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The [Thursday] Papers

Here's what I went through this morning.

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Dr. Nick
I'm not going to name the place because I don't want to spoil it for the championship game, but the Beachwood's very own Nick Shreders, a Croatia fan, has been watching the World Cup at a Chicago bar with a bunch of faces who have become familiar during the tournament and on Wednesday he discovered who some of them are: Jesus Jones' bassist, two Mekons, and one Devil in a Woodpile. That is perhaps my favorite World Cup "moment."

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Beachwood Benny
I'm back at the Bucktown bureau for a couple days for another round of supercat-sitting.

bennyback.jpg

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Millionaire Matters
"Far more millionaires move into California than leave, despite the state's highest-in-the-nation income-tax rate, a new study shows," Dan Morain writes for CALmatters.

Researchers at Stanford University's Center on Poverty and Inequality and the Franchise Tax Board sought to answer the question: Does California's top state income-tax rate, now 13.3 percent on people earning $1 million a year or more, drive the wealthy to leave for low-tax states?

Short answer: No, except on the far margin. The researchers reviewed 25 years of California tax returns from all high earners and found that more wealthy people relocate after a divorce.

Republicans regularly cite anecdotes of businesses owners and wealthy people decamping to low-tax states such as Nevada or Texas. But the study shows million-dollar earners moved to California even after voters raised income taxes in 2004 and 2012.

Seems relevant - as does this.

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Star Wars Museum Wars
Bigfoot architecture critic Paul Goldberger has written a history of sorts for Vanity Fair of George Lucas's quest to build his museum, including here in Chicago.

There's a lot to unpack, as they say; a lot that validates the notion some of us had from the beginning that Lucas has no one to blame but himself - and Rahm Emanuel - for his failure to get it done in Chicago (and before that, San Francisco).

Let's take a look. I'll bold certain points for emphasis, just to, um, emphasize them.

"The Urban Design Group is a commercial firm whose expertise was neither designing museums nor working in traditional architectural styles, and its scheme, as the San Francisco Chronicle critic John King wrote, 'looked like a generic Spanish-themed shopping center.' It was also 69 feet high, and design guidelines set by the Presidio Trust required that buildings be no higher than 45 feet, in order to preserve views toward the Golden Gate Bridge. The trust, not wanting to turn over public land to Lucas without giving others a chance to come up with alternative proposals, put out a general call for cultural projects and received 16 submissions, all of them no higher than 45 feet. Unwilling to compromise on the design, Lucas embarked on a public-relations campaign for his museum and his vision, enlisting Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, California governor Jerry Brown, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, among others, to endorse his proposal. (Disclosure: I was asked to consult with Lucas's organization to try to find ways to improve the building's design, but nothing came of it.)"

First, note how the Presidio Trust decided to put out a general call for projects. Rahm should have done the same here upon deciding that the public lakefront land offered to Lucas was available for development. Maybe some folks out there had some ideas of their own!

Second, Lucas refused to compromise, just as he did here. Only that one site would do?

Third, to overcome his unwillingness to compromise he embarked on a PR campaign. Sound familiar?

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"The campaign failed to change the opinion of some San Franciscans that the central issue was not whether to accept a gift to the community but whether to allow a powerful figure to have his way with a cherished piece of local land . . . "

The Lucas Museum proposal here was repeatedly presented as a gift to the community.

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"He at first refused to provide many details about his collection or about the curatorial plans for the museum, which encouraged the view that the project was a rich man's indulgence, a few sentimental paintings dressing up a showcase for Star Wars memorabilia."

Sounds familiar!

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"Lucas seemed to treat the whole approval process with a sense of disdain verging on entitlement . . . "

Sounds familiar!

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" . . . made manifest in an interview he gave in September 2013 to Deborah Solomon of The New York Times, in which he complained that the Presidio Trust 'made us jump through hoops to explain why a museum was worth having.' He concluded: 'They hate us.'"

Sounds familiar!

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"'[Lucas's wife] Mellody [Hobson] said, If you can't have it in your hometown, what about mine?" Lucas recalled. She had close ties to Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, who had already let it be known that he would be more than happy to give the Lucas Museum a home, and promised Lucas and Hobson that Chicago would not subject them to the nit-picking demands of San Francisco."

Sounds familiar!

