Toledo Talk

COSI - Issue 14

While I can appreciate the fact that COSI may help educate kids, unless I'm mistaken, we're voting - increasing our taxes - to help fund a private entity!

Am I going to be asked to be taxed to help Ford stay afloat? D.A.L.E.S. Corp downtown could use some extra funds - let's vote a 1-mill for them! Hell, Edgewater Bait & Tackle could use some new ice machines too - a half-mill should help!

When one opens a private enterprise, one must anticipate failure!

Sorry, but unless my graphics business gets some tax funding, I'm not giving my tax dollars to private enterprise!

Art Museum - Yes
Toledo Zoo - Yes
Private Enterprise - NO

created by GraphicsGuy on Oct 30, 2007 at 09:51:42 am     Comments: 45

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Comments ... #

We give tax money to private corporations all the time in the terms of tax abatements and infrastructure improvements. How much has “keeping Jeep” cost us as tax payers?

posted by SensorG on Oct 30, 2007 at 10:45:41 am     #  

but how many people does jeep employee vs. cosi?
is there any way of knowing how many area children benefit from cosi?
when i was a kid, we just took a field trip to columbus to visit their cosi...

posted by upso on Oct 30, 2007 at 11:33:25 am     #  

I dont care for COSI, personally. Went once for a field trip, the kids were rather bored. I think it would be better suited as a casino.

posted by tm2 on Oct 30, 2007 at 11:37:37 am     #  

I think our myopic view of the world tends to lead us down the wrong paths. Say what you will about COSI and how it should be funded, but recognize that it is a regional asset, and of value to 2 million citizens.

We are attempting to transform ourselves from a "blue collar" culture to a technology based culture, and sell ourselves to the world as the alternative energy hot spot of the world (Solar Panels, Wind Turbines, Ethanol, etc.)

COSI becomes a proof statement that we are serious about science, technology, etc., and we are making that kind of learning available to youth throughout the region. It will help to attract young families with kids to our area.

I do agree that most funding should come from the private sector. Already BP,Sunoco, and others pay for parts of COSI. Others will climb aboard if we sell it properly ( Owens Corning makes 70% of the world's wind turbine blades, First Solar is a global leader in photovoltaic energy, The Andersons are leaders in Ethanol development). They all can help fund COSI in the future, and transfer the financial burden from the public sector to the private sector.

Transformation to a "Technology Culture" needs to be funded by both the private and the public sectors. COSI gives us the opportunity to create a model of how to accomplish a part of the task.

.

posted by lew on Oct 30, 2007 at 12:32:07 pm     #  

What I thought was odd was that they are asking for as levy because they need money but then they are going to let kids in on Saturdays for free..guess they don't need the money that badly?

posted by OhioKat on Oct 30, 2007 at 04:50:12 pm     #  

Fred LeFebvre's Oct 30, 2007 interview with the COSI Board Chairman about the levy.

From the COSI Web site :

COSI Toledo is a non-profit, hands-on science museum located on the riverfront in downtown Toledo, Ohio with over 300 exhibits and educational programming for kids of all ages in the community.

FREE Kids on Saturday' applies to all kids 12 and under living in Lucas County and goes into effect immediately following a levy win on November 6, 2007.

Levy endorsed by

The Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce
Toledo Federation of Teachers
Northwestern Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council
Junior League of Toledo
Ironworkers Local #55

posted by jr on Oct 30, 2007 at 05:17:33 pm     #  

Lew, how do you explain that a "regional asset" of "value to millions" can't seem to find the operating capital from those millions WILLINGLY?

If COSI was such a handy thing then by virtue of their appeal they would find sufficient funds in ticket and pass sales, souvenir sales, and food concessions.

This "free kids on Saturday" thing is only the latest BRIBERY attempt to get on the public tit. Once there, they will never leave, since periodically signs of "NOT A NEW TAX" will grace our lawns.

To conclude my posting, nobody should believe that the Anderson's et al will "help fund COSI in the future". Why bother, when COSI at that point will be publicly subsidized? And you said it yourself: "transfer the financial burden from the public sector to the private sector". We're already there, so why not just go to the Anderson's et al now? You already admitted it was a BURDEN; now you need to admit that it's not for the public to shoulder.

posted by GuestZero on Oct 30, 2007 at 09:36:43 pm     #  

AND .. the last time a levy went on the ballot, COSI cried poor (at least, well-paid administrators did) and claimed they would have to close otherwise. OOP! THEY'RE STILL OPEN. So I guess that we can add "liars" to the list of charges against COSI. Personally I don't vote for liars.

posted by GuestZero on Oct 30, 2007 at 09:42:13 pm     #  

Simple: We haven't asked them! Most of them don't look at it as a regional asset, they look at it as a place to go. Not unlike the "Hands on Museum" in Ann Arbor. It's only recently, as we focus on the "Technology Corridor", that we have rediscovered the true value of COSI as a way to get kids interested in science and technology at an early age.

