Special Report: Lights Out
Hollywood's cameras weren't the only ones trained on this building. 7News cameras paid visits recently after we noticed all the lights seem to be on after hours.
We focused our lenses on the Brooke Courthouse on five different nights. On October 9th she's all lit up like a Christmas tree. So we came back on the 10th, and it's the same deal...Bright lights in the big city. Just to be sure, we checked again on the 13th, and the 14th, and the 17th. It's not only the moon lighting up the Brooke Courthouse after dark.
Clyde Hall, business owner
"If they're operating in an inefficient manner with my tax money. Yes, it would concern me, it would bother me."
Employees we talked to say there's no business conducted after hours. There are security officers and cleaning crews working overnight, but do they really need that much light?
Look at the John Adams Courthouse and the Suffolk County Courthouse next door. They are just partially lit...Not the beacon of jurisprudence we see at the Brooke...Night, after night, after night.
We asked the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which runs the whole court system, for the electrical bills. At the Brooke Courthouse, the state paid 1.47 million dollars last year. At the Suffolk County Courthouse, which is about the same square footage, the bill totaled 631,000.
So taxpayers are spending more than twice as much to power the Brooke...And every state agency is battling a fiscal crisis right now.
Michael Widmer, Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation
"Clearly this is the moment to look at issues like this - lights on in courts all night."
A spokesperson for the SJC claims the Brooke Courthouse, with its modern design, high ceilings, and climate control, has to use a lot more power than the 70-year-old Suffolk County Courthouse...But that doesn't explain why one building is all lit up and one not so much.
Court officials tell me they have an energy reduction plan in place at the Brooke Courthouse now: It includes shutting down the escalator, reducing some lighting and checking energy efficiencies in the building. Officials also tell me sensors shut some office lights off automatically.
We wondered: Now that we brought this problem to the attention of court officials would they see the light? So we checked back last week, and found the front of the building is a little darker.
Don Mackinnon, courthouse employee
"Lately they have been shutting off most of the lights at least downstairs."
One woman said she saw unnecessary light bulbs being removed.
Donna Anderson, courthouse employee
"It is darker, they are doing what they can."
It's not as pretty...But it's not as expensive either.
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