* SJ-R columnist Dave Bakke heard a persistent rumor that a single door at the newly remodeled Statehouse cost $240,000, so he decided to check it out…
I was directed to several offices that might know the answer: the Office of the Architect of the Capitol, House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office or the Illinois comptroller’s office. I eventually checked with all three. […]
While waiting for a reply [from the House Architect], I went on to Steve Brown, spokesman for House Speaker Madigan. He answered my question by saying it couldn’t be answered, not just yet.
“I’m not sure those numbers actually exist,” he said, “because the itemization isn’t available. Suppliers haven’t turned in those numbers yet. When they do, they will be available.”
* Bakke didn’t think that sounded right, and he eventually got to the bottom of it when Capitol Architect Richard Alsop finally responded…
The total for the doors is $669,608. But, technically, it’s six doors, two for each of three doorways on the west end of the Capitol. So it’s more like $223,000 each for three doorways, not three doors. Just the cost of installation is $78,000, which is included in the total.
“We must remember,” Alsop wrote in his email, “that these are custom doors with carvings that do not exist on a shelf at the local home improvement store. Like many other materials in the building, it takes craftsmen to perform the work necessary to give us the desired and appropriate historic fabric.”
Those are also huge doorways.
* While noting that the money comes from a special bond fund for capital projects, Bakke has serious reservations about the cost…
On the other hand, this is a time of high emotion regarding the state budget. State employees are suffering, retirees are probably going to suffer, Illinois institutions are cutting services because the state can’t pay what it owes them, Illinois’ bond rating is in the toilet, and we are regarded as a leading candidate for the most corrupt, financially irresponsible state in the country.
That’s why it seems disrespectful and even arrogant for state governmental leaders to decide at such a time in the state’s history to spend more on one doorway than my entire house is worth.