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** UPDATED x1 *** Slow it down, please

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

*** UPDATE *** Sunny Fischer, the chair of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Board of Trustees, has released a statement on this issue, claiming that her board was blindsided by the Madigan bill. Click here to read it.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Sun-Times

A move by House Speaker Michael Madigan to wrest control of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum from a state agency moved out of the House Tuesday despite qualms that his framework seemed “drastic.” […]

The quick emergence of Lincoln library and museum bill has triggered murmurs at the Capitol, even from some Democrats, who question privately whether Madigan is engaged in a power grab that has the potential to become, what one high-ranking party aide described as “Metra times two.”

Madigan, who hasn’t been to the library and museum in two years, has said he began contemplating the power shift four or five months ago and that one of the problems with the current management setup is that numerous job vacancies have gone unfilled at the library and museum.

* Sun-Times editorial

The $115 million Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is being undermined by greed and selfish ambition.

Actually, that’s what we wrote 13 years ago, when then-Gov. George Ryan tried to end the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency’s authority over the Lincoln center so he could, in the words of Sun-Times columnist Steve Neal, turn the center into a “patronage dump.”

Now, House Speaker Michael Madigan is trying to do the same thing — end the IHPA’s authority over the Lincoln center. And the sneaky way he’s going about it — producing a bill at the last moment in a busy legislative session, pushing it through a committee on Memorial Day and ramming it through the House the next day — is offensive. Last we heard, the Legislature has bigger problems to grapple with, like a potentially devastating unbalanced budget.

* But check out the roll call. The bill passed 84-29. By my count, 21 Republicans, including House GOP Leader Jim Durkin, voted for Madigan’s bill.

So, maybe Madigan cut a deal with Durkin on something else. I dunno. But there was clearly bipartisan support for this move.

* However, the Sun-Times is most definitely right about this

If Madigan feels there’s a better way to run the Lincoln center, he should follow the normal legislative process, getting the input of everyone from Lincoln scholars to museum experts. Rushing things through invites unforeseen consequences.

I totally agree. The library/museum is a state gem. Changes should only be made after careful deliberations, with lots of input from outside experts.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


26 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    –* But check out the roll call. The bill passed 84-29. By my count, 21 Republicans, including House GOP Leader Jim Durkin, voted for Madigan’s bill.–

    Yeah, what’s the deal with the bipartisanship?


  2. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:22 am:

    If the problem is unfilled positions then why not work with the Administration to fill them rather than wrest control from HPA? I suspect that’s not the real “problem.”


  3. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    This is Illinois.
    We sell off our f’in golden state gems to the highest political bidder.

    “Mr. Madigan, what is your bid sir?”


  4. - Abe the Babe - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:32 am:

    Madigan seems off his game in the last 18 months. He is jumping into issues he shouldn’t and avoiding others he should get in on.


  5. - A guy... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:35 am:

    Nothing to add to the assessment in the post. Sun Times and commentary are spot on. Amen.


  6. - Ginhouse Tommy - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:41 am:

    Couldn’t agree with you more Rich. What’s the big rush. There are other/better/classier ways to deal with this than this bull in a china shop method.


  7. - Downstate - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:42 am:

    Just not reading stories or hearing tales of “problems” at the facility. This feels like such a manufactured crisis. Or maybe a “Madigan problem” needing a solution.

    As I’ve said before, I’ve visited nine presidential libraries AND the Lincoln library. It ranks as #2 against all the others.


  8. - Amalia - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 11:50 am:

    Roger Stanley died, but the spirit of hog in Illinois politics lives on.


  9. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    When I read about this attempted power grab, my first reaction was which big dogs need jobs after the November election …


  10. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:22 pm:

    It has the stench of Madiganism all over it…


  11. - Union Man - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    It’s Illinois!! Do we expect anythnig else from MJM? Waiting for the other shoe to drop.


  12. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:35 pm:

    Maybe this is the end game, from the SJR yesterday: “Lincoln’s is the only presidential library and museum in the country operated by a state government. All of the others are turned over to the National Archives once they are constructed. Madigan said perhaps Illinois should pursue doing the same.”

    Sure, it would take away a potential place for patronage, but is that bad from Madigan’s perspective if IHPA is slow walking everything anyway? It also frees up state money for something else.

    Yesterday’s post on the issue also mentioned disagreements about exhibits, with IHPA being slow to act on ideas proposed by the museum. Just because the museum looks nice doesn’t mean it’s actually being run well, from a historical/museum studies perspective or a patronage perspective if that’s what you’re interested in.


