News Column

Pritzker Wants Chicago to be Home of Obama Library

December 11, 2013
Obama

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said today that she hopes Barack Obama's presidential library is planted in the last place he called home before the White House: Chicago.

Pritzker, speaking at a breakfast sponsored by Politico, said a presidential library would be a "tremendous asset and legacy for the city."

There has been no announcement of where Obama wants his library. Several schools have been suggested as sites, including the University of Chicago, where he taught law; the University of Illinois at Chicago; Chicago State University; and the University of Hawaii, in the state where he was born.

"All politics is local," Pritzker remarked. "I am very hopeful -- I have no inside information on this -- but I am very hopeful that the presidential library will be in Chicago. I think it's very important and I know that the leadership in Chicago, both political and lay leadership in Chicago, would very much like it have it."

On a related topic, the question of where the Obamas will live themselves after his term ends early in 2017, Pritzker noted that "they are young" and said she understood the decision-making process they faced.

President Obama, in an interview last month with Barbara Walters of ABC, said they may stay in Washington after leaving the White House to allow their younger daughter, Sasha, 12, to finish high school at Sidwell Friends School. Malia Obama, now 15, will be college-age in 2017.

"I'm a mother," said Pritzker, who has two grown children, "and so I appreciate the stresses that come when you have a very busy life and yet you love your children, and you try to balance what's in the best interests of your own activities and of your children."

She said she respected the Obamas wanting to see their daughters get through high school. "I completely understand the (decision-making) calculus that they're (the Obamas) going through," she added.

She said she and her husband, Dr. Bryan Traubert, would return home after her Cabinet service. "I really love Chicago," she said.

Pritzker also applauded the news Tuesday that Chicagoan Deborah Rutter would become president of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in September. Rutter is president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association.

Pritzker, a Chicago billionaire, business executive and Obama mega-donor, derives her wealth in part from the Hyatt hotel chain her family founded. She resigned from the Kennedy Center Board before taking the commerce post in June.

She praised Rutter as a "great leader" and called her selection "fantastic."

Pritzker said Rutter's No. 1 priority would be the capital campaign for the center, which has a $180 million budget. Plans call for a major expansion that will add space for performances, rehearsals and administrative offices, she noted.

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(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services
Original headline: Pritzker hopes Obama library will be in Chicago



Source: (c)2013 the Chicago Tribune


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