The $1,000 Symphony ChallengeWritten by Tom Pounds | President / Publisher | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Toledo City Council members Michael Ashford, Mike Craig, Rob Ludeman, George Sarantou and Tom Waniewski voted Dec. 7 against giving $10,000 of taxpayer funds to the Toledo Symphony Orchestra’s May trip to Carnegie Hall, they did the financially prudent thing. Officials can twist language to present the money as if it does not come from taxpayers, but they are being disingenuous.
Councilmen D. Michael Collins, Steven Steel, Lindsay Webb, Phillip Copeland, Joe McNamara and Adam Martinez voted in favor of giving away the public money.
It is likely that a determined Mayor Mike Bell will run this past council again on Dec. 21, with the aim of either getting Wilma Brown (who was absent Dec. 7) to vote the proposal through or breaking the tie himself if she were to vote against it.
Steel’s comments that “going to the symphony is a recreational activity” is supposed to justify pillaging the Toledo CityParks Fund, to which the city already owes more than $2.6 million. But the money isn’t being used to help average Toledoans go a symphony performance, is it?
It is important to restate that the issue here is not supporting the symphony; that should be a given, like supporting the zoo, museum, Mud Hens, Packo’s and “M*A*S*H* re-runs. The point is that the city does not have the money to give, the money is being taken from an account that was not intended for this purpose and that the “repayment” plan consists of allocating casino funds that do not yet exist.
But rather than grouse about Bell’s plan to expend his political capital in the name of forcing this unpopular request through Council, let’s turn this around and find a way to help.
Toledo Free Press is committing $1,000 toward the symphony’s trip to New York City. We are challenging our small (and not-so-small) business friends to join us in donating the funds to the symphony specifically for its New York concert. If we raise $10,000, and hopefully more, we will respectfully request that the symphony and mayor withdraw their request for public funds. If the mayor and symphony insist on pursuing public funds, the private companies that stepped up will be free to tear their checks in two.
We will work as diligently as we can prior to Dec. 21 Council meeting to raise these funds from private sources, to show that while use of the public funds in question are debatable, the community’s support and pride in our symphony is beyond reproach.
To discuss joining us in our challenge to help raise private funds for the symphony, please call me at (419) 241-1700, ext. 221.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.
Tags: Adam Martinez, City of Toledo, D. Michael Collins, George Sarantou, Joe McNamara, Lindsay Webb, Michael Ashford, Mike Bell, Mike Craig, Phillip Copeland, Publsher's Statement, Rob Ludeman, Steven Steel, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Tom Pounds, Tom Waniewski