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A lot of our political leaders have been busy playing cards.
Earlier this week Mayor Daley played the Evil Unions Card, so you had to know it was only a matter of time before he returned to his old favorite: the Race Card.
And there it was on Wednesday (the same day he threatened to play the utterly predictable Tax Hike Card), when he suggested prejudice is what’s motivating opponents of the plan to move the children’s museum to Grant Park.
As might be expected, he surrounded himself with loyal aldermen who awkwardly tried to play the It’s In The Public Interest Card.
“This is a public park. People keep acting like it’s a private park,” 17th Ward alderman Latasha Thomas told the Sun-Times.
Thomas was right—but she may not want to make that point too loudly around her mayor or his children’s museum friends. I’m pretty sure the Chicago Children’s Museum is a private institution that wants to build its new pay-to-visit facility on public land.
In fact, 42nd Ward alderman Brendan Reilly also played the It’s In The Public Interest Card Wednesday, except he was explaining his firm opposition to the plan during an evening speech to Streeterville residents.
“I was just informed on my way to this meeting that Mayor Daley again chose to play the Race Card in this debate,” Reilly said. “We hosted nine public meetings on the museum plan. If the mayor had been at one of those meetings—just one—he would have seen the diversity. And the one thing people were unanimous about was their rejection of this proposal.”
Reilly, though, didn’t stop there. He played the Hypocrisy Card, then backed himself up with the Here Are The Facts Card, which is seldom used in local politics.
“I think it’s ridiculous to suggest that children are currently not allowed to play in Grant Park,” he said. “If you visit Grant Park you will see hundreds of children of every race and creed playing in the park at no charge. The truth is that under this proposal children will be welcome to play in Grant Park—so long as their parents can afford to pay the steep admission fees of this private institution.”
A few minutes later Reilly was asked what he thought of another recent park controversy: the private Latin School’s exclusive rights to use a soccer field in Lincoln Park during most of the spring and fall seasons in return for money to build it.
Reilly noted the field is in the 43rd Ward, not his, but blasted the deal anyway, playing the even more rare Let’s Put This In Perspective Card. “There are some similarities here to the current debate taking place in Grant Park,” he said. “What I see is the slow but steady leasing off of public land to private institutions. And I think that’s wrong.”