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Will wonders never cease?

Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013

* As we discussed a few months ago, some truly awful investment and spending decisions made by Chicago’s elite financiers on behalf of some of the city’s museums and cultural institutions have put those institutions in very real financial danger.

Also as I told earlier, partly in reaction to this problem, the General Assembly passed a bill with a large bipartisan majority that would allow museums and aquariums to reduce the number of required free admission days by half, from 52 down to 26. Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed the legislation

“Many Illinois families can only visit these museums on the 52 days that they are currently open to residents free of charge,” the governor wrote in a letter to lawmakers that explains his veto.

“Limiting the number of days our aquariums and museums are available free of cost would disproportionately limit access to our lower-income families,” he said. “I cannot support any legislation that seeks to reduce exposure to the vast educational resources on display at our museums, particularly for those in our state that are most vulnerable.”

* The bill received 79 votes in the House back in April, but impassioned speeches on the House floor today by members of the Black Caucus helped turn the tide in favor of Quinn’s veto and just 49 House members voted to override.

Also helping to kill the override motion was a speech by Rep. Jack Franks, who before today has rarely if ever had anything nice to say about Gov. Quinn. Franks said the veto had changed his own perspective and urged his colleagues who’d never changed their minds to do so on today’s vote.

“The governor is right!” Franks said.

That’s not a misprint.

…Adding… Statement from Gov. Quinn…

“It’s always important to ensure that our residents with modest incomes have equal access to our world-class museums and cultural institutions.

“I commend members of the House for their vote today. They did the right thing.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 1:52 pm:

    Override Governor Veto - House Lost 049-067-001
    PQ wins

  2. - Just The Way It Is One - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 1:56 pm:

    Whoa–that quote by Jack Franks should be framed and hung up on a wall of the Capitol Building somewhere, with a spotlight shining on it!! Yet again goes to show, however, that if the issue or cause is right, as the case here, how Politics can sure make for “strange bedfellows” sometimes (as the ‘Ol Sayin’ goes)…!

  3. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    So we can’t reduce museum patron benefits to solve a financial “crisis”?

  4. - Anon - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 2:02 pm:

    “Even a broken clock is right twice a day”

    Got a laugh out of me.

  5. - Timmeh - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 2:03 pm:

    “That’s not a misprint.”
    I don’t know, that exclamation point looks pretty shady.

  6. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 2:03 pm:

    Someone please mark the date and time for posterity! I don’t think Jack has ever said that about any governor, let alone PQ.

  7. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 2:11 pm:

    That was a fastball down Broadway for Quinn and he went yard.

    I’m glad he did it. Even the General Admission prices, much less the extras, are getting out of reach for families.

    The Art Institute, for example, is now $25.50 for adults and $19 for seniors and kids.

    Folks should visit their local libraries, too. Most have a limited number day passes you can check out for most museums.

  8. - Amalia - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 2:36 pm:

    hope they link that vote on the site.

  9. - Nonplussed - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 2:39 pm:

    No Michelle, we can’t.

    If you want to see everything at the Shedd, for example, on a weekend, you will pay about $38 per adult and $30 per child for a weekend totalpass. Believe it or not, a lot of families cannot afford that. BTW, the free days at the Shedd for the rest of the year are all on Mondays. So you can either take your kids out of school, or you can go on a Monday holiday or during Xmas break and wait in a 2.5 hour line to get in (I am not kidding).

  10. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 2:48 pm:

    I am concerned about the museums. They keep raising their admission fees, and they keep making it harder to come on free days.

    I understand their pressing financial needs. But I think they are killing off their audience. And making it harder for working families to come to the museum on free days is not the way to build public support.

  11. - reformer - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 3:05 pm:

    “The governor is right!” Franks said.

    It’s people who never change their minds — or who won’t admit it — that bother me. Those who can admit they have gain my respect.

  12. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 3:38 pm:

    If they had any sense, the cultural institutions would brag about the number of free days they offer as part of their commitment to ensuring that our cultural treasures are enjoyed by more than just the priveleged few, and urge donors to underwrite them by making a gift.

  13. - Mike - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 3:47 pm:

    Gotta go with PQ on this one.

    Why should the 99% have to pay (literally) because of the mistakes of the 1%?

  14. - OurMagician - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 3:48 pm:

    26 free days, 26 1/2 price days. Is it that hard to compromise on anything?

  15. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 4:11 pm:

    I’d like to see some numbers on exactly who takes advantage of the free days.

  16. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 4:28 pm:

    The Civic Committee rides again… rich, but worthless to the core!

  17. - anon - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 4:56 pm:

    Members of the General Assembly (plus 3 of their guests) get free admissions from the museums, could be one place to cut….just saying…

  18. - Arthur Andersen - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 5:52 pm:

    Anon, how much cash money do you think you will generate by eliminating the GA freebies? Answer: Oogats.
    Ill will generated? A lot more than Oogats.

    Holy smoke, I’m agreeing with PQ twice in a day.

  19. - DuPage - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 7:13 pm:

    Sort of an unfunded mandate. Is the state giving the museums any funding to make up for the lost revenue?

  20. - Lost in the Weeds - Wednesday, Oct 23, 13 @ 7:29 pm:

    Not a crisis I guess. Maybe there will be less janitors or some exhibits closed.

  21. - sarah daggett - Thursday, Oct 24, 13 @ 8:34 am:

    “Sort of an unfunded mandate. Is the state giving the museums any funding to make up for the lost revenue?”

    Unfunded? No, read section 2 of the law they were trying to change 70ILCS 1290. It lets park districts levy a tax to provide for maintenance of the museum’s. Last year the Chicago park district distributed over $30 million to the 10 (now 11) museums in the park, and Rockford distributed over 1 Million.

    Mandate? No, ALL the museum’s that this law applies to voluntarily accepted this “mandate”. The free days have been illinois law since 1893. It only applies to museums that are on park district land. All the museums that this applies to either were founded after 1893 or moved onto park district land after 1893. If a museum did not want to be forced to offer the free days they should have built their museum on private land instead of park land.

    Any museum that finds this too burdensome is more than welcome to move off park district land and build their museum somewhere else. While that sounds absurd, the Peoria riverfront museum did that last year. They moved off Park District property and now are not required to offer the free days,however they also no longer get a 190k subsidy from the Peoria Park District.

  22. - DuPage - Thursday, Oct 24, 13 @ 9:19 am:

    Interesting historical perspective. Thank you.

  23. - downstate commissioner - Thursday, Oct 24, 13 @ 9:28 am:

    $25.50 to go to a museum? Wow, I had no idea… Too expensive for me, although I realize that prices have gone up at public venues.

  24. - Mike - Thursday, Oct 24, 13 @ 9:47 am:

    >I’d like to see some numbers on exactly who takes advantage of the free days.

    It is very expensive for a family of 4 to attend a museum in Chicago on a non-free day.

  25. - walkinfool - Thursday, Oct 24, 13 @ 9:52 am:

    These institutions were deliberately focused on helping educate and entertain families of modest means in Chicago, when built starting in the 1890s. Some of their written charters required free days for the public. It is in that spirit that many of their major collections were originally donated to them. It is part of their stated mission, and part of what I like so much about Chicago.

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