After reading accounts of the South Toledo YMCA travesty with great interest and increasing disgust, I offer to the trustees a quick and fair solution:
Dismiss the unprincipled Robert Alexander and his equally greedy family at once. Open the financial records to see how $4.8 million in government contracts and $4.4 million in contributions during 2008 were mismanaged or diverted to the point of closing a very active neighborhood branch. Reasonable salaries would have allowed money to support every branch.
Moving to a site at the University of Toledo medical campus would not succeed in serving all who are active in the Y, as not everyone has the time, desire, or transportation to use that facility. Promise of a new south-side building is not believable when the present one hasn't been important enough to maintain.
The twisted thinking of the director demands 500 new memberships in a building that he then stripped of the two most popular programs - swimming and gymnastics. This calls into question his reasoning, just as his erratic behavior and screaming at Sen. Teresa Fedor as he interrupted a meeting of residents shows a great lack of dignity and self-control. An effective director needs both.
The church can take over the site of the former Value City at Detroit Avenue and Anthony Wayne Trail, serving both South Toledo and Maumee. That would have been a wiser decision from the beginning
Great respect is due Rep. Peter Ujvagi, Senator Fedor, and Auditor Anita Lopez for supporting the residents.
But where is City Council? Mayor Finkbeiner? Members of other Y branches? Is Bill Kitson of the United Way, as a YMCA supporter, keeping a low profile because he might have a part in this?
The household income of Robert Alexander, CEO of the YMCA, exceeds $400,000. The average Toledo household income is $40,708.
Mr. Alexander should justify this huge compensation by coming clean on his decision to close the South Toledo Y. He claimed it was due to cash flow, but the YMCA has not been forthcoming with the financial records to verify such claims.
Then he issues an unachievable challenge to the neighborhoods near the YMCA to find 500 households in the midst of the Great Recession who can afford [a $40 or $50-a-month] membership in a branch that might be closed at any moment.
Mr. Alexander wrote the following on the YMCA Web site: "We are a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization committed to providing quality programs and services to the community. Our mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all."
Do the CEO, the president, or the board honestly think their cold-hearted, profit-driven, central-city-abandoning decision to throw away the South Toledo YMCA is evidence of a mission-driven, not-for-profit organization committed to providing quality programs and services to the community?
Is closing this branch under false pretenses the practice of Christian principles? Does the YMCA even care about programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for the residents of South Toledo?
Mr. Alexander has lost touch with the purported mission and purpose of the YMCA. He should vacate his post. This entire episode can only end positively if it results in new beginnings at the helm of the Greater Toledo YMCA.
Editor's note: The writer is a former Toledo city planner.
After reading what happened on Aug. 21 at the South YMCA, it really sounds like the executive of the Y needs to grow up.
For a man who alone makes more than a quarter of a million dollars a year from a publicly funded agency, Robert Alexander sounds more like a spoiled child who can't get his way and is taking his toys and going home.
I can understand the neighbors who want to keep the South Y open, although I do wonder how many are actually putting their money where their mouth is by being members and supporting this great organization. I also admire their effort and determination to make sure that their voices are heard with regard to what happens in their neighborhood.
I think it is important for people to remember what happens to old, outdated, useless buildings in South Toledo. I invite everybody to drive down Spencer Street, off South Avenue. Take a good look at the old Haughton Elevator building site. Neighbors were able to stop every option for this property and now it's a pile of rubble, trash, weeds, and rodents. And it's been like this for more than two years.
A pile of rubble might be a good addition to Woodsdale Park, but I'd vote against it.
I guess it goes back to the old adage, "Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it."
With the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy, an era is nearing an end. To those of us of a certain age and generation, the name Kennedy will always be synonymous with wealth and Camelot, politics and scandal, tragedy, ideology, and public service.
Now, there could be few men or women whose political orientation is more opposite to mine than was Ted Kennedy's. Having said that, I mourn his passing as much as anyone and here's why:
History will remember him as one of the most effective and significant senators since Daniel Webster or Henry Clay. His fellow senators, regardless of party, will remember him as a devoted and fiercely proud liberal Democrat, whose handshake was his bond.
As I say, I mourn his passing and lament the passing of an era but the era I refer to is not the end of the Kennedy lineage in the Senate and public service. The era that is ending is the era of senators who may be rabidly at odds with their political opposites, but once the camera lenses have been capped and the Senate floor closed, they meet for drinks and have warm and almost familial relationships with the members of the opposite party. In so doing, they often accomplished more in terms of legislation than could be done by screaming and histrionics on the floor of the Senate.
Ted Kennedy is one of the last of this era and a mind set that says yes, it's OK to be partisan but that doesn't mean that decency and affection for one's peers, regardless of party, is not allowed.
Rest in peace, Senator Kennedy.
I read the story about how the car accident at Chappaquiddick "left a permanent taint" on Sen. Edward Kennedy. I'm thinking to myself, it didn't do much for Mary Jo Kopechne either.
Joseph R. Kutchenriter, Jr.
Sen. Edward Kennedy was a child of privilege who never had to work a day in his life. But he did work until his dying day, striving to elevate others. His belief that he could use his privilege and opportunity to create privilege and opportunity for others is an outstanding example and inspiration for each of us.
STUART F. CUBBON
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