Case in point: The Art Museum and the Zoo. Lucas County pays, Wood and Monroe do not! Is that fair? Of course not. That's why COSI wants to reiburse Lucas County kids on Saturdays. Is that fair? No. But, at least it's a gesture until they figure out something more equitable.

One more time, if we are serious about transforming our economy to high tech, we need some proof statements that we are serious. Keeping COSI open is one way.

posted by lew on Oct 30, 2007 at 10:13:01 pm     #  

Why haven't people living in the region contributed willingly? Simple: We haven't asked them! Most of them don't look at it as a regional asset, they look at it as a place to go. Not unlike the "Hands on Museum" in Ann Arbor. It's only recently, as we focus on the "Technology Corridor", that we have rediscovered the true value of COSI as a way to get kids interested in science and technology at an early age.

Case in point: The Art Museum and the Zoo. Lucas County pays, Wood and Monroe do not! Is that fair? Of course not. That's why COSI wants to reiburse Lucas County kids on Saturdays. Is that fair? No. But, at least it's a gesture until they figure out something more equitable.

One more time, if we are serious about transforming our economy to high tech, we need some proof statements that we are serious. Keeping COSI open is one way.

posted by lew on Oct 30, 2007 at 10:19:10 pm     #  

Sorry, screwed up!! Read the second post, ignore the first.

posted by lew on Oct 30, 2007 at 10:21:14 pm     #  

I'm voting against all levys this time , I believe. There has to be a point where the average person just can't afford to shell out any more, and I think that time actually came to pass quite a while ago.

posted by Darkseid on Oct 30, 2007 at 10:45:13 pm     #  

The Blade op-ed section today and yesterday has embarked on its campaign to guilt citizens into voting FOR all the levies.

Oct 30, 2007 op-ed titled Keep COSI open

Our only misgiving is that COSI is just one among several community assets - the opera, ballet, symphony, the Valentine Theatre - which are similarly deserving of public money that could be more efficiently collected through a small umbrella levy or sales tax. Nonetheless, COSI should remain open.

Oct 31, 2007 op-ed titled FOR buses, libraries, parks

Taken together or separately, these valuable public amenities are among the best features that make the Toledo community rich and vibrant. The $49 total annual increased cost to maintain these institutions is a fraction of what they are worth. Vote FOR Issues 13, 15, and 16.

The Blade is the last place a person should go for advice when it concerns money. The Blade is unqualified to discuss the household expense increases of Lucas County residents while using words such as 'bargain,' 'mere,' and 'nominally' in their op-eds.

The Blade has not made a profit in nearly a quarter of a century. The Blade is propped up, subsidized by other Block Communications properties. The Blade could not survive on its own.

In early 2004, Alan Block sent a letter to Blade employees. WSPD reported then :

Alan Block says in that letter, that the "days are over" when one division, the cablevision division which he runs, will send profits to rescue the other and the Blade hasn't turned a profit since the early 1980's. Block informed the employes in that letter that the Blade "isn't healthy" and that no job will be secure until it is.

When it concerns levies and tax increases, it would be better to talk with a real small business owner who has to survive on his or her profits and doesn't have the luxury of receiving financial assistance from other divisions within a bigger company.

It makes sense that the Blade would say this : "... efficiently collected through a small umbrella levy or sales tax." The Blade survives by being under the umbrella of Block Communications.

The Blade needs to stick with what it currently does best, which is produce easy, irrelevant stories about a courthouse three counties away.

posted by jr on Oct 31, 2007 at 08:09:30 am     #  

That's too bad, Darkseid. However, I do understand your frustration with the system, but remember this: we brought it on ourselves.

When we abandoned the "City Mgr." form of govt. and went to the "Strong Mayor" form, we abdicated our responsibility for leadership, which is essential in a "Free Market Society". We forgot that the role of local govt. is administration, not leadership. The City Mgr. form of govt. properly applied, should get citizens the best value for their tax dollars through efficiency and effectiveness.

With the private sector once again making noises that sound like leadership,( Technology Corridor via U.of Toledo/BGSU; privatized Regional Growth Partnership), we may be in the process of turning things around. At $5.71 per $100,000 valuation, I'm willing to give it a shot!

posted by lew on Oct 31, 2007 at 08:11:55 am     #  

And the Blade pushed for the strong-mayor form of government.

Jun 12, 2007 reflections by retiring Blade editor Tom Walton :

Disagree with me if you like, but if our newspaper had been owned by the big boys - say Knight-Ridder or Gannett, where investigative enterprise is often viewed as one more unnecessary expense - would Toledoans' daily newspaper have pursued the Tiger Force story and won a Pulitzer Prize? Would "Coingate" have been uncovered?

Would Toledo have a strong-mayor form of government? Would the Valentine Theatre have been saved? Would Jeep have stayed in Toledo? Would Fifth Third Field have been built? How about the Veterans Glass City Skyway Bridge? Would a movement toward a smoke-free society have been launched, clearing the air for us all?

