Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Children's Museum Announces Grand Coalition - Poll Respondants Remain Underwhelmed

The Chicago Children's Museum called a big press conference Monday morning to unveil its All Chicago Children's Museum Committee, which, according to the Chicago Tribune report on the event, CCM President Jennifer Farrington heralded as proving the CCM's proposed land grab enjoyed wide support from both "well known folks and unsung heroes," but the unsung heroes appeared to be there mostly as window dressing. In the museum's press advisory for the event, published in Trib architecture Blair Kamin's Skyline blog, the only names listed as being available for interviews were very familiar:
Phil Harris, former Chairman of the board, Chicago Children's Museum

Bob O'Neill, a staff member paid a healthy salary to lobby for the views of the Grant Park Conservancy, whose Board of Directors is short on "unsung heroes" and heavy on clout-heavy big corporations, law firms and institutions like Cushman and Wakefield, drugmaker Glaxo Smith Kline, Jones Lang LaSalle, The Pritzker Organization, Baker & McKenzie and the Fogelson Companies.

Rev. Michael Pfleger, a once independent populist firebrand who has grown increasingly close to the Daley administration as the mayor has become a passionate advocate for causes, such as gun control and immigrants' rights, for which Pfleger has been a historic champion. Pfleger recently slammed the swiftboating of Rev. Jeremiah Wright in which a few of Wright's more radical statements were lifted from his sermons and put into rotation play on You Tube, but Pfleger has had no problem with taking what still appears to be a single encounter with an individual who made racist comments at a community meeting on the CCM, and inflating it into repeated allegations of racism against the whole of the opposition movement to CCM building in Grant Park.

Lois Wille, obviously CCM's big trump card. The author of the landmark book Forever Open, Clear and Free, which chronicles the decades long efforts of A. Montgomery Ward, against a coalition very similar to that behind the CCM, to enforce historic agreements that Grant Park be kept free of buildings, Wille has come out in support of the museum. On one level, this is a major coup for the CCM, but on another level, as much as I admire Lois Wille, there's still a larger question: If A. Montgomery Ward were alive today (and still in possession of his faculties even at age 164), which side do you think he would be on?
As the Poll Turns - Reponses turn heavily against the CCM

An interesting thing happened in the Chicago Tribune's unscientific poll of its readers on their position on CCM moving to Grant Park. The poll first went up with a story on the museum's intention to file permits on Friday, and for the day the story remained current on the Trib's website, voting was running a consistent 74% or so opposed. Then, slowly the division evened out to a 50/50 split on Saturday, and by Monday morning, the last 400 or so votes cast were actually running 80% in favor of the Museum. Clearly, at this point, the poll had disappeared from access for all except those who were specifically seeking it out, and what we were seeing was no longer the response of the general public, but a reflection of the competing efforts of Museum supporters and opponents. At this point, the machine's long effectiveness in getting out the vote was showing results.

However, just as I was about to write about the opponents to the CCM's move to Grant Park showing the traditional failing of reformers of not knowing how to run their pluses, a radical change took place. The poll is again on an active web page - the Trib's report on this morning's press conference - and in the 12 hours from 7:40 a.m this morning, to 7:56 this evening, a whopping 2962 new votes were cast, the most intense period of voting since the poll began. These new votes ran 83% opposed to the CCM. Across all 7167 votes cast to 8 P.M. Monday evening, 5060, or 71% are saying "No" to the Children's Museum's land grab. Either the Museum's opponents suddenly became superstars in working their precincts, or the Children's Museum dog and pony show this morning is having an effect exactly opposite from what its strategists intended.

As the City Council Turns.

It's being reported that the Museum's incursion will be coming up for consideration in the Chicago City Council on Wednesday. Previous reports had the Daley administration boasting it had the votes to override the opposition of Grant Park's alderman, the 42nd ward's Brendan Reilly. Today, however, a report by WGN's Bob Jordan indicated that a number of alderman are expressing reluctance to dismember their own power by handing the Daley administration a precedent for eviscerating what has historically been a bedrock component of aldermanic power: the right of veto over projects in their own wards.


