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Published: Tuesday, 9/1/2009

YMCA task force idea tabled by commissioners


A plan to create a nine-member task force to probe the finances and operating procedures of the YMCA & JCC of Greater Toledo has been tabled by the Lucas County commissioners.

The decision to table the idea for three weeks came after the three commissioners received an e-mail from Cooper Suter, a Y member and South Toledo neighborhood activist leading the fight to keep open the South Toledo branch of the YMCA, saying that his group was making progress with Y leadership and he wanted to give those talks a chance before proceeding with the task force.

Commissioner Ben Konop, who last week had proposed the task force after saying the county has provided $10 million to the YMCA, voted to go ahead with the idea, but fellow commissioners Pete Gerken and Tina Skeldon Wozniak voted to table the proposal until Sept. 22. Mr. Gerken said that before receiving Mr. Suter's e-mail, he had been leaning toward okaying the task force proposal.

During the past several weeks the YMCA has faced criticism for the compensation of its top executives, with Y President and CEO Robert Alexander and several of his family members paid more than $630,000 a year in total compensation.

Mr. Alexander and the YMCA board of trustees have also repeatedly refused to make public records documenting credit card and travel spending of top Y executives.

"We think the idea of an oversight committee has significant merit, but we are trying to work with the YMCA," said Mr. Suter Tuesday following the vote. "We want the Y leadership to step up and do the right thing. They need to provide the financial transparency and change in Y leadership that the community is obviously calling for before they are able to repair the public's trust.

"We strongly appreciate Ben Konop putting this out there and his support of our efforts. If this were an up or down vote we would have called for it to be approved today, but the consensus of our group was that we should hold off on this for now and let the Y leadership do what they need to do," added Mr. Suter.

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