Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Run For Your Lives ... COSI Is Back

Yes ladies and gentlemen, COSI is indeed back. David Waterman, chairman of the COSI board is bringing a request for inclusion on the November ballot to the Citizens Levy Review Committee of the same levy that has been defeated twice before. After all, as the Toledo Blade points out "the third time will be the charm". Mr. Waterman's feelings, according to the story are that the larger voter turnout in a presidential election will help the efforts of COSI to gain taxpayer funding for COSI's operation, even though it is a private organization. (It qualifies for this through a special change in state law)

Mr. Waterman is correct when he points out that the previous levies were only defeated by narrow margins (71,249 to 70,001 in 2006, and 43,248 to 41,571 last November). He fails to point out a couple of things however:
  1. That a loss is still a loss, as any professional sports team (or amateur one for that matter) can tell you.
  2. That both the margin of loss and the percentage of loss has increased from one election to another, in spite of lower voter turnout.
  3. That the planned levy being put forward is still based on the city providing the Portside building for a rent of $1.
  4. That the planned levy being put forward is likewise based on city continuing to pay the utility bills that it was covering before COSI closed (and still covers today in order to maintain the building).
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it appears that while dead (COSI closed last December), this sinkhole of public funding has more lives than Jason Vohees in the Friday the 13th series. No matter how many times somebody kills the damn thing, it just keeps coming back ... and uglier each time than the one before.
  • There is still no discussion of creating or having created an efficient business plan, even though the board has had over 6 months to come up with one.

  • There is still no discussion of using something other than the Portside building for this effort, even after admitting that the facility is inefficient for such use.

  • There is no discussion of seeking money other than taxpayer money, though the COSI board has found funding for marketing their levy effort. (Unless of course, they get the taxpayer money first, and then that future effort is listed only as a "hope".)

  • There is no direct benefit listed for the reopening of COSI, other than an emotional appeal loosely associated with kids and education.
Evidently the will of the people is only realized when it gives more of its money to government to dispense on its behalf. Evidently such will can only be expressed during presidential election years (as was pointed out by a County Commissioner who will remain nameless 'Konop', but who was not elected during one). Evidently "no doesn't mean no" when expressed by the voters of Toledo and Lucas County. Well Mr. Waterman, at the risk of contradicting the Toledo Blade and yourself on the potential outcome of this levy, let me use my own metaphor to describe your upcoming effort:

"Three strikes and you're out!"

In the spirit of full faith and disclosure, I should mention that I have written before on the subject of such an entity as a cautionary tale or fable. I should likewise point out there may be an economic benefit to the passage of this levy. I previously compared COSI to the Titanic.I now have heard a rumor that Clive Cussler is waiting in the wings with a book and movie deal if this Titanic is successfully raised.



5 comments:

Roland Hansen said...

It saddens me to say this, or write this, whatever the case may be, BUT as much as I like COSI and support COSI, I cannot and will not support any levy attempt. Two reasons. First: COSI bureaucrats made a promise way back when not to seek tax funding. While I understand that things can change over time and that well-intended promises cannot always be kept, steps need to be taken in order to allow the promise-maker, in this case COSI, to make good faith efforts to try to keep the promise. This then brings me to reason number two: It seems very apparent to me that neither the COSI Board nor management ever made any sincere efforts to seek alternative funding sources or other means to become self-sufficient prior to turning to the voters.
That's it, pure and simple. From all appearances, it just seems to me that COSI did not even try to honor their commitment to the Toledo community.
Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice ---- well, you know how it goes.

Tim Higgins said...

Roland,

Couldn't have said it better myself. Many of us understand the realities (and political realities) of this kind of situation. For the COSI board to come back cap in hand with no business plan and no perceived effort of funding alternatives is simply inexcusable. To do this in the midst of the inflation, taxation, and the city's current dire financial situation is beyond the pale.

Hooda Thunkit said...

I hope and pray that "this the third time is the charm" manifests itself as a long and pointy stake through the heart of both COSI and the liars that made the promise to never darken out (tax) doorway again.

Then, I would like the honor of setting the free end of those stakes on fire. . .

Roland Hansen said...

Come to think of it:
It is Lucas County and not the City of Toledo that put the Conference Center, the ballpark, and now the arena into downtown Toledo.
Maybe, we should eliminate the city government of Toledo and place Toledo under the jurisdiction of a revised system of county government in which members of the Board of Lucas County Commissioners would be elected from 7 or 9 or 11 districts rather than the present 3-member at-large system of county government. We could also then choose to have either an appointed or elected professional County Administrator.

Tim Higgins said...

Roland,

I am for anything that reduces the scope, scale, and intrusiveness of government. Taking a level of government out of the equation as you suggest makes far too much sense to actually happen, but it does make for a wonderful mid-week fantasy.