BY BUDDY NEVINS
Broward County Commissioners thumbed their noses at the public today, tentatively approving $610,000 for art work at the new courthouse.
For Broward residents who voted against a new courthouse, this was further evidence that commissioners are tone-deaf to the public.
Not all commissioners were on the side of spending.
Commissioners Chip LaMarca and John Rodstrom opposed the art.
Commissioner Barbara Sharief had qualms, but supported it because it will come back to the commission for approval of the actual art work.
“We talk about functionally integrated art. How about functionally integrated jobs? LaMarca snapped.
LaMarca campaigned last year against building the courthouse after voters tuned it down.
Commissioner John Rodstrom said the building cost $242-per-square foot without the art.
“It sounds like a pretty nice building to me. We are spending plenty on this building (already), Rodstrom said.
Sharief suggested that local youths help with the art in the new building, a recommendation Browardbeat.com made yesterday.
Commissioner Kristin Jacobs argued the county had been fiscally conservative, chopping the cost of courthouse. She said artists need jobs, too.
She said $600,000 was a drop in the bucket compared to the multi-million cost of the courthouse. The project’s total cost is $350 million with all the elements.
Commissioner Lois Wexler said art was necessary because it would be enjoyed for years in the future. She pointed out the floor at the Port Terminal was mosaic tiles art work, but didn’t mention that user fees pay for port projects.
Wexler also wanted a commitment that the courthouse use local artists.
Commissioner Stacy Ritter called the art work a job creation project. “You’ve got a Broward County taxpayer in Broward County who is getting a job, she said.
Yeah, a $610,000 job! Only one artist is mentioned in the agenda item.
Ritter also noted that the voters turned down a $450 million project, not the building being constructed now for $100 million less.
Commissioner Ilene Lieberman defended the purchase by noting that the art budget was cut from $4 million in a previous ordinance to $610,000.
Broward Mayor Sue Gunzburger and Commissioner Dale Holness also supported to art.
My question is this? Would commissioners be so free to spend if it wasn’t other peoples’ money?
An Earlier Version of the Story is Here:
Broward County Commissioners are always whining about not having enough money. This same group of spendthrifts are scheduled Tuesday to spend $610,000 for art in the new courthouse.
That’s right. For art!
I’m no Philistine. I grew up in the museums of Manhattan and am still a member of one museum in that city. But if I was broke, that would be one of the first places to cut.
The commission does have the ability to wave the spending of any money for art at the courthouse.
I suggest they solicit donations. There are plenty of well-healed lawyers who will benefit from the new courthouse. Ask them.
Commissioners could set aside an area in the new building for art done by school students. Or art done by prisoners as part of their rehabilitation.
Tough times require some tough new ideas. Commissioners need to stop subsidizing the elite arts community and start cutting back on spending.