A question for the taxpayers in South Broward: How many of your tax dollars would you care to invest in a museum exhibit that will help your child get a firmer grasp of boogers, belches, and farts?
"Not much," replies every parent. "My kid's already an expert on all three." Well, tough luck. Because an exhibit at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science called Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body, is already finished. It will debut this weekend. The museum release invites kids to:
Take the Tour du Nose and explore how your nose acts as an air filter, a smell sensor and a mucus producer. Climb the large-scale replica of human skin and find out the gross facts of pimples, warts, wounds, hair, moles and other skin blemishes. Help Burp-Man expel the gas in his stomach and learn the physics of farting.
Wild guess: Burp-Man will beg the kids to pull his finger.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital of Hollywood, which is part of the Memorial Healthcare System. That's the dba name of the South Broward Hospital District -- it' the counterpart of the former North Broward Hospital District, now known as Broward Health, which has been the subject of slightly unfavorable press on this very blog.
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Like Broward Health, Memorial is run by a board of commissioners appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist. Last summer, we told you how Commissioner Rebecca Stoll allegedly lobbied a sponsorship committee toward making a $10,000 donation to the Fort Lauderdale museum, where she is a fundraiser. In August 2008, she voted to give the museum $2 million for a Broward Health exhibit.
I left a message with a Memorial spokesperson about how much the hospital system paid in sponsoring the exhibit. I'll update when I hear back.
UPDATE: Memorial spokeswoman Kerting Baldwin says the district spent $50,000 from its marketing budget on the exhibit, which "gives us (the children's hospital) an opportunity to reach our target audience: families and children." She points out that the district is "tax-assisted" and objects to the characterization that tax dollars were spent on the exhibit. Rather, Baldwin argues that the tax money goes toward caring for indigent patients.
Of course, the point we're making with this post is simply that taxpayers have an enormous stake in a public hospital district's being smart with all of its money -- including its advertising budget.