Neil Gaiman wants to do only so many speaking engagements.
Many want those engagements.
Demand exceeds supply; engagements priced accordingly.
Small-town library is given Other People's Money to hire speakers, distributed in a way that incentivizes burning it all at end of fiscal year.
Small-town library hires Neil Gaiman to speak to 500 people for $45,000.
Big-city newspaper blows whistle on program, swells with righteous indignation, calling for end to wasteful misuse of Other People's Money in time of economic crisis.
They'd rather it was spent on a new stadium.
[If there's anything redeeming about this picokerfuffle, it's Gaiman's perfect response to the snotty Star Tribune columnist:
"$45,000? For a Sci Fi Author? I’ve never heard of you."
That’s okay. I’ve never heard of you either.]