Too many robots live in Toledo/Lucas County who don't know what to do until they take their orders from the Blade. Apparently, the Blade is also our personal savior for which we need to sacrifice small animals to. Imagine what this area would be like without the Blade's contributions listed above. This area would probably still be a swamp without the Blade.

posted by jr on Oct 31, 2007 at 08:21:55 am     #  

lew - problem with your supposition that COSI impacts kids' learning of math and science: There is no way to judge this. Obviously, the presence of COSI has not had a big impact on test scores in the schools, so how do you justify - objectively and in a measurable way - that COSI is necessary to turn to a technology-based economy locally?

Also THE TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART DOES NOT GET LEVY MONEY OR OTHER TAX DOLLARS FOR THEIR OPERATIONS! Perhaps some of these other organizations could look at the successful model they have and learn from them.

posted by MaggieThurber on Oct 31, 2007 at 11:40:36 am     #  

Two items: First, The Blade. I have lived in Toledo since 1954, and in all that time, I have never been able to figure out where The Blade is coming from. One month they'll be for something, and a couple of months later they will come out against whatever they were for.
For instance, year in year out they would cry out for leadership from the private sector, but as soon as someone would respond, they would crucify him. This happened over and over again throughout the years. And guess what? People stopped stepping up.

However, The Blade does represent the private sector,so if they have set themselves up as private sector leaders, they have every right to do so. They are no different than the Entrepreneur , who happens to be Bi-Polar. You can't live with them, but you can't live without them.

On to point two: I apologize for lumping The Art Museum in with the Zoo. I was trying to point out that Lucas County does shoulder an unfair burden for attractions located within the County, and that citizens from other counties get a free ride from a taxation standpoint to the Museum and the Zoo.

But, that is not the point I was trying to make. At this point I don't want to judge kids, or test scores, and what impact COSI may have had in the past. I am saying that if we are serious about transforming ourselves into Technology Corridors and the like, COSI represents a proof statement as a regional asset that will help attract young families to our region, We have technology associated with the automotive industry; technology associated with the Bio-tech and Medical industry; and certainly technology associated with the alternative energy industry.

What kind of message do we send out to the world if we let COSI close its doors?

posted by lew on Oct 31, 2007 at 09:49:54 pm     #  

Also THE TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART DOES NOT GET LEVY MONEY OR OTHER TAX DOLLARS FOR THEIR OPERATIONS! Perhaps some of these other organizations could look at the successful model they have and learn from them.

posted by MaggieThurber on Oct 31, 2007 at 11:40:36 am

You are correct; the Museum does not get any levy money. Over 100 years ago, Edward Drummand Libbey and his wife, Florence Scott Libbey, had the foresight to set up endowments to fund the museum well into the future. I believe that the Libbeys were the ones who specified that the Museum remain free to the public.

These endowments are supplemented by other sources of income such as memberships, donations, grants and sales income to name a few.

In this day and age, in Toledo, the establishment of such endowments would be unheard of. Therefore, using the Museum as a model of financial success is a flawed concept.

I believe that COSI is a positive addition to the Toledo area and I will be voting for the levy. Give them a chance to see what they can do with this small amount for which they are asking.

posted by MaumeeMom on Oct 31, 2007 at 11:48:25 pm     #  

MaumeeMom - several colleges and universities in the area have been the recipients of extremely generous donations like the Libbey family made to the Museum. Just because it hasn't yet happened with COSI doesn't mean it isn't possible. (The McMaster family is the most familiar to me.)

Additionally, while I understand your position, COSI started off with a bad business plan and $2 million 'reserve.' They said in their interview on the radio the other day that they know it was a bad business plan, but they're not really changing it. So what makes us think that this influx of money will be any different than the $2 million they started with and now don't have? Questions they really don't answer.

Lew said: "...COSI represents a proof statement as a regional asset that will help attract young families to our region..." And I again ask - where is the measurable, objective evidence, proof or even indication of this? This is what people say, but they can't justify it in any way, meaning it's just a 'belief'. And it's fine if you'd like to believe that, but your belief, absent evidence, shouldn't be justification for a county-wide tax to support this non-profit organization.

posted by MaggieThurber on Nov 01, 2007 at 08:06:11 am     #  

another donation I remembered was the Herb Family who gave UT $15 million...

I'm not saying that COSI is on the same level as universities, but the universities recruit such donations...does COSI? I don't know...but it seems that since so many other institutions find a way to do this, I don't understand why COSI hasn't used a similar model (over the last 10 years) to develop a reserve fund so they don't have to go to the voters for a tax.

posted by MaggieThurber on Nov 01, 2007 at 08:21:58 am     #  

another donation I remembered was the Herb Family who gave UT $15 million...

I'm not saying that COSI is on the same level as universities, but the universities recruit such donations...does COSI? I don't know...but it seems that since so many other institutions find a way to do this, I don't understand why COSI hasn't used a similar model (over the last 10 years) to develop a reserve fund so they don't have to go to the voters for a tax.

posted by MaggieThurber on Nov 01, 2007 at 08:21:58 am

That is $15 million in today's dollars which is not at all at the same level as the Libbey endowments.

