Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Aldermanic privilege threatened...

There are two stories out there today and then there's Ald. Brendan Reilly's statement. Ald. Reilly represent the 42nd ward of Chicago and this was encompasses the new proposed location of a Children's museum that is currently located on Navy Pier.

While I seek to take a different trip on this story. There is a racial component to this story. I'd like to address that as well. But lets go after this treasured understand about how an Alderman runs their own respective wards...
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd), whose ward includes the park, has said he will issue his position Tuesday on the museum proposal.

By Chicago tradition, the local alderman's support for a project that needs city approval is considered critical.

But Daley made it clear that even if Reilly sides with opponents, it will not be the deciding factor.

The discussion about the museum must extend to the alderman's 49 colleagues in the City Council and to ministers and community groups citywide as well, the mayor said.

"Grant Park belongs to all of us and not to one ward ...You have to make that a strong statement," he said.
I wonder if this could be dangerous water for the mayor to attempt to trample onto Aldermanic privilege. Well many mayors have sought to go after treasured practices of Chicago city government and most have not fared very well.

Now onto the racial aspect...
Mayor Daley suggested Monday there are racial undertones to opposition of a new Chicago Children's Museum in Grant Park, and vowed to put the matter before the City Council despite opposition from rookie Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd).

"You mean you don't want children from the city in Grant Park? Why? Are they black? Are they white? Are they Hispanic? Are they poor? ... Why not? Wouldn't you want children there?" Daley responded when asked about the vigorous campaign against plans to build the new museum in Reilly's ward just east of Millennium Park.

Asked point-blank whether he believes high-rise residents near Grant Park are trying to keep buses filled with inner-city school children out of their neighborhood, he said: "Well, I hope not. Because if it is, that's wrong. . .. That is a disgrace."

Daley's remarks angered Reilly, who called them "totally ridiculous" and "irresponsible." A neighborhood opposition leader said she was "shocked" and "disgusted" by Daley.
Check out this nice piece of theater from Father Michael Pfleger a white priest at a mostly black south side Catholic parish...
Daley's race remarks may have been prompted by the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of the predominantly black St. Sabina Catholic Church. Pfleger said he recently discussed with the mayor an incident he says occurred last week at a New East Side neighborhood meeting over the museum project.

According to Pfleger, one woman asked him why the museum wasn't being built in a black neighborhood and another suggested it be moved to Foster Park at 83rd and Loomis.

"I said, 'Foster Park is in the black community. What are you trying to say?'" Pfleger said in an interview. "I said, 'That is a racial comment. Our conversation is over. Please walk away from me.'

"When I hear comments like that, I interpret that as racial. I don't know how else to interpret it," said Pfleger.
BTW, I want to offer you Ald. Reilly's comments from Crain's...
“There is only one Grant Park and it should remain forever open, clear and free for future generations, from every corner of Chicago, to enjoy for many years to come,” Ald. Brendan Reilly (42th) said in a statement.
Ald. Reilly said his opposition to the museum’s proposal has nothing do with the merits of the museum or its design. Rather, it’s his priority to preserve Grant Park as an open space.

“I believe that supporting the Children’s Museum proposal to build on Grant Park would set dangerous precedent that would open the floodgates for other entities to lobby for their own locations on Grant Park,” he said.

You know I want to add more more thing here and it does make sense. Not that I'm for putting a museum in space that was supposed to remain open and free and clear of any buildings...
A decision to allow the museum to go forward would be a plus as the city seeks to host the 2016 Olympic Games, O'Neill said.

"If the Children's Museum were to be chased out of that location, that sends a message to a lot of people, even around the world, that we are not welcoming people from all over to our front yard," he said. "Grant Park is where the Olympics are going to be celebrated. There are going to be kids."
Again I'm kind of neutral in this. I don't have an opinion as to whether this should be located on Chicago Park District land or on the south side as that lady suggest to Father Pfleger. Children of all walks of life should be welcomed to this museum where ever it is. The thing is though is that while this is a valid discussion from both sides I wonder if the racial aspect that the Mayor is attempting to bring up is only a distraction.

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