Lori Sturdevant, an editorial writer and columnist, has covered state government and politics for more than 30 years.

Minnesota's aging Capitol

Posted by: Lori Sturdevant Updated: January 17, 2013 - 4:44 PM

The Capitol's 1-ton, six-foot-wide "electrolier" is back in its rightful place high atop the rotunda. As a crowd watched Thursday afternoon and sang the final line of the state song, "Thou shalt be their Northern Star!" all of its 92 light bulbs were lit.

It was crowd-pleaser, especially since the chandelier has been down for cleaning and repair for nearly 18 months. But its lighting did not signal the end of the restoration the Capitol must undergo if it is to serve the state in the 21st century as well as it has since its January 1905 completion.

State administration commissioner Spencer Cronk invited a crowd of several hundred  to examine telltale signs of trouble in the dome in which the big light fixture rests. Even from several stories below, water damage is evident. The chandelier has new wiring, but most of the rest of the building's mechanical systems are 108 years old and showing their age.

One reason for the 2013 Legislature to pass a major bonding bill, rather than waiting until 2014, is that a bond issue of at least $110 million must be authorized this year to continue a four-year restoration project begun in 2012. Delays will only add to future costs, while endangering "the people's palace" and the people who visit and work there. This iconic emblem of Minnesota's pride in its democracy shouldn't be allowed to deteriorate any longer.


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