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The [Thursday] Papers

Now comes Gigi Pritzker Pucker calling the "loudest voices" opposing the move of the Chicago Children's Museum to Grant Park racist.

Note to Gigi: If there are racist voices in this debate, they are surely the quietest - not counting the voices of you and the mayor. The loudest voices belong to Ald. Brendan Reilly, the Tribune editorial board, and various civic defenders of a free and open Grant Park.

And truthfully, it doesn't matter much what the residents along East Randolph think. This isn't about traffic, no matter what their parochial concerns. Mayor Daley is right about one thing: Grant Park belongs to us all. That means that by tradition it isn't to be siphoned off to the mayor's pals.

Now, moving the Children's Museum to Bicentennial Plaza isn't the worst idea in the world. It would fit nicely with Millennium Park across the Gehry bridge. But if we are going to now allow development in Grant Park (a bad idea in my view), it can't be done piecemeal. The fact that we have a "bridge to nowhere" in the first place is just another example of the mayor's lack of the very vision he's so often credited with having. Consider Soldier Field, or moving Lake Shore Drive one way and then another, or his on-again off-again casino proposals. Millennium Park, in fact, is perhaps the greatest example; like it or hate it, it was a planning debacle that needlessly cost us an extra few years and millions of dollars in its making because it wasn't thought through properly from the start.

So please. Let's have a real public policy debate. I know we aren't used to those in Chicago, but it's never too late to learn, is it?

Museum of Daley
John Kass proposes a different kind of museum that would feature the Daley Believe It Or Not wing. This is today's must-read.

The concept of "aldermanic privilege" also seems to weigh heavy in this debate. I have long believed that such a privilege is bullshit. I would love to see it done away with - though not simply in this one instance at the mayor's behest.

The practice of allowing each alderman the ultimate say about what happens in their wards is far from an enlightened vision of grassroots democracy; it is pure folly. Certain issues require full city council approval for a reason. No ward is an island. Every ward is both for all Chicagoans and for its residents.

Beyond that, the real purpose of aldermanic privilege is obviously to allow each alderman his or her own fiefdom; 'you stay out of my business and I'll stay out of yours' is no way to run a city.

We depend upon, for example, Ald. Tom Tunney to do what is right not only for residents around Wrigley Field but for all of us on matters concerning the Cubs home. We depend (hopelessly) on aldermen in neighborhoods like Wicker Park to preserve historic buildings and the wages of gentrification for the betterment of the entire city. We depend on aldermen in neighborhoods like Englewood to fight the violence that kills children who belong to all of us.

Likewise, we elect aldermen not only to represent issues in our ward but city-wide issues upon which they will vote.

That's why it's so frustrating that the local press virtually ignores so many aldermanic elections. The Tribune's metro editor, Hanke Gratteau, explained to me years ago that she didn't think residents in one ward cared about who was elected in another ward. Aside from the fact that not every newspaper article has to appeal to every possible reader, the Children's Museum debate is as good an example as any as to why that just isn't true. We all certainly have a stake in the 42nd Ward alderman, and if we don't all feel a stake in the rest of them, we are sadly short-sighted.

Museum Scoop
From Mark Brown's interview with Reilly's predecessor, Burt Natarus, who also opposed the move:

"'I don't know why this is an issue now,' Natarus grumped, arguing that he'd reached an agreement with the Daley administration while he was still in office to prevent the museum from being relocated from Navy Pier to Daley Bicentennial Plaza, the section of Grant Park that is the subject of the current debate.

"'It was already decided not to build it there,' Natarus said. 'I put it in my campaign literature.'" (Item No. 3)

The mayor's seemingly sudden and adamant position is a bit of a mystery.

John McCormick, the Tribune's deputy editorial page editor who wrote Wednesday's editorial "Reilly's Right - Daley's Wrong," similarly asked of the mayor (not that he was there) on Chicago Tonight last night, "Why now?"

Meanwhile, Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy, put on one of the shakiest performances seen on the show in recent memory.

[Disclaimer/Kudos: Our very own Cate Plys also appeared, and her Open Letter for the Beachwood this week is published in adapted form today on the Trib's Op-Ed page.]

Media Meeting Today
"Are Chicago's Media Outlets Serving You?"

Double Take
The Sun-Times will be hurt more by Jennifer Hunter staying than John Cruickshank leaving.

Publisher Putsch
"As if overcompensating for the way Radler bullied the editorial board to make political endorsements in the name of the conservative beliefs he and Black shared, without regard for how it might play with core readership, Cruickshank led the Sun-Times to back neophyte political heir Todd Stroger for Cook County Board president, and almost immediately after the election retreated from its support," Phil Rosenthal writes.

Meanwhile, Sun-Times editor-in-chief Michael Cooke tells Rosenthal that "Cruickshank has integrity through to his bone marrow."

Apparently, though, not through to the editorial page.

At any rate, Rosenthal writes that "Cruickshank said the move 'maybe' was an error."

What, the jury is still out?

Jerry Curl
"[Jerry Weller's] campaign manager, Steven Shearer, insisted Weller, a seven-term congressman, is running," the Sun-Times reports.

"'I have been on the campaign payroll nonstop since the last election. We've got a deputy campaign manager on board. We have a campaign headquarters, and we are circulating petitions,' Shearer said."


"Rep. Jerry Weller, dogged by ethics questions surrounding his Nicaraguan investments and his wife's finances, is set to announce his retirement in the near future, Republican sources said Wednesday," the Tribune reports.

Regional Consultant Authority
Transit is a sweet gig after all.

The Beachwood Tip Line: For the children.


Posted on September 20, 2007

MUSIC - Lyric Opera Strike Settled.
POLITICS - USA Today's Op-Ed Disaster.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Come On, Vic!

BOOKS - Chicago Book Haul: The Dial.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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