Mr. President, you're supposedly not just a progressive, but a Chicago progressive, where protection of the city's crown jewel--the lakefront and its parks--is a progressive axiom.
Yet, here you are, pushing ahead in the face of community objections
to jam your ugly presidential menhir into the city's beloved Jackson Park and deface a pearl in Daniel Burnham's magnificent plan for Chicago. The same plan that progressives have been fighting tooth and nail for more than a century to protect and promote.
Even Friends of the Parks, historically the city's leading lakefront purist, has collapsed, indicating that it is begrudgingly accepting as fact that the library will go into (despoil, I would say) Jackson Park. It sees as a victory the junking an above-ground parking garage in the park. Big deal.
The reticence of the progressive community to stand firm for its principles is shameful. Are they so afraid of offending the iconic president? It's been left to some professors at the University of Chicago defiantly utter the words that the library shouldn't go into the park.
Or is it left to me, a deplorable conservative, to tell you, Mr. President, to get the hell out of the park. If you knew Chicago, really knew Chicago, you would know that plenty of available, vacant inland sites are available for your horrific monument. Much of it in precisely those neighborhoods you served as a community organizer and as a voice of the voiceless. Where the economic impact of the library would be direct and bountiful.
It's not just that the building remains monolithic, despite a recent redesign that was supposed to soften this vista-blocking, eyesore. By even a liberal interpretation of Chicago's Lakefront Protection Ordinance, such a structure should never be constructed in a lakefront park. Certainly not one by a non-government agency such as the Obama Foundation which is for practical matters in the hands of private interests not responsive to the public.
This will be debated now by the Chicago Plan Commission whose responsibility is to protect the lakefront. As described on the commission's website:
The [Lakefront Protection] ordinance recognizes that the City's Lake Michigan shoreline possesses special environmental, recreational, cultural, historical, community and aesthetic interests and values that require protection and preservation. The area includes all harbors, piers, breakwaters, locks of the Chicago River, and public open spaces along the water.
It will be the a test of courage for the commission members. They are Martin Cabrera, Jr., Chair; Smita Shah, Vice-Chair; Leslie F. Bond, Jr.; Laura Flores; Gary Gardner; Fran Grossman; Sarah Lyons; Linda Searl, and the Rev. Albert Tyson. I don't know them personally, but I understand the pressures that will be on them to approve the project.
So, ultimately it will be up to you, Mr. President, to put the library in a better spot in Chicago. Unless, of course, your ego is as large and unbending as President Donald Trump's.
A footnote: I will be accused of being against the library because it is President Obama's. Not so. I was in favor from the beginning for a Chicago site. I was opposed to reconstruction on the lakefront of Soldier Field as a Bears stadium and of the George Lucas museum.