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Wednesday Letters: Lucas Museum plans raise questions

Lucas Museum conceptual drawing

In a recent article titled, “Walking Between Two Worlds,” Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irazzary, is quoted: “…if you look at other museums in Chicago compared to this museum, we would argue that this museum is less public. … George Lucas personally derives value from any growth in the value of his collection.” And, if people are enthusiastically thinking they will see oodles of art related to Star Wars, now that the Force has recently awakened a great many of us (yes, the movie is good!), think again.

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According to lucasmuseum.org, PR Director David Perry states, “If we only used his [Lucas’] art, we could rotate an exhibit every six months for nine years and never repeat a piece of art.” The 17 examples posted include pieces, dating 1896-1956, by artists whose other work can already be admired at the Art Institute of Chicago.

LMNA is supposed to be a “place to experience narrative art and the evolution of moving images — from illustration to cinema to the digital media of the future.” While I’m not suggesting, with Lucas’ married ties to the Windy City, that another municipality is better suited for this potentially cool project, motives behind apparent carte blanche acceptance of its proposed location next to Soldier Field deserve a bit more scrutiny.

Will Mr. Lucas derive great personal financial gain from this project? If so, how will he pay it forward to everyone else? Let me get this straight: The Chicago City Council recently approved a 99-year lease of public land for a grand total of $10 while it does not say if or how the billionaire will donate his art to the museum.

Our nation’s public trust doctrine is being reassessed in U.S. District Court while Chicagoans are being directed to voraciously accept that the utmost best use of the specific land proposed (modernized just 13 years ago) is another branded edifice. Chicago museums do not pay amusement or admission taxes; many contract out their merchandising and restaurant establishments and hence pay no sales tax, either. U.S. federal tax code allows art collectors to deduct the full value of any art they donate to museums and foundations. So, if the donor has any control of the receiving museum or foundation, then it is plausible to consider that such a donation effectively benefits the donor big time, while the public pays a museum-determined admission fee to view it.

The narrative is being calculated in a city that could truly benefit from a decision to locate this museum on another site. Public “trust” could be preserved. Mr. Lucas could reap great pride in knowing such would not be violated, manipulated or publicly opined for any additional potential financial advantage to him.

Linda S. Levin, Loop

Ruthless governor

Gov. Bruce Rauner said he would sign recall legislation for the Chicago mayor. While he is at it, he should also sign a recall for governors. Rahm Emanuel is no prize, but Rauner is useless and ruthless as a governor — he is holding the state and the people hostage for his own self-interest, not caring how he inflicts pain on the poor and needy. Rauner has got to go.

Ann Gutierrez, Tinley Park

Venerable store is closing

The Market Place Food store on Diversey Parkway in Lake View, a business owned by the Stellas family for 85 years, is scheduled to close on January 15. Regardless of the details and back stories that may be involved (few of which most citizens will ever get to know), the following observations are worth remembering, however lamentable they may be for some.

For all things there is a season; all business relationships come to an end; and the only thing permanent is change. While this is a large, impactful change for the community, most reasonable people understand that “change” does not necessarily imply growth, improvement, or advancement.

Life is ephemeral. Waste little of it. Please value what you have while you have it. How often in our contemporary world does anyone expect to see such committed continuity in a business?

I, for one, will sorely miss the presence of the store I have known well for over half a century. Good luck to the Stellas family and their staff, and good luck to us.

Leon J. Hoffman, Lake View

Support Azerbaijan

Since restoration of its independence in 1991, Azerbaijan has grown to be one of America’s most reliable allies. Since the outset of bilateral relations, US energy firms took interest in exploring energy resources of Azerbaijan. Upon signing of Deal of the Century on Sep. 20, 1994 large US energy firms incl. Amoco, Pennzoil, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Unocal jointly with Western partners took part in energy exploration, production and development of infrastructure.

A BTC oil pipeline built to ship Azeri oil to the Western markets was backed by the United States. As many diplomats note, this was “neither the Democratic nor Republican, but an American project.” Cooperation between the United States and Azerbaijan deepened with realization of BTE gas pipeline and Southern Gas Corridor which will connect 3 gas pipelines to deliver Azeri gas to European markets by 2019. On April 2, 2014, during EU-U.S. Energy Council meeting, John Kerry noted the importance of SGC urging timely construction of the pipelines. In a statement in June, President Barack Obama reiterated the position of administration on supporting the SGC to bolster EU’s energy security.

We must support our ally Azerbaijan and its partners, Georgia, Turkey and Israel, in their quest to positively shift the dynamics in the region by strengthening economic bonds with our allies in Europe.

Selma Deniz, Winfield