God Speed to 94 Year Old Mrs. Crawford On Her Mission To Talk Some Sense Into Cleveland Leadership's Heads

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 09/30/2009 - 07:40.

It is heartwarming to occasionally see signs of enlightened, concerned people from Cleveland's storied past who still care about Cleveland. The best example I have seen in a long time is reported in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today in an article titled "Widow of Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum founder comes to Cleveland for answers about car sales", stating:

The 94-year-old widow of the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum founder is coming to Cleveland this week to get answers from museum officials who have dismissed her pleas to stop the sale of cars and planes from the collection.

Kay Crawford, who lives in Massachusetts and is in frail health, wrote to officials twice in the last two months, and told them she was upset about recent car sales and implored them to hold off.

She also asked for information about the Crawford museum's multi-million dollar endowment and a separate $1 million she gave in late 2007 to endow a director's position.

Long-time friend Dave Ford, 84, said Crawford was very concerned she was getting inadequate answers. Crawford and her lawyers are expected to meet with society officials on Thursday. Crawford has difficulty speaking and uses a keyboard to communicate.

After seeing the fall of the Cleveland Health Museum - building now owned by Cleveland Clinic - and then the loss of the Play House MOCA Complex - building now owned by Cleveland Clinic - and expecting the removal of the Cleveland Institute of Art to the edge of University Circle - building expected to be owned by Case Western Reserve University - not top mention the sell-off of the Jewish Community Federation HQ from downtown to Mandelia, Beachwood - building expected to be owned by Cleveland State University - seeing the sale of the Crawford Museum's best assets must make one wonder if this is a sell-off of the overriding Western Reserve Historical Society's entire position in the community, and to who.

It is happening. The Plain Dealer reports:

Two of the 20 cars originally listed by the society were auctioned off last month. An Aston Martin, which was estimated to go for as much as $185,000 sold for $341,000. And a Gullwing Mercedes-Benz sold for $495,000, $45,000 more than the top estimate.

From the 2008 State of the Society report from the President, we are told the financial priorities of the institution are as follows:

During FY08, the Society’s first task was to assess what the right size for the institution is financially.  Where does income exceed expense and allow the Society to cover the annual escalation in basic operating costs (rising fuel costs and staff salaries and benefits, to name two)?  In the past decade the Society’s budget ballooned to more than $8 million; the previous fiscal year (2007), it was above $5 million. Today, it stands at $4.75 million. With increased emphasis on earned income generation and fundraising, WRHS’s budget can be managed within this range.  The Society is not driven by its admissions income, except as it applies to fees from school groups. The Society currently derives almost 48% of its income from its development efforts; another 7 % comes from earned income activities. This past year, the Society received general operating funds from both the State of Ohio and Issue 18 taxes, infusing the budget with some $800,000.  However, WRHS cannot rely on these funding sources in perpetuity.  Endowment must grow and earned income must increase. The areas that are ripe for growth in each income segment are unrestricted giving from individuals, which now accounts for only 1.2% of our funding and program revenue and fees for services, 3.4%. 

This report also identifies the programming themes of the coming years, for the Society:

      1. Engaging our Communities (Raising our visibility among our various constituencies—ethnic groups, auxiliaries, volunteers, etc.; This will be the “Year of the Member”)
      2. Sensing the Past (Highlighting different ways of learning about our past and interpreting our future through the use of artifacts, documents, and architecture –core exhibit planning and interactive  learning opportunities)
      3. Turning Points (Focusing on watershed events in NEO History—installation of the Core Exhibit and 150th Celebration of Civil War)
      4. On the Move  (The impact of the automobile on American Society)

Have you as a member of this community felt well engaged by the Western Reserve Historical Society, in 2009? They are your tax dollars at work!

Considering the 94 year-old founder's widow has to come to Cleveland to challenge the leadership of the Museum, it is safe to say the Society raised their visibility with one constituent, but not in a way that may lead to any more unrestricted giving from the founding Mrs. Crawford.

May life in Cleveland become more embarrassing?

Oh yes, the head of our "community" foundation behind all philanthropic planning in the region profits from Anthrax... 

Welcome back to Cleveland, Mrs. Crawford. God speed in your travels, and best of luck to your lawyers in dealing with Jones Day or whatever law firm is responsible for selling-off the Western Reserve Historical Society, and some of our best community assets, and the quality of life of our people.

Buildings for sale? I hear we are building a casino that needs something nice for the lobby... perhaps we may Belagio what we have left... although that Gullwing sure would have been nice, for LeBron!

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Cleveland forsakes its past

 John Stark Bellamy II, who chronicles all things Cleveland, now lives in Vermont.   He is releasing The Circle Game : A Cleveland Memoir, in installments at CoolCleveland.com.  The title says it all.  

The first excerpt of the book describes our never-ending capacity to destroy that which defines us.  Our fate saddens and frustrates me to no end.  Poor Mrs. Crawford.  Pity us all.

the volunteers provide more than $100,000 worth of work

Wow is this mean-sprited, disrespectful and irresponsible... "Western Reserve Historical Society closes its rehab facility to volunteers who fix Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum cars" reports:

Western Reserve Historical Society closed its Macedonia Preservation Facility to volunteers who restore and repair Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum cars.

Volunteers believe it's retribution by the society because they've publicly spoken out against the upcoming sales of rare cars from the collection.

An e-mail message was sent Monday alerting volunteers that the society was closing the facility "until further notice."


Volunteers do believe it's personal, and said the Macedonia facility hadn't closed for the winter season before.

The society, in its most recent annual report, noted that volunteers give 150 hours a week preserving and maintaining the cars. In years past, they've estimated the volunteers provide more than $100,000 worth of work.

"The only conclusion is that this is being done to punish volunteers for speaking out or to keep them from organizing," said John Hlavka, a longtime volunteer who is also on the board of the Friends of the Crawford, a fundraising auxiliary. The volunteers are planning a protest on Saturday.

I may just attend that protest! I love visiting the Crawford... never bothered about the rest of the Society.

Disrupt IT

How can you understand the age you live in

"How can you understand the age you live in if you don't know something about how we got here?" Frederick Crawford, 1982.

Widow of Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum founder works to save husband's legacy

By Joan Mazzolini, The Plain Dealer, October 05, 2009, 6:29PM

Talks are ongoing says WRHS. I would hope so...