Anonymous said...

in the wise words of Jack, "the polls, of course, were unscientific, and therefore meaningless"

Lynn Becker said...

Translation: if they were going our way, we'd be beating you over the head with them, but we're getting creamed, so we say they're spinach, and the hell with 'em.

Anonymous said...

I havent met a single employed taxpayer who thinks this is a good idea. Im an Architect downtown and my fellow coworkers and I are of the opinion this

1. sets dangerous precedent as the park is already starting to look rather filled up with vistas being eliminated

2. is a waste of money on an institution that is not a cultural nessessity - ask around how many people you know have been to a "childrens museum"?

3. Will divert much needed capital away from ailing city departments

4. Raise my taxes one more time Daley - just one more time - Im out, moving to the suburbs. Then you can have a whole city full of poor people to visit your museums.

Anonymous said...

You comments reflect you lack of knowledge about this situation. I suggust that you continue your research on this subject, as many should. If the suburbs are your option, there are plenty that would love to take your place here in the great city of Chicago...

Anonymous said...

Michael - despite the downtown building boom and empty nester phenomenon, the city is still losing people, mostly families to the suburbs, a trend that has not changed in 30 years due to high taxes and migrating jobs. Just go to the loop nowdays where I work and you will find the sidewalks about 2/3 as full of people as there were 10 years ago. Sure more tourists but the meat of the corporate culture continues to follow the people and the people continue to follow the jobs in an endless cycle to I-88 corridor, Shaumberg etc.

Michael - I think your comments and blind optimism on this topic reflect your lack of knoweldge on the topic at hand.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the people that want to live in Chicago are moving here, and the people that want to live in the suburbs want to live there.

You may have your reasons for why people are moving around, but they are just that - your reasons.

I am fascinated at the influx of new neighbors that are delighted to live in Chicago. Some of them are from the coasts where the cost of living is much higher, some are from small Midwestern towns and this city offers much more for them.

Your negativity towards this city reflects your growing animosity against it. I invite you to see the brighter side of living here. For instance, I save a lot of money by not having to drive and using my bicycle every day... that is generally not an option in the suburbs.

Lynn Becker said...

"negativity to the city" translation: not accepting MY version of what Chicago is.

As I've said before, to the most of the population of Chicago who don't share our addiction to hyper-density uber alles, and who choose to live, instead, in the outlying neighborhoods,we're the freaks

the people living in those Randolph street high-rises were the original "influx of new neighbors that are delighted to live in Chicago", who moved there because Grant Park created a balance between congestion and civility. Now, apparently, they're road kill to the grand plans of those who, because Millennium Park is good, want to make everything just like it, the myth of Midas transposed to urban planning.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the residents of Randolph St. have been in a virtual oasis for many decades (and island of condos seperated from the rest of the city) and they are finally joining Chicago in our harmonious density.

They will still have their park on top of the CCM, and their property values will continue to rise. To the eventual glee of the local residents - especially to the one's who can't take it any more and decide to sell.

Lynn Becker said...

. . . and for the time when Children's Museum land grab is finally defeated, density junkies, who can't see a park without thinking about a thousand ways to fill it up with stuff, may well want to consider, before prices drop even further, cashing out the profits from their condo's and seeking out a place more congenial to their appetites - midtown Manhattan, or maybe central Lagos, will make them feel like they've died and gone to heaven.

Anonymous said...

I love the density of the city, the richness of city life however I dont like getting robbed and railroaded. Chicago is a great city but until it learns to have real debates and not rubber stamp aldermanic kangaroo courts its never going to truely function properly. Remember the downtown beautification comes at the expense of the vast swaths of south and west neighborhoods virtually gutted of tax revenue, jobs and citizens. Chicago is great just dont look behind the curtain.

Anonymous said...

Good detective work on the poll. I don't know if it would violate privacy protections, but the Trib should consider giving the vote timestamps and IP addresses over to a U of C statistician to look for anomalous patterns, I'm sure they would find lots of evidence of tampering (H&K or otherwise).