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*** UPDATED x2 *** Senate won’t call Madigan’s Lincoln library bill

Friday, May 30, 2014


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.”

Your thoughts?

*** 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.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    And again, like last year’s pension debates and close of session, Cullerton looks like the elder statesman with the best interests of Illinois at heart.

    At least he does in comparison to his counterpart in the House.

  2. - Archiesmom - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 1:57 pm:

    Proof that MJM doesn’t own the Senate. Thanks to the grownups in the room.

  3. - Precinct Captain - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:04 pm:

    MJM never owned the Senate.

  4. - Anonymous - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    There are friends and then there are “friends”.

  5. - Bob Hicks - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:16 pm:

    MJM was doing the right thing. ALPLM should be under separate board with executive director and not part of IHPA. That tension has existed since the ALPLM opened. The do have different missions and following state law to acquire or purchase items has to be frustrating. Maybe they should consider giving it to the Feds or asking UIS to manage.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:24 pm:

    Welp, I look forward to the “Madigan runs the state” people to now say, “This is what Madigan wanted all along!” pretty soon.

    One-half of one-third.

    Not everything. Not King, not is there a “Madiganistan”.

  7. - Archiesmom - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    Captain, I always knew that. But some folks here think he has a hand in everything, including the IL Supreme Court. Knowing a bit about them, I know that isn’t true, either.

  8. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:29 pm:

    Nice to know that Cullerton knows how to clean up a mess when he has to.

  9. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:29 pm:

    JC: “No more shines, Mikey.”

    MJM: “What?”

    JC: “I said no more shines. Maybe you didn’t hear about it, I’ve been away from the House a long time. They didn’t go around the rail and tell you. I don’t shine shoes anymore.”

  10. - Jake From Elwood - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:31 pm:

    Thank you Sen. Cullerton.
    LOL Word.

  11. - Nearly Normal - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:32 pm:

    Let’s take a look at the issue and come up with a solution. There were people on the library advisory board who had no idea this was even going to happen.

  12. - Well said - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:38 pm:

    Did Richie Daley write Madigan’s remarks? Silly.

  13. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:38 pm:

    To the update - What an interesting response. He throws in communism, victimization, a folksy “everyone has friends” and labels critics as purely negative for the sake of being negative. Everything but the kitchen sink.

    At no point does he answer the question or deny this move was influenced by his close friends and their relationship. Amazing to watch that clip.

  14. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:39 pm:

    ===Did Richie Daley write Madigan’s remarks?===

    They both learned how to talk to the press from the same guy: RJD.

  15. - Oswego Willy - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    Well played, - wordslinger -.

    That didn’t end well for Billy Batts.

    You overreach sometimes, you get burned fingers too.

  16. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    Those “communist country” comments are so ridiculous. If that’s all you have to say you’re better off running away from the reporters again. Mike Madigan is losing his touch and Illinois Democrats better start preparing for that.

  17. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    –They both learned how to talk to the press from the same guy: RJD.–

    Madigan’s much more urbane and precise, certainly in comparison to Rich M., but he will resort to Southwest Side at times.

    Among the many, my favorite RJD:

    “They have vilified me, they have crucified me, yes, they have even criticized me.”

    After crucification, criticism is really piling on!

  18. - The Historian - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    Extremely unpersuasive response from MJM, & more evidence that he’s seriously ‘off his game’ and indeed approaching the end of his ‘game.’ A serious library like ALPL needs professional leadership, and a *professional* board as far removed from MJM’s friends and the Cellinis of the world as possible!

  19. - LincolnLounger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:52 pm:

    Perhaps some changes do need to be made, but this was obviously MJM at his worst. I’m glad the wheels came off this thing. And Stephen Beckett needs to go away.

  20. - Precinct Captain - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    The comment Rich quoted might seem like MJM at his worst, but if you watch right before that, he’s on the money. He even says separating Lincoln museum should be the first step towards federal management of the operation, just as I suspected on this blog the other day.

  21. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:07 pm:

    In other words, this doesn’t prove Speaker Madigan is “guilty” or “innocent” of anything regarding his control or touch. It doesn’t really prove anything at all, imho.

    Cullerton could have bucked Madigan. Or Cullerton could have done exactly what Madigan wanted on this one.

