Op-Ed: Not so fast, Obama. Your Jackson Park center faces an important legal hurdle
A federal judge has green-lighted a non-profit's lawsuit against the Obama center despoiling Jackson Park, handing all Obama's horses and men's combined legal effort an unexpected challenge to snuff out the opposition.
U.S. Judge John Robert Blakey's ruling allows Protect Our Parks' lawsuit to proceed to trial on the key issue: Whether the center's construction in the park violates a legal doctrine that prohibits Chicago and the Park District from violating the public trust by turning the land over to a private entity.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that they have a due process right to challenge whether "lands held in the public trust are imminently in danger of being altered by the actions of the defendants [the city and park district]."
Blakey tossed out parts of the lawsuit, but the key issue remains to be decided more quickly than normal lawsuits take, or as the judge said, with "a short trial date."
My reading is that the powerful legal and political Goliaths that back the center in the park figured that they could swat away the bothersome lawsuit filed by a puny David. The Chicago Way. At least now the issues will be decided on their merits.
Another reminder: All this conflict would go away if Obama's ego didn't demand that his private center be built on precious, beautiful, lakefront land owned by the public. Work could begin quickly if the temple to Obama's colossus ego were built elsewhere on the South Side where plenty of vacant land is begging for development. Such a site would offer as many, if not more, of the benefits that the Jackson Park site promises.
Author Dennis Byrne can be reached at email@example.com, www.dennisbyrne.net