Sunday, July 27, 2014         

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Council pursues Obama's library

By B.J. Reyes


The City Council is joining the effort to try attracting President Barack Obama's future presidential library.

A Council committee advanced a resolution Monday urging the 44th president to select Honolulu, where he was born, as the site of his presidential library.

The state House and Senate adopted similar, nonbinding resolutions last year.

"It's quite a remarkable opportunity we have living in the hometown of a guy who became president," said Robert Perkinson, a University of Hawaii professor who is spearheading the effort to attract the library. "One way to capitalize on that opportunity is to try to attract one of these institutions."

Aside from housing all presidential documents, from National Security Council minutes to rough drafts of speeches, presidential libraries also serve as educational institutions, Perkinson said.

He said many libraries, including those of Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, have grown to include a museum and research institution while also serving as the headquarters of their community outreach foundations.

The library also could serve to boost tourism, Perkinson added, noting that Clinton's library in Little Rock, Ark., attracts about 300,000 visitors annually.

A decision on where to locate a presidential library often comes down to the president's individual preference, and most observers say Honolulu is competing with Obama's political home base of Chicago for the location.

"We expect there would be political reasons why President Obama would not want to think about this seriously and certainly not make any sort of decision or even begin a decision-making process until after the next election," Perkinson said. "But we want to make sure that we have everything in place."

Resolution 11-124 was approved unanimously by the Safety, Economic Development and Public Affairs Committee and advances to a vote before the full Council at its June 3 meeting.

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