Planet pork? Planetarium responds to McCain slam
As Tuesday’s second presidential debate has shown, desperate candidates call for desperate measures. For McCain that meant a globally televised slam of a $3 million “pork barrel earmark” for the Adler Planetarium’s historic Sky Theater. The Arizona septuagenarian quaintly referred to the Zeiss Mark VI—a high-tech device that re-creates the night sky—as an overhead projector. Yes, grampy, and my Quad-core PowerPC G5 is just a fancy calculator. At any rate, the project never received the funding but our associates at the planetarium nevertheless had a few things to say in response. Their full press release after the jump:
STATEMENT ABOUT SENATOR JOHN McCAIN’S
COMMENTS AT THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE October 8, 2008
Last night, during the presidential debate in Nashville, Tennessee, Senator John McCain made the following statement:
McCain: “While we were working to eliminate these pork barrel earmarks he (Senator Obama) voted for nearly $1 billion in pork barrel earmark projects. Including $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. My friends, do we need to spend that kind of money?”
To clarify, the Adler Planetarium requested federal support – which was not funded – to replace the projector in its historic Sky Theater, the first planetarium theater in the Western Hemisphere. The Adler’s Zeiss Mark VI projector – not an overhead projector - is the instrument that re-creates the night sky in a dome theater, the quintessential planetarium experience. The Adler’s projector is nearly 40 years old and is no longer supported with parts or service by the manufacturer. It is only the second planetarium projector in the Adler’s 78 years of operation.
Science literacy is an urgent issue in the United States. To remain competitive and ensure national security, it is vital that we educate and inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
Senator McCain’s statements about the Adler Planetarium’s request for federal support do not accurately reflect the museum's legislative history or relationship with Sen. Obama.
The Adler has approached the Illinois Congressional delegation the last few years for federal assistance with various initiatives. These have included museum exhibitions, equipment and educational programs we offer to area schools, including the Chicago Public Schools.
We have made requests to Senators Durbin and Obama, as well as to 6 area Congressmen from both political parties. We are grateful that all of the Members we have approached, including Senator Obama, have deemed our activities worthy of their support, and have made appropriations requests on our behalf, as they have for many worthy Illinois nonprofit organizations.
As a result of the hard work of our bipartisan congressional delegation, the Adler has been fortunate to receive a few federal appropriations the past couple of years.
However, the Adler has never received an earmark as a result of Senator Obama's efforts. This is clearly evidenced by recent transparency laws implemented by the Congress, which have resulted in the names of all requesting Members being listed next to every earmark in the reports that accompany appropriations bills.