Quinn under fire over $6M museum grant

June 14, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The grant will finish the half-built museum at State and Kinzie. MBC founder and president Bruce DuMont says it is not an unusual use of public money.

"If you look historically at how the great museums of Chicago have been built and funded over the years, they've all received significant support from the state," said DuMont.

The money was promised to the museum project by the Blagojevich administration that reneged on the grant after the construction was underway. When Pat Quinn took over he had questions about the expenditure.

"If there's some sort of willy-nilly approach to giving out state grants, it needs a full and thorough investigation," said Quinn in 2009.

But later last year, Quinn and the General Assembly agreed to set aside $6 million of the $31 billion capital plan for the project. The governor announced the grant money had arrived at the museum's gala last Friday.

"We're going to invest $6 million of the Capital Fund in the Museum of Broadcast Communications," said Quinn. "We now have people in the political leadership that believe that when you make a promise, a man keeps it," said Quinn on Friday.

"Broadcast museum doesn't mean a thing to anybody in our streets," said the Rev. Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Parish. He doesn't understand how the cash-strapped state with its $13 billion deficit can commit any money from its capital or operating budget to a museum when many neighborhoods are overwhelmed by violence.

He showed ABC7 two letters he'd received in the past week advising that the governor is considering cutting a $3 million statewide program for at-risk young people.

"Youth prevention and youth intervention for violence while we're talking about broadcast museums and other things that are not being cut and are continuing to be out on the table? That's unacceptable," said Rev. Pfleger.

The governor's office issued a statement that the grant "will help further enhance Illinois' successful tourism industry."

DuMont said the construction- to be finished in a year- will generate 200 jobs.

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