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"Emanuel organized a site-selection committee to review locations, and in June 2014 he offered Lucas a 17-acre parcel alongside Lake Michigan occupied by parking lots for the Chicago Bears' Soldier Field. Lucas liked it, and the mayor announced with excitement that 'Chicago, the most American of American cities,' was the new location for the Lucas Museum. Lucas and Hobson then ditched the Urban Design Group and its traditional building and this time managed to stage the competition Lucas said he had wanted in the first place."

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"Iconic it may have been, but it would not turn out to be any easier for Lucas to sell in Chicago than his Beaux-Arts design had been in San Francisco. Blair Kamin, the Chicago Tribune architecture critic, called it a 'cartoonish mountain of a building that would be glaringly out of place amid the horizontal sweep of Chicago's lakefront . . . Overly abstract and under-detailed, it looks, from some angles, like a giant lump.'

"The biggest problem, however, wasn't the architecture, which Ma had already begun to refine and improve. It was the site itself. A small preservation organization named Friends of the Parks decided to object to the project on the grounds that the lakefront site was 'public trust' land and the city had no legal right to offer it to Lucas. The group filed a federal lawsuit to block the transfer. It was clear that Emanuel couldn't deliver the smooth approval process he had expected, and in June 2016, after rejecting some alternative sites the city offered, Lucas threw in the towel for the second time."

Perhaps Rahm should have actually consulted with stakeholders beyond his own committee before making untoward promises he couldn't keep.

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"'Our issue was time,' Hobson said. 'Eventually we would have won, but George said, I'm 72 and I want to see this building built. We loved that building.'"

Really? Hasn't more time already passed than it would have taken for the lawsuit to wind its way through the courts?

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"In San Francisco, an opposition group even prepared an advertisement that showed Darth Vader looming over the Golden Gate Bridge. It was never used."

Ha ha, good one.

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"Yet Lucas and Hobson were actually more flexible and willing to learn than many of their critics supposed."

There is no evidence supporting this assertion.

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Realization: George Lucas didn't know how to create a narrative to sell his museum of narrative arts!

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"By the fall of 2016, Lucas's plan had turned into a kind of bake-off between California's two most prominent cities. He wasn't looking for cash, or tax benefits, or any of the perks cities dangle in the hope of getting companies to relocate. He wanted an assurance that the route ahead would be smooth . . . "

He just didn't want to be hassled with . . . governing bodies and policy and other people's interests.

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"When the Chicago plan fell apart, Hobson issued a public statement expressing particular regret that the city's 'young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer.'"

That might have been the most shameful episode of the whole saga. If Hobson and Lucas were so concerned with young black and brown children having access to his art collection, he would have built in or near one of their neighborhoods.

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"Lucas was increasingly coming to think of the museum as an educational institution that would make art more accessible to children who grew up with little exposure to it. 'We saw that in Los Angeles there would be a hundred schools in a five-mile radius of the museum, and at Treasure Island there would be one,' he said. 'I said that the building on Treasure Island is a vanity project, and the one in Los Angeles will serve thousands of children.'"

So he did, supposedly, have an epiphany. In Chicago, it was still a vanity project. He only saw the light, if he is to be believed, later. He actually did learn.

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Money Honey Dummy
Maria Bartiromo, everyone.

Is it fair to characterize you as being slightly more political or politicized in your coverage than you were at CNBC?

Well, no. I definitely have stretched myself in terms of educating myself on what's going on today. I don't think I had an opportunity to study those things at CNBC. I was studying the stock market, balance sheets, corporations. It wasn't important at the time to study policy. Today it's the No. 1 factor driving markets. Most people don't realize how impactful policy is. I didn't know that initially.

She didn't know how impactful policy was. She hadn't studied it.

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You got some blowback in the mainstream press for your recent interview with Trump too, that you let some unsubstantiated claims slide. What was the goal of the interview? And was it accomplished?

Frankly, I feel great about my exclusive. As the front pages of the Financial Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal all highlighted the following Monday, we made news on a number of items.

From the "exclusive" in which "we" made news:

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ChicagoGram

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ChicagoTube

Voltron Art Show In Chicago.

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BeachBook

'He Didn't Recognize Me' | Migrant Parents Are Slowly Being Reunited With Their Deeply Traumatized Children.

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This Is What It Looks Like When A Coach Stops Pretending It's About Anything But Winning.

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China's Xu Bing Constructs The First Film Made (Almost) Solely From Surveillance Footage.

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A Fascinating Look Inside Facebook's Early Days.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tronc Line: In Formation.



Permalink

Posted on July 12, 2018


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PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: I Am Iron Man.


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