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Today’s number: $330,000

Friday, Jan 22, 2021

* AP

The Illinois House spent $187,000 to rent out Springfield’s downtown convention center last week due to fears about conducting business at the Capitol during the coronavirus pandemic, according to documents disclosed to The Associated Press.

Lawmakers in the House have now spent a total of about $330,000 in taxpayer money to rent the center for less than two weeks during the pandemic because officials decided the House chamber does not allow sufficient distance between legislators to avoid transmission of the virus.

The House jammed months of work into last week at the convention center and anticipates 56 more days of legislative action between Feb. 2 and May 31. Considering it’ll likely be months before most people receive a COVID-19 vaccine, continuing the arrangement with the Bank of Springfield Center would be costly. […]

Like last week, the May session saw the House, with 118 elected officials and dozens of support employees, operated from the BoS Center. Facility rental is $5,000 a day, the standard rate, but with catered meals, security, audio-visual equipment and other incidentals, the four-day contract ran to $144,000, according to invoices disclosed under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Add to that the $187,000 rung up for this month’s stretch, and it amounts to a daily rate of $30,000.

Click here for the invoice for last May’s special session.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

31 Comments
  1. - facts matter - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:09 am:

    This line should be highlighted: “Vaccination of House members could remedy the dilemma.”


  2. - DownSouth - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:11 am:

    I’m torn between paying for the catering as an effort to support local struggling businesses and telling the legislators to pack a robust lunch and snack bag like the rest f us.


  3. - Ok - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:12 am:

    Odd, because they are charging $1,000/day to the Illinois State Rifle Association, and $10,000 for a two-day drill team competition.

    https://www.theboscenter.com/Portals/0/Agenda%2001-19-21.pdf


  4. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:14 am:

    Hmmm, lots of Saputo’s.


  5. - NIU Grad - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:15 am:

    “the House chamber does not allow sufficient distance between legislators to avoid transmission of the virus”

    While this may be true, Representatives seemed to disregard the distance requirements and spend time in close proximity to each other throughout their time in-session.


  6. - Blake - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:19 am:

    What would be the difference that one group would pay $1,000/day & another would pay $5,000/day?


  7. - NotRich - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:20 am:

    they need to pause session until they can get back into the capitol.. the convention center is costly and not conducive to running a democratic session


  8. - Essential State Employee - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:21 am:

    ==I’m torn between paying for the catering as an effort to support local struggling businesses and telling the legislators to pack a robust lunch and snack bag like the rest f us.==

    I prefer the latter but okay with a compromise: tell them to pick up something on the way. Whether it’s McDonald’s, Burger King, Hardee’s, etc. on Jefferson, or grab-and-go food from a gas station in town or from County Market near the hospitals.


  9. - Put the fun in unfunded - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:21 am:

    As of Jan. 15, CDC says that social distancing is required even after vaccination, so no, vaccination of House members will not remedy the dilemma.


  10. - tea_and_honey - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:22 am:

    ==What would be the difference that one group would pay $1,000/day & another would pay $5,000/day?==

    I would guess there is some variance in set up and tear down time based on the type of event. Not sure that accounts for the full variance though.


  11. - M - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:24 am:

    “Vaccination of House members could remedy the dilemma.”

    Each person has to have 2- COVID Vaccinations a month apart in order for it to be effective.


  12. - Been There - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:26 am:

    After looking at the bills this looks pretty cheap compared to Chicago prices. If they were at McCormick Place or even at one the larger hotels it would probably be twice this.


  13. - M - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:27 am:

    If any Representative refuses to be vaccinated, they should not be allowed in the capitol or the BOS building. They would have to meet onine via Zoom.


  14. - fs - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:27 am:

    == What would be the difference that one group would pay $1,000/day & another would pay $5,000/day?==

    Could be a difference in how much of the Center the group rents? Maybe? It has multiple meeting spaces other than the main floor, and I believe the House was renting the lower rooms in addition to the main floor for meeting rooms.

    A question I have is why are we paying extra for equipment? Doesn’t the State have stuff they can use?