The Libbeys gave much more but for simplicity I will use the figure of $1 million for my example.

$1,000,000 dollars in 1900 would translate into billions of dollars today.

From www.measuringworth.com
In 2006, $1,000,000.00 from 1900 is worth:
$24,766,584.77 using the Consumer Price Index
$21,224,697.05 using the GDP deflator
$114,128,571.43 using the unskilled wage
$162,813,054.25 using the nominal GDP per capita
$641,531,874.47 using the relative share of GDP

I really do not see anyone dumping over a billion dollars into any institution, today, in Toledo.

posted by MaumeeMom on Nov 01, 2007 at 08:38:33 am     #  

So, MaumeeMom, they don't dump billions in today's dollars, but why aren't any of these organizations at least trying to get some endowments??? They're asking for 'such a small amount' from the taxpayers that it seems reasonable for them to ask for such amounts as endowments - especially considering the fact that they've known for a long time that they would need the funds.

It's the lack of planning and looking at alternatives for a number of years with the 'thinking' that they'd just turn to the public and keep coming back to us until their levy gets passed.

I asked prior to their last levy, what kind of actions had they taken to try and build an endowment that would help with their financial problems. Their answer: none!

So, even if they can't get the same thing the museum did years ago, they have no excuse for not trying to start something prior to going to public tax dollars.

The bigger point isn't the amount of money - it's the lack of any attempt whatsoever to do anything at all.

posted by MaggieThurber on Nov 01, 2007 at 04:38:27 pm     #  

COSI has tapped private donors; my point is that the donations do not go as far in today's dollars so it is not correct to compare their situation with that of 100 year old institutions such as the Museum.

From the COSI website (regarding the initial opening fundraising campaign):
A major fundraising campaign raised $9.5 million dollars, surpassing the original goal by $4.5 million dollars. Additionally, the state supported the project with $10 million dollars. Another major step in establishing COSI Toledo was the transfer of the facility to COSI at a value of $16 million dollars.

In regards to the last attempt at a levy - they were able to stay open due to generous donations from private sources:
How has COSI Toledo stayed open since its levy failed?
COSI Toledo is still facing a tight financial situation. We have secured some short-term funding to keep us operating. COSI Toledo will still need to secure more stable long-term funding.

You can see COSI's 990 forms on the internet - they have private donations and membership income. I think that it is unfair to say that they have not tried to get private funds - the evidence is on the tax form.

Have they always made the right financial choices? Not necessarily. Have you?

Is COSI on the right track now? I believe so.

I have been a member of COSI because I believe in their mission and I believe that they are an asset to the community. I will support the levy as I support their organization.

posted by MaumeeMom on Nov 01, 2007 at 09:32:53 pm     #  

You know what, Maggie & Maumee Mom? You're both right!

Does COSI need this levy to stay open? You betcha.

Could they operate more efficiently? You betcha.

Should the Federal Govt. have bailed out Chrysler many years ago? Hell, no, not in a free market society! Is it a good thing that they did? You betcha, particularly for Toledo.

So, let's review:
With 250,000 visitors, should COSI be able to get its act together? Certainly, the volume appears to be there. All that is needed is objective oversight.
If Govt. money is infused (levy passes), objective oversight is guaranteed. It's up to us to demand our money's worth.

We keep talking about transforming our economy and our culture to become technology based. It won't happen with just talk! The Universities are working on an action plan. They do represent the private sector. The privatized Regional Growth Partnership is doing its share. We continue to work on the "inland ports" concept.

Let's not take a step backward. Its easier to fix what may be broken, than to start from scratch.

posted by lew on Nov 02, 2007 at 08:09:45 am     #  

"If Govt. money is infused (levy passes), objective oversight is guaranteed."

lew - that's the best laugh I've had all week ... thanks!!!

MaumeeMom - I never said that COSI hasn't asked for donations nor that donations have not been given. I'm sorry if it wasn't more clear that I was referring specifically to endowments and what is often referred to as 'long-term' giving.

COSI has survived off the large initial donations and they kept their doors open through the generosity of many.

But, they have not identified a change in their business plan which means that they cannot show how they are going to avoid being in the same situation another 5 years down the road. In fact, if their levy passes, my prediction is that they will want even more money after 5 years - using many of the same arguments of today - that it's a 'valuable asset' that can't be allowed to go away.

I understand their emotional appeal - but from a business perspective, no bank would give them any money ... shouldn't that mean something to us as taxpayers? And what kind of a message would passage of this levy send? That we'll reward fiscal failures with tax dollars so they can continue in their failed financial decisions?

posted by MaggieThurber on Nov 02, 2007 at 10:24:52 am     #  

Maggie: Are you implying that "checks & balances" is a myth!? (If you're laughing, I guess we've all become jaded).

posted by lew on Nov 02, 2007 at 11:11:56 am     #  

COSI has made changes.

From The Blade regarding the Lucas County Citizens Tax Levy Review Committee's support of COSI:

Ardenia Jones-Terry, chairman of the committee, said the committee supported COSI's levy this time because the museum has made changes in the last year that benefited Lucas County.

