Mayor Sanders Blows Off Library Supporters at First Community Budget Hearing

by on April 23, 2011 · 13 comments

in Economy, Education, Popular, San Diego

Once again library supporters provided the majority of citizen input regarding the proposed budget, and once again, Mayor Sanders was dismissive of them. The mayor is holding two community budget hearings to explain the budget. The first one was held at Kearny High School. The fifty or so citizens who showed up were not given an opportunity to provide public testimony. We were handed a note card and told that we could ask the mayor a question about the budget.

Library supporters from Clairmont, Linda Vista, University Heights, Pacific Beach and City Heights asked the same question- “Why is our library system chronically and disproportionately underfunded?” He joked that we must be copying from each other, and dismissed the question that thirteen of us had asked him. The only library question that he deemed worth considering was the impact of the cuts on our libraries’ designation as “cool zones” during the summer months. Elderly and the poor who are without air conditioning may need safe cool places to escape the heat and our libraries provide that very humane service. Perhaps the mayor will offer his own office to these individuals.

Year after year library supporters show up at all of these meetings. Year after year, along with park and rec supporters they comprise the majority of attendees on general fund budget issues. Look what we get in return- the constant erosion of our library services. We must ask our elected representatives why that is happening. We clearly believe, affluent and poor alike, that our core city services are not only public safety, street maintenance and trash disposal, but also library and park and recreation services. Library and Park and Recreation services are not given any less prominence in our City Charter. Nowhere does it say that if we have a budget shortfall, those two departments can be ignored.

I encourage you all to attend the mayor’s next community budget hearing on Thursday, April 28 from 6-7pm at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center at 404 Euclid Ave. Friends of the OB Library chairman George Murphy will be there. Bring your kids, too. And signs! I think we are all aware that these latest proposed library budget cuts target our kids and the elderly.

Perhaps the question we should write on our note cards is “What have you got against our kids and old people and the poor?” We should ask “Does our Library Department provide a core city service?” And of course we should ask “Why are our libraries chronically and disproportionately underfunded?”

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Annie April 23, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I’m glad to hear about this meeting – I can’t make the April 30 rally, but I plan to be in attendance for this one. Thanks for the heads up.

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avatar Debbie April 24, 2011 at 9:26 am

Does this group have the energy to recall this mayor? Year after year after year its the same crap over and over. He has time to meet with Dean Spanos though! If you get the ball rolling I am sure there will others that will gladly gather signatures. Otherwise, get ready ready for more of the same. Recall Faulconer too if he’s not standing by your side on this one (literally by your side)!

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avatar annagrace April 24, 2011 at 10:25 am

Debbie- good questions. The mayor is now a lame duck, and this is essentially his last budget. The city council as the legislative branch has the power to veto the mayor’s budget and recommend alternative uses of revenues or different expenditure amounts. They are in the drivers seat at the moment. And we now must email the council to make sure they veto the mayor’s budget for our library system.

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avatar Debbie April 24, 2011 at 11:04 am

I know he’s a lame duck and you know he’s a lame duck but a recall would document he’s a lame duck. One thing about Sanders is he has an ego and would not want to go down in history books and being recalled. Unfortunately, people in San Diego are somewhat passive and that’s why we are in the position of the budget and pension today! Plus they read AND believe the UT.

Happy day to all.

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avatar Debbie April 24, 2011 at 9:54 am

Ask the mayor to give you a line by line comparison for every year he has been in office….see the voice article

http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/government/thehall/article_07afa214-6d4d-11e0-bea2-001cc4c002e0.html

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avatar Terrie Leigh Relf April 24, 2011 at 10:45 am

It’s also an attack against literacy and knowledge (which is meant to be exchanged), and computer access for the net and research, and. . .and. . .

I wonder if Sanders reads anything besides budgets, etc. Here’s an idea. . .send him books and encourage him to read. . .Historical treatises on the libraries of Constantinople. . .perhaps Fahrenheit 451 and tales of Nazi and other dicatators’ book burning sessions? Perhaps a copy of the film, Equilibrium?

Ter

Ter

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avatar annagrace April 24, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I can’t begin to conjecture upon the mayor’s reading habits, but I am struck by the undisguised annoyance he has conveyed toward library supporters. He does not see us as a threat, per se, but he really wants us to shut up and go away.

When Sanders proposed shuttering libraries a few years ago, he was interviewed on KPBS. He described library supporters as a “special interest” group, and I found that rather peculiar. Nothing screams paid lobbyist & narrow self interest like the words “special interest group.” And what could be farther from that than a loosely organized group of citizens who vigorously participate in the democratic process to assure the ongoing support of the most democratic of institutions- our libraries. The mayor does not seem to “get it.” And we are not going away.

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avatar RB April 25, 2011 at 9:49 am

The wonderful system of branch libraries is dying. In the short term, employee pension costs are sucking up all available money in the city budget. Also in the short term, the grandiose downtown library is sucking up all the private donated money and energy which rightly should be directed at the whole library system.

The city is already sending the signals of how they will manage the system in the future. When they reduce operation times and link those times to other near by branches, they are saying branches can be closed and service given at other near by locations. They are saying they have too many branches. Eventually I expect the OB branch to be closed and the Point Loma hours extended. (Not do to location or need but based upon quality of the two building.) Finally, to justify the grandiose downtown library, they think closing branch libraries will increase their future downtown circulation numbers.

I support the current branch system but believe the downtown library will lead to a drastic cut in the number of branch libraries.

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avatar Marian April 25, 2011 at 11:04 am

Way to go Anna. I was at the meeting and I, too, was amazed at how casually our Mayor dismissed our serious concerns in a frivolous manner. We spoke for a great number of San Diegans, but were seen, as you say, as a nuisance rather than a group of highly concerned citizens. There is no major city in our country with libraries open only 18 hours per week! But then, maybe a new professional football stadium makes us a major city in the Mayor’s eyes.

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avatar Anna Daniels April 25, 2011 at 11:40 am

Marian and other library supporters had taken the time to prepare public testimony, and were not given the opportunity to provide that testimony. That is unfortunate- library supporters tend to be articulate and thoughtful speakers. We will have an opportunity to provide testimony at the city council budget hearing in May. In the past Mayor Sanders has not been present to hear that public testimony, and that is shameful.

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avatar Debbie April 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Nice, polite, articulate, thoughtful, rational, factual, hopeful, respectful means doodly-squat to this mayor……the rally, the group, the action needs to be something that will get his attention.

Oh by the way….he has no problem meeting with and listening to “civic leaders” about the Chargers

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/apr/25/sanders-civic-leaders-meet-privately-on-chargers/

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avatar Anna Daniels April 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm

We need a massive “read in” in the mayor’s office. It has been suggested. Lots of kids, and we can take turns reading Horton Hears a Who.

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avatar John P. Falchi April 30, 2011 at 11:16 am

Yeah, Anna, a read-in in the mayor’s office would get his attention. He’d have to listen to us or have us bodily evicted. In either case, we would at least have to be dealt with rather than ignored.,

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