  15. - Dysfunction Junction - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:30 am:

    The state owns the IL fairgrounds outright and just spent big $ to redo the roof of the Coliseum, if I remember correctly. Should be plenty big enough to hold them all, and if you get Bob Vose and the other food vendors out there it would help the local economy. Problem solved.


  16. - Mama - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:39 am:

    Once they gut and fix the Armory building, could they hold their meetings there? COVID-19 might require an annual vaccine shot or 2-shots every year. In the mean time another bad virus could pop up. Is it possible to add more room onto the State Capitol building to make the house chambers larger?.


  17. - Ok - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:40 am:

    You wouldn’t have to rent out McCormick place in Chicago. There are dozens of places that could do the same thing and cost less.

    And then people could get their own food as well takeout.


  18. - Huh? - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:45 am:

    Disfunction- the coliseum is an unheated building with a sand floor arena. Lighting isn’t very good either.


  19. - Marcus - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:45 am:

    Shouldn’t it be a conflict of interest getting food from Saputo’s with the owner being one of the SMEAA Officers?

    https://theboscenter.com/Connect-with-Us/SMEAA-Board


  20. - One hand //ing - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:46 am:

    A Story of America in Three Acts

    Act 1:
    Politicians aren’t working? I’m outraged.

    Act 2:
    It costs that much for politicians to work? I’m outraged.

    Act 3:
    Politicians get the vaccine before me? I’m outraged.


  21. - Sangamo Girl - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:53 am:

    Alas, this issue just doesn’t affect the Legislature; staff and employees are in harms way. For those who haven’t been there, the Capitol Complex is connected via a network of tunnels allowing access to most of the other buildings. The legislature has made its own rules for masks on the floor but those rules don’t carry over to the rest of the buildings on the campus. Mask wearing is not enforced. Many Executive and Legislative Branch staff and employees work in those buildings and cannot distance from the Covidiots.


  22. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 11:54 am:

    ===the coliseum is an unheated building with a sand floor arena===

    Yep. Use your heads, people. C’mon. It’s embarrassing to see those sorts of comments.


  23. - Been There - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 12:01 pm:

    === And then people could get their own food as well takeout===
    The whole idea is to keep them in their own bubble as much as possible. To cut down on their interactions with those outside.


  24. - DownSouth - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 12:23 pm:

    ==The whole idea is to keep them in their own bubble==
    That’s why several state employees I know who have had to recently travel for extended work assignments in other parts of the state literally filled coolers to take along on their assignment. Use the fridge/microwave in their hotels and packing their lunches and snacks with them for the workday. Overly cautious? maybe but seemed sensible to me.


  25. - SouthSide Markie - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 12:30 pm:

    The most troubling thing on that invoice was seeing that union stagehands in Springfield only make $18/hour, a fraction of what they would make at any major venue in Chicago. Which should tell you why they didn’t go to McCormick Place.


  26. - Commisar Gritty - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 12:41 pm:

    I was on the fence for your poll a few days ago but after seeing this, I’m totally backing Rep. Didech’s position. Vaccinate all legislators asap.


  27. - Dysfunction Junction - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 12:46 pm:

    ===the coliseum is an unheated building with a sand floor arena===

    I know. I live here. Sense of humor anyone?


  28. - Joe Bidenopolous - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 12:57 pm:

    The House floor doesn’t allow for social distancing, this is true. But it’s also true that not every member need be on the floor at every moment. The same is true for the Senate and they figured out how to do it by keeping members in offices and calling them in for votes by alpha order. The House could easily do the same. Might take longer because their offices are further, but if you want them to work and do so cheaply…


  29. - Give Us Barabbas - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 1:00 pm:

    Expo and newer Poultry building on the fairgrounds have heat and concrete floors, and were big enough to host Gubernatorial inauguration balls and boat shows. Just saying. But I’m not too concerned about the BOS center bill. Though it would have been a patriotic gesture if they gave a government discount.


  30. - Nilwood - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 2:08 pm:

    M - The CDC report mentioned by Put the Fun in Unfunded that requires masks after vaccination is after the two shot requirement.


  31. - Demoralized - Friday, Jan 22, 21 @ 3:46 pm:

    I’m pretty sure you can’t bring in outside food. You wanna eat i think you have to cater it.


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