Ever since President Donald Trump was elected in Nov. 2016, the legacy of former President Barack Obama has been under siege.
Obama fought for years to preserve his legacy — but it’s all being unraveled. And it’s getting worse by the day.
Sponsored: Hillary’s Darkest Secrets Up For Auction?
Tuesday night, the courts delivered a devastating, $500 million dollar punch in the gut to the former president.
A federal judge gave the green light to a lawsuit that aims to completely stop the delayed construction of Obama’s $500 million presidential center in a Chicago park beside Lake Michigan.
Obama’s political allies had hoped the court would grant a city motion to throw out the lawsuit by Protect Our Parks, some fearing any drawn out litigation might lead Obama to decide to build the Obama Presidential Center somewhere other than his hometown.
A lawsuit brought by another group in 2016 helped to stop a $400 million plan by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas to build a museum on public land on Chicago’s lakefront. That museum is now under construction in Los Angeles .
Judge John Robert Blakey heard arguments last week on the city’s motion to dismiss. Blakey tossed parts of the suit in his Tuesday ruling, but concluded the group has standing to sue because it represent taxpayers with concerns that providing parkland in the public trust to the Obama center violates their due-process rights.
Blakey’s ruling confirms that the suit poses a serious threat to the project. The judge indicated that he doesn’t want the lawsuit to drag out, and that he would strictly limit any fact gathering leading up to trial to 45 days.
Plans call for the center to be built in Jackson Park, which was named after President Andrew Jackson and was a site for the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. The site 7 miles south of downtown Chicago is near low-income neighborhoods where Obama worked as a community organizer and is just blocks from the University of Chicago where Obama was a law professor.
It is also close to the home where the Obamas lived until he won the presidency in 2008.
Sponsored: A DIY cancer cure?!
The center was originally slated to open in 2021, though ground hasn’t yet broken because of how many local groups the Obamas have angered since targeting the area. He’s being accused of corruption by local organizers.
In its 2018 suit , Protect Our Parks accused the city of illegally transferring park land to a private entity, The Obama Foundation, effectively “gifting” prized land to a Chicago favorite son. The group said city officials manipulated the approval process and tinkered with legislation to skirt long-standing laws designed to ensure residents have unobstructed access to lakeside parks.
“Defendants have chosen to deal with it in a classic Chicago political way … to deceive and seemingly legitimize an illegal land grab,” the lawsuit says.
To make the park available for the project, the Chicago Park District first sold the land to the city for $1. Friendly Illinois legislators amended the state’s Illinois Aquarium and Museum Act to include presidential libraries as an exception to the no-development rules. The Chicago City Council approved the project by a 47-to-1 vote last May.
Sponsored: Seniors: Cold sores linked to Alzheimer’s
The Obama Foundation would pay just $10 to the city for use of the park land for 99 years, cover the costs of building the complex and be responsible for covering operating costs for 99 years. Once built, the Obama Presidential Center’s physical structures would be transferred to the city for free, meaning the city would formally own the center but not control what happens there.
“They are essentially giving (property) to Obama … for 10 cents a year for 99 years,” parks advocacy lawyer Mark Roth said Thursday.
The First Amendment claim struck from the suit by Judge Blakey cited tax money that would be spent to reconfigure roads and traffic. The suit argued taxpayers would thus subsidize any partisan political activity by Obama at the center.
City lawyers conceded Thursday that Chicago would pay an estimated $175 million to reconfigure roads to manage traffic around the center.
The Associated Press contributed to this article