Those who don’t live in Chicago may have a hard time appreciating how unhinged Mayor Daley really is. A recent local controversy over moving the Chicago Children’s Museum helps to illustrate the point perfectly.
The Museum, a private, non-profit institution, is currently at Navy Pier, but it’s looking to change sites (some believe this is because Daley wants to build a casino on the site). The Museum’s Board President (and connected megamillionaire), Gigi Pritker, wants to move the Museum to Grant Park, right on the lakeshore. She has the mayor’s support on this move.
However, public opposition to the move has been overwhelming. Beyond that, the legality of placing any building in the park is questionable, as the Illinois Supreme Court has repeatedly supported the original zoning, which calls for the park to remain “open, free and clear.” Other sites in the city have been proposed, by Daley wants this one, which inspired this rant (as reported by the Chicago Tribune):
“Grant Park belongs to the people … The thing I can’t understand about this issue – it’s a 5-year-old, a 5-year-old child coming to Grant Park and you tell me that children from Hanson Park, from the West Side or South side or any neighborhood can’t go to a museum in Grant Park. They’re only five years old. Now, they’re not gang bangers, they’re not the dope dealers – these are five-year-old kids. The oldest is 8 years old. We could all walk around Millennium Park, that’s alright, but the children should not have a museum in that park, put them someplace else. I’m very proud of our children. I’m very proud of the children of Chicago. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, physical, mental difficulties–doesn’t matter. I want the best, best museum we can have for our children. That is the future. The future’s our children.
“I really believe that is the right location. We moved it from Monroe Street to Randolph Street, we took care of all the buses. They don’t want to see the kids on Randolph Street so we put them underground. Because there’s something wrong with the kids today. There’s nothing wrong with children today. I’m very proud of children.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time Daley has pulled the race card on the issue. Back in September 2007, he screamed:
Do you have grandchildren, great grandchildren? Do you have your own children? Do you have children from the community?
I think everybody should be outraged that the people think that the children can’t go to a museum to be educated. They’re black and white and Hispanic and Asian. And many of them are poor or middle class or wealthy. We cannot have that in a museum?
That is worth fighting for. And to me I hope the people. I hope religious leaders, community leaders and business leaders are outraged just as I am as outraged.
This is a disgrace.
We have a very diverse city.
Go to the zoo. Do the children destroy the zoo? Is there something wrong with poor kids coming to the downtown area?
These rants represent the quality of Chicago’s governance. Strangely, Daley hasn’t gotten quite as agitated over the fact that he presides over one of the most segregated cities in the country. Maybe he’ll get around to that after the museum is built.