Monday, December 6, 2010

The Fat lady is warming up.

There are several members of Madison's city council who are particularly fond of the sound of their own voices. They like to talk late into the night about overarching philosophical matters.

Since I don't have to sit through these meetings, this usually doesn't bother me. But it's worrisome when they practice this procrastination with a deadline fast approaching.

That's what's going on right now with the Overture Center. Banks and donors have agreed to erase $28.6 million in debt that the art center has piled up, if the city can come up with an operating agreement by the end of the year. But, instead of hammering out the details of how to operate the center, some council members feel it necessary to blabber on and on about the role of the arts in the city.

If a deal doesn't get done, Madison taxpayers could be on the hook for some $6 million in debt payments, or about $70 a household. This is money that individual families don't need, and in many cases can't afford, to spend.

But the bigger danger of not finding a solution is that one of the city's greatest assets could be shut down, which would be a blow to the arts community and a spit in the face to generous philanthropists, like Jerome Frautschi, who bankrolled the project.

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