OBAMA, LINCOLN AND SAM
State Sen. Sam McCann, R/CP/AFL-CIO/?-Plainview, caused quite a stir this week by announcing that he’s sponsoring legislation that would yank $180 million in state road funds that’s slated to help build a presidential library for Barack Obama in Chicago. The money, McCann says, should be spent fixing roads and bridges in our neck of the woods. Our good friend Sam, who is running for governor as the standard bearer of the Conservative Party – an entity that exists but hasn’t updated its Facebook page since 2012 – is a big fan of roads. After all, he’s fighting hard to get the state to designate the stretch of State Highway 107 between Griggsville and Pittsfield the Lincoln Secretaries’ Trail, in honor of John Nicolay (a Bavarian immigrant and newspaper editor) and John Hay (who came from here), who landed jobs as secretaries for Lincoln. McCann’s move to defund Obama’s planned library hasn’t sat well with Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has drawn comparisons with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office had plenty to say, asserting that the state is doing for Chicago only what it did for Springfield when it helped the Lincoln Library (sic) with more than $220 million in subsidies – so far,” Crain’s Chicago Business columnist Greg Hinz wrote. At last check, the federal government paid $50 million to build the ALPLM, which opened in 2005 and cost slightly less than $150 million. No doubt, operating expenses are part of Emanuel’s calculations, but that would seem a path strewn with apples and oranges when you’re talking capital budgets. We really need to quit arguing about this sort of thing. While we’ve futzed around, Mississippi State University last year opened the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library with the help of a $10 million state grant and a trove of Lincoln papers that ended up south of the Mason-Dixon line instead of here. Galena weeps.