To the Editor:
I write in response to the curious July 4 staff article reciting the opinions of a Northwestern Law School Professor criticizing the merits of the lawsuit my organization Protect Our Parks has filed against the Park District and City of Chicago, which alleges the illegality of transferring dedicated public park land in historic Jackson Park to a a non-governmental entity for its private purposes.
First, I note how unprofessional it was to write such an article without also seeking prior comment from me. Not only am I personally involved, but I have been a practicing trial and appellate lawyer for over 50 years (I suspect longer by far than Prof. Shoked) and have actually represented in court both the State of Illinois and City of Chicago in a number of landmark cases. In fact, in a previous interview I had notified the author of the article that previously my organization and I had successfully filed and recovered damages in an almost identical lawsuit involving Lincoln Park.
Second, it seems curious to choose to dig up and quote a Northwestern Professor not someone from the nearby UChicago Law School. And, no inquiry into possible biased motivations of the source when Northwestern itself has had it own checkered past of questionable land grabs in Evanston.
Finally, no experienced investigative reporter would gullibly accept everything a source says without a modicum of fact checking. From the opinions recorded in the article it is unlikely that the source, or the reporter, ever actually read the Complaint in question. Quote Item: “All the precedent that we have as pertains to the lakefront in Chicago doesn’t really apply to the OPC”. The good Professor should have read paragraphs 27, 28, 43, 44, 45 of the Complaint. Quote Item: “The Illinois General Assembly modified statue to allow the Park District to give land for the establishment of presidential libraries.” He apparently completely missed the contents of paragraphs 10 through 13 and Counts IV and V of the Complaint, paragraphs 100 through 114. Item:”At least on its face, the statutes are on the city’s side” Really? Did his glasses fog up before reading paragraphs 6, 7, 56, 57 and Count I of the Complaint, paragraphs 58 through 86. Quote Item: “It’s kind of a ludicrous claim that anything the City does can be struck down on a constitutional claim”. Ludicrous? That is what makes this country free. The Professor needs to read and take seriously Article VI of the United States Constitution : “This Constitution…shall be the Supreme Law of the Land; and Judges in every State shall be bound thereby”. Even in Chicago!
All together, not only was the Northwestern Professor blowing smoke in the eyes of the reporter, but the reporter himself has displayed a shocking lack of professional competence in writing the article he did.
Herbert L. Caplan
Protect Our Parks, President