42nd ward Brendan Reilly this morning announced his opposition to the move of the Chicago Children's Museum to Grant Park. Crain's Chicago Business quoted his statement:
"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,. . . I believe that supporting the Children’s Museum proposal to build on Grant Park would set a dangerous precedent that would open the floodgates for other entities to lobby for their own locations on Grant Park."
Now we get to watch as Mayor Richard M. Daley works to destroy him. Daley has already said he will work to suspend the long tradition of an aldermanic veto over proposed projects in his or her ward in order to ram the museum through the City Council.
Because Chicago media allows him to get away with it, the Mayor is again turning to his weapon of choice - charging opponents with racism, with St. Sabina's Father Michael Pfleger gleefully abetting the slander.
The mayor is a seasoned expert at diverting attention from the merits of the issue - whether it be the museum proposal, Wal-Mart expansion, or the pandemic corruption within his administration - by making sensational, headline-grabbing accusations against his opponents. It works.
It doesn't matter that the accusations are without foundation. The Sun-Times quotes Pfleger as encountering a museum opponent who asked him why the museum wasn't being moved to a black park on the south side. "I said, 'That is a racial comment. Our conversation is over. Please walk away from me.' Was Pfleger the least bit curious as to whether that person was representative of the people opposing the museum? Of course not. He got what he wanted and moved on.
I've attended - and made recordings - of several of the Grant Park Advisory Council's public meetings on the museum debate and I challenge anyone to find any statement made by anyone that can be considered racist. Blair Kamin has expressed concerns about the museum. Is he a racist? Am I?
Both the Mayor and the Pfleger have been to Millennium Park, and they've both seen children of all races and nationalities playing together in Crown Fountain. Yet they persist in pushing the big lie, because, as masters of gutter politics, they know how effective it can be.
In taking his courageous stand, Brendan Reilly has crossed the Rubicon. If the story of A. Montgomery Ward is any guide, the battle will only get uglier, and the alderman stands to become a very lonely man. Daley will be looking for Reilly's head to be brought to him in a basket (to mix Roman metaphors), and if the past is any indication, there's already a fierce battle underway among his courtiers to be the ones to do it.