House Speaker Mike Madigan’s proposal to turn the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum into a standalone state agency will not pass the General Assembly this spring.
As 970 WMAY News was the first to report, a spokesperson says Senate President John Cullerton will not call the bill. She says Cullerton believes more study of the proposal is needed.
Madigan had wanted to take the library and museum away from the control of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, because he says that agency is inhibiting hiring and acquisitions. Madigan said creating a separate agency would be revenue-neutral, a claim denied by IHPA.
Good move by Cullerton.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Jak Tichenor asked Speaker Madigan yesterday during a taping of “Illinois Lawmakers” about whether his friends influenced his decision to move the Lincoln Presidential Library out from under the IHP’s control. The museum’s executive director, Elaine Mackevich, and her longtime friend Stanley Balzekas Jr. are close Madigan friends. Balzekas is also the Speaker’s ward office landlord.
His response begins at about the 12:30 mark in the video…
* If you can’t watch videos where you are, here’s the transcript…
“You know, in America people have friends. This is not a communist country. People have friends. I have friends, you have friends.
“And this is my reference where I say some people want to be negative, they want to be critics they want to engage in a lot of simple political gossip. So be it. That agency should be left to chart its own course.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** More of MJM’s remarks…
“It ought to be improved. We ought to work for federal accreditation and enrollment in the federal system of libraries and museums…
“And today that institution is required to check in with a routine state agency. I’m not being negative when I use the word ‘routine,’ but the Historic Preservation Agency is not one of the premiere agencies of state government. It’s a routine state agency and a treasure like the Lincoln Library and Museum is being required to check in with this other agency.
“They ought to be separated. And the Library and Museum ought to be able to chart its own destiny, work to improve the quality and the beauty of the museum. That’s my thinking.
“There’s similar situations that universities of the state are set up where there’s a governing board that selects a president. The State Board of Education for the state, the governor appoints people, they select a chief executive officer.
“It’s simple. Some people don’t want to make it simple. Some people want to engage in a lot of political speculation. So be it.
“I think history will prove that I know what I am talking about. This is an asset of the state. It ought to be improved. And the route to improvement is to separate them from the jurisdiction of this other agency.”