She said COSI has made connections with more area schools, increased diversity on its board, and has improved its marketing efforts to county residents.

From the same article: Mr. Waterman said $900,000 in state funds will be available for the museum if the levy passes.

Maggie, on more than one occasion, not just in this thread, you have suggested that institutions look at the Museum as a model for financial stability and to me that is not realistic and that is what I have been trying to emphasize. When challenged you then say, "Sorry, I wasn't clear." or try to spin things. I stand by my original statement that using the Museum as a model of financial success is a flawed concept.

Voting for this levy says that we reward the promotion of science and technology education.

posted by MaumeeMom on Nov 02, 2007 at 11:18:21 am     #  

Over the past 10 years, COSI was looking for long-term giving plans (estate plans, endowments, etc.). McMasters were approached, I believe. I think that it was abandoned in the struggle of the past few years, however. There needs to be a long-term institutional history, generally, to be able to effectively recruit this type of contributed revenue. It's not that it won't happen, but it won't happen for some time. That's not a poor business plan, that's just a struggle of young cultural assets. The flaw in the original business model was that (a) it was formed in the '90's when contributed revenue was sky-high, and (b) there were no original public operating funds committed. I think the stat they give is like 70-80 percent of science centers (or museums?) nationwide receive some type of public support. So they're in effect trying to adapt models that are proving to be successful in the field.

It is becoming more vogue for museums to build an endowment into larger-scale capital campaigns, however, to help prepare for longer-term stability upon re-opening. I'm a bit nervous that they're asking for a little money ~ I'd rather take a 5-year window and try to provide monies to build not a reserve (too easy as a bail-out), but as an endowment or trust to help wean the museum from public funding long-term. And absolutely if they receive public money there should be a position on their executive board for one of the commissioners as oversight.

As a reminder to the original posting, the Zoo receives generous public funds and is a private organization.

Maggie, you ask a hard question about measuring impact, but a very important one. Gosh, that's a tough one, too. Measuring standardized test scores is not a very good metric - museums don't exist to raise test scores, and the standardized tests mainly measure rote knowledge, not necessarily process or affective outcomes. There are many resources out there that do indeed indicate how museums impact visitors, however. Interestingly enough, a recent study by Robert Tai out of Virginia indicates that stand. test scores do not have a high correlation with attainment of bachelor's science degrees in science (particularly in biology). Rather, interest in science, and interest at a young age (by eighth grade) has a high correlation, regardless of test scores. And research does show that museums are excellent at fostering interest, passion, and curiosity in their domains. I agree with Lew and MMom, as Toledo struggles to transform it's economy and business ecology, places like COSI are important keys to the future of the community.

posted by wombat2 on Nov 03, 2007 at 06:21:42 am     #  

O.K. Maggie, MaumeeMom, and Wombat2, here's my final broadside on behalf of a vote for COSI:

This is from a critique by M.Patrilli of "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman.
"He lays out the stark numbers to document our education gap: the U.S.now ranks 17th in the number of students receiving science degrees, down from 3rd three decades ago; the percentage of scientific papers written by Americans has fallen 10% since 1992; the U.S. share of patents has dropped by 8% since 1980."
And,"the results of the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study: 44%of 8th graders in Singapore scored at the most advanced level in math, as did 38% in Taiwan; only 7% in the USA did."

VOTE FOR COSI ON TUESDAY !!

posted by lew on Nov 04, 2007 at 04:38:21 pm     #  

My last comments, as well...

The Citizen's levy review committee (yeah, right - don't forget that I was still a commissioner when Pete created this group) said COSI had made changes, ... but look at the changes - they were primarily political in nature in terms of diversity on their board and marketing. They did reach out to the Universities for 'interns' to help with instructions.

But - they did not change their business model, and a quick listen to the podcast of Fred's interview with David Waterman will verify that their business model has not changed. Further, without changing their business plan, what assurances do any of us have that they won't go this money like they did their initial investments?

That 70-80% of science museums are supported by public dollars ALSO means that 20-30% are not. Why don't they look at those models, structures or business plans to duplicate rather than the ones that rely upon tax dollars? This is a question I asked during their first levy campaign and the answer I got from one board member was because "tax levies are easier."

The Toledo Museum of Art's model may not be something a modern day science museum can duplicate, but that is not to say that there aren't lessons and strategies which can be learned from looking at how they (and the other non-public supported science museums) have managed over the years.

As for instilling a love of science at an early age, there's only so much a museum can do absent other factors which are so much more influential in a child's life. I'm not saying such science museums don't have a role to play, but the small role they do play does not, in my mind, justify a property tax.

