Thursday, March 27, 2008

Chicago Children's Museum Going into Astroturf Overdrive

Fran Spielman is reporting in today's Sun-Times that an "influential alderman" has told her there are at least 30 votes to override the objections of 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly and approve the Chicago Children's Museum land grab of a large tract of Grant Park on which to build a new museum.

Reilly disputes the assertion. He is scheduled to appear, along with CCM CEO Jennifer Farrington, on this evenings edition of Chicago Tonight, 7 P.M. on Channel 11, WTTW. A Daley administration override of the long tradition of aldermanic veto over projects in their wards would set the stage for decimating a key aldermanic control over how future mayoral initiatives such as the 2016 Olympics will affect their constituencies.

Farrington told the Sun-Times that the museum, which so far has raised only 40% of the $100 million cost for the new structure, intends to submit an application for a planned development for the project. It has already been rumored that the issue will be put before the Chicago Plan Commission in late April.

Dan Mihalopoulos of the Chicago Tribune reported last Saturday that the CCM has retained the services of powerhouse PR firm Hill & Knowlton, which has created an All Chicago Children's Museum Committee to manufacture support (i.e.,astroturf) for the CCM's initiative. It recently sent out a letter seeking to line up additional supporters for a future PR blitz. Although the letter is meant to impress with a broad base of support, two of the five signatories are directly affiliated with CCM, including former Board Chair Phillip Harris, and Maria Whelan, whose group Action for Children has as its Treasurer former CCM CEO Peter England.

The Sun-Times is also running a poll with its story, asking "Should the Children's Museum move to Grant Park?" As of 2:00 P.M., the 350 votes cast were running 84% against the CCM's in Grant Park. Apparently, Hill and Knowlton hasn't rallied the troops yet. [at midnight tonight, new total: 600 votes, 84% against]

3 comments:

Andrew Patner said...

If Fran Spielman is reporting *anything* she is certainly *not* doing so in the Tribune! Fran is a mainstay of the Chicago Sun-Times. (Your link does take the reader to suntimes.com.)

Lynn Becker said...

Apologies to Ms. Spielman for so rank an insult, attribution corrected.

Yellow Dog Democrat said...

Plan Commission agenda published in the Sun-Times this weekend doesn't have the museum on its agenda, FYI.

The next hearings are scheduled for May 15th, June 19th and July 17th, so mark your calendars for 1 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.