Broke Illinois just wrote a $100,000 check to the Katherine Dunham Museum in East St. Louis, a nonprofit entity without any money.
Dunham's legacy as a dancer, choreographer and activist is unquestionable, and the museum to house her things is a wonderful tribute. But even if Illinois could afford to give away $100,000 to a private museum, it doesn't make sense to do so to one without the resources to pay its utility bills. The lights were hours away from being turned off this week. Eleventh-hour donations covered that bill, but what about next month and the months after that?
As a minimum requirement for receiving state capital funds, a group should have to demonstrate that it has the money to fund day-to-day operations. This museum unfortunately does not. Illinois is investing $100,000 into a building that could be closed down at any time.
This is a classic example of pork-barrel politics -- a project funded based not on merit but rather political connections. Fittingly, St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks and other politicians showed up at the museum this week to celebrate the grant.
State Rep. Eddie Jackson is getting credit for securing the funds, but it's the state taxpayers who, like it or not, are paying the bill.