First I shall state right up front that this is not an anti-museum post. Truth be told, my shallow self is rather keen on the idea. What mother of 2 young children wouldn't like the idea of another entertainment option for her family? As a Realtor, offering another amenity to an out-of-towner who is considering job offers in multiple cities may increase the likelihood of selling that client on Peoria rather than, say, the Quad Cities. I also like the idea of special projects being funded through sales tax rather than picking on the already strapped homeowner via increased property taxes. Let those who visit and work but don't live here share in the love.
That said, I am also tickled to see the emergence of Citizens for Responsible Spending for a variety of reasons. For one thing, if the proposed museum is all they say and more, it should stand up to the light of day. Hopefully museum advocates realize that Peorians are not so naive to realize that despite the onslaught of slick full color glossy photo brochures, the presence of a museum has a flip side. That flip side of course boils down to more dollars and cents out of our collective pockets. That flip side means that delivery of other city services may be compromised. For instance, my puny little mind worries that perhaps even more Peoria city streets will be coated with the oil and chip (or as I call it molten lava and shards of glass from the street to your living room) surface.
There is only so much water in the well folks, and we should know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. All projects in this day and age must be put under the microscope. Let the public hack away at it like kids at a pinata party. Examine all its warts pimples and imperfections, the good the bad and the ugly. Community leaders should not marry an idea until it has been fully vetted by all those they expect to pay for it. All citizens should have an ownership interest in the outcome. The same principle applies to our public schools who have already been put on notice. If the plans survive the process (consider it a primary) then we can consider it worthwhile. If the public feels they entered into this project with eyes wide open, when and if things go wrong, we can all hold hands and still be friends.
The days of carte blanche do-whatever-you-want management are coming to an end, not just in Peoria but everywhere. Karrie Alms, the leader behind Citizens for Responsible Spending reported on WMBD today that she asked repeatedly to be part of the town hall hearings regarding the upcoming museum tax referendum. She wanted to present the case for voting "no" alongside the case for voting "yes". She was flatly denied. It seems they didn't want a public "debate". Bad move. We must let dissension be heard... or expect more public resistance groups like this to form from anyone with a connection and a brain. It sounds messy and troublesome, but eventually the powers that be will catch on, adapt, and deliver better thought out and more stream-lined projects.
Myself, I'm not sure how I'll vote come April. I'm leaning towards "yes", given shallow reasons noted above. However, being the average finicky depends-on-the-day type voter, there's a good chance that if our street isn't swept by then, I'll vote "No". Sad, but true.
Added text 2/27: They say the increase in tax would equate to 25 cents on every $100. purchase. If that is going to be a dealbreaker for the consumer, um, maybe they should be re-considering the purchase.