Putting aside, at least for a moment, his race baiting rants of last year, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley on Wednesday assumed the softer persona of everyone's favorite uncle, standing up for the rights of little kids being able to have a museum built for them in Grant Park. "I'm very proud of the children of Chicago—black, white, Hispanic, Asian, physical, mental difficulties, doesn't matter," the Tribune quoted Daley as saying.
It was all very touching, except when you stop to think that, if it were really about the children, would you be disgorging them from buses into the exhaust-filled cavern of the lower Randolph, and injecting them into an underground bunker? That's the grand vision behind the Chicago Childrens Museum's land grab.
The mayor's warm and fuzzy statements dovetail with the efforts of the museum's high-powered lobbyists to "astroturf" their way to victory by manufacturing the appearance of public support even as every poll to date has shown overwhelming public opposition to the museum building in Grant Park.
Daley's fight isn't about children, it's about power. It's about pleasing a well-connected heiress. It's about getting alderman to agree to set the precedent for the evisceration of their own power by destroying the tradition of aldermanic oversight over projects in their wards. It's about the mayor realizing his long held dream of driving the final stake in the heart of the A. Montgomery Ward decree's that have preserved Grant Park for over a century. Above all else, it's about crushing in advance any effective opposition to whatever other pet projects the mayor wants to cram anywhere in the city he might desire, especially in anticipation of the 2016 Olympics.
But, of course, you probably already knew that. The only people who stand to fooled by the mayor's rhetoric are the ones already in his back pocket.