City Proposes Selling Art to Fund Library Expansion

I feel like the takeaway here is “poor communities can enjoy basic services like the library or they can enjoy public art, but we’re not paying for both”.

Given that the money we’re talking about here is small stakes in the grand scheme of the city budget, I’d love to see some language that at least holds ALL proceeds of this sale to funding the ongoing operating costs of this library expansion. It could pay for eight years of operation. But that won’t happen.

Rahm, to his credit, put their expansion’s operating costs into his next budget, but that only covers the first year of that. And the painting sale is supposed to pay for the one-time capital costs of the expansion itself. But… why? One-time asset sales is SUCH a shit way to run a city, as Rahm knows. He basically ran against Daley’s habitual addiction to doing just that, a good policy call because Daley fucked the city in a lot of ways (and, not coincidentally, enriched himself and his pals) via that model of financing.

I can even kind of see the logic behind “look, this painting has appreciated far beyond anyone’s expectations, this library isn’t designed to secure something so valuable, best of both worlds to sell it now before it declines in value or gets damaged/stolen, and we can use that money to make this library better”.

But also: fuck that. A chance for these disadvantaged kids to see a near-priceless piece of art in their own neighborhood, to be inspired by it and enjoy the same access to high art that every Lincoln Park and Hyde Park professional class heirling does… why shouldn’t these kids have that as well?

This just feels like more of Rahm’s endless Fuck You to the South and West Sides… even when he gives them a little, it’s with enough conditions to remind people that he really doesn’t think they deserve it.

I hope our next mayor is a little more committed to funding essential services out of taxes and revenues instead of selling off one-time assets in a punishing way to the communities the asset comes from.