Mayor Sanders is rethinking the draconian cuts he has proposed to our libraries! I attended a Library Commission Meeting on 12/1.addressed the commission and said the Mayor values and has listened to the feedback he has been receiving on the library issue. Good work everyone! Each of you who took the time to respond through emails and phone calls and postings to the OB Rag made a difference!
Sanders is now proposing a 36 hour schedule throughout the whole system, and no staff layoffs. This new proposal reflects a $1.5 Million change in the Mayor’s current budget according to Michell who left the meeting after delivering her remarks.
The commissioners continued their budget discussion, asking Library Director Deborah Barrow if this meant that the Library Department cuts were reduced by that $1.5 M. She was not sure. This should concern us. There is an old saying that you can slice it thick or you can slice it thin, but it’s still baloney. We need to make sure that the Mayor’s new recommendation does indeed reduce the library cuts to an equitable level. No baloney.
Barrow also responded that a 36 hour week would probably mean that libraries would be open 5 days a week, typically from Tuesday through Saturday. She was not willing to say there would not be any Sunday hours under this proposal. We should remain concerned about Sunday hours. Keep in mind that no other City department is being forced to reduce hours.
In addition, we were reminded by the Commission chair that whatever budget is adopted will be for 18 months, according to the Mayor’s intent. Please think about that. This came as a surprise to me and I’m not sure that is even legal, according to our City Charter. I thought we had an annual review. Can anyone address that issue?
I presented remarks to the commission in opposition to the proposed cuts, which are as we speak undergoing new changes by the Mayor. It appears that the Mayor is “making it up” as he goes along. Is that ok? The first public hearing before the City Council is a mere week away on Dec. 7. What do we really know? When will we ultimately receive all of the facts?
The Library Commission is to be commended for “supporting the concept that libraries hours will be equitably reduced to a 36 hour weekly schedule, entailing no staff layoffs, with (their) final approval pending upon the details of this plan.” I am commending them for tying their final approval to the details. Two of the commissioners referred to the Obrag posting about the library issue in a positive way. It is encouraging to know that our voices here are recognized and make a difference. We need to be working with the Library Commission.
I will present testimony on Dec 2 at the combined Budget and Finance Committee/City Council Meeting at 9:00 am. I will ask what does it mean when we learn more from the OB Rag and the voiceofsandiego about our Mayor’s proposed budget cuts than in the public report itself which he released to the City Council on Nov. 24. What does it mean to learn that that the Mayor is poised to release a different budget seven days later from his initial release date? Will the real budget please stand up?
Where does this budget process leave you and me, ordinary citizens who care about their City services (and pay taxes)? The Mayor is playing fast and loose with the whole concept of transparency in government- the citizens’ right to know. He is playing fast and loose with the democratic process- the citizens’ ability to participate in their government.
The process has become so incomprehensible that I am calling for a time out at this meeting. The Mayor has been neither clear, concise nor consistent. The citizens are being jerked around. I will request that the City Council impose a continuance on the budget debate until we are all adequately informed. As it stands now, the first City Council hearing on the budget is on Dec. 7 and the final reading is Dec.14. There is no legal reason that I am aware of that the Council must hear the matter within that time frame. The budget is not cooked.
We need more time.