Springfield bill would make it harder to sue to block Obama library, Lucas museum

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Lucas Museum conceptual drawing

WASHINGTON — Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants lawmakers in Springfield to approve legislation to make it harder to successfully sue to prevent building on city parkland the Obama Presidential Library complex and the museum for Star Wars creator George Lucas.

The attempted end run around lawsuits came in a measure drafted by the city and sponsored by state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago. He introduced the legislation on Wednesday, and in a matter of hours it sprinted through a committee vote.

Raoul told the Sun-Times there were no objections to his amendment and he expected a Senate vote on Thursday in Springfield.

I reported on April 14 that the decision was made to locate the Obama library, museum and presidential center in Chicago — with a determination to be made later this year whether the facility would be in Jackson Park or Washington Park. Raoul represents these South Side communities.

But before the Chicago-based Barack Obama Foundation makes the announcement — not expected for several weeks — the foundation and the city wanted to minimize threats from any potential lawsuit. A foundation spokesman told the Sun-Times the city consulted with the foundation about the legislation.

Friends of the Park already has a case in federal court to block the Lucas Museum and has threatened to file a lawsuit against the Obama project.

For the Obama project, state lawmakers are being asked to add language to existing law to specifically allow a presidential library to be constructed on parkland. For the  Lucas museum, the Legislature is being asked to specifically allow construction on “formerly submerged” Lake Michigan land — eliminating a central legal argument being advanced in the Friends of the Park lawsuit.

Lance Trover, a spokesman for Gov. Bruce Rauner, said he had no comment when asked if Rauner would sign the legislation.

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