Please contact your Senators immediately to stop this waste of money
Earlier this week, the Ohio House of Representatives passed its version of the 2009-2011 Biennial Budget, and it included $3.1 million in operating subsidy for the failed National Underground Railroad Freedom Center -- $1.55 million per year for the next two years. The subsidy is the most devoted to any museum in Ohio, although the Freedom Center attracts fewer than 62,000 visitors per year – a small fraction of Ohio’s successful museums.
COASTers still have a chance to influence the outcome of this debate by contacting your State Senators NOW, and asking them to support an amendment to strip the wasteful funding from the bill.
When it originally sought Federal, State, County and City subsidy for its $110 million construction cost, Freedom Center executives promised that it would not ever require any operating subsidy. Then, three years ago, Freedom Center CEO John Pepper announced that because the Freedom Center was not meeting its financial and attendance projections, it required millions of tax dollars per year in perpetuity. Since then, multi-millionaire Pepper has greased legislators’ palms to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to start and keep cash flowing to the failing institution. Read here the COAST story on the graft.
When the museum was originally promoted, it promised to bring one million visitors to Cincinnati from all over the world. Today, the Freedom Center attracts fewer than 62,000 paying visitors, and they are mostly children from the area forced to go there on school field trips. These visitors generate near-zero economic activity for the City, because they come and leave on school buses, not stopping to spend additional cash.
Read the COAST story here about the Freedom Center’s 2007 federal income tax return (the most recent available) that showed that the institution generated a mere $827,084 in ticket sale revenue. The Freedom Center originally received $55 million in public subsidy for its construction and has received more than $10 million in infusions of tax cash in just the last 36 months. Read the COAST story here about the Freedom Center’s continued waste of precious resources on over-paid executives.
Please contact your State Senator at the e-mail address (click name to mail) and/or phone number below to ask them to strip Freedom Center funding from the State budget bill.
|Eric Kearney||Central Hamilton County||(614) 466-5980|
|Bill Seitz||West & North Hamilton County||(614) 466-8068|
|Bob Schuler||East Hamilton & Warren Counties||(614) 466-9737|
|Tom Niehaus||Clermont County||(614) 466-8082|
|Gary Cates||Butler County||(614) 466-8072|
|Bill Harris||Senate President||(614) 466-8086|
Your urgent action is needed to stop this shameful and continuing waste of our scarce tax dollars. Please call or write today.