Plaintiffs accuse Obama center organizers of pulling an ‘institutional bait and switch’.
Now, a local advocacy group opposed to the location of the presidential library in Chicago’s Jackson Park has filed a federal lawsuit aimed at blocking the controversial South Side project.
The plaintiff—named as nonprofit activist group Protect Our Parks, Inc.—accuses the Obama Foundation of pulling a “bait and switch,” by replacing an “official” presidential library overseen by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration with a complex that instead offers digital access to Obama’s off-site archival documents.
“Although that original purpose of an official Presidential Library no longer exists,” reads the complaint, “the defendants continue to forge ahead to advance a totally different private nongovernmental project on public parkland.”
Furthermore, the suit claims that public land is “prohibited by law” from being turned over to a private entity for private use and that such a deal violates Chicago Park District code.
One of the complaints is that the construction is an example of classic, Obama-style bait-and-switch.
Protect Our Parks Inc. accused organizers of an “institutional bait and switch” by initially advertising the center as the 44th president’s official library.
“In August 2016, the City and the Park District publically announced that the Obama Presidential Library, promised to include all of the former President’s official records, would be built in Jackson Park,” the lawsuit reads. “Then, in May 2017, after the Defendants’ public announcement that a true ‘Presidential Library’ would be built, the Obamas did an about face on their commitment to a Presidential Library.”
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, also claims the transfer of public parklands to a private entity violates Park District Code.
“Defendants have chosen to deal with it in a classic Chicago political way, known as a short con shell game, a corrupt scheme to deceive and seemingly legitimize an illegal land grab, one that will endure for centuries to come, regardless of future changing public park needs and increasingly consequential environmental conditions,” the lawsuit reads.
To be fair to Obama, after President Trump finishes his terms in office, there will be little legacy to store in a library. In fact, rumor has it that Trump may donate this sculpture to the Obama Presidential Center grounds:
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