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Daley Defends Suburbanites Rights at Millennium Park

By Kevin Robinson in News on Nov 10, 2009 3:00PM

Following up (finally) on 47th Ward Ald. Eugene Schulter's complaint that suburbanites are claiming the best seats at Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Mayor Daley lashed out at those who are ungrateful for the benevolent contributions that suburban corporate benefactors have made to build Millennium Park. "Remember, people gave money [to build Millennium Park] who lived throughout the metropolitan area - business leaders. And if you look at many of them, they lived in suburban areas. They should have never given," Daley said Monday. "We have free concerts there. First come, first served. People show up early. I mean - they show up REAL early. So, it's first come, first served," the Mayor told the Sun-Times. "It's a wonderful program. Of course, they [also] have the Grant Park concerts. That goes on."

For the embattled mayor, this minor controversy works to his advantage to the extent that it distracts from the litany of budget and tax issues that are dogging his administration. The risk that Daley runs in responding to the controversy, however, is that is adds to the sneaking suspicion that many Chicagoans have that Daley cares more about wealthy businessmen and suburban visitors to the city. Schulter decried suburbanites that "glom onto all the seats." Suggesting that Chicago residents should get preference city-owned sites, Schulter said "it's just a question of fairness. If you go to other cities, you'll see city residents are given discounts to go to their museums. It's a fair thing to consider. What we're trying to do is look at - especially during these hard times - that our city residents are at least given some consideration somehow."

The "suburbanites versus city dweller" battle is as old as the suburbs themselves and with several of the city's popular music fests making the transition from Grant Park to Millennium Park (in one of Daley's bids to save the city some cash) expect this feud to continue.