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McCain Drinks The Adler Haterade

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Oct 8, 2008 9:00PM


During last night's debate, our ears perked up when Sen. John McCain dropped this little nugget:

[Sen. Obama] voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork barrel earmark projects, including, by the way, $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?
We did a bit of searching and found this Obama press release from last June that includes the following:
Adler Planetarium, to support replacement of its projector and related equipment, $3,000,000

One of its most popular attractions and teaching tools at the Adler Planetarium is the Sky Theater. The projection equipment in this theater is 40 years old, and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It has begun to fail, leaving the theater dark and groups of school students and other interested museum-goers without this very valuable and exciting learning experience.

The Trib takes it one step further in explaining:
McCain's phrase suggests Obama spent $3 million on an old-fashioned piece of office equipment that projects charts and text on a wall screen. In fact, the money was for an overhaul of the theater system that projects images of stars and planets for educational shows

The kicker? The project was never funded.

According to a press conference held by the Adler Planetarium today, the projector is 38-years-old and the Planetarium is now pursuing funding that would renovate not just the projector, but the entire Sky Theater. Said Paul Knappenberger, Jr., President of the Planetarium, at a press conference this afternoon:

The projection system in the sky theater is nearly 40 years old. The projector breaks down with growing frequency. The ceiling is stained from an old leak. The seats and carpeting are worn. The Sky Theater as it is today, cannot offer an immersive, high tech museum experience contemporary audiences expect...Given the cost of renovating the theater, the Adler asked the Illinois Congressional delegation for its help, and Sen. Obama submitted an earmark request on the museum's behalf. As you can see, the projector [pictured above] is more complex than what was described last night at the presidential debate. Additionally, i want to stress again this theater is the Alder Planetarium's primary educational facility.

Photo courtesy of the Adler Planetarium