Springfield refusenik: Cullom Davis

There is quite a detailed new article on the dark side of the Lincoln Museum project; I commend the Sprigfield State Journal-Register for challenging the biggest, most important project in the state directly.

Much of the writing here centers on Professor Emeritus Cullom Davis, who was involved in the Republican's effort to start and run the Lincoln Library and Museum. Those efforts were restructured by Democrats after being smeared as corrupt and patronage ridden by a Chicago columnist. That columnist has had a room named after him in the library, as reported in this blog some months ago.

Davis's comments on what happened overlaps with my own bloggy analysis. For instance on the idea of Democrats having abolished Library and Museum patronage,
He claims Illinois Historic Preservation Agency chairwoman Julie Cellini has hired friends, namely Susan Mogerman and Estie Karpman, to run the library and museum's foundation. Mogerman is the foundation's executive director. Karpman is its chief fund-raiser. Cellini, who has worked with both women in the past, sits on the foundation board.

This kind of patronage may actually be self-defeating. I saw it happen repeatedly in city art institutions in more than a decade of non-profit involvement: patronage was going to happen, but if the wrong kind of patronage happened, an organization could be sent over the brink financially, not to mention artistically. This Cellini drama seems to overtly exclude the influence of nominal director Richard Norton Smith, who was so vocal in bashing Republican patronage during Davis's involvement.

Irony alert.

A little tase of more:
When Davis learned of the honor [a room named after the Chicago columnist who slimed him], he was offended. [Columnist] Neal's columns accused former [Republican] Gov. George Ryan of planning to use the library and museum as a patronage dump and creating a Lincoln presidential center at UIS [Uni. of Ill./Springfield] for the same purpose.

When fund-raising confusion arose as UIS's Lincoln center competed for dollars with the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum's foundation, Neal wrote about it. Among other things, Neal accused UIS of "cashing in on Lincoln's legacy" by "hijacking" the presidential library. [Democratic] Gov. Rod Blagojevich ultimately yanked the center and its funding from UIS.

Davis was one of those helping UIS with fund raising for its new center.

The whole affair was an "incredible embarrassment to the university," Davis said, adding that UIS officials never had selfish motives and didn't deserve Neal's public smearing.

If you are following the Library and Museum story, this is must-read stuff.