    Same thing in regards to touch. Madigan could have made a terrible mistake by pushing this bill and suffering such an embarrassment. Or Madigan could have been sharp enough to realize his mistake and quickly tie a tourniquet on it.

  22. - Norseman - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:09 pm:

    I’ll give Cullerton kudos if he keeps a brick on it until the session adjourns sine die. Then Madigan can re-introduce the bill for his friend and it can get a full hearing on its merits.

    With respect to helping friends, in the broad stroke that’s understandable but it gets complicated. Is there money for the friend involved? Do you have a financial connection to the friend that should be disclosed to the public? Does the public have the opportunity to comment on what the friend wants?

  23. - Commander Norton - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:11 pm:

    People in communist countries have friends, too.

  24. - A guy... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:15 pm:

    I believe I read on this blog that Madigan and Cullerton met last night in Cullerton’s office. Then, Cullerton surprised MJM with this today…Hmmmm, hey look over there!

  25. - NW Illinois Dem - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:16 pm:

    Talk to the Stevenson (Adlai and Nancy). After you do, you’ll see the merit in Speaker Madigan’s bill. More professionalism needed.

  26. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:19 pm:

    –He even says separating Lincoln museum should be the first step towards federal management of the operation…–

    If that’s the goal, then it certainly isn’t a power grab.

    Has anyone talked to Durkin about the goal here? He voted for it and put some peeps on it.

    Would it be a bad thing for the federales to take control and responsibility for funding? They run a lot of Lincoln stuff in Springfield already.

    Calling former Sen. Fitzgerald…..

  27. - Anonymous - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:20 pm:

    good move by Cullerton! There is no way that the state should be making such a costly move at a time when the state is broke. Every single desk, computer, file cabinet, pen, and piece of paper at ALPLM is owned by IHPA. It isn’t so simple to just say IHPA is not in charge anymore and not have it cost the state a fortune. The shared resources between the agencies is huge and Madigan never once addressed it.

  28. - LincolnLounger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:29 pm:

    I’m not defending the status quo at ALPLM; however, if you know the inside scoop at the ridiculous and unreasonable demands that the Stevensons are making, you might be less sympathetic. They genuinely believe that tourists will flock from all over the world to read correspondence from the Stevensons, and they are demanding a large, stand-alone room, and much more. Totally delusional.

  29. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:38 pm:

    I like the Speaker’s comments in the second update. If that is how he feels, then that is how he feels. We should follow up on his concerns.

    I do not like the Speaker’s approach or actions. I do not like waiting “4 or 5 months” before sharing concerns. I do not like “blindsiding” people while dropping legislation on Memorial Day weekend. I do not like the failure to realize years ago that NARA runs nearly every Presidential library for good reason, or the timing and rush behind this sudden desire to create a new state agency tied to close friends.

  30. - For the love of . . . - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:41 pm:

    There is no “federal accreditation.” The reason the ALPLM can’t get accredited by the AAM, a private non-profit, is because it does not and never has operated within the realm of best museum practices. Every detail was vetted and carried out by Julie Cellini and not by anyone who had actual museum experience.

    IHPA, that “routine state agency” had people who had worked at accredited museums including the Smithsonian, the Field, and other world class institutions. People who have been on the board of that accrediting institution and have served on accreditation evaluation committees for institutions around country. They were not consulted in the creation of the ALPLM and now they are all gone. Lost in the savaging of the IHPA in the last decade.

    The Illinois State Museum is accredited and has been since 1971. Despite being a unit of DNR, a routine state agency, it offers world-class scholarship and has for over a hundred years. It makes it work because patronage is not a part in hiring there but high standards of scholarship are.

    Don’t blame the “routine state agency” you created.

  31. - Sunshine - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:46 pm:

    Cullerton is doing the right thing. Take time to look at all the concerns, benefits, and pitfalls.

    Perhaps the Speaker figured this was the best way to kick start the dialogue. He certainly was successful in that regard.

    IHPA has it’s hands tied in getting qualified people because of unions and veterans preferences. Not sure forming it’s own agency will solve that and allow for better qualified people to manage day to day operations?

    Perhaps it should be under Fed control?

