September 10, 2009

No money for Lathrop Ave. lights ... or is there?

We had a story last week about Alderman Aron Wisneski attempting to find about $16,250 for decorative lamp posts for his constituents living on Lathrop Ave.

Nearby streets have the lights, and Wisneski argued the lights made sense to maintain the continuity of the neighborhood. But city staff disagreed and the council, meeting as a committee, split 7-5 in favor of giving the decorative lights to the Lathrop Ave. residents. The full council will vote next week, and may kill the request.

There's an interesting side note to this story that speaks to the oddity of city government. The main argument against the lights was, simply, there's no money. That makes sense given the economy, tight city budgets, dwindling tax base, and so on.

But it's really about motivation. Just this week the Finance and Personnel Committee found $38,737 in the parks budget to replace lights in Island Park. It also agreed to move $103,500 from the city's "Street Light Removal" account to pay for professional services related to stimulus money for street lights.

No doubt both votes were reasonable and prudent. But it's clear city staff - and City Council committees, to some degree - can find money when they want to. It's just a matter of who they want to help.

(As an aside, it also shows the difficulty of government oversight. Even City Council members have trouble tracking the thousands, even millions, of dollars the city's professional staff is responsible for. Full-time employees hold a lot of power, in many cases, more than any elected official.)


  1. Crooked Govt., what else is there to say?

  2. I think those lights make the streets more attractive and should be installed; at least we can see where our tax dollars are going and can enjoy the view.

  3. Tim the Shrubber9/11/2009 1:29 PM

    Agree with Anon 7:02. This should be labeled an Op-Ed.

  4. What happened to the 8 thousand high tech LED lights that were suppose to be installed with the scammy stimulus money ?

    That neighborhood should have just ponied up the money if they wanted a light upgrade.

  5. 103,500 for professional services? Who they hire?

  6. Isn't one of the neighbors making money off of this deal? I would think that would be a conflict of interest with her.

  7. We don't need street lights. This city is over-lit as it is. All the lighting does is make it easier for the criminals and neerdowells to go outside at night without a flashlight! If it were dark, they'd need a flashlight and be easier to spot. Bring back the Stars in the Sky. Quit wasting money on the maintenance of Streetlights that are unnecessary and wasting money on electricity. It's not like people don't have electricity. If you are afraid of the dark, pay to turn your own lights on. No I don't advocate removing all streetlights, but come on, If you want daylight outside Get up in the morning. If you're too blind to see at night, don't drive.