Whatever your position on this and the other levies, please exercise your right to vote on Tuesday!

posted by MaggieThurber on Nov 04, 2007 at 09:08:22 pm     #  

I have read that they (COSI) pay NO RENT, and NO UTILITIES. Yet they STILL can't make it? Sorry. That made my mind up for me on this. How well off the average person would be if they didn't have to pay those.

posted by Darkseid on Nov 04, 2007 at 09:26:01 pm     #  

Too many robots live in Toledo/Lucas County who don't know what to do until they take their orders from the Blade. Apparently, the Blade is also our personal savior for which we need to sacrifice small animals to. Imagine what this area would be like without the Blade's contributions listed above. This area would probably still be a swamp without the Blade.

posted by jr on Oct 31, 2007 at 07:21:55 am #

------------------------------------------------------------------------

The above gets my nomination for TT post of the year.

posted by Darkseid on Nov 04, 2007 at 09:28:48 pm     #  

A vote for COSI only shows that the Toledo area runs on the very worst sort of Socialism, hence no gains from so-called science and technology will be realized due to being sucked into an entitlement culture.

Education is obtained in schools. Beyond that, it's not for the public to otherwise fund except on individual bases as determined by each person.

It's singularly disgusting that people would even consider throwing OUR tax money at THEIR desired entertainment outlet. We're being held up ... at ballot point.

As taxes continue to load up upon each resident, Toledo's bleeding will proceed apace. We have a choice on Tuesday: Do we return fiscal authority to each person as the Republic's design for liberty demands, or do we take that next step towards Communism?

posted by GuestZero on Nov 04, 2007 at 11:20:35 pm     #  

Fear mongering :

Yet, a year ago ...


Google search of ToledoBlade.com on the words cosi levy.

From the Oct 21, 2006 Blade op-ed :

The center opened in 1997. For a time, COSI helped enliven the riverfront, drawing some 270,000 visitors annually. Unfortunately, private funding couldn't keep pace and COSI has lost money every year, despite cutting its staff by half and the overall budget by nearly $1 million.


From Nov 8, 2006 Blade story :

COSI Toledo's levy request was too close to call early today.

COSI officials say they need the tax increase to pass to relieve the squeeze of increasing maintenance costs and declining attendance. Gate receipts have steadily declined since 2001, sinking to 211,000 last year.

COSI has tried to change directions, away from the tourist-attraction model, by partnering with local schools and colleges for educational opportunities.

Why should taxpayers fund an org that has had declining attendance for at least five years? Whose fault is is that "gate receipts have steadily declined since 2001?" I could understand a levy if attendance had steadily increased for five consecutive years, and additional money was somehow needed to keep up with the growth. But for whatever reason, the Toledo COSI jumped-the-shark long ago.

A Nov 3, 2007 Blade story says CitiFest’s finances are overdrawn by $40,000, and the blame goes to the Erie Street Market, which has operating losses of about $90,000 this year. We should consider creating a Do Not Resuscitate order for certain projects, so we can cut our losses and move on.


Dec 27, 2006 Blade story titled Donations keep COSI doors open - for now :

Although the hands-on children’s science museum will end 2006 with a measly $35,000 in its operating budget, contributions amounting to “a couple hundred thousand dollars” from The Anderson Foundation, KeyBank, and others may keep the institution operating long enough to forge a future, said Dr. F. Michael Walsh, chairman of COSI’s executive board.

“As of today, we certainly have enough money to survive based on the generosity of private individuals and foundations,’’ Dr. Walsh told The Blade.

“But you can’t go back to the same people over and over again. There comes a point where they say, ‘Fix it or that’s it,’” he added.

The "same people over and over again" eh? Like property owners who pay taxes via levies? The taxpayers are also saying, "Fix it or that's it."

More from the Dec 27, 2006 Blade story :

COSI’s operating budget for the fiscal year that ended in June was $3.2 million.

Dr. Walsh is talking to the Toledo Zoo and the University of Toledo to form partnerships for science education that might help fund some COSI operations. But so far, the talk has been very general. “Right now, all we’ve really done is have some brainstorms,’’ Anne Baker, Toledo Zoo executive director, said yesterday.

When COSI’s closing appeared imminent, the zoo talked about contracting to hire a couple of COSI’s education staff members. Since the museum has secured other funding, however, that plan has faded. “We’ve really talked more about collaborations since then,” Ms. Baker said. For instance, the zoo plans to emphasize the polar regions in the coming year to mark the birth of three new polar bear cubs in late November.

"Nobody’s committed to anything, but it’s a lot farther along than it was six months ago, than it was three months ago,” Dr. Walsh said of the discussions.

Ten more months have passed, so what has resulted from those partnership talks with the Toledo Zoo and UT?


Nov 5, 2006 Russ Lemmon column :

For COSI Toledo not to be a part of the revitalization would be a shame. It is struggling financially — the levy that's on Tuesday's ballot is proof — in part because downtown often resembles a ghost town.


COSI levy talk has been around for a few years.

May 26, 2005 Blade story titled COSI asks county to approve levy bid :

COSI officials said yesterday that they need levy dollars to compensate for annual budget deficits. Last year, the deficit was about $90,000, according to Lori Hauser, COSI's general manager. Ms. Hauser said COSI has an annual operating budget of about $3.5 million. She said about 80 percent comes from paid admissions and the rest is generated by sponsorships and grants.