  32. - Ghost - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:53 pm:

    Why either or, why not both? it benefits the museum by letting it control its own destiny and seperating it from an agency that may have different goals and agenda…and it also provied an opportunity for Madigan to assist/benefit his supporters.

  33. - wordslinger - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 3:59 pm:

    I have no idea what’s going on here, but I guess it has something to do with Adlai III now?

    MJM sure used Adlai, twice, to beat the stuff out of his old pal Neil Hartigan. Like a rented mule.

    So now Adlai is looking for some help to hook up with the Lincoln Libary?

    Is the sap rising? (that’s for you, Jim Bray).

  34. - CircularFiringSquad - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 4:31 pm:

    Surprise no one mentioned the Senate brain storm to bury the library/museum in the U of I rather than HPA. Then we could see a lot of ugly orange logos slopped on every.

  35. - Arthur Andersen - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 4:32 pm:

    -is the sap rising-

    Lol. There’s one I had forgotten about.

  36. - Precinct Captain - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 4:41 pm:

    ==Every detail was vetted and carried out by Julie Cellini and not by anyone who had actual museum experience.==

    I was at an event with the curator of the museum last year (James Cornelius) about the conception of the museum and its best practices and such. He didn’t name names, but said that said that when the Lincoln scholars recommended X% of the gift shop be books, they were laughed off by the vendor hired to set up the gift shop. Six months after opening people were clamoring for more books and they tinkered with the shop to do more book space. Other than that, he didn’t complain about about any of the museum’s experience in regards to setting it up.

  37. - Just The Way It Is One - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 5:06 pm:

    “Good move by Cullerton.” Yes–for now. But after the Election, and perhaps not until NEXT Year’s Spring Legislative Session, I’d suspect that if the House and allies of the Speaker still strongly support him/MJM’s plan, Sen. Cullerton will bring it up for a vote.

    At least for now, the Senate President comes out smelling like a rose to the Media at this point, whose harsh backlash against the measure he no doubt picked-up on like a fire spreading over dry land…the Senator also thus appears “above Board,” with his decision, and, better yet it also then becomes one, less issue that the Senate President’s friend/their Party’s Candidate Gov. Pat QUINN has to worry about offending the Speaker over–whose help the GOVernor also needs on MANY levels, needless to say, in THIS, his Re-Election Bid-Year (can anyone spell V O T E S…)!?

  38. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 5:18 pm:

    == Madigan and Cullerton met last night in Cullerton’s office. Then, Cullerton surprised MJM with this today ==

    Surely a coincidence the bill was already out of the House and the Senate was the only place to head things off, which Mr. Cullerton’s statement today neatly did. Nothing to see here lol.

  39. - Steve Brown - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 5:25 pm:

    Gotta little behind this afternoon
    I told WFMB-AM listeners about 7:30 that the Speaker planned to let the issue simmer. The Speaker mentioned his thoughts to the Senate President while the stood on the House Floor last night. No one too surprised by the SJ-R “Don’t mess up any insiders deal” editorial. We look for a lively discussion going forward.

  40. - In the Sticks - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 7:17 pm:

    Lincoln’s Home is the only federal Lincoln site in Springfield

  41. - Sinequanon - Friday, May 30, 14 @ 9:24 pm:

    Has the report/study been published online for public consumption? If you read the minutes and the agenda that is available online from the Library Advisory Board (LAB), some of this debate comes a little more into focus. The 11/11/13 minutes demonstrate friction and discord between IHPA (Director Martin) and the LAB, and you can see the seeds of this separation effort beginning to take hold.

    My first reaction to this story was that separation is the wrong approach. We are in the midst of effort to shrink, consolidate and reduce the cost associated with many units of government throughout the state, so why form another? Why not fix the problems at IHPA that the LAB feel are needed? Could it be the Director Martin is political hack who has surrounded herself with more of the same? She is a Blago holdover of the worst kind-toxic and arrogant.

    Could we not have an Illinois Department of Cultural Resources and dissolve the IHPA and the Arts Council, as well as a Board or two?

    Could we not rebuild the Department of Conservation and merge Natural History with Cultural History into one agency? I hear that there is plenty of room out at 1 Natural Resources Way.

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