Thursday, December 6, 2007

Keen and Richardson: Let's write this museum some checks

OK, they didn't say that. But if I were the Georgia Sports and Music Hall of Fame, I'd go knocking on Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson and Majority Leader Jerry Keen's door during this coming legislative session. The state's reserves have risen, and both men spoke glowingly of the Music Hall of Fame last night, where they attended a fundraiser for local state Rep. Allen Freeman.

I didn't ask either man if a specific facility should get more state funding. (The sports and music halls both get state funding, but have taken budget cuts in recent years).

The question was whether it's appropriate to spend taxpayer money on museums. I expected answers with some blend of fiscal conservatism and politeness, considering they were standing in the Music Hall of Fame. But what I got was, essentially, gushing.

Said Keen, with wide eyes and a smile: "This is outstanding. ... I'm really embarrassed to say this is my first time here, but it won't be my last."

Keen described himself as a "music nut," said he loves The Allman Brothers Band, which hit it big here in Macon, and that he remembers listening to the LeFevres' gospel music as a child.

One of the first displays when you enter the museum: The LeFevres. Keen said the state needs to make sure it brings companies it's trying to woo here to the Macon museum district.

"I have always supported the investment of state resources in these types (of endeavors)," he said.

By the way, Keen was really excited when I told him about this, which is one of the cooler hidden things in Macon.

As for the speaker on museums: "It's so easy for people to say we shouldn't be doing that, that it's 'pork.' ... Museums and areas that recognize and lift up people that are connected (to Georgia) are good for Georgia."

The speaker specifically said that the state should "absolutely" help fund museum operations.

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