* Bruce Rushton has a very long and informative piece on the blowup over the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Go read the whole thing…
Steven Beckett pleads naive.
When he drew up a bill to divorce the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, the University of Illinois law professor who chairs an ALPLM advisory board says he had no idea that he was an architect of uproar. The bill would give Beckett’s advisory panel control of the institution, including the power to hire and fire the executive director, who now serves at the pleasure of the governor.
It wasn’t a power grab, Beckett insists.
Both Beckett and members of his advisory board say the current governance structure makes no sense, and the result has been battles between boards and bureaucrats. While boards bicker, the directors of the IHPA and ALPLM have been fighting over who has the power to run the institution.
With power at stake and House Speaker Michael Madigan front and center, it’s not surprising that cynics would say that this is just another politics-as-usual gambit. Naysayers have pointed out that the speaker, who has sponsored Beckett’s bill, is a friend of ALPLM director Eileen Mackevich, who is a frequent companion of Stanley Balzekas, Jr., who owns the Chicago building where the speaker has an office.
“Half of me goes, ‘Boy, that was stupid, Beckett – you should have anticipated that this will become all about the speaker and Illinois politics,’” Beckett said shortly after the legislative session ended with his plan stalled in the Senate. “ ‘Now this idea that you had is in this big murk. It advanced nothing.’”
On the other hand, the future of Springfield’s biggest tourist draw is now on the radar screen of most everyone who matters in the General Assembly, which Beckett points out isn’t necessarily a bad thing. His plan landed, or crashed, just one week before adjournment, a seemingly out-of-nowhere bill sponsored by Madigan, a man accustomed to getting his way. Except this time he didn’t. And the bill wasn’t out of nowhere.
Again, go read the whole thing.
And if that’s not enough reading, the FOIA’d documents used in the article are here and here so you can do your own sleuthing.