As he seeks to maximize the potential political benefit of ensuring President Barack Obama's presidential library breaks ground in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking a more public role in an effort to save the University of Chicago's bid, reports The Chicago Sun-Times
"I want to make sure that, if there’s any issues, that we resolve those so we’re competitive against New York and this becomes an easy decision for the president to pick his hometown for where his presidential library, in my view, belongs," said Emanuel on Monday.
Emanuel added that he planned to "play an active role in making sure that" either the University of Chicago or the University of Illinois at Chicago are selected.
With the Feb. 24 mayoral election looming, the political pressure on Emanuel to deliver has increased with reports that the Barack Obama Foundation has real concerns about the University of Chicago's bid.
"There are major concerns with the three potential sites in the University of Chicago
proposal given the fact that neither the school nor the City of Chicago control the sites," a foundation source told the Sun-Times last week.
For Obama's former chief of staff, the pressure intensified when foundation board member Marty Nesbitt placed the onus on the city to deliver.
"Clearly, the city has made no secret of its determination to make sure the Obama library is in Chicago. So given that, it is not unrealistic for the foundation to believe that the city can resolve the issues in a timely fashion," said Nesbitt, according to the Sun-Times.
In his news conference, Emanuel confirmed that the city will hold two community meetings to discuss potential sites. The next step will be for the city to purchase or lease one of the two sites selected to host the library, reports Crain's Chicago Business
Last December, the foundation announced it had received final proposals for the future Barack Obama Presidential Center
from the two Chicago schools, New York City's Columbia University, and the University of Hawaii.
After conducting a review of the proposals, the board will present recommendations to the president and Michelle Obama with a decision expected sometime in the first quarter of 2015, according to a foundation press release.
While Obama taught law at the University of Chicago and his family has ties to the school, questions have been raised about the fact it does not own any of the South Side sites included in its December proposal.
The foundation has set a goal of raising $225,000 per day to meet the $380 million estimated cost for construction alone of the library, reports Bloomberg News
A September poll found that 54 percent of Illinois voters do not want tax dollars used to bring the library to Chicago or to build it, while 39 percent said they would support using state taxes to fund the project, The Chicago Tribune
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