If you drove by the San Diego County Operations Complex today around noon, you saw a bunch of people hula-hooping.
And, no, they weren't doing it for kicks.
Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 221 and other county employees were taking part in a demonstration to protest San Diego County management's decision to spend almost $200,000 on a sculpture for the lobby of the County Operations Center. They chanted slogans like "Hey, hey, ho, ho; where did all the money go" and swung hula hoops around their hips, arms and legs. ---
"We're hula-hooping today because we think its outrageous that the county of San Diego spent $200,000 on a piece of art that looks like a bunch of hula hoops welded together," said Eric Banks, president of Local 221. "At the same time, they're looking for major concessions from their employees on healthcare and wages."
*Calls to a county spokesperson have not yet been returned.
Here are pictures of Shaw's sculpture:
What do you think? Should the county be spending money on fine art while making pay cuts and tightening the budget in other areas?
Update: According to Michael Workman, director at the County Communications Office, art is included in all County-owned public buildings, and it's common for governments to have such policies requiring art in public buildings.
Click here to read San Diego County's art policy, which defines and establishes a policy for the inclusion of art for qualifying County-owned public buildings and, in part, says an "artwork allowance, based on the estimated construction cost of the building project may, under the procedure described herein, be expended for works of art integral to a project. This allowance shall be one-half percent of the estimated project costs not to exceed $500,000."
"The cost of [the Joyce Cutler Shaw sculpture] was approximately one-tenth of one percent of the [phase 1 cost of construction for the buildings]," wrote Workman. "Approximately $195K."