Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ohio Senate: No Funding for Freedom Center

Local Museum will not receive requested additional funding in state's 3rd interim budget.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial March is held at the Freedom Center every year.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a museum on the Cincinnati Riverfront, will not receive it's requested additional funding from the Ohio State Senate. This was just one of many cuts made to the state's third interim budget recently ratified by Governor Strickland. Three million dollars might have been allotted to help fund the often criticized attraction, but local activists credit themselves for taking action:

COASTers calls and letters worked,” said Jason Gloyd, chairman of COAST (The Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, not to be confused with the Coalition AGAINST Additional Spending and Taxes (CAAST)). COAST called out to their blog readers and urged them to contact their elected officials and voice their displeasure over additional spending for the center. This was nothing new, the center had been criticized since it's opening year for failing to produce projected attendance numbers and revenue. 

The center had been seeking funding for the construction of a new entrance and research and development on "Copper Sun," a new exhibit for the museum. Despite it's budget criticisms, local leaders still pledged for support of the center. I have been concerned about the depth of the content of the center,said Chris Smitherman, President of the Cincinnati chapter of the NAACP.  “It must be expanded."

Smitherman, despite having been an advocate for increased funding and expansion of the Freedom Center, now opposes the Cincinnati Streetcar plan on the grounds that it will be too great a cost to the taxpayers. Even though any federal grants received for rail transit would just be awarded to other cities and in no way returned or reinvested in the citizens of Cincinnati. 

Smitherman has partnered with COAST to support the Anti-Rail Charter Amendment as part of their "We Demand a Vote" campaign.

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