I knew it was coming. I’d seen it on SignOnSanDiego yesterday, so I knew it had to show up in the print version of the San Diego U-T. And there it was, on page 2 of the Local Section:
“Faulconer backs effort to prevent library cuts”
The short piece by reporter Hailey Persinger, as you can read above, is about Councilmember Faulconer ‘partnering’ with two Ocean Beach groups, us – the OB Rag – described as “a neighborhood publication”, which we are, – and the Friends of the OB Library, in efforts to “spar[e] city libraries from drastic budget cuts.” The main way this partnership is being manifested is a petition drive gathering signatures of residents in OB opposed to the effectual closures of the libraries, with a petition deadline of May 5th.
(“Partnered” is reporter Persinger’s word.) Our writer Andy Cohen has earlier today described these efforts.
When some in the tweet-world caught wind of this “partnership” between Republican Faulconer and the progressive – even leftwing website – there were definite feather rufflings (or maybe simply shoulder shrugs). Dave Maass of San Diego CityBeat tweeted that ‘what’s next? Duncun Hunter partnering with the gay and lesbian press?’
Even though our good friend Dave was kidding (and getting back at us for teasing him when he first started), he does raise an interesting question.
Why would a Republican politician saddle up with, or partner with such a leftwing online publication like the OB Rag? Kevin Faulconer is a Republican – despite the fact that the office is “non-partisan”, and the OB Rag is certainly made up of a conglomeration of left of center writers and supporters, from a bunch of socialists, several independents, other leftists of indeterminable slants, even a few anarchists!
So why would Kevin do this? Isn’t he a mainstay in the GOP establishment that runs this town? Isn’t he simply a bourgeois politician doing the handlework of the local corporate elite? Why would he partner with the devil?
And on the other side, why would the OB Rag, often a heavy critic of national and local Republican politicians and policies, partner with someone, who is viewed as an ascendant star in the Republican establishment?
Well, one way to describe it is to trot out the old refrain, that still has a genuine ring, that says: “all politics is local.”
What this mean is that despite ideological divides, partisan positions, politicos of different strips and interests are often motivated and energized around local issues. And when these different politics can find common ground around important, local issues – like saving libraries – bonds and partnerships can be made. As they should.
And right now Kevin Faulconer is into saving libraries – including the one in OB. Faulconer is standing up to this element of Mayor Jerry Sander’s proposed cuts. He is definitely, as Andy describes, taking a leadership role in advancing the cause of the libraries, in this city and right now.
Saving libraries is what we believe in here the OB Rag. Despite – or maybe because of our leftwing, humanitarian ideals – we have been very involved over the few years we’ve been around in saving and promoting the Ocean Beach branch library, as well as the City-wide system. (We actually have a few librarians on our staff.)
Because many of us on our staff are grassroots activists as well as citizen-journalists and bloggers, we recognize the value of the library to our community. We also have skills to do grassroots organizing and have. And in the end, many of us are “localists.”
In the Fall of 2008, when the first chopping axe raised by Mayor Sanders hovered over the OB Library, the OB Rag partnered with the Friends of the OB Library, as well as with the Ocean Beach Historical Society, and organized a series of rocking rallies in front of our community center, the library. We had petitions, People’s Food Co-op even closed for a couple of hours so staff and customers could attend one of our first rallies. And Councilmember Faulconer spoke at another, throwing his weight into our cause, coming out publicly to keep the doors open.
Our original partnership also called for no lay-offs of librarians and no cut-backs to their or facility hours. There were even a dozen OBcians back then willing to physically and non-violently block the library’s closure.
Faulconer’s support helped, because in the end of that budget battle, Mayor Sanders saved the libraries, and actually said that the efforts in OB to save our branch were what convinced him to back down. The OB Rag had been the first to call for a rally and made the battle more public.
Of course, now the proposed cuts are even more draconian than they were in 2008. The mayor’s current proposal calls for a meager 18 some hours of being open. This is in effect, a closure. And once again, Faulconer has offered the community his support – and leadership – in repeating the efforts of three years ago.
Saving the library in Ocean Beach – which has been aptly described as one of the centers of the community – is certainly in the interests of our small but vibrant village. It’s in our interest, the interest of the community, our children, our neighbors, our visitors to keep its doors open.
Faulconer – always an accessible guy -, like us, in coming out to save the libraries has taken a moral position. What are his choices? Support the effectual closure of the library? – an indefensible position, no less! By openly and publicly showing where he’s at, he not only comes out against Sanders – distancing himself from the lameduck mayor – but positions himself within his district around a ‘mom, apple pie, and flag’ issue. Saving the libraries. Who could oppose that? Obviously, some do, and that’s the problem. So, Kevin is making it one of those issues- and that’s a good thing.
We have found common ground in saving not only the OB branch but all of the City’s libraries with our Councilmember. We have found common ground because we have common interests. Our interest in saving this institution and center of learning is the community’s interest.
Does this mean that the OB Rag or the citizens of Ocean Beach support all of Faulconer’s policies? Of course not!
We at this website are particularly opposed to his campaign to privatize public and government services. But for now, Mr. Faulconer does not wish to privatize the libraries, he wants to save them – and that’s a good thing.