"Retired management consultant Jerry Jakes is summoning his inner Santa by organizing an effort to save the Downtown science and technology museum. He said COSI could be saved if each family in what he calls “Lake Erie West” donated $5.
The burden shouldn't be left to Lucas County; Jakes said COSI is a regional asset. Families in Bowling Green, Perrysburg, Sandusky and even Monroe, Mich., are encouraged to send money. The 76-year-old Sylvania resident is asking households to help raise $1 million before the museum closes Dec. 31.
His campaign is off to a slow start. Jakes has tried to get the word out, but he's one person counting on others to help. The Toledo Community Foundation has agreed to collect the money sent by COSI supporters, but details need to be finalized."
COSI Chairman David Waterman, while appreciative of the effort, doesn't think it will be enough - or soon enough - to change the plans to close down the facility at the end of December. And, according to today's Blade, "he has heard no proposals that would keep the lights on past year's end - or avoid a third levy request to Lucas County voters in March."
But local 'leaders' aren't letting two defeats at the ballot box stop their efforts to find a way to keep COSI open. Fourteen 'members of the community' sent a letter to Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, saying they stand 'ready, willing and able to work with you and others to do what it takes to keep COSI Toledo alive in our community.' (italics were in the letter)
Those leaders are: Richard Anderson, Chairman of The Andersons; Bruce Baumhower, President UAW-Local 12; Jim Hoffman, President of Key Bank; Billie Sewell-Johnson, President/CEO of the Area Office on Aging; Steve Mickus, President/CEO of Mercy Health Partners; Fr. Ron Olszewski, President of St. Francis High School; Rev. Willie Perryman, Jr., Jerusalem Baptist Church; Thomas Brady, President of Plastic Technologies, Inc.; Jack Ford, member of Toledo Public School Board; Jimmy Jackson, President of The JAJ Company; Francine Lawrence, President of Toledo Federation of Teachers; Pat Nicholson, President of N-Viro Energy Systems, Inc.; Thomas Palmer, Managing Partner of Marshall & Melhorn; and George Tucker, Executive Secretary AFL-CIO.
Now, why Billie Johnson is a signer, I don't know. Her agency, the Area Office on Aging, is funded primarily (if not solely) by public dollars, including a levy in Lucas County. Of the signers, James Hoffman and Jack Ford are members of COSI's board.
The mayor, who thinks the voters didn't act 'wisely' in defeating the COSI levy, has scheduled a 'working lunch' for Tuesday with the authors as well as the addressees in an effort to see if funding can be worked out. (Wonder who's paying for that - Carty out of his personal funds? or you and me, from city tax dollars?)
But Waterman is not optimistic.
"...everything that had been discussed so far about preserving COSI would involve a "post-closing" reopening and public funding - the latter being something Lucas County voters have rejected twice.
"We're continuing to proceed in our orderly shutdown. … Nothing has happened yet to stop that in the short term," he said. "But we continue to meet with officials and other interested parties. We have had good support from everyone except the voters.""
And that's the problem. Jerry Jakes understands that the private sector is what can - and should - save COSI, and I hope he's successful in his fundraising drive. I only wish it'd been started earlier, with the enthusiastic support of the COSI board.
**If you would like to donate to the 'SAVE COSI' effort, you can do so here, but putting 'SAVE COSI' in the gift purpose field.