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Tensions run high at presidential library board meeting

2 months, 2 weeks ago Doug Finke, The State Journal-Register

Discussions as to how the facility should be governed

From Doug Finke, The State Journal-Register:
The internal dissensions at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum were on full display Friday during a sometimes-contentious meeting to discuss how the facility should be governed.
It was the first meeting of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Advisory Board since the last-minute attempt by House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, to make the presidential library and museum a stand-alone state agency. The House approved Madigan’s bill, but the Senate did not take it up.
Advisory board chairman J. Steven Beckett, a University of Illinois law professor, drafted the bill without discussing it with other board members. Beckett believes the advisory board does not have enough input into operation of the library and museum and that the facility is withering under the control of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
“My intention was to focus attention on the structure of the governance of the library and museum,” Beckett said Friday.
“I think it’s clear the advisory board has been frustrated and disappointed in our ability to have some input in terms of the direction that has been taken and the decisions that have been taken,” board member Richard Meister added. “One is the issue of governance.”
However, Ted Flickinger, a member of the Historic Preservation Agency board of trustees, said the situation was handled badly.
“I’m appalled by the whole situation,” said Flickinger, who attended the advisory board meeting. “Now it’s in the public light, the legislature is involved, rumors are running rampant about this and that. Why didn’t we sit down beforehand and talk about this?”
Historic Preservation Agency director Amy Martin said the advisory board “never brought anything in particular to the board of trustees. We’re not aware of anything that’s broken.”
Speaking directly to Beckett, Martin said, “I understand you felt this was an issue you had to take to the legislature. If this was too troubling, I think the venue would be the board you chair.”
“There are lots of things I wish you would do as director that I don’t comment on,” Beckett shot back. “This was a decision that I made.”
Martin said the role of the advisory board is spelled out in state law and basically involves making recommendations about the library to the Historic Preservation Agency board of trustees. Nonetheless, the agency’s board is working on a plan to appoint a committee that will review the governing structure of the library and museum.

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