  13. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:52 pm:

    hard to tell what is funnier — quoting the late Steve Neal or using Mike McKeon polls — both journalistic low points.
    Hard to call anything a power play when the appointment process is left untouched —-governor still gets all the picks.
    Meanwhile the ALPLM ends its status as a IHPA bureau and maybe gets some breathing room
    IHPA gets to fervently tend/not tend to old empty buildings while ALPLM gets to attract thousands more.
    Hard to argue for the status quo.
    BTWWHmittD?


  14. - OneMan - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 12:56 pm:

    Come on everyone knows the state does it’s best work the last week of May…..


  15. - Sunshine - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    Perhaps Madigan sees this as a way for him to get a statue of himself alongside Lincoln? Maybe get it named the Lincoln/Madigan museum?

    To staff the museum as a separate agency with the personnel required would come at a significant cost. Why not just fill the needed positions at IHPA?


  16. - The KQ - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 1:32 pm:

    “It also frees up state money for something else.”

    I think it has something to do with the Obama library. Not sure how the two fit together, but that’s my gut.


  17. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 3:33 pm:

    If this was on Madigan’s mind for “4 or 5 months” and it is a good policy for the state, then why wait until Memorial Day weekend to announce it? Especially during one of the most challenging budget processes in years?

    The timing and manner in which this is being handled raises suspicion. This is bogus on behalf of Madigan and any bipartisan members who have recently demonstrated their tendency to vote without thinking on things as complex as cupcakes and as simple as technical changes to the tire fund.


  18. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 3:37 pm:

    Plus, this would increase costs

    == The Quinn administration was largely silent on the issue, but estimated the cost for the switch would be $2.4 million at a time when other historic sites are considered for closure because of the state’s budget crunch. ==


  19. - Shaking My Head - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 3:45 pm:

    This is a case of a disgruntled Museum director and nothing more. Has anyone actually looked into her performance as the director, worked with her closely? Word is she isn’t very good and actually an embarrassment. Also, the museum does not have the space to put all the new HR, marketing, and IT staff that it currently shares with IHPA. Where will they put them? I am guessing that $2.4 million price tag only covers salaries, computers, desks, and everything else the museum uses that belongs to IHPA. I do not think it includes the money to expand the museum, which passing this bill will make necessary. Think this through people!


  20. - ILPundit - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 3:58 pm:

    She did more than say her board was blindsided, she pointed out that the Library Advisory Board was blindsided as well. Beckett was freelancing.


  21. - Shaking My Head - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 4:02 pm:

    Beckett must be a friend of Madigan’s and Director Mackevich to have gone along with their statements.


  22. - Both Sides Now - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 4:09 pm:

    “one of the problems with the current management setup is that numerous job vacancies have gone unfilled at the library and museum”. What’s unusual about this? Agencies all over are doing more with less because of vacancies. The State can’t afford the payroll. On a side note from a non-union employee - I’ve gone 5 years without a raise and make less than most of the people I supervise - what are you going to do about THAT MJM?!


  23. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 4:09 pm:

    To the update,

    I will keep my plan a secret until Memorial Day weekend. No effort will be made to resolve the conflicts, real or imagined, I claim to be concerned about for “4 or 5 months”. My plan will “blindside” a number of the parties involved, but not my personal friends. Any reminders of my role in the recent Metra patronage scandal will be denied.

    And none shall question that I do this only for the good of Illinois.


  24. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 4:22 pm:

    cut state agencies’ budgets, cut funding for the disabled, do not fund education as much as it should be funded, while scratching the back of your friend, Mackevich to the tune of $2.4m? Good move, Madigan. I hope you can sleep at night.


  25. - Skeptic - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 4:46 pm:

    I just don’t get it. We want to create jobs, right? And one good way to create jobs is to have people from other states come visit. But people from other states only come visit if there’s something worth visiting. So shouldn’t HPA’s budget be going up up up?

    (Ok, yes actually I do get it…this is all a power play and has nothing to do with actually running the State. I guess I was hoping there would be an adult around somewhere.)


  26. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 28, 14 @ 5:03 pm:

    Give it to the national archives. The national archives knows how to run these types of institutions. Illinois, clearly, does not. Among other things, the library keeps banker hours and is closed on weekends, which makes it tough for anyone who isn’t a professional academic to do research. This steady drumbeat of shenanigans, real or imagined, is going to continue as long as Illinois is in charge. A felon’s name is on the cornerstone and another felon’s picture is painted inside. This state, or more accurately, this state government, doesn’t have the maturity or discipline to run a national treasure like this presidential library.


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