Six more ideas to raise money for Chicago: some serious, some pretty funny

Six more ideas to raise money for Chicago: some serious, some pretty funny
Jussie Smollett could help Chicago pay its bills. Photo: Chicago Tribune

Many of you liked--dare I say even loved, my idea for Chicago to charge people to get their mugs on Crown Fountain. The point is is to raise much needed funds for the city.

Thanks for your support, people. Maybe we can get this thing done. You can see the idea in detail here. The Chicago Tribune thought the fountain idea was worth exploring too and published my piece about it on their op-ed pages.

A few of you hated the idea. That's okay. This is America, and we're still allowed to bat around ideas. For now, anyway. And yesterday, in a Tribune letter to the editor, one person claims the artist who created the fountain will not allow anyone fiddling with his work.

One nice surprise was that Opinionated Woman readers came up with their own ideas to help Chicago pay its bills. I love that! Insert a dozen heart emojis here. Chicago is not only the city of big shoulders. We have big ideas, too!

Bruce B says, "What a great idea! Maybe we will see projected on the Mart, marriage proposals or other personal messages like at the ball park."

Bruce, you may just have something if we tweak your idea slightly. The Mart, as the Merchandise Mart is now known, is privately owned. But how about if we project photos and messages onto a giant screen on Daley Plaza? If I have any say in the matter, which, of course, I don't and won't, mean messages and swear words will not be allowed.

Adam M. suggests we should "sell the naming rights to Soldier Field. Sell the naming rights to Chicago itself. I've offered to let the highest bidder tattoo their brand name on my forehead..."

Yes, yes, and yes. But if you have Budweiser or McDonald's or Cadillac tattooed on your forehead, which could be a cool look for you, are you going to donate the money to our city that's drowning in debt? Or are you going to line your own pockets as is the Chicago way?

Nancy G. says, "The city should sell bricks."

Great idea. Nancy. One of my sources tells me there are already commemorative bricks in some places in the parks, but there are no official offerings, according to a staff member of the Chicago Parks Foundation.

So let's do it. Brick sidewalks and walkways are very charming. And commemorative bricks could net some big dough.

And maybe go a step further: How about having more commemorative benches throughout Chicago's parks with memorial or honorary plaques attached to them? 

The Chicago Parks Foundation already offers this service for $5,000-$10,000 per bench, depending on the park, Grant Park and Lincoln Park being the priciest real estate. And, perhaps, offer the benches at more reasonable rates in outlining parks. The money could still add up.

I don't want to bring you down, but wouldn't a loved one who loved the city love the idea of a tasteful  "in memory of" plaque on a bench in the city?

Even New York--yes, New York City--does these sorts of things. While researching this blog post, I found out some of the trees in New York's Central Park have engraved paving stones on them to mark their sponsorship. And there's an Adopt-A-Bench program there, too.

Dan B. expands on the fountain idea. "You could charge by the second. $1 per second. If you want an hour, it would be $3600. She'd balance Chicago budget in no time. That's about $31 million in a year. She could also charge more if she felt she needed more revenue."

I'm not sure about your math, Dan. It wasn't my best subject. But I like the way you think. Maybe you should run for office.

From Pat B.: "Here's an idea, plaster actor Jussie Smollett's face on Crown Fountain since he likes 'running at the mouth.' Then, Mayor Lightfoot should demand he pay $50,000 a day--until he pays the $130,106.15 he owes the city of Chicago."

Clever, Trish. That's about the only way he'll pay up.

I'll add one more to the mix, and I don't mean this one to be funny at all. The city should hold a contest to come up with the best ideas to bring more moola into the city coffers. Eliminating wasteful spending goes without saying. And the huge pension problems? That's for someone else to solve.

But holding a real contest--and not a rigged one in which well-connected fat cats and their friends and families win (Mayor Lightfoot is stopping all that. At least, we're hoping) could result in some brilliant ideas.

Besides, a contest is something which could Chicagoans rally around and bring us all together. What do we have to lose?

The prizes should be Chicago-centric--a weekend at a great Chicago hotel, a couple of free meals at a top Chicago restaurant, a boat ride on the Chicago River or Lake Michigan, free passes to the Art Institute.

So bring 'em on, peeps.  We can't solve all of Chicago's problems, but a couple of good ideas just might make a difference. Whataya say, Mayor Lightfoot?

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