COSI levy talk existed in 2004. Feb 15, 2004 Blade story titled Funding our cultural treasures with an idea that will probably continue to gain momentum :

With levy campaigns that cost more than $300,000, the Toledo Zoo, the Toledo Area Metroparks, and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library have successfully convinced voters they needed money. Each levy was approved resoundingly.

But taxpayers may be facing levy fatigue.

The library and the zoo have levies that expire next year, and all three have levies expiring in 2007. And now, the local downtown hands-on science center, COSI, is considering a first-ever levy. That does not count the expected tax requests from school districts, social service agencies, and others.

Is it time to consider a single-bullet approach to paying for Toledo’s community assets?

Communities throughout the country have come to similar conclusions on funding cultural and recreational organizations. Denver, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake County in Utah all have used a collaborative approach for public funding of museums, zoos, and science centers.

"I’m very much in favor of looking at the issue more closely. Everybody cares deeply about COSI, and the art museum, and the Valentine Theatre," Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak said. "I believe we’re headed in our county toward more regional cooperation." She said she recognizes that any plan would have to look at how it helps taxpayers and the people who use these assets.

Ms. Thurber said she is intrigued by the idea of consolidating levies, but agreed it is possible taxpayers have had enough. "If government raises taxes, we are saying to the taxpayers that it is more important to take their money and spend it on ... COSI, the symphony, or parks," she said.

Other communities that have decided to pool resources to fund community assets, such as Pittsburgh, have reduced property taxes to help sell voters on increasing sales taxes to finance a wide range of institutions. Toledo Mayor Jack Ford has said he plans to appoint a committee that will look at ways to fund community assets.

The group may consider a levy or a fund like United Way, with businesses making contributions to help support community assets. The committee may also explore creation of a regional community assets district board.

To see how Lucas County voters might respond to a combined levy, you could look back to Nov. 4, 1997.

That’s when the county’s Metroparks, zoo, and library district all went to the voters seeking operating levies that generate $18.5 million a year. The reaction from voters: Yes, yes, and yes. Each request was approved, with no fewer than 73 percent of the voters backing the issues.

posted by jr on Nov 04, 2007 at 11:49:23 pm     #  

Dark-

COSI does indeed pay utilities, which amounts to alot I imagine in a poorly constructed, sieve of a building like ol' Portside...

There is not rent, as I believe they were given the building (for $1??) back in the '90s. Not totally sure about that one. But they have to pay for many repairs on the crappy HVAC, leaking roof, crumbling facade, etc.

posted by wombat2 on Nov 05, 2007 at 03:33:09 am     #  

Well, I lied in my pevious post, for which I apologize. I said it was my final broadside on the matter, and here I am again!

One of the previous posts suggested that attendance has been dropping, which results in less cash flow. I agree, which is why, as a regional asset, COSI could increase its draw, and perhaps get to 300,000 visitors per year which would make it self sustaining.

If kids are going to become interested in scientific careers, they need to be exposed to science in a "fun", "discovery", kind of way. COSI is set up to do just that.

As a general rule, it is more efficient, more effective, and less expensive to fix something that might be broken, than to slam the doors shut and start from scratch.

posted by lew on Nov 05, 2007 at 08:47:25 am     #  

Clarification on the rent/utilities.

COSI pays $1 for rent to the city of Toledo. I do not know if the city covers their water bill, but Toledo Edison has 'deferred' their billing for at least part of this year. An unanswered question - how much is the total now owed to Toledo Edison? It's likely that this will be the first thing paid for if a levy passes.

posted by MaggieThurber on Nov 05, 2007 at 09:05:44 am     #  

  • "... poorly constructed, sieve of a building like ol' Portside."
  • "But they have to pay for many repairs on the crappy HVAC, leaking roof, crumbling facade, etc."

But the 'they' may now involve some help from taxpayers. The COSI leadership or whoever should have never chosen such a shitty building. These poor decisions are not the fault of the taxpayers. With all the maintenance costs over the past 10 years, would it have been cheaper for COSI to have constructed their own building elsewhere?

Declining attendance and a crappy building, well, close it up. Put the stuff in storage for a few years until COSI gets the appropriately-obtained funding to open up somewhere else. New building, new location, new funding, and new leadership.

Toledo government loves eminent domain. Carty wants to use eminent domain to get control of Southwyck. Hey, why not use eminent domain to commandeer the COSI building, which the city pretty much gave away, and then put the building up for sale with the hope that a developer can make something out of the downtown waterfront property that will bring in more tax revenue to the city? Toledo can even siphon off some of this new tax revenue to help fund the new COSI.

It's interesting how both the Erie Street Market and COSI began around the same time (1997), started declining around the same time (2002), and today, both are still struggling financially. Some things cannot be forced. They had their run, and now those buildings should be sold to private developers. And COSI can always be resurrected in the future with a real plan for sustainability.

posted by jr on Nov 05, 2007 at 09:29:37 am     #  

"If kids are going to become interested in scientific careers, they need to be exposed to science in a "fun", "discovery", kind of way."

