In today’s polarized world, it’s hard to imagine liberals and conservatives agreeing on much of anything. Even so, Chicago residents of all political affiliations and walks of life are opposing the new Obama Center and it’s not hard to see why.
There are numerous irregularities surrounding the construction of the new center; what is more, its location is an inconvenient one for many Chicago residents. There are also concerns that, unlike other past presidents, former president Barack Obama intends to politicize his new center by using it to spearhead a resistance movement to President Trump.
Location is a hot-button topic for many who oppose the construction of the Obama Center. While there are well over two thousand vacant lots in the city, many of which could be renovated to benefit both local neighborhoods and businesses alike, the former president and those who are working on constructing the new Obama center have for some reason chosen to build a portion of it right in Jackson Park. In fact, over three dozen trees were cut down for construction even though the park is on the National Register of Historic Places. While it is meant to be protected by Federal, State and local laws, activists have had to file a lawsuit against the city of Chicago in order to put a stop to the demolition.
It isn’t just environmentalists and those who enjoy the beauty of Chicago’s great outdoors who are furious with city’s plans to lease part of the park to the former president for construction of his new center. Local residents who are in need of work have reported that the new construction isn’t providing them with jobs and benefits. The fact that there is no community benefits agreement is surprising considering the fact that Obama, a former community leader, has regularly expressed concern for local communities and their needs.
Conservatives, at the same time, are noting that that using taxpayer money and valuable resources to build a center that would be expressly dedicated to promoting a particular point of view that goes against what many Americans believe is a violation of the First Amendment. Other presidential libraries are apolitical in nature; they simply house books, papers and other items pertaining to the president in question without pushing a particular point of view on the general public. The Obama Center, on the other hand, intends to offer digital access to the former president’s papers and books at some point in time; however, one of the main purposes of the center is to operate as a training center for both national and international political leaders.
The way that construction will be funded is yet another contentious matter. Illinois is well known for its many financial problems — its pension system is a crisis that is just waiting to explode. Even so, the city of Chicago somehow came up with about $200 million dollars to build new roadways around the center. To make matters worse, Chicago really only intends to spend about $40 million of that money from its own coffers. Federal taxpayers will be on the hook to reimburse the state for the rest.
The city of Chicago is extremely eager to see Obama’s new center built at the earliest opportunity. The city council essentially lied to a federal judge in order to cut down trees at Jackson Park, telling the judge that the removal of the trees was not connected to the construction of the new Obama Center when it indeed is. The authorization for the center has also resulted in a number of statues being trampled on.
Given these facts, it is not surprising that Chicago residents of all ages and walks of life are rising up against the new center’s construction. While liberals and conservatives have different reasons for opposing the construction of the Obama Center, one thing is clear — the new Obama Center would not benefit anyone in the city apart from the politically connected individuals who are desperate to see it built at any cost.
~ Conservative Zone