner in Chicago with donors would raise these funds…

  27. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    “Library is obliged to pay, first, the State of Illinois, in full, the $40 million, in benchmark timetables, set by both parties, that can not be moved by either.”

  28. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:07 pm:

    This money would be much better of being spent on the 160 CPS schools without libraries.

    But if Speaker Madigan thinks building a museum is more important than building libraries for inner-city schools or any number of other uses, I guess that’s his prerogative.

  29. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:09 pm:

    Those are powerful Illinois poll numbers, but I suspect that there are a few Downstate Dems who would welcome the change to vote against the library proposal.

  30. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    You can’t loan what we don’t have… Right? I thought we were broke? I thought if the temporary tax was not permanent the sky would fall. Any argument for state money is absurd. If you make the case there is money for this, you can’t say you don’t have money for pensions, un paid bills, education… Only in Illinois can this happen. Have PQ get some of his slush fund back… He’s our President, who would not want it? I want a new car…But I can’t afford it.

  31. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:12 pm:

    = Diane LeBlanc of the National Archives and Records Administration said “100 percent of construction is privately funded” for presidential libraries. Beyond requiring that a library be built with private funds, the Presidential Libraries Act of 1986 mandated that private endowments be established to offset a portion of future maintenance costs, she wrote to us in an email. ==

    Looking forward to hearing the rest of the Speaker’s plan to finish constructing, managing and overseeing this facility into perpetuity.

  32. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    OW… Uh, what do you call pension obligation payments? You do not need to find middle ground on a bad idea…

  33. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:14 pm:

    This surely boosts our desperate “police powers” request in regards to pension reform :)

  34. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:21 pm:

    - Walter Mitty -,

    The Library is the one that owes the money, and what former President would want to fall behind, in paying back his/her home state the money to seed the Library that bears their name? None.

  35. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:29 pm:

    Here’s the thing some people seem to be missing, this doesn’t have to go anywhere in the Senate or to Quinn’s desk. It’s a political ploy to get the GOP to attack Obama in his backyard and motivate pro-Obama voting blocks. It doesn’t have to be a serious proposal even if it is. A better move would be for GOPers to try to co-opt it and attach a commission to it or something to assist in planning. You know, slow it down, stretch it out, all the while attaching themselves to every step of the process, blunting any big electoral effect. Of course, their Obama hatred maybe so deeply ingrained into them that they can’t even see when its a good opportunity for them to graft themselves onto a ship that is sailing right at them ready to fire rather than just take cannonballs.

  36. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    OW- We can agree to disagree… I absolutley agree with your premise. I just believe a State with all of the funding issues we have, should not have the money to play with. There is precedent for private funds. This is the last state that should look to break that. By your logic, if the Republicans agree, how can they say like the Democrats we are broke? Good will? My pension like many others is not funded even though both parties showed good will. They meant to pay. They pinky swore. This is a time when just like your child asks for a pony, you say No. No is not a bad word here. I have banned myself on the subject. I am even sick of myself… Sorry all!!

  37. - Jacob S - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:33 pm:


    We don’t have the money, Period.

  38. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:39 pm:

    Just remember, I am also coming for this for the optics of NOT saying no to an Obama Library. It’s the optics of the GA GOP not supporting an Obama Library is the story, look to the Browm quotes as to the spin.

    My fictional “plan” is the, “the GOP wants the Obama Library, we even have a plan, but the $100 million is not a good plan, period.”

  39. - countyline - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    -A recent Rasmussen Results poll of Illinoisans found that President Obama has a 96 percent job approval rating among African-Americans, 89 percent job approval rating among liberals, 85 percent with Democrats, 66 percent with voters 18-39 and 57 percent among women.-

    Duh…aren’t those his core constituencies ? The fact of that matter is, if the first black president were a republican, paying for the library wouldn’t even be on Madigan’s radar.

  40. - Norseman - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:45 pm:

    Willy, the problem is that the GA GOP isn’t paying attention to your good ideas. That’s why I want to bypass them and put you in the Governor’s Mansion. :)

  41. - Walter Mitty - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:48 pm:

    I can get behind OW for the Governors office… My hope is his stance on this will “evolve”…

  42. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:01 pm:

    This $100 million idea is so telegraphed, what is disappointing is the Madigan funding idea is such a overtly political stroke by MJM, and clearly using the idea of Fiscal Restraint against the GA GOP to make hay, the distain for both MJM and money are blinding the overtly political move, making the whole thing worse for the GOP.

    Political optics need to be met with political responses within the scope of why My Party is different, just not a party of “No”.

    Buck Weaver to Chick Gandil, “C’mon, show me somethin’…”

  43. - Formerpol - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:15 pm:

    What’s sad is that Madigan apparently believes that his ‘base’ is fundamentally stupid. He must hold much contempt for the people who keep voting him in!

  44. - A guy... - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:26 pm:

    MJM is in the lab on this one. This experiment could blow up. This isn’t his normal “tested and proven” theory. He’s out there on this one. The old boy is starting to move out on limbs. The change has been subtle, but it’s happening.

  45. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:35 pm:

    Wonder what Rev. Meeks and his Crew think about this Library thing. No snark. Do they want to be against it, on Fiscal grounds, and then not be in favor of the Library getting … something … to get it started?

    I can’t remember anyone being against it in the AA Community, overtly against it, so I am wondering, no snark.

    (Tips cap to - Norseman - for his support)

  46. - Steve - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    If the Obama library is such a good idea don’t his supporters have confidence that the private sector could build and run it?

  47. - Kilroy - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 5:24 pm:

    I do believe the narrative that funding the library is correct, and that critizing the funding is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Generations fo CPS children will be able to go on field trips to the Obama presidentential library and learn about the wildly successful Obama administration.

  48. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 5:24 pm:

    I agree this is mostly political. But isn’t this also just another “incentive” program that the state likes to offer to business to get them to come to Illinois? We’ll give you $100M for the library if you build it here instead of Hawaii.

  49. - Evanston Reader - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 6:22 pm:


    You pay for it

  50. - Oh Come On! - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 6:38 pm:

    Madigan repeatedly referred to Obama as a “Son of Illinois.”

    This is risible since he spent half of his life everywhere on the planet, but in Illinois (Hawaii, New York, California, Massachusetts, Malaysia, etc.). If we can take Barack Obama at his word, he may not return Illinois in 2017 either. He may stay East.

  51. - Joe Taxpayer - Friday, May 2, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    Our governor can’t deliver on his promise of a three year tax increase to help sort out the public pension problem. He says that if we revert to previous taxing levels, we’re now not going to be able to afford to fund the future of this country, our schools and children. But somehow we can find $100M for a library? Why can’t we pay down our debt? Why can’t we pay state bills on time? Why can’t we fully fund state pensions? Why can’t we fix the roads after a brutal winter?

    There is nothing wrong with a library. There is nothing wrong with having pride that the president’s home state is IL. I view not having the funds readily available for this opportunity as a consequence of many years of mismanagement. We are feeling the pain associated with it. Its time that we stop passing off the responsibility of governing to our children and start fixing our spending problem. Our debt problems.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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