The [Friday] Papers
Today's Worst Person In Chicago is Jennifer Farrington, president of the Chicago Children's Museum. Is this what you teach the children, Jennifer?
Last night, Farrington appeared on Chicago Tonight with 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly. What transpired was stunning for these parts: a Chicago alderman clearly and directly answering questions while a children's advocate shamelessly dodged and weaved. Eddie Arruza moderated. Let's take a look. (The questions are indirect quotes, but the answers are about 99 percent there; I typed as I watched. The comments are mine.)
ARRUZA: Does the mayor have the votes?
REILLY: Not according to my count. I think even museum officials will admit the vote count remains fluid . . . [contrary to Fran Spielman's report], by my count, the mayor does not have the votes to pass this plan.
Comment: So the story was a plant. Good job, Hill & Knowlton!
FARRINGTON: We've reached out to a number of aldermen . . . I'm not even in the business of trying to convince anyone."
Comment: Then why am I watching you?
ARRUZA: Is the proposed new museum mostly underground?
FARRINGTON: It uses the grade of the site to its advantage.
Comment: So . . . not so much?
REILLY: This is not about the Children's Museum, this is about legal precedent . . . if we make this one exception for the Children's Museum the city will have to be prepared to grant many more exceptions . . .
ARRUZA: What about the list of alternative sites?
FARRINGTON: We certainly did our due diligence, we were looking for a site that would be appropriate . . . best for the Children's Museum . . many of the (alternate) sites are simply not ideal . . . we want children to be at center of city . . .
REILLY: The criteria were so narrowly defined, they were designed to conclude that Grant Park is the only (viable location) . . that's complicated by the fact that putting one there is illegal.
Comment: How much did you pay Hill & Knowlton to come up with the "children at the center of the city" line?
ARRUZA: Have you received assurances by the mayor that this will be approved?
FARRINGTON: I think the important thing is this is a decision our board, our staff, our supporters really need to believe (is best?) for Chicago . . . Do children deserve to be at the center of the city?
Comment: 1. So the answer is Yes. 2. A follow-up pressing for a real answer would have been nice. 3. Does the Children's Museum have an exhibit about how to dodge questions?
FARRINGTON: A long part of this process was about listening.
Comment: To Hill & Knowlton.
After Farrington insisted that public support is on the museum's side . . .
REILLY: The fact that the museum has been hiring up a reportedly large list of public relations firms, lobbyists, attorneys, making commercials, sending out mailers indicates that perhaps the public support isn't there . . . I don't think the museum would be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on this campaign is the support already existed.
ARRUZA: Why are you spending so much on this campaign if you already have the public's support?
FARRINGTON: Our staff is primarily made up of folks who are educators . . . we don't have a robust PR staff . . . sure, we had the support . . we needed expert assistance in communicating that support.
Comment: Communicating it back to the people who . . . have it?
ARRUZA: How much are you spending?
FARRINGTON: We are spending what we need to spend.
Comment: Including fees for lessons on how not to answer questions.
REILLY: I'm absolutely certain it will be litigated if this passes the council.
ARRUZA: Is this worth a court fight?
FARRINGTON: Our legal folks assure us that we're in compliance . . . so we are going to move forward.
ARRUZA: Our viewers are almost unanimously and rabidly against the idea.
Shame on you, Jennifer Farrington.
Comment: Let's pretend Blagojevich was completely unaware of the activities described in the trial - that he's 100 percent innocent. Wouldn't it be the height of irresponsibility for him to not follow this trial? Wouldn't he be following every last detail?
Q: Don't people of illinois deserve to know?
BLAGO: I already answered your questions.
Comment; You did? Did we all fall asleep briefly?
BLAGO: Those characterizations do not characterize how I or anyone operates . . . that description is not accurate.
Comment: Wow, actually stunning in the lack of an actual denial in there.
BLAGO: I'm not a party to that trial . . . a trial I'm not involved in . . .
Comment: Governor, you need Hill & Knowlton even more than the Children's Museum does.
The Beachwood Tip Line: For the children.
Posted on March 28, 2008
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