It was no surprise that the board of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol (a mouthful any way you try to say/write it) approved the removal of the Stephen Douglas and Pierre Menard statues from the Capitol grounds.
The board members are all state employees who owe their jobs to the various legislative leaders. If a board member opposed removing the statues, it meant a legislative leader opposed the idea, and there’s been no indication of any opposition from that quartet. The vote to remove the statues was unanimous.
So was the vote to relocate the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, preferably to the Capitol grounds. That gets a little trickier, though, because to get a statue on the grounds, there is supposed to be a direct link to Illinois. At least more so than King’s links to the state through speeches and marches in Chicago to promote open housing. The state plans to update its rules for statues to allow for King’s statue on the grounds.
Anyway, during the architect’s board meeting, it was noted that there is a replica of the Liberty Bell on the grounds, even though it has no connection to Illinois. (You’re surprised the state is inconsistent in enforcing the rules?)
As a public service, here is the explanation for the bell replica, which can be found online. The 200th anniversary of the bell was in 1950. To promote the sale of U.S. savings bonds, replicas of the bell were made in France and given to each state. For 25 years, the bell was abandoned on the state fairgrounds, but it was pulled out of storage in 1976 for the bicentennial. It was placed on the Capitol grounds in 1977.
No, that still doesn’t explain how it is connected to Illinois.
Goodbye, Sam’s building
As long as we’re discussing changes to the Capitol Complex, a big one is close to happening.
The building at 222 S. College is on schedule to be demolished in the next few months. Asbestos abatement is being completed, and bid solicitations to demolish the building will go out in the fall. The building should be gone in the winter.
If the address doesn’t ring a bell, the building was once home to the legendary Play It Again Sam’s bar, which was a major hangout for lawmakers, lobbyists and anyone else connected to state government, particularly when the General Assembly was in session. It was the kind of place where on occasion legislation was literally written.
When the place closed, it was described as a great neighborhood bar, but the neighborhood was only there six months out of the year.
The state had offices in the building, but they were moved out a couple of years ago.
There currently are no plans for the site after the building is demolished.
Brunch at supper?
Here’s some further proof that the coronavirus pandemic has forced changes in about everything.
During this past week, the Illinois State Fair would have had its run had the virus not caused it to shut down. Part of the fair is always the political days, and part of the Democrats’ day at the fair is the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association brunch in the morning prior to everyone heading out to the fairgrounds.
This year, in addition to the fact there’s no fair, the Democrats had the little problem that the national convention was going on last week. So, no brunch last week. However, there still will be a 2020 brunch. It won’t be until Aug. 31, though. And it will be virtual, so you have to arrange for your own bacon and eggs. And it will start at 6 p.m., which isn’t exactly brunch time.
Nothing is safe anymore.
Contact Doug Finke: firstname.lastname@example.org, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr