I prefer to think that the voters were neither. Just because we disagreed with you doesn't mean that we're wrong - unless you are so arrogant as to think that you always know best and those who fail to follow along are just in need of education. But this is an attitude we see so often from those 'in power' or considered 'elite.'
The Blade's editorial says "It's a mystery why Lucas County voters rejected COSI's request for nominal taxpayer support..." It's no mystery to anyone who bothered to actually talk to many residents - they don't want to be taxed for this. They don't want to increase their own property taxes and they don't believe this non-profit organization should be on the public dole. They obviously think that the Board wasn't responsible enough with the money they did have to give them any more, especially when Board Chairman Dave Waterman said that they've had a failing business plan for 10 years - but they aren't developing a new one or making changes in the failed one in anticipation of tax receipts.
Rather than wonder why we could have possible said no to this - The Blade and the Mayor should be asking why, in light of declining revenues and attendance, they said yes!
And calling the tax 'nominal,' 'mere' and other terms designed to makes us feel bad for being so 'stingy,' doesn't enhance the position any. In fact, I believe voters are beginning to see through this tactic and reject it.
The Blade says:
"Many complicated reasons can be involved when voters refuse levies. Maybe this one failed because it was a new tax, which makes voters nervous in wobbly economic times. Other levies - for Lucas County's public libraries, Metroparks, and TARTA - were successful, but they were renewals."
(Aside to the editorial writer: they weren't renewals - they were replacements. And if you can't get that right???)
Again, it's not complicated if you talk to people or pay attention to what is going on in the community. People are complaining about being overtaxed; we've got commissioners doing fake food stamp challenges because so many residents 'have to struggle just to eat'; commissioners give out gasoline cards because people can't afford the increased gas prices; and our welfare offices give out vouchers to pay for winter heating because it's too costly and our fellow residents just can't afford it. Of course, we also lead the state in terms of number of foreclosures and, according to these same elected officials, it's so bad we have to have a foreclosure task force! Plus, we lead the urban communities in unemployment - and our population is declining.
Yep - it sure is a mystery why we didn't vote to increase our tax burden! Actually, I think the real mystery is why, considering all of this, any of the levies passed.
But The Blade comes to at least one incorrect conclusion. They say, "It's hard to believe, though, that anyone would think COSI wasn't worthwhile." I didn't hear anyone say COSI wasn't worthwhile. What I did hear them say is that it shouldn't be funded with tax dollars - that if it's SOOOO worthwhile as supporters claim, it should be able to earn the donations and memberships of private individuals.
The incorrect conclusion is to assume an opinion of COSI based upon a rejection of a particular funding mechanism. But when you're trying to embarrass or shame the public into adopting your perspective on the issue, such reason and logic about funding mechanisms are intentionally confused with emotion over the product/services being offered in an attempt to persuade. (see also Emotion versus Reason)
To think that your opinion of 'worthwhile' is all that is needed to tax the entire public is yet another example of the arrogant and condescending attitude that is so prevalent in the area. But it's especially so when you consider the access that The Blade has to all their prior stories on COSI.
In a quick review of old Blade articles I found Brent Cousino, COSI board treasurer, saying that they lost money every year of operation. I found that, in May 2001, COSI's attendance was down 5%, even before the events of September 11th. Based upon the numbers in multiple articles, I found that their attendance, while averaging 250,000 per year since opening, was actually an average of 155,000 over the last 8 years. And considering other references to declining attendance, was probably much less than that over the last 4.
It's also a shame that our local newspaper intentionally ignored all the signs of trouble as well as the original promise COSI made to never go to the voters for support.
But the voters aren't the only ones being chided in the editorial.
"City officials say they are not writing COSI's obituary yet. That's encouraging, but we didn't notice much of a push from Government Center before the election, which might have meant the difference."
But, just wait. Now that said elected officials have realized that the voters have a different position than they do, they'll embark upon their own campaign to 'educate us' on the error of our ways.
In fact, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner and our three county commissioners, Tina Skeldon Wozniak, Pete Gerken and Ben Konop, signed a letter sent to all 34 board members asking them to keep COSI open.
"On behalf of the citizens of the City of Toledo and Lucas County, we encourage COSI to stay open until a logical future-funding plan can be discussed. We will work to seek the help that you need in order to make this happen.
In the meantime, we encourage you to keep your doors open. We fear if you close, we may lose this valuable resource forever.
Yours from Toledo – a City of the Future! *"
First, you don't speak for me. You're supposed to represent me and the other residents of the city and county. You are NOT supposed to subordinate our demonstrated decisions to your own opinions. The voters have spoken - twice, and by a greater margin than the first time - that they do not want to fund COSI with tax dollars.
If - and I emphasize IF - you do anything, you had better not expend any public dollars on this failing entity. To go against the wishes of the voters in this regard would be tantamount to asking for an uprising - unless you think we're so dumb as to let you get away with that.
But, given the past actions of voters in this regard, you may have grounds to believe you will suffer no consequences. I believe, however, that times have changed and that the voters are wiser and more knowledgeable than they've been in the past. This COSI vote demonstrates that, and YOU would be 'wise' to consider this fact.
Sadly, the issue of voter apathy gets lost in these details about a specific levy. Less than 30% of the registered voters bothered to exercise their right on Tuesday. But when you consider comments by the mayor, letters urging the opposite of what voters decided and newspaper editorials telling us we're stingy for not increasing our tax burden - not to mention the arrogance and condescension so evident in these missives - is it any wonder why people think their vote doesn't matter?
Voters wanted to keep the old workhouse open but officials closed it anyway. Voters rejected (either two or three times) building a convention center, but officials built it anyway. While there may be some technical points, many Toledoans thought they voted to build a new arena on the East Side - but it's being built in downtown Toledo (and still without a solid funding stream to support the projected $100 million in costs). And the same entities who supported going against the voter wishes on these projects are now suggesting that it's time to do so again - this time with COSI.
And those same people wonder why so many don't bother to go to the polls??? It's no mystery to me.
As for the future of COSI, it seems obvious. There are bank presidents, accountants and corporate leaders on the board of COSI. If COSI came to them and asked them to invest their own monies, would they? Would Huntington, FirstMerit, National City, Bank of Maumee or Key Bank loan this business any money? Would any accountant or fiscal officer risk the funds they were responsible for in this institution with this kind of fiscal history? And if their answer is 'no' why do they expect the voters to be any different?
The voters have spoken - twice. It's time to abide by what they decided.