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Find the money and fix the roof

A leaking roof at the governor's mansion in Springfield should not be ignored. State officials should fix it without delay.

Published: Wednesday, June 11, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2014 8:14 a.m. CDT

It rained in Springfield Tuesday.

That's not a unique event.

Across the state, communities felt raindrops as a weather front moved through.

But in Springfield, a historic, 159-year-old, state-owned building with a leaky, 44-year-old roof remains exposed to the vagaries of nature – and Illinois' deadbeat government.

Some might wonder what difference it makes. These days, much of the state's business is conducted in Chicago. Why worry about an aging state building in Springfield?

Well, the Executive Mansion at 410 E. Jackson St. is still considered the home of the governor of Illinois, even though Gov. Pat Quinn, in office more than 5 years, lives in Chicago and spends minimal time in Springfield. His predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, also chose to live in Chicago during his 6-year term.

Maybe if the governor's mansion had full-time occupants, they would have noticed the developing leak in the roof that has caused so much trouble.

A story that broke on the last day of the legislative session told of water coming through the third-floor ceiling, causing plaster to fall onto the floor.

Workers moved furniture out of harm's way, the floor was covered in plastic sheets, and buckets were placed at strategic locations to catch the drips and drops, according to Dave Bourland, the mansion's curator.

However, maintenance will be deferred, a gubernatorial spokesman said. According to Dave Blanchette, "It is not an ideal situation."

Indeed.

Call us old-fashioned, but we believe the Executive Mansion ought to mean more than it apparently does to the governing elite, many of whom live in Chicago.

It's true that having Illinois governors live in the capital so they can ride herd on state government is a 19th-century idea.

But that Italianate mansion in Springfield is to Illinois what the White House is to the United States. If the roof started leaking at the White House, wouldn't we expect it to be fixed right away? Of course. Why not the same urgency to fix the leaky roof at the governor's mansion?

If Illinois was financially well managed and kept up with routine maintenance, this issue likely would not have arisen.

Despite Illinois' financial woes, the powers that be have found money to pay for other projects in the past.

In fact, Gov. Quinn signed legislation recently to allow the state to spend an additional $1.8 billion in the current budget year that ends June 30.

Within that large of a sum, money certainly could be found and allocated to repair or replace one roof in Springfield.

Why?

Well, some future governor might want to live there.

And it's going to rain again.

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