Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Backstory on the Confusion With Friends of the Parks Lawsuit Against Lucas Museum

Late last week, we posted about some mixed messages coming from the civic group called Friends of the Parks who was in strong opposition of the Lucas Museum.

Yesterday, Greg Hinz, a columnist who broke the story, spilled the beans on his story and stance on the situation:
If you're going to hold yourself out as the great defender of the public interest, it sure helps to be, well, public. 
I wish the good folks at Friends of the Parks would get that message.  Whatever its intent, the Chicago civic group is acting like a secret special interest that can't be bothered to answer questions and level with those it's supposedly representing in its continued battle with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. 
My reference is to the media exchange late last week in which both I and Michael Sneed at the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Friends' badly divided board had voted to sue for peace, offering to drop the federal lawsuit that has blocked construction of the Lucas Museum in exchange for creating hundreds of new acres of park space elsewhere. 
Sneed can speak for herself, but my story had multiple sources and I stand by it. But ever since, all the group has done is issue a clear-as-mud statement denying that it's pulling its lawsuit, at least for now, and that the principle of preserving the lakefront for public use must not be "ignored." 
That's far less than definitive. So I've directed more than a dozen emails, calls and messages through intermediaries to Friends Executive Director Juanita Irizarry and board Chairwoman Lauren Moltz saying I'd like to talk with them and clarify exactly what happened at that board meeting and where the group stands now. I contacted them not only because they are in charge of the organization but because, according to my sources, they were on the losing side of a 12-4 board vote.

It's a good read and provides an interesting backstory to the swirl of media coverage on the topic last week.

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