When I was in grade school, I got interested in astronomy, meteorology, geography, ornithology, etc., and I lived in a small, isolated town in the hills of eastern Ohio. No cable or satellite TV. No Internet. No COSI. No museums of any kind. Current events helped, such as the NASA projects. Parents helped by recognizing and encouraging my interests. And starting in early grade school and going through high school, I acquired books, lots and lots of books and magazines related to my interests. And I read and re-read those books and magazines over and over again. I also used my own imagination and creativity to keep things interesting.

I got my B.S. degree in mathematics with a minor in geography and I spent of lot of time in the weather lab at Ohio University. But instead of pursuing an advanced degree in meteorology, I got into computer programming. I'm a member and volunteer of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory. And I've got a little weather station at home. Many of my interests today can be traced back to grade school, and they have nothing to do with a museum. Museums are fine, but they're not a requirement for a kid get interested in a subject. When I was in high school, my parents organized for me a personal tour of the weather station at the Akron-Canton airport. That was huge. Family involvement is needed.

I would have loved to have had the Internet when I was growing up for all the weather maps, station observations, and radar and satellite images. When I was a kid, I used carbon paper to make my own maps to draw fronts and pressure systems and make my own forecasts. Five to seven years ago when we had cable, I watched the NASA channel when a shuttle mission was in progress. On my bookshelf now is The Space Shuttle Operator's Manual.

With all the specialized TV channels and the Internet, I don't know how it's possible for a grade school kid today to not have a major nerd interest in at least one subject. I played with Legos a lot as a kid, and of course today, we have Lego Mindstorms. The toys today are more high tech.

What in the hell are the taxpayer-funded public schools for, anyway? Are they doing anything to expose kids to science in a "fun", "discovery", kind of way besides taking them to COSI? Seems to me some kind of science class could use "toys" like Lego Mindstorms and the Logo computer language to engage grade school kids in fun technical applications. But since those things are not asked on the standardized test, they probably cannot be introduced to kids.


lew said : "As a general rule, it is more efficient, more effective, and less expensive to fix something that might be broken, than to slam the doors shut and start from scratch."

But does that rule apply to government subsidized projects? With COSI paying only $1 for rent to the city of Toledo, I would say that counts as being subsidized by the taxpayers. We're losing money. I cannot believe that in 2007, the occupant of a piece of downtown waterfront property only pays $1 for rent.

posted by jr on Nov 05, 2007 at 10:51:43 am     #  

This link, http://www.cositoledo.org/History/History.htm, seems to indicate that COSI is the only use for Portside at the moment. If the COSI levy fails should we be considering the next step: what should be done with Portside? Has it had its run (and failed)? Is it time to consider tearing down the structure, and offering it either as redevelopment, or converting it to a park (at least until the economic climate improves)? Would it cost too much for the city to tear down, or would a private entity be chomping at the bit to "develope" it?

posted by oldsendbrdy on Nov 05, 2007 at 12:21:59 pm     #  

WHO is PAYING for that deluge of "support the COSI levy" ads?

posted by Darkseid on Nov 05, 2007 at 07:00:53 pm     #  

COSI has a campaign committee that raised funds to run the campaign.

Many people thought that instead of raising money for the levy, they ought to be raising the money for the operations.

As a commissioner, I was told their estimate for the last levy was over $100,000...

posted by MaggieThurber on Nov 05, 2007 at 08:57:22 pm     #  

It takes money to run a campaign; anyone knows that.

I will be voting for the levies as I believe that these are services essential to keeping Toledo and the surrounding area a great place to live.

posted by MaumeeMom on Nov 05, 2007 at 10:27:25 pm     #  

MaumeeMom, what makes an American area a great place to live is prosperity. Toledo just doesn't have it. On top of that, Communism (i.e. a COSI levy) is a certain way to stop the quality of life.

The Communism in other areas is masked by their great prosperity, but it will bite them in their asses in time. That's what you miss. I urge you to return to college to regain your lost education, before you darken the polls again with your ill-informed presence.

posted by GuestZero on Nov 20, 2007 at 12:31:10 pm     #  

Please explain how my voting for COSI is Communism.

The definitions of Communism that I have found incl.:

1. (Wikipedia) Communism is an ideology that seeks to establish a classless, stateless social organization based on common ownership of the means of production.

2. (Encarta) classless political system: the political theory or system in which all property and wealth is owned in a classless society by all the members of that society

Last I checked we lived in a Republic - (from Dictionary.com) a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.

We as citizens get to decide if something is important enough to us to support that entity. We get to exercise our right to vote for or against that issue. To me, I felt that having COSI was important to our region. I respect the fact that you do not agree with my point of view. That is the thing about living in a Republic, we can respectfully disagree with each other and voice our opinions.

We have both said our piece, neither one of us is going to get the other to change their mind so why bring back a thread that was dormant for two weeks? Just to throw an insult my way?

posted by MaumeeMom on Nov 20, 2007 at